What is Action Learning ?

The WIAL Action Learning process is an exceptional problem-solving tool that has the amazing capacity to simultaneously build successful leaders, teams and organisations. It involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and deliberately learning as they go. It positions inquiry and questions at the heart of organisation culture. It has been embraced by global leaders such as Microsoft, NASA, Caterpillar, Boeing, Nokia, GE, Samsung and literally hundreds of other organisations in all sectors.

The Six Components of Action Learning

WIAL Action learning1. A problem or challenge

The problem should be urgent and significant and should be the responsibility of the team to resolve.

2. An Action Learning group or team

The Action Learning team is ideally composed of 4–8 people who examine an organisational problem that has no easily identifiable solution. The group should be diverse in background and experience.

3. A process of insightful questioning and reflective listening

Action Learning tackles problems through a process of first asking questions to clarify the exact nature of the problem, reflecting and identifying possible solutions, and only then taking action. Questions build group dialogue and cohesiveness, generate innovative and systems thinking, and enhance learning results.

4. Action taken on the problem

Action Learning requires that the group be able to take action on the problem it is working on. Members of the Action Learning group must have the power to take action themselves or be assured that their recommendations will be implemented.

5. A commitment to learning

Solving an organisational problem provides immediate, short-term benefits to the organisation. The greater, longer term strategic value to the organisation is the learning gained by each group member and the group as a whole, as well as how the learnings are applied on a systems-wide basis throughout the organisation.

6. An Action Learning Coach

The Action Learning coach helps the team members reflect on both what they are learning and how they are solving problems. The coach enables group members to reflect on how they listen, re-frame the problem, give each other feedback, how they plan and work together, and what assumptions may be shaping their beliefs and actions.

The two ground rules of WIAL Action Learning

Action Learning applies the following two ground rules in all sessions:

1. Statements can only be made in response to questions and anyone can ask and answer questions.

2. The Action Learning coach has the power to intervene in the Action Learning session to identify learning opportunities.