Are you using action learning? Blog about it here.

WIAL proudly held its 2014 Annual Forum in Boston

Action learning is a collaborative, peer to peer problem solving where experience is leveraged, diverse ideas are explored and reflection is supported. It is the consummate “learning while doing” experience built on the ideas that when peers are encouraged to ask open ended questions and by doing so, they will explore innovative solutions to solve urgent and real problems rooted in the context of their work. 

The 2015 WIAL USA and Global Conference



On October 28-30 2015, an international audience came together in Arlington, Virginia to hear and engage in conversations about action learning at the WIAL-USA and Global Conference. Our theme was "Leading and Sustaining Change through Action Learning."

I was recently asked by a group of identified leaders in a leadership development course to define learning.  I pushed the question back to the group and captured the responses on a newsprint.  The theme that emerged without much surprise indicated that learning and action are jointly tied. A great question surfaced from our conversation “how do we know when learning has occurred?” This spiraled the group into ideological chatter. The cognitive energy in the room was quite spirited.  I proposed as many other researchers have, that there are specific skills attached to learning.  When individuals engage in listening, observing, and engage their senses, or experience any somatic change, the body registers this and stores it for future use. When triggered, the human body may fire synapses and trigger experience.  The state of change triggers the learning.  Hence, we learn when we engage in action, we learn – think back to when you learned that touching fire was not something to continue doing?

Part III – Action Learning and Organizational Development


In Part I and II, we’ve looked at action learning from the leader, the team and the need to legitimizes individuals through open communication, building trust in the team by openly identifying assumptions, creating pathways by the sharing of perspectives and developing one’s agency with the use of individual power to take action and creating the context for changed behaviors.


In this article, we will explore how organizational learning is a culmination of individual and team learning.

We see that the value and orientation to innovation and reaching strategic goals is not about simply “filling the gap” with discreet pieces of knowledge learned by an individual. Rather, it’s an approach that learning in context and with others to creates a map of possibilities through a social constructivists perspective. 

From an organizational development perspective, this inside-out process positions learning as a journey that replaces exiting paradigms of decision making at hierarchical levels.

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