How action learning can underpin great Governance

ALA were delighted to be invited to run two action learning taster sessions at the Governance Now conference in London on Tuesday 13th November, hosted by the Cultural Governance Alliance.

Aimed at leaders of arts and cultural organisations, the conference attracted both board members and executives keen to share their knowledge and to network. Apparently the tickets sold in record time, and this appetite was reflected in the high energy levels evident throughout the day.

Many important messages emerged from the conference. A recurring one was the need for strong relationships – between trustees, board and staff, chairs and chief executives – as the basis for great governance.

Great governance is much more than legal compliance; it’s about enabling the creativity, challenge and growth which are essential for arts and culture organisations to thrive. Trustees and staff need to understand each others’ perspectives, create reflective space to explore important strategic issues, and undertake horizon scanning by looking forward and checking assumptions.

Building strong relationships with action learning

We were struck in our taster sessions by the trust that our participants showed by being willing to work with a small group of strangers. People spoke about the real issues they were facing, and experienced the blend of support and challenge that action learning provides.

It was inspiring to see how effective even a short experience of the process could be. Action learning encourages attentive listening, insightful questioning, and reflection – all skills which are essential to great governance. Many people expressed their enthusiasm for action learning during the day, and we are looking forward to working with more leaders in this sector in future.

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