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Transcript of Action Learning
The coach is the catalyst
Statements can be made only in response to questions, and questions can be asked by anyone in the group.
Structured problem solving platform
Action/solutions and learning are balanced priorities
Developed in the 1940’s in the UK
Process involving small groups
Bottoms-up approach, not a vehicle for receiving right answers from above or from experts
Questions are the foundation
1. There is a clear challenge, problem or task. It should be of high importance and urgency so it pulls for maximum engagement.
2. The problem solving team consists of 4-8 people, ideally with very diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
3. There is a specific process of questioning, listening and reflection.
4. Actions are taken in response to the process.
5. There is a commitment to learning. In the short term, the process solves the problem. But a valuable long-term learning outcome is that it helps develop individuals, teams and organizations over time.
6. A coach helps maintain the rules and helps keep focus.
The coach can intervene at any time to point out learning opportunities and keep things on track.
Bill Gates, Jim Collins and others: “Great leaders ask great questions.”
The right questions are more powerful for generating deep insight and learning than received wisdom, prescriptions or solutions.
The core of the Socratic Method: the right questions open our minds.
Thoughtful and reflective questioning is central to a great conversation and is at the heart of Action Learning.
Asks questions – doesn’t provide interpretation or prescriptions.
Manages the time to make sure there is learning as well as clarity of action.
Maintains focus on the problem at hand as well as on effective group process.
Doesn’t get involved in the implementation of the solution.
Doesn’t do anything for the team that it can’t do for itself.
Why have we always done it like this?
What can we do here?
Is there a positive in this situation?
What haven’t we tried?
What could we do differently?
What are some of the obstacles we’ll face if we do it another way?
Why do you feel that this will/won’t work?
Have you seen similar problems in other organizations? What worked there?
Avoid judgmental or leading questions
Why did you fail?
Why didn’t we do it the way I suggested?
Don’t you really think we should do it this way?
How do we successfully assimilate an acquisition?
What’s the best way to trim our budget by $1M?
How do I handle a problem employee?
Why can’t we get the right parts on the floor with enough time so we won’t miss our shipping dates?
How can we create a better performance management and feedback system for our employees?
Should we off-shore? Or bring some operations back home?
How do we cut across silos and get people to work more collaboratively?
How can I improve my relationship with co-workers?