Action learning is a process used by organizations for real world problem solving. In this method, a group of individuals with diverse background are assigned with a problem. The groups analyses, understands, questions, reflects and comes up with a solution for the problem. This also helps in creation of brand new approaches to problem solving and team building.
This topic is about the group-based, Action Learning process in which members work together in a group (a “set”) on real-world priorities (called a “problem” by many practitioners) primarily by sharing questions and taking actions between meetings. Members learn from the reflection during and between meetings, especially regarding the actions they took to address the real-world priorities. The process was founded by Professor Reginald Revans and is now widely used around the world for professional and organizational development.
Some forms of action learning have a coach who helps the team in learning and management.
Professor Reginald Revans was the architect of action learning. While working as a psychiatrist for the Coal Board of UK, he inspired managers to meet in small groups and discuss their experiences, this resulted in 30% increase of productivity.
He Formulated his idea as:
L=P+Q (where L is learning, P is programming, Q is questioning)
The formula was further expanded to L=P+Q+R, R being reflection.
The Components of action learning are:
• A problem: A real life issue that is of considerable importance to the organization and also provides learning opportunity to the team working on it.
• A team (action set): A team is usually composed of 6-8 people. Diversity of background and experience is encouraged as that increases the possibility of different perspectives. Team members may be from different organizations and depending upon the nature of the problem can also be suppliers or customers. A group can work on a single or multiple problems at a time.
• A coach: A coach supervises the whole process. He helps the group in learning and management. He assists the team when in resolving any issues they face while the process
• Relevant questions and reflective listening: The most important part of the process. This helps in understanding the problem and coming up with a feasible solution.
• Action taken: The decision and recommendations that the group is implemented. Action items are decided by questioning and reflection. Once action is taken it is again reflected upon and future plan s are created accordingly
• Learning: The organization gains short term benefits by solving the problem. However, the learning that the team and its individual members gain while the process, holds greater strategic importance. This experience helps in future problem scenarios and gives the organization tactical advantage of early problem correction.