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Action learning

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History

Action Learning was developed from 1960 to 1980 by Reg Revans, Professor of Manchester University, internationally renowned organizational effectiveness expert. The method is broadly used across the globe as one of the most effective group problem solving formats. Among students and followers of professor Revans, those who further developed and promoted the method were Michael Marquardt, Yuri Boshuk, Robert Kramer in the US, and Mike Pleder, Alan Mamford, Richard Hail in the Great Britain.


Currently World Institute of Action Learning (WIAL) is the largest Action Learning organization in the world. Its founder, Michael Marquardt had developed methodology that is adopted by the vast majority of Action Learning coaches worldwide.


General Description

Action Learning is a group problem solving method with simultaneous development of leadership competencies. While solving urgent, complex problem, that has no predetermined solution, a group of 4 to 8 people under a supervision of certified Action Learning coach, spends approximately 2-3 hours crafting the most suitable solution and the action plan.


In the beginning of the session, each participant selects a single competency/skill, that he/she is going to demonstrate and develop during this session. Each his/her contribution into the problem solving should contain a sign of the skill selected for development. For example, if a participants selected “ability to express your thoughts concisely”, he/she should focus on every phrase he/she pronounces during the session to be short and to the point. At the end of the session each participant receives constructive feedback on how he/she had done on the selected competency.


Action Learning could either take a form of a single problem-solving session, or be a long-term leadership development instrument, when key managers meet during several months on a bi-weekly basis using Action Learning format to break silos between departments, learn perspective of other colleagues on the key projects each of them run and strengthen the support and trust between them.


Personally, Action Learning is my favorite method of changing corporate culture and team building - it is much simpler that other methods and offers nearly imediate results.

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