Why Action Learning?

“Action Learning derives its power from the fact that it does not isolate any dimension from the context in which managers work. It develops the whole leader for the whole organisation.”

Michael J Marquardt

Action Learning is a method of collaborative learning used in businesses and other organisations worldwide.

Aims and outcomes of using Action LearningBusinessman

In an Action Learning group, or ‘Set’, participants work on complex workplace problems and challenges. Outcomes include a variety of new perspectives, crucial to solving complex or ‘wicked’ problems.  As a result, participants become more resourceful and better able to take effective decisions in the future.

In an Action Learning Set people meet regularly in a small group, working together. Set colleagues act as peer coaches, using their breadth and depth of experience to question each other.  The combination of support and challenge (‘backbone and heart’) which develops in the Set enables each person in turn to explore and resolve their problem and crucially, understand their own relationship to it.

The Set enables a person to develop a whole raft of skills and qualities, learning to:

  • organise thinking
  • develop skills of critical analysis and questioning
  • become aware of one’s own impact
  • give and receive feedback
  • hone judgment and intuition
  • learn to work with others and value difference

The Set helps people to understand their own relationship to a problem, discover new perspectives and insights and identify and remove internal as well as external, obstacles to its solution.

Key principles

The Action Learning Set is a small group, normally between 5 – 8 people.

There is an expectation of equality, that is:

  • all members have an equal opportunity to participate
  • there is respect for each individual’s contribution
  • the facilitator, if there is one, helps create ownership, not dependency
  • the use of “questioning insight” and action is fundamental to how people learn
  • participation is an Action Learning Set or programme should be voluntary.


The applications of Action Learning are numerous and it is used in a variety of different ways to engage the relevant stakeholders, for example, to:

  • develop the skills and confidence of new and newly promoted managers
  • cascade coaching skills to team members
  • design and deliver specific projects
  • enhance team meetings and team development
  • provide peer support and development
  • enable quality review and improvement.

Find out more…

Phone Jan on 0800 093 7388 or email us to find how CHA’s Action Learning approach can benefit your organisation.