Action Learning – the How, What and What for

by Mar 18, 2020Impact, Sustainable development goals0 comments

Finding answers to your company’s challenges can often be an imprecise and labour intensive process. Deciding on the best decision-making process can be challenging and stressful. This often leads to you being more confused than when you first started. This is where action learning comes in.

Many techniques or theories claim to produce the miracle cure for your company, giving the management and organizational techniques to increase productivity in your workplace. 

In today’s market, it is more important than ever that businesses are able to outmaneuver and learn smarter than their competitors. In this way, they can be at the forefront of innovation, rather than lagging behind. 

What makes Action Learning stand out, is that it is one of the few to take the initiative of empowering your workers to work collaboratively to produce their results. As a result of this process, it will massively improve your decision-making process.

This provides a twofold solution to your problems – Firstly, it will upskill and engage your workforce so they become better at addressing decision making at your company. Secondly, it streamlines your decision-making process allowing you to save time on future problem-solving activities at your workplace.

For HR Managers and Talent Managers, utilizing action learning provides an ideal competitive advantage for maximizing the potential of your employees, and increasing their engagement with your work processes. 

Teaching your employees the ‘skills of tomorrow’ namely digitalization and sustainability are crucial for your company to remain relevant in the rapidly changing economic environment

This article will go through the processes of Action Learning, how it can be used at your company and how at 2030 Builders we incorporate its ideas into our programme.

team meeting discussing priorities

What is Action Learning and where does it come from?

The professor Reginald Revans pioneered the notion of Action Learning, as a tool for management and organizational development

Its purpose is contained in exactly what the term implies, ‘there can be no learning without action, and no action that is well thought out can occur without there being significant learning taking place’.  

On the surface, it is a simple and easily summarised process based upon the premise that people learn best when they focus on a problem together

Revans believed that by using the effectiveness of the collective thinking process it is easier to problem-solve and deal with issues quickly and effectively. 

Action Learning breaks from the traditional concept of learning where an expert instructs those that are interested in the information and they attempt to copy the process. Rather, Action Learning brings together “comrades in adversity” to learn from each other’s failures and victories.

By focusing on the problem together people learn to collaborate and share their prior knowledge, progressing by asking good questions based upon what people’s different capacities and responsibilities bring to the table. 

Put simply, the Action Learning equation can be written as L = P + Q. In this, L represents the output of learning, P represents the prior knowledge of the workforce and Q is the insightful questioning. 

In this way, the Action Learning process relies on the bringing together of these two utilities and resources, to produce successful learning.

team fist bumping

The 4 steps of Action Learning 

Action Learning is typically described as having these 4 crucial components:

  1. Experimental Learning
  2. Creative complex problem solving
  3. Acquiring the relevant knowledge
  4. Group support of the co-learning process

These 4 components capture the 4 essential parts of the Action Learning process. They are needed to be kept in mind throughout the activity.

Step 1:

To begin an Action Learning process, firstly the action set must be established. This should comprise of a group of between 4-6 people who will meet regularly to discuss and resolve the issues faced. 

For the group exploring the solutions to be effective at the outset, the objective must be clearly established

This can include the presentation of the problems that the group believes need to be resolved. Open-ended questions need to be emphasized to promote reflection, encourage discussion and enhances creative thinking.

Step 2:

When the problems and issues have been established for the group to address, the group needs to determine the goals or endpoints. 

Step 3:

Once the goals have been established the action set team can begin working on the action strategies. Like all of the stages and processes of Action Learning the strategies are developed through reflective inquiry and dialogue between the members of the team. 

It is crucial that during this stage an atmosphere of positive inquiry and suggestions is created so that none of the important information of the discussions is lost.

Step 4:

Between the Action Learning sessions, the group members collect information and implement the strategies that have been developed throughout the process. This cycle is repeated as long as the Action set believes that there are problems that still need to be resolved.

ship battleship game to represent strategy

2030 Builders and Action Learning

At 2030 Builders, we agree with Revin that learning needs to be combined with action in order to be meaningful and productive. That is why throughout our program we incorporate gamification to increase user involvement.

Our program and courses create a positive environment that combines co-creation and gamification. This serves to keep people engaged in developing solutions to their sustainability problems for their businesses, communities, and society. 

Using gamification is done with the human brain and how it reacts to stimuli in mind. Games work as a powerful learning tool due to the release of dopamine when there is a positive result achieved. 

By rewarding learning through gaming, individuals receive small boosts of motivation throughout the process, encouraging them to keep going. 

Immersive technologies present exciting new opportunities to create more active learning experiences. In this way, there is more action and users feel more engaged in their participation. 

Moving away from the traditional learning paradigm gives 2030 Builders the edge in presenting new experiences for our clients. 

Our process is fully customizable to suit your company, allowing you to work together on producing solutions to your departmental challenges. As our problem-solving strategies and thought processes are unique our actions to coming to successful solutions need to be likewise. 

If you would like to incorporate new learning approaches into your Sustainability processes you can follow this link to book a demo. We would be more than happy to show you how our software and program can work for you.


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