Global Forum on Action Learning

My head is buzzing after 3 days meeting action learners from around the world in Paris. The conference was a mix of global corporates, business schools and a few consultants. They were all experienced in business driven action learning.

What I valued most was the scale of the questions we asked ourselves: the critical moral questions of our age:

  • how much is enough? And to hear that Mars is investing in exploring this with Saïd Business School in Oxford
  • the major factors facing corporates, as identified by UPS – demography, globalisation, technology, climate change, migration/immigration and working on how top managers can identify their key issues with all the noise in the system
  • to hear that Vattenfall, a Utilities Company in Sweden has as their new purpose: ‘Fossil free living within one generation’
  • to hear about companies trying to do business differently e.g. Danone and the work of Danone Communities supporting small businesses in the field of water and nutrition aimed at the bottom of the pyramid (where consumers earn $2- $5 per day)
  • the challenge for leaders of looking at WQ in addition to IQ and EQ. WQ is the ability to think in a worldwide way, i.e. to what extent you are able to connect and see the bigger picture.
  • The move from ego leadership development to eco leadership development.

It was clear that action learning, in its 39 varieties identified by Yury Boshyk, has a crucial role to play in giving people reflective space and critical thinking skills; in helping them develop agility and the ability to challenge current mindsets. We heard, amongst many examples how action learning is being used in UPS to create culture change and a move towards a working environment where everyone can thrive.

My colleague John Heywood and I presented on the topic of Virtual Action Learning. Our challenge to them given the context we had explored was “The Future of Action Learning is Virtual”.

There was agreement in the conference that this is a necessary shift and that facilitators need to adapt and develop their skills to be confident in the digital space.

I am leaving inspired and challenged and reinvigorated by what Action Learning Associates can contribute to the future in this valuable network.


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