I established Action Learning Associates in 1988 because I experienced action learning as a radical transformative power which exceeds other forms of solo or facilitated learning. I continue to observe that action learning enables individuals and organisations to learn differently, understand more widely and take bolder steps than they might previously have considered. I have seen the value of creating a structured environment where peers can learn from each other either within an organisation or across sectors.
At the outset I didn’t plan to grow the business beyond what I could deliver personally but, as the demand for action learning has accelerated, I have expanded the company to meet the need and now have an excellent group of associates, all of whom I know well.
Co-Director, Sonja Antell shares responsibility for developing the business and oversees the quality of our work. The company is also well supported by four able administrators.
We are passionate about developing action learning whilst keeping its essence – careful listening, open questioning and thoughtful feedback. We are glad that as a company we are recognised for our emphasis on rigour, quality and consistency.
At the same time as there has been growing recognition of action learning so there has been an increase in the number of people claiming to be facilitators after reading a book or attending a single workshop. One of the main motivations within ALA is to promote and sustain high quality action learning that is solidly based on experience and where the challenges of facilitation are fully understood.
The company has grown because we compete for work that we know falls within our expertise and where we are confident that we can deliver to a high standard. Our relationships with our customers are honest and straightforward – we say what we can do and we always deliver. We share the evaluation material with our customers and we have a high proportion of repeat business. Until recently, all our work came through word of mouth recommendations. Over the years our customer base has expanded considerably and we now operate in all sectors.
We have demonstrated that action learning can work effectively in leadership programmes, as a core element of delivering business critical projects, as a means of building peer networks and of course, developing the core skills of open questioning, critical thinking and reflective learning.
We recognise that different sectors have varying abilities to pay for action learning and have created a pricing structure to reflect this. It is important to me that action learning is as available in the under-funded arts world and to organisations campaigning for social justice and a sustainable world, as it is to the best of the corporate world.
I have continued to build the company whilst still doing what I love – facilitating action learning sets and training and supporting new facilitators.
20 years on – creating lasting change
I’ve recently celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Action Learning Associates, with a wonderful gathering of friends, colleagues and customers who all came together for a celebration of all that is great about action learning. You can read more about this day, and what action learning means to so many here.
Ruth Cook, Managing Director
Ruth is available for speaking events and conferences. For more details, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch: Ruth Cook Webinar: Action Learning – Building Lasting Change