Action learning (AL) is an approach to working with and developing people that uses work on an actual project or problem as a way to learn. It is learning by doing in a controlled environment.1 The practice of AL requires involvement in a real, complex, and oftentimes stressful problem.2 Working in small groups, people tackle important organizational issues and learn from their attempts to change things. Often, a learning coach works with the group to help members learn how to balance their work with the learning from that work. Through a continuous process of learning and reflection within collaborative environment, individuals learn with and from each other as they work on solving real problems.3
There are multiple benefits of action learning. These benefits are:
- It encourages innovative solutions to new and actual problems presented in a highly dynamic global work environment. This is because AL is a question focus approach.
- It allows organizations to align learning strategically with their organizational or business goals. This is because AL is a “results driven learning process.”
- It creates learning organizations. Learning organizations develop resilience and are therefore better poised to survive and thrive in a fast changing environment.
- AL allows organizations to build their workers up without compromising organizational effectiveness. This is because AL “balances working on a problem and learning through that process.”
- AL allows for “transfer of learning from classroom to the work environment.”4
- David L. Dotlich and James L. Noel, Action Learning:
How the World’s Top Companies are ReCreating their
Leaders and Themselves (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 1.
- Judy O'neil and Victoria J. Marsick, Understanding
Action Learning (New York: AMACOM, 2007), 5, accessed
July 13, 2018, https://bit.ly/2L4vXrg
- Ian McGill and Liz Beaty, Action Learning: A Guide for
Professional, Management and Educational Development
(London: Kogan Page, 1995), 21.
- Judy O'neil and Victoria J. Marsick, xvii.