Category Archives: All blog posts

Hate networking? Discover a surprise networking tool

One of the surprise benefits of action learning is building deep and lasting working relationships – networking.

Many people are aware of the publicised benefits of action learning such as problem-solving, developing the ability to listen, enquiring and questioning effectively to find creative solutions. However an additional outcome is the connectedness participants develop with other set members as they work together. They come to value their support and appreciate that other set members really empathise with them and understand their position.


‘There are those who are listening, and those who are waiting to speak…’ And then there are those who just talk and talk…

‘There are those who are listening, and those who are waiting to speak…’ And then there are those who just talk and talk… John Heywood muses on the set member who finds it impossible to work within the principles of action learning and how best to deal with it. More

Action learning - problems or puzzles?

Problems or puzzles

One man asked, directly, why waste time asking questions of someone with a problem, if you can see the answer to their problem. Surely it’s better just to give the answer? More

Mindfulness – a route to personal confidence and professional competence

Apparently, it is Mindfulness year. Surya Turner, Sonja Antell and I did not know this when we developed a one day mindful facilitation course – continuous professional development for experienced facilitators which combines basic mediation techniques with an exploration of the wilder shores running action learning sets team days, board events or large groups. More

Building relationships in professional services

Action learning can prove a challenge for people working in professional services where the “right” answers – and providing those answers quickly – are their trade. Some may find it hard not to give advice and to resist the temptation to “solve” the presenter’s problem. Sonja Antell reflects on the benefits that developing open questioning techniques can bring to client relationships for people working in professional services. More

Tackling gender equality using action learning – from guest blogger Frances McAndrew

When I realised that through action learning, small incremental actions would take place that when added together could show real change almost without people realising, I was sold! What better way could there be to overcome the fear of change and failure than through actually achieving successful change? Frances McAndrew reflects on the benefits of using action learning to tackle gender equality issues. More

Evaluating action learning – expecting the unexpected

Mandy Hetherton explains how evaluating action learning requires an approach which makes room for the unexpected. The element of discovery is central to action learning. Participants learn things about themselves that they were unaware of; they experiment with new approaches to tasks; and they experience a way of working with others which is often quite different from the prevailing norm. More

Action learning and retail….the challenge of responding quickly and thinking deeply

The slow pace of action learning can seem alien to customers in the dynamic and fast moving retail industry – Director Sonja Antell reflects on how the chance to step back and reflect is proving so valuable to ALA’s retail sector customers. More

Becoming a leader, and becoming uncertain…

“If I have a problem I think about all the possible solutions and then choose a way to fix it” …Toby Lindsay muses on how the action learning process moves new managers into greater areas of uncertainty, places where the “think of the solutions and choose” option is not the most useful approach, and how it equips them with a range of skills, relationships and practices to lead more comfortably and effectively. More

What makes a good long term relationship?

ALA is embarking on a number of new projects which have originated from long term relationships or referrals from our customers. Senior Associate, Sonja Antell contemplates the nature of long term business relationships and how some of the elements of these relationships actually mirror those of action learning. More