Much of the work that John Johnson does with client organizations
comes in the form of what is generally called ACTION LEARNING.
Action learning involves a small group of people solving
real problems while at the same time focusing on what they
are learning and how their learning can benefit each group
member and the organization as a whole.
The distinctive elements of action learning groups as differentiated
from any old groups are:
- They focus explicitly on learning, not just doing. It
means consciously learning while doing and from doing.
As such, action learning groups form the core of a learning
organization. And for individuals reflective action learning
is a major means to their own development as leaders.
- They have the power to take action, not just talk about
it. Action learning groups are not just in a learning mode;
they also do. And that intensifies the learning. Impact
will come from the group while it is learning. The learning
itself is of a different quality because of this. Things
are not just hypothetical. They are real. They are for
keeps and serious.
- They have a system-wide view, not just a look at an isolated
issue. Oftentimes in an organization a work group or task
force focuses on the specific problem or task to be addressed
rather than on the organizationwide, environmental, systemic
elements in which the problem resides, and which must also
be affected if lasting change is to take place. Action
learning groups have a systemic, contextual perspective.
Some action learning groups are intact work groups. Some
are specially convened cross functional or cross unit work
groups. At other times these groups are more public and include
people from various organizations who have an agenda in common.
In the case of the latter groups each member brings and presents
real life problems and plans to the whole group for review
and feedback and help. Progress over time is also presented,
and the group responds to the changing picture represented
in the report of progress over time. In the case of professional
peer groups that use the action learning approach, the members
receive the extra added benefit of learning from consulting
with each other while they are in fact taking turns sharing
case studies of consulting with others in their respective
Along with coaching, action learning has come to deliver
much of the development now going on in organizations. And
both coaching and action learning are major vehicles of organization
development and change for John Johnson and others at Changemaking
Systems as they consult with client organizations.
(To read more about the approach to organizational learning
and change called action learning that reflects the way that
Changemaking Systems does its work with clients, read ACTION
LEARNING by Michael J. Marquardt.)