spend time between sessions exploring options, reading and engaging in other learning anddiscussion. They may also communicate with others in the set before meeting up againformally.Practical learning occurs once action is taken. Following the exploration and discussion, it isimportant that the individual identifies actions that they can take in the workplace to helpprogress, or even to resolve the original challenge.
The role of the facilitator
The facilitator plays a critical role in action learning. The facilitator may be an externalconsultant or an experienced member of an action learning set. Because of the non-hierarchical nature of action learning, it is important that the facilitator does not dictatewhat happens or try to control the group. A good action learning facilitator is a role model,helping other participants to agree ground rules and exemplifying these. The facilitator doesthe same things as other participants - asks questions, contributes ideas and providesfeedback - but may do so less than others because of his or her additional responsibility.
A good facilitator will:
Begin by clarifying with the group what is to be discussed during the session Help build asafe environment of openness, trust and mutual respect Clarify what processes the set isemploying, and the implications of these processes Help others reflect on both what theyare learning and how they are solving problems Explore what assumptions may be shapingparticipants' beliefs and actions Acknowledge the part played by feelings in the discussionHelp the team focus on what they are achieving and what they are finding difficultEncourage a measured, thoughtful pace by summarizing and making sure questions areasked one at a time Ensure that everyone in the set is participating and if not, explore whynot Only ever interrupt if it another individual's contribution is inappropriate Allow time forreflection Ask the set to evaluate the process by considering their experiences and theimpact of others' contributions Ensure that an issue is resolved before moving on Take notesand bring these to any future sessions.
The benefits of action learning
Action learning can bring real benefits to individuals, teams and organizations. Actionlearning:Enhances team working and collaboration skillsHelps participants to build mutually beneficial and mutually respectful relationships withcolleagues Develops problem-solving and decision-making skills Helps participants to relateresearch, theory and management concepts to real-life organizational challenges Develops