Action Learning Associates

This site reflects our forty years’ experience with Action Learning, or as it is also known, Action Reflection Learning. Unlike traditional training, Action Learning is holistic, focusing on the ‘complete’ person or organisation. The process of Action Learning enables them to identify the knowledge, skills, experience and behaviour necessary to be successful and empowers them to achieve. In it’s personal development form it uses the participant’s ‘day job’ or a specific project as the learning vehicle through which participants are able to identify what they need to know or be able to do to be successful. In its organisational development mode the focus is on the new knowledge and skills the organisation needs to prosper and the values and behaviours it needs to adopt to be successful.

Action Learning empowers change. It enables us to let go of the past and embrace the future

Learning in Action – Helping people to help themsleves

Action Learning empowers people; it frees them from the constraints of traditional thinking and enables them to both develop themselves and optimise the performance of their organisations. We have successfully run both Personal Development and Organisational Change, what we call In-Plant programmes, in many different parts of the world in widely differing cultures and languages and in every case those involved have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to help themselves. We are happy to share this experience with you.

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We are told that 2023 will be a difficult year for the economy. Would you like to know how Action Learning can help?

Action Learning can help you optimise the productivity of your organisation. It is a natural process which is familiar to all of us from birth. Starting with drinking milk from a bottle, we are doing things that take knowledge and skill.

To be able to do any ‘job’ ranging from changing a light bulb, to managing the country and anything in-between, we need the relevant knowledge and skills.

Knowledge, we acquire by ‘reading, listening, watching, asking … but to develop the necessary skills we need to practice ‘doing’ until we reach the required competence. Tangible things like driving a bus or becoming a brain surgeon require fixed levels of competence; however, there are a plethora of jobs like management for example which, require no formal assessment. This laisse-faire approach, to the performance of management, and the lack of involvement of workers, in the decision making process, leads to a reduction in the productivity, of millions of organisations.

Action Learning, or Action, Reflection. Learning as it’s more accurately called is the ‘brain child’ of Professor Reginald Revans. In 1947 Reg was responsible for management training in the National Coal Board in the UK. Revans believed that Management is a practical subject carried out by practical people in the real world of work, not an academic subject to be taught by University Professors most of whom had never been inside a real workplace in their lives. Revans felt that to ‘keep up’ in a fast changing world we must continually question our past learning. The things that we both individually and corporately believe are based on our past experience. We must be prepared to change these beliefs if we are to successfully embrace the future. As John F Kennedy said in his famous address in the Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt in 1963; ‘Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future’

Practising managers; ‘comrades in adversity’ as Reg called them, learn best with and from each other. Action Learning creates a safe environment in which participants can test and update their P by constructively questioning themselves and others, thus allowing them their organisations to adapt to the needs of our constantly changing world.

The process is simple. It brings people together in a supportive environment with a project; something they have agreed to do. It can be, to solve a problem or to satisfy a development need like acquiring new behavioural skills or knowledge. The project becomes the learning vehicle. With the help of the facilitator participants are asked to review how their project is going and the ‘comrades in adversity’ are encouraged to ask questions. These questions lead to ideas which, when tested, highlights strengths and weaknesses. Reflection on these experiences leads to new learning. The child learns that the stove is hot, not by touching it (Test), but through the pain that comes from the burn afterwards (Reflection). Learning is demonstrated if he/she does not touch the hot stove again.

Action Learning is ‘focused’ by a ‘facilitator’. He or she is there to encourage questioning, focus on action and reviewing of the learning. Action leaning empowers people to develop themselves through: –
1. Working on a ‘real life’ open ended problem or development need
2. Using the experience to question what is happening and identify things they need to change
3. Agreeing actions and trying them out in practice (doing things differently)
4. Reviewing the experience and taking further actions as necessary to achieve the development goals
5. Using the experience to help others who are also learning by doing

If you would like to know more we suggest you look at three of our books;

Own Job Action Learning by George P Boulden

In-Plant Action Learning by George Boulden

Values & Style by George Boulden and Richard de Laat


April 2022

George receiving his Award in Warsaw June 2017

Please feel free to browse the site; and to contact us if you have any queries.

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