ALA runs regular open taster workshops for people who are keen to try action learning or for those who may be considering using action learning in their organisation and want to know more.
It is a slightly risky thing to do – the make-up of the group which attends is entirely arbitrary – made up of a wide cross section of people and professionals spanning a diverse range of organisations and businesses. A few already have a little experience of action learning and want to revisit; others have no experience at all. Some are tasked with starting programmes in their organisations and just want to see what action learning involves.
An event like this has the potential to be slow or awkward with a group of strangers in a room unknown to the facilitator. An afternoon is not long to hope for a group to gel and work together in a powerful way. However we have repeatedly been really successful with this approach. Twelve people attended our third open workshop last month and within an hour we had a one off action learning set up and working.
After a short introduction to action learning and the core principles including active listening, open questions and the importance of maintaining confidentiality – the set (with the support of the facilitator) had a presentation under way. Seven people worked within the set and the remaining five took on the role of observers to monitor which open questions landed with impact. The presentation and open questions lasted almost an hour and, once a number of unexpected actions had been identified, the set moved on to look at its own learning and to offer reflections to the courageous presenter.
There were a variety of practice questions that came up for the set and the observers and then we spent time looking at a wide range of creative applications of action learning.
Once the set was underway the group felt surprisingly intimate. The presenter was brave in sharing and the set put aside their own concerns for the afternoon and listened fully to him. The impact of creating this special space in a room of strangers was really powerful.
At tea time people linked up and networked and the practice questions and applications of action learning session was highly interactive with people bringing really creative and challenging questions.
Whilst people said it was generous of ALA to offer so much freely, with someone describing it as “my best google result ever”, it was a real honour to facilitate a group of previously unknown people in this classic methodology and see such significant learning for the set and value for the presenter.
Our next taster session is on Monday 18 January 2016 to book your place please email firstname.lastname@example.org