Action Learning Sets in Business


“There is no learning without action and no action without learning” (Revans 1983)

“So, what exactly are action learning sets?” I hear you ask.

Action learning sets (ALS) are  an educational development tool designed to facilitate continued development among professionals.

ALS promote a ‘learning culture,’ hence the growing uptake of this technique within all kinds of businesses.

The basic components of an ALS are as follows:

  • They are small groups of 4-7 people who meet regularly in order to solve real-time work-related problems.

  • Group members can be colleagues who work closely or colleagues from different departments or collaborated organisations.

  • The primary objective is to take a questioning approach to support each other in problem-solving and shared decision-making.

  • They comprise different roles that can be adopted at any one time (Box 1).

Box 1: Roles within an ALS

The facilitator – one member guides the group towards problem resolution

The presenter (of the problem) – one member of the group raises a real-time work-related problem

The questioner – other members take turns questioning the presenter in order to identify a potential solution or action plan

The listener – all members demonstrate active listening to one another

The reflector – the reflector observes and listens to the group, thoroughly considering everything before offering ideas

People are generally known to be  either a good listener or a good talker.  With ALS, you can be both.  

Skills not usually utilised are honed in a supportive environment built on team spirit.

By supporting and challenging one another to think, act, and question, all group members are given a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment.  

Try using action learning sets in your business.  Perhaps you have already use them and would like to share your experience?


For information on forming an action learning set:

Categories: Business

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