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Action learning

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 organizations.

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.)

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phone ............... 952.435.7464
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