When I’m working from home I try to go for a quick run before lunch. My original idea was to make sure I took a break, but I soon noticed that very often new ideas will pop into my head as I’m pounding the streets. So perhaps it’s not surprising, given my preference for thinking on my feet, that Action Learning appeals to me.
Maybe it’s because I’m from Yorkshire, but I’m naturally sceptical about theory: especially management theory which largely seems to be common sense dressed up with jargon. But Action Learning was invented by a guy called Reg who worked for the National Coal Board so as you might imagine it’s deeply practical and applied. I first came across it about three years ago courtesy of visual artists who, with support from Artquest, were using peer-peer learning models to develop their practice and/or their careers.
For those of you who have yet to discover Action Learning, I’ll try and sum it up in a few lines. As the name suggests, Action Learning is a professional development process where the emphasis is equally on:
- Action – coming up with ideas about how to improve or approach a situation/ project, and,
- Learning – reflecting on a situation to better understand it.
It has a lot in common with coaching – in terms of ethos – but unlike coaching it involves a small group of peers who coach and support one another. If you’re interested in finding out more I’ve uploaded a basic factsheet about Action Learning here. I’ve just qualified as an accredited facilitator for Action Learning through a course run by Action Learning Associates – a company I’d recommend highly if you’re looking for either facilitation or training in Action Learning.
There’s already a number of Action Learning ‘sets’ already working in the arts sector, and projects such as MMM’s (re) evolution and the recent Stronger Together event are testament to a growing appetite for peer-peer support models.
I’m keen to join or set-up a self-facilitated set myself– so if you are interested in joining me, or know someone who might be please forward this blog post to them using the links below. I’m based in York and happy to travel up to an hour so by train people of Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield etc please get in touch!