Action Learning Session: ideas are provided to find a solution to a complex problem.

Action Learning Session: ideas are provided to find a solution to a complex problem.

One of the core activities of HR Concept, is Coaching/Action Learning.

What is Action Learning?

According to the definition of the World Institute of Action Learning (WIAL), ‘Action Learning’ is

a process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. It helps organizations develop creative, flexible and successful strategies to pressing problems.

Why is it special?

Action Learning is a powerful tool used by organizations for solving their critical and complex problems, issues and projects. It has gained its reputation as an effective method used by organizations around the world for developing leaders, building teams, and transforming organizations.

The phenomenon of Action Learning lays in its unique power to enable practitioners of diverse background and experience to simultaneously solve difficult problems as a group and develop their leadership capabilities and apply the learning to improve the team performance to the benefit of the whole organization. Action Learning promotes a high performing and learning culture in organizations where people are encouraged to work towards a shared goal, to stimulate each other’s thinking by asking great questions and to produce extraordinary results.

Key information about action learning

2 Ground rules

There at two ground rules to norm the way the group will be working:

  • Statements can only be made in response to a question, which anyone may ask or answer.
  • The Action Learning Coach may intervene anytime when there is an opportunity to learn or develop.


The first ground rule boosts the creative and innovative approach as questions encourage inquiry, sharing of ideas and dialogue.

The second ground rule clarifies the role of the coach which is to facilitate learning whether that may be at an individual, team, or organizational level.

The coach:

  • does not provide or suggest any team norms beyond the two basic ground rules;
  • asks questions that encourage the team to consider what norms, roles, behaviours, and processes will improve their performance.

6 Key components

The Action Learning process is an exceptional problem-solving tool that has the capacity to simultaneously build successful leaders, teams and organisations and is based on 6 components.

The 6 components of Action Learning, a cycle what the learning process is all about: Problem solving, Group, Questions, Action, Commitment to learning, Action Learning Coach

The 6 components of Action Learning, a cycle what the learning process is all about: Problem solving, Group, Questions, Action, Commitment to learning, Action Learning Coach

Problem Solving

Action Learning is most effective when a problem or a challenge is complex, tough, essential for success and within the circle of influence of the group.


Because of group dynamics, Action Learning works best in sets of 4 to 8 persons, preferably with diverse background and viewpoints. It gives the best air space, participation and synergy for the team members.

The composition of the group is best when team members have different experience. In addition the more complex and criticial the less valuable experts but various perspectives.

The group commits to a certain behaviour – working through asking questions, being present and listening; willing to develop and learn; being respectful and supportive to others.


Action Learning tackles problems through a process of first asking questions to clarify the exact nature of the problem, reflecting and identifying possible solutions, and only then taking action. Asking questions, help us to come to breakthrough ideas through reflecting; listening, being creative, understanding the context and content of the problem, generating innovative and systems thinking. The focus is on asking questions not providing answers for breakthrough insights.


The outcome of the session(s) would be the development of strategies and implementation of an agreed action plan:

  • Actions and strategies requiring systems thinking
  • Creating optimal solutions and strategies
  • Testing ideas in between the sessions

Commitment to learning

The commitment is on three different levels:

  • to develop our leadership skills;
  • to help others learn and develop;
  • to identify learning opportunities within the organization.

Action Learning Coach (AL Coach)

The main functions of the coach is to help the group to learn, to work smarter and more effectively; to assure norms and the process is followed by the group members.

AL coach accelerates the learning and performance of the team also by asking questions.


Creativity in approach is in Action Learning a key in finding the right course of action for a given problem

Creativity in approach is in Action Learning a key in finding the right course of action for a given problem


A process that involves a small team/group working on real problems, taking action, and learning while doing so.

Action Learning belongs to the 70% of most effective learning practices when you learn from your own experience


On individual level AL will be very useful to:

  • Resolve the issue at hand.
  • Increase awareness and enable individuals to identify personal development challenges.
  • Develop self-confidence and readiness to take responsibility and initiative.
  • Help people relate to, communicate and network with others more effectively.
  • Build leadership competencies.
  • Develop systems thinking, creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.
  • Develop individual competences in problem-solving and decision-making processes.
  • Enhance participants’ capacity to reflect on and learn from their individual and collective experiences.

On team level AL helps to:

  • work more efficiently and effectively;
  • building and guide teams;
  • enable more disciplined ways of working in powerful teams;
  • enable individuals and teams to learn while working;
  • provide structured peer support and feedback;
  • enhance capability to reflect on and learn from collective experience.

On organizational level AL aims at:

  • enhancing business performance;
  • enhancing employee engagement, involvement and performance;
  • creating learning culture and learning organization;
  • supporting the innovation;
  • establishing succession planning by developing candidates for promotion to executive leadership positions;
  • enabling participants to establish effective, mutually respectful working relationships with co-workers at all organizational levels;
  • increasing competence in preparing and presenting recommendations concerning urgent organizational issues to executive management.

To sum up the method can be successfully used for short-term problem solving and team coaching and long-term development of leadership skills, team coaching and improvement of business results.

If you are interested in the Action Learning:

We deliver a demo session for you!

We deliver Action Learning sessions with an intro training for your organization!

We design and implement the leadership and talent development programs with Action Learning sessions embedded in these programs!

We conduct Foundations of Action Learning workshops as Renata Czajkowska from HR Concept is CALC-certified ‘Certified Action Learning Coach’ with the right to conduct this training!

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