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Action Learning

What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a method for individual and organisation development based on small groups of colleagues meeting over time to tackle real problems. Its roots are in adult learning and organisational development, ensuring that individuals can continue to be supported in their roles and learn from colleagues.

It is underpinned by a belief in individual potential: a way of learning from our actions and from what happens to us, and around us, by taking the time to question, understand and reflect, to gain insights and consider how to act in the future.

How does it work in the CLN?

CLN members are carefully divided into groups of ten people (known as Action Learning Sets), ensuring each group has cross profession representation and organisation. Each group has an external, expert facilitator and the groups convene at each CLN monthly meeting, immediately after the external speaker. The group membership provides a forum for active discussion and debate of key topics, giving members the opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues in a confidential and supportive environment.

The duration of the Action Learning Sets was initially defined locally by the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), with evidence showing that a commitment of at least 8 months leads to measurable improvements in service delivery. The sets nurture and develop networks of colleagues that will reamain invaluable throughout each clinician's career. ALS will work closely with an independent facilitator to ensure that all views, development needs and issues are constructively addressed as part of the process.

Key principles of Action Learning

  • Creating the context and environment for empowered action
  • Learning from experience - what has and has not worked well
  • A multi-disciplinary approach to addressing complex issues
  • Acknowledging that people in the room have the capability and capacity to effect change
  • Utilising the resources in the room fully

Model of Action Learning


Diagram showing the processes of Action learning

Action Learning matches the philosophy of CLN to:

  • Give participants the opportunity to learn from each other and engage in shared learning.
  • Support innovation.
  • Allow participants to highlight problems and areas where they have special interest, strength or weakness.
  • Enable participants to deal with the kind of management problems which cannot easily be resolved through lectures / seminars.
  • Give enough time to build up strong relationships and networks outside seminar or lecture based sessions.