Action Learning Sets

Definition of Action Learning Sets

Action learning sets are a powerful tool for personal and professional development, enabling individuals to learn from their own experiences and those of their peers. In this setting, a small group of individuals meets regularly to discuss and reflect on real-life work problems and challenges, seeking solutions that are both practical and effective. The emphasis is on learning through action and experimentation, with participants encouraged to take risks and implement new ideas within their organizations. This approach not only promotes individual growth, but also fosters a culture of collaboration and shared learning within the group. Overall, action learning sets are a dynamic and interactive way for individuals to gain new insights, skills, and perspectives in order to tackle complex issues in the workplace.


Action Learning Sets
Action learning sets are a powerful tool for personal and professional development, enabling individuals to learn from their own experiences and those of their peers.

Importance of Action Learning Sets in personal and professional development

Action Learning Sets (ALS) play a crucial role in both personal and professional development by addressing core issues, disrupting and improving established organizational cultures, and developing employees at all levels. ALS provide a platform for individuals to come together, share experiences, and work collaboratively to find solutions to real-world challenges. This not only fosters a culture of continuous improvement but also promotes learning and innovation within an organization.

Joining an ALS can also benefit individuals personally by allowing them to build connections, be resilient, and develop emotional intelligence. Through the process of solving problems, individuals learn to work through setbacks, manage emotions, and build strong relationships with their peers. As a result, they become more resilient, adaptable, and better equipped to handle the challenges they face both personally and professionally.

Overall, ALS contribute to personal development by promoting emotional intelligence and resilience, and to professional development by improving organizational culture and developing employees at all levels. These sets create an environment that supports growth, collaboration, and innovation, making them a valuable tool for individuals and organizations alike.

History and origins of Action Learning Sets

Action Learning Sets, commonly referred to as ALS, have a rich history dating back to the 1940s when Reg Revans, a prominent educational theorist, first introduced the concept. The origins of ALS can be traced to Revans’ work in the coal mining industry in England, where he observed that traditional training methods were not as effective as learning through action and reflection. This led to the development of the Action Learning approach, which has since been widely adopted in various fields such as business, education, and healthcare. Revans’ innovative approach to learning has stood the test of time, and the concept of Action Learning Sets continues to be a popular method for organizations and individuals to address real-world challenges through collaborative problem-solving and reflection. Understanding the history and origins of ALS is crucial to fully appreciate its impact and relevance in modern-day settings.

Reg Revans and his contribution to Action Learning

Reg Revans was a pioneer in the development of Action Learning, a problem-solving technique that involves a group of individuals coming together to solve real-world problems, while at the same time learning from each other. Initially, Revans was reluctant to take on the role of facilitator in Action Learning groups, as he believed that members should control their own work and learning process. He emphasized the importance of members taking responsibility for their own learning and the facilitator merely serving as a process referee rather than an expert.

Revans was concerned that the role of the facilitator would become that of an expert, which would go against the principles of Action Learning. To better understand practitioners’ perspectives on the role of the facilitator, he conducted a mini-inquiry to gather insights and feedback. This inquiry helped to shape his views and approach to the role of the facilitator in Action Learning, leading to a greater emphasis on the facilitator as a process guide rather than an expert.

Overall, Reg Revans’ contribution to Action Learning lies in his emphasis on members controlling their own work and learning process, as well as his willingness to adapt the role of the facilitator based on practitioners’ perspectives and insights from the mini-inquiry.

Evolution of Action Learning Sets over time

Action learning sets have evolved significantly since their inception in the 1940s by Reg Revans. Initially used in the management and leadership development context, action learning has expanded across various sectors including healthcare, education, and social services. This expansion has been supported by endorsements from organizations such as the Department of Health, which has recognized the value of action learning in driving improvements and innovation within the healthcare sector.

Over time, action learning sets have become a crucial method for individual and organizational development, emphasizing the importance of reflection, collaboration, and learning from experiences. They have evolved into safe spaces within the fast-changing workplace environment, enabling participants to address complex challenges, gain new perspectives, and develop practical solutions. The key developments and changes in the use of action learning sets reflect the ongoing evolution of this method, aligning with the changing needs and demands of contemporary organizations.

Principles and ground rules for Action Learning Sets


Action Learning Sets (ALS) provide a structured and collaborative approach to solving complex problems, developing leadership skills, and fostering personal and professional growth. To ensure the success of ALS, it is important to establish clear principles and ground rules to guide the process and facilitate a cohesive and productive learning environment.

Principles for Action Learning Sets:

1. Peer support and challenge: ALS operates on the principle that members are both supportive and challenging to each other, fostering an environment where individuals are encouraged to critically examine their beliefs and assumptions.

2. Commitment to action: ALS requires participants to commit to taking tangible actions between sessions in order to apply their learning and make progress towards their goals.

3. Confidentiality and trust: Establishing a culture of trust and confidentiality within the set is crucial to creating a safe space for open and honest dialogue.

4. Equal participation: All members are expected to contribute equally to the discussion and offer diverse perspectives, creating a rich learning experience for everyone involved.

Ground rules for Action Learning Sets:

1. Punctuality and attendance: Members are expected to attend all sessions and arrive on time to maximize the learning opportunities for themselves and others.

2. Respectful communication: All communication within the set should be respectful, constructive, and focused on the development of solutions and learning.

3. Focus on the individual: ALS discussions should prioritize the individual’s learning and development needs, ensuring that each member receives the support and guidance they require.

4. Accountability: Members hold themselves and each other accountable for the commitments made between sessions, promoting a sense of responsibility and achievement.

Establishing trust and confidentiality within the set

Establishing trust and confidentiality within the set is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment and ensuring the overall success of the project. Without trust, team members may feel hesitant to share their ideas or concerns, leading to a lack of collaboration and innovation. Additionally, without confidentiality, sensitive information may be leaked, causing distrust among team members and potential harm to the project.

To develop a culture of trust and confidentiality, clear communication is essential. Team members should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment. Setting boundaries is also important, ensuring that personal and professional lines are not crossed. Honoring confidentiality agreements is crucial to building trust among the team, as it demonstrates respect for sensitive information and the privacy of colleagues.

Overall, trust and confidentiality are vital for fostering a positive work environment and achieving the goals of the project. By prioritizing clear communication, setting boundaries, and honoring confidentiality agreements, teams can build a foundation of trust that will ultimately contribute to the success of the project.

Encouraging openness and respectfu communication

In any team or organization, creating an environment that encourages openness and respectful communication is crucial for fostering collaboration, creativity, and productivity. It is essential for all team members to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Strategies such as active listening, clear and direct communication, and constructive feedback can help in fostering an atmosphere of respect and understanding. Active listening involves giving full attention to the speaker and demonstrating empathy, which not only makes the speaker feel valued but also fosters mutual respect. Clear and direct communication ensures that messages are understood and misconceptions are minimized. Constructive feedback allows for the sharing of both positive and negative feedback in a manner that is constructive and encourages growth.

By promoting openness and respectful communication, teams can benefit from diverse perspectives, better problem-solving, and stronger relationships among team members. Ultimately, it leads to a more positive and productive work environment.

Structure and process of Action Learning Sets

Action Learning Sets (ALS) are a powerful tool for personal and professional development within organizations. This innovative approach brings together small groups of individuals to support each other in solving problems, sharing knowledge, and improving performance. Through a structured process and framework, ALS provides a supportive environment for individuals to reflect on their experiences, gain new insights, and take action to achieve their goals. In this article, we will explore the structure and process of Action Learning Sets, including how they are formed, the roles of participants, and the steps involved in the problem-solving and learning process. We will also examine the benefits of ALS in promoting collaboration, leadership development, and continuous improvement within the workplace.

Selecting members for the set

When selecting members for an action learning and group coaching set, it is crucial to consider key characteristics and qualities that will contribute to the success of the session. Active listening skills are essential, as set members need to fully engage with and understand each other’s challenges and insights. Open-mindedness is also a valuable trait, as it enables members to consider new perspectives and ideas. Additionally, a willingness to participate fully in the process is important, as each member should be actively involved in both presenting their own issue and providing support and input to others.

The ideal number of set members for an action learning and group coaching session is between 5 – 8 members. This size allows for diverse perspectives and experiences while still maintaining an intimate and interactive environment. It is important to ensure that each member has the opportunity to both present an issue and act as a set member, maximizing participation and contribution from all members.

In summary, selecting members for an action learning and group coaching set should prioritize active listening, open-mindedness, and full participation, while aiming for a size of 5 – 8 members to facilitate engagement and interaction.

Setting goals and objectives for the set’s sessions

In setting goals and objectives for the Action Learning Set sessions, it is important to address specific topics that are open-ended, actionable, and have a wide impact on the organization. Topics could include problem-solving strategies, team collaboration, change management, innovative thinking, and diversity and inclusion. Each session should focus on a different topic, encouraging members to explore various aspects of organizational development.

The facilitator should be chosen based on their expertise in the selected topics and their availability to lead the sessions. The meeting time should be scheduled based on the group’s preferred frequency of meetings and the availability of the members. It may also be beneficial to consider holding the sessions in a less familiar place to provide fresh perspectives and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

Overall, the goals and objectives for the Action Learning Set sessions should be centered around addressing specific, impactful topics, and providing actionable insights for the organization’s development. By choosing the right facilitator, meeting time, and location, the sessions can effectively facilitate learning and growth within the group.

Meeting frequency and duration

The action learning programme consists of eight half-day modules and is designed to be completed within six to ten months. Participants can expect to meet regularly, either weekly or bi-weekly, for the duration of the programme. The frequency and duration of these meetings will be determined based on the specific needs of the organization and the participants. The action learning consultancy will work closely with the organization to design a bespoke programme that focuses on organizational learning. This close collaboration ensures that the programme is tailored to address the unique challenges and goals of the organization. Action learning methodologies can be used in various ways, such as developing leadership skills, improving team performance, and solving complex organizational problems. By leveraging these methodologies, participants can learn from their experiences and apply new insights to drive meaningful change within their organization.

The role of the facilitator in an Action Learning Set

In an Action Learning Set, the role of the facilitator is crucial in creating a safe and supportive environment for participants to engage in reflective learning and problem-solving. The facilitator is responsible for guiding the group through the process, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and that discussions stay focused on the task at hand. They also play a key role in challenging assumptions, promoting open and honest communication, and helping the group to develop a deeper understanding of the issues they are tackling. Ultimately, the facilitator helps to harness the collective wisdom and insights of the group, leading to innovative and practical solutions. This article explores the various responsibilities and skills required of a facilitator in an Action Learning Set, and the impact they can have on the success of the group.

Characteristics and skills required for effective facilitation

Effective facilitation requires the ability to create a safe and supportive space for open discussion, encouraging trust and openness among group members. Additionally, it is crucial for a facilitator to have a thorough understanding of the methodology being employed, allowing them to remind group members of the process and keep discussions focused and productive.

A skilled facilitator also needs to be able to model effective questioning techniques, guiding group members in exploring issues and finding solutions. Pacing is another key aspect of facilitation, requiring the ability to ensure that discussions progress at an appropriate rate, allowing for thorough exploration without getting bogged down.

Lastly, effective facilitation necessitates the ability to manage group processes, including conflict resolution, decision-making, and consensus-building. This includes creating and maintaining a positive group dynamic, as well as keeping discussions on track and ensuring the diverse perspectives are heard and respected.

Overall, effective facilitation requires a combination of interpersonal skills, knowledge of the methodology, and the ability to manage group dynamics to create a positive and productive environment for learning and problem-solving.

Ensuring active participation from all set members

One strategy for ensuring active participation from all set members is to encourage open and insightful questions. This can be done by creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment where members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, assigning each member a specific role during the session can help ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute. This can include tasks such as timekeeping, note-taking, or leading a discussion on a specific topic.

Managing the group size is also important in optimizing participation. A larger group may make it difficult for everyone to have a chance to speak, while a smaller group might encourage more active involvement. It is crucial to create an environment where each member feels valued and appreciated for their contributions. This can be achieved through active listening, positive reinforcement, and acknowledging the input of each member. By implementing these strategies, all set members can feel empowered to actively participate and contribute to the success of the session.


In conclusion, action learning has emerged as a popular method for managing organizations by facilitating a collaborative approach to solving complex challenges. This approach has effectively bridged the gap between executive management and staff, as it encourages active participation and problem-solving at all levels of the organization. By engaging employees in the process of addressing real-time issues, action learning has proven to build cohesiveness within an organization, fostering a sense of shared purpose and responsibility. This method has also had a significant impact on fostering teamwork and collaboration, as it promotes open communication, mutual learning, and the development of innovative solutions to organizational challenges. Overall, action learning has shown to be a valuable tool in enhancing organizational management and creating a more cohesive and collaborative work environment.

Empowering Teams with Action Learning Sets in HR

Action Learning Sets (ALS) are a transformative approach to problem-solving, where small groups collaboratively tackle real-world challenges, reflecting and learning from their experiences. This method fosters a culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and team bonding. Sloneek, our cutting-edge HR software, seamlessly integrates ALS into your organization’s learning and development strategy. By leveraging Sloneek’s intuitive features, HR professionals can effortlessly organize, monitor, and evaluate the impact of Action Learning Sets. From scheduling ALS sessions to tracking progress and outcomes, Sloneek ensures a streamlined process that enhances team performance and personal growth. Furthermore, our analytics dashboard provides insightful feedback, enabling leaders to make data-driven decisions that bolster team dynamics and organizational success. Through Sloneek, unleash the full potential of Action Learning Sets to cultivate a proactive, learning-centric workplace culture.