The Role of Action Learning

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Action learning is yet another way—like coaching, executive coaching, mentoring,

and leadership development programs—to build competencies. Action

learning, while invented in 1971 by Reg Revans,24 literally means learning

through action. While various approaches to it exist,25 they share a bias to

action. This is not online or onsite training; rather, it is practical learning that

builds competencies and is focused around solving problems, creating visions,

seeking goals, or leveraging strengths.26

Typically, participants in action learning are assembled to work on a practical,

real-world problem.27 They may be chosen based on their individual abilities

that will contribute to the issue that brings the team together and a

developmental need to be met. They are asked to collect information about an

issue, experiment with solutions or implement them, and learn while they do

that.

To use action learning appropriately, organizational leaders must select the

right people to put on the right teams. By doing that, individuals learn while

doing. And the organization gains a solution to a problem, a clearly conceptualized

vision, or a quantum leap in leveraging a strength.