A new challenge for action learning – presenting a group held issue

Within days of the UK voting on the Brexit referendum, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do some work with the Danish green energy company DONG Energy.

It was interesting being in Copenhagen with the UK so prominent in the news and I had many varied conversations as a result. I was struck with the much better approach to work life balance in Denmark than is prevalent in the UK.  This entirely supports the professionalism I found in all I met and worked with at DONG Energy and seems to be encouraged by proactive work planning. Planning work well helps prevent surprises and helps people manage their diaries when life is as complex as it is.

This professionalism was also very evident in the highly reflective leadership group I worked with. In my set were people with varied senior roles in OD, L&D and HR in a global business, where the market is in a dynamic state of change. So the business demands on these people are complex and important.

As well as working with the classic action learning approach, we used a challenging model where the issue is shared by all the set. The issue identified was how to implement the 70-20-10 learning philosophy.

This philosophy aims to get the most learning in the workplace from people’s day to day projects, activities and roles. It does require a shift in mind-set and a move away from the “going on a training course” approach to development needs.

For this project, the set presented a group held issue rather than an individual held issue, presenting new challenges to facilitate the session. It was a surprisingly demanding application of action learning which created and brought up complexity in the questioning. It did also provide us with some humour.

The outcome of the programme in this instance was really rich.  We generated a surprising number of individual actions that people could take to impact the issue overall as well as some shared group actions.

The process created real ways for change to happen and supported team understanding of the issue.

I am looking forward to continuing the work with some virtual action learning sessions and now back in the UK, I am reflecting on the better work life balance culture in Denmark which only seems to add to the professionalism in the workplace.

2 thoughts on “A new challenge for action learning – presenting a group held issue”

  1. Hi Sonja

    Your experience really struck a cord. Following a conversation with a colleague recently on how to embed working with difference across the organisation using action learning. This is very much theme based with the idea of working with equality champions to embed scross the organisation. However I was struck or stuck as to how to do this in a set where ordinarily one person presents a problem or issue to solve and act upon. Your blog has given me some thoughts as to a way forward. It would be gòod to hear a bit more as to how the processs was played out in your work. Regards Wes

  2. Thanks for the post Sonja – Highlights how flexible, adaptable and powerful action learning can be!

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