Action Learning Model

Here is an example of a typical action learning model which you can use when running an action learning set. This is just one structure you can use and you will find that different models are appropriate for different groups. This is the model that I have used and found to be successful particularly with those used to asking quality coaching questions. The challenge I have found is using the action learning model with those less experienced at asking open questions where the tendency has been to provide solutions or ask leading questions which direct the issue holder to a particular solution. Of course over time where these skills can be developed set members will be equipped with a set of invaluable tools for using in the workplace.

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Action Learning Model Stage 1: Chart Issues

All set members bring an issue, question or problem they would like to work on to the set and these are charted up by the facilitator. Set members choose in which order they would like to tackle these issues. It is helpful if the issue is articulated concisely as a question
e.g. How do I market my business?
e.g. How can I manage my time more effectively?

Stage 2: Issue-holder presents issue
(2 minutes)

Action Learning Presentation

The issue holder presents their issue to the set as clearly and concisely as possible so that the group has an understanding of the issue to be resolved and what outcomes they would like to achieve from the set

Stage 3: Questions For Clarification
(5 – 10 mins)

Set members ask questions for clarification only to understand more about the issue. The facilitator ideally does not take part in this questioning instead ensures that appropriate questions are asked and that no one person takes up too much air time.

Stage 4: Questions to help the issue holder (10 -15 mins)

At this stage set members ask open ‘coaching’ questions to help the issue holder gain clarity on their issue, provoke deeper thinking, explore options and help the issue holder find a way forward. The facilitator’s role is again to keep the group on track and ensure that members ask open and non-leading questions. e.g:

  • What progress have you made so far?
  • How have you tackled similar issues in the past?
  • What is important to you in addressing this?
  • What do you need to know to start to solve this problem?
  • What is your next step?

Stage 5: Summary (2 mins)

The issue holder summarises the progress made and their course of action, whilst the other set members remain silent

Stage 6: (optional) Resources round (5 mins)

At the request of the issue holder the set members offer their reflections, thoughts, positive affirmations and ideas based on their observations of the issue and their own experiences. As each set member contributes the issue holder should just listen without comment or judgment, as should the other set members.

Stage 7: Issue holder reconfirms action
(2 mins)

Self explanatory.

Stage 8: Process Review

The focus here is on reviewing the process and not the content of the issue holder’s subject. The whole set reflects on how the set worked – what worked well and what has been learned from the process, an any changes to the process are agreed for next time.

Stage 9: Review Actions

The final stage of the action learning model; the next the set meets the issue holders update the rest of the set members on the progress they have made with the actions agreed.

NB. - It's important to adhere to the timing structure laid out in the action learning model in order to keep the process moving.

Further Reading

The Action Learning Handbook: Powerful Techniques for Education, Professional Development and Training by Anne Brockbank and Ian McGill (Paperback - 6 Nov 2003)

Action Learning: A Practical Guide for Managers by Krystyna Weinstein (Paperback - 16 Nov 1998)

See Also:-

Action Learning And Group Coaching
What Is Action Learning
Action Learning Principles
Action Learning Ground Rules
Action Learning Set Roles
Action Learning Skills
Role Of Action Learning Facilitator
The Ideal Number Of Members In An Action Learning Set?
Lifetime Of An Action Learning Set
Business Mastermind Model

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