What is the Action Learning Model and What Purpose Does It Serve in Organizations?
Is your company looking for a more proactive approach to solving problems and focusing on activities? First introduced in 1930s, Reg Revan pioneered the model and it remains one of the most well-liked models today-in spite of developments in various other forms followed by the more “action-oriented” models like Appreciative Inquiry they were created to replace.
Elements of Action Learning
The action learning model has 6 main elements:
A group of people with a common goal or challenge to work on. The team may be composed of 4-6 members. However, it can vary on the complexity of the problem and solutions that might be needed. The team assumes the core responsibility of finding the root cause of the problem and proposing solutions to the problem. As per management direction, a separate team for implementation may be assigned
A facilitator helps the group identify their goals and plan their actions. A Facilitator can be an internal or an external resource. The facilitator is generally an expert in the field and helps in asking the right questions and providing coaching and leadership to the team when they are in distress
The action learning model facilitates the team to take the taken by the group to address the identified challenge
It emphasizes reflection of the results achieved by the group
The Action learning model is iterative and passed on through a set of changing actions. It also is directed towards gradual and continuous improvement with incremental changes. However, it can also be used to bring major changes in the organizations or affected processes
Unlike other models, Action-oriented models are resulted-oriented and look forward to solving problems
Benefits of Action Learning
Framework for Solution
Action Learning provides organizations with a powerful tool for learning and improving performance.
Effective Problem Solving
Action Learning helps groups identify and solve problems more effectively while developing the group’s collective intelligence.
Fosters Creative Thinking
Action Learning fosters creative thinking and innovation within organizations. It allows employees to try new ideas and solutions in a safe environment before implementing them in the real world.
Action Learning develops leaders at all levels within an organization. It gives employees the opportunity to practice leadership skills and learn from their mistakes in a safe setting.
Action Learning builds team cohesion and trust, as team members learn to rely on each other for support and advice.
Root Cause Analysis
Action learning allows attacking the problem at the source. So team members focus on curing the problem rather than developing temporary band-aid solutions
Success Through Enquiry
Inquiry helps in peer development. The action learning model facilitates inquiry and questioning and helps in bringing a cultural change within an organization
Needless to say, action learning helps in developing team ownership. Teams own and resolve a problem rather than pushing the blame outwards
Solution Based Approach
One of the biggest advantages of Action-based learning is the team focuses on solving rather than blaming. As the team is empowered to take decisions and implement changes on the ground, the solution focus helps in breaking the silos and creating substantial problem-solving skills.
Why Does the Action Learning Model Need to be Implemented in Organizations?
The Action Learning Model is a unique and effective way of handling problems and learning from experience. It has been shown to improve problem-solving and help organizations learn from their mistakes. Additionally, there are other benefits of an Action Learning model:
- It aids the organization to be agile by quickly addressing problems
- Develop Problem-solving and critical analysis of the team
- Helps in reducing team friction fostering unity
- The role of the leader or facilitator is critical and it provides the facilitator with sufficient exposure to leadership
- Many critical and long-standing problems can be solved
- Behaviorally, it empowers the employees to take decisions and provide solutions for the same
- The action-oriented approach helps individuals to resolve bottlenecks proactively
- Reflection on the actions and the solutions help in creating a significant knowledge base for the organization
The Components of the Action Learning Model
The action learning model is a process that organizations use to improve performance and solve problems. It is based on the premise that organizations learn best by doing. The model consists of four components:
Organizations must first identify a problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed. The Problem may or may not be unique. However, the thrust should be made in solving unique problems so that it helps in building a knowledge capital
A team of people with the necessary skills and knowledge is assembled to work on the problem. The team is the core. The team is generally self-drive and takes ownership of the solution and the implementation of the solution.
The team develops and implements a plan of action to address the problem or opportunity. The action plan can be a process change, a set of new documents, or simply a change in the communication plan. The Action should be documented and briefed in a change management communication so that it can be implemented. Also, the focus should be given to generating sustainable actions rather than temporary fixes
The team evaluates the results of their action and makes adjustments as needed. Feedback should be captured in form of the voice of the customer or their feedback on the changes. It should be implemented in the later phases of improvement cycles
The action learning model is an iterative process, meaning that each cycle of the four steps leads to new insights and understanding. The ultimate goal is for the organization to continuously improve its performance through learning from experience.
Characteristics of the Action Learning Model
The Action Learning model is a powerful tool for organizational learning. It is characterized by four key features: action, reflection, inquiry, and community.
Action is the central element of the model. Learning takes place through active involvement in real-world tasks and projects. This hands-on approach allows learners to gain first-hand experience and understanding of the concepts being studied.
Reflection is another key element of the model. After taking part in an activity, learners reflect on their experience and learn from it. This step is crucial for deepening understanding and applying learnings to future situations.
Inquiry is another important characteristic of Action Learning. Learners are encouraged to ask questions and explore different perspectives. This helps them develop a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.
Finally, the Action Learning model is based on the principle of community. Learners work together in groups, share their experiences, and support each other in the learning process. This collaborative approach fosters a climate of trust and respect, which is essential for effective learning.
Disadvantages of Action Learning
1. Action learning can be time-consuming.
2. It can be difficult to find suitable problems to solve.
3. Action learning can be disruptive to normal work routines.
4. There is a risk that action learning programs will not be successful.
How to use Action Learning for Professional Development
Organizations are always looking for ways to improve employee development and performance. One model that has gained popularity in recent years is action learning. Action learning is a process where individuals learn from experience and then take action to improve their performance. Best way to learn it is through an action learning project.
Action learning can be used for professional development in a number of ways. For example, it can be used to help employees identify areas where they need to improve, set goals, and create action plans. Additionally, action learning can be used to provide employees with feedback and support as they work to improve their performance. Examples of Action Learning can be the continuous improvement in a manufacturing line, detailing customer satisfaction issues, and process improvement of material flow.
If your organization is interested in using action learning for employee development, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, action learning works best when it is tailored to the needs of the individual. Second, action learning should be used in conjunction with other development activities, such as coaching or mentoring. Finally, it is important to create a supportive environment for active learning, where employees feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things.
The Basic model of implementation should have a 4 Loop Process which needs to be continuously upgraded and improved with allows the model to mature and create substantial knowledge capital for the organization.
Research and Studies on Action Learning
There is a lot of research and studies conducted on action learning. This is because action learning is gaining more popularity as an organizational learning model. Many organizations are attracted to action learning because it is flexible and customizable, and it has been proven to be effective in fostering organizational learning.
There are many studies that have been conducted on action learning. Some of these studies focus on the specific benefits of action learning, while others compare action learning to other organizational learning models. Overall, the research shows that action learning is an effective model for promoting organizational learning.
One study found that action learning was particularly effective in promoting leaders’ self-efficacy and development. Another study found that the action learning training method was more effective than traditional training methods in promoting employees’ problem-solving skills. A third study found that action learning was more effective than other educational interventions in promoting employees’ willingness to learn.
Overall, the research shows that action learning is an effective model for promoting organizational learning. Action learning is flexible and customizable, and it has been proven to be effective in fostering organizational learning. If you’re looking for an organizational learning
Samrat is a Delhi-based MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. He is a Strategy, AI, and Marketing Enthusiast and passionately writes about core and emerging topics in Management studies. Reach out to his LinkedIn for a discussion or follow his Quora Page