The Brafferton Group is a strong advocate of Action Learning which we believe is a tried and tested method of working effectively with individual and organisational challenges. It is well suited to the current economic climate where business leaders require focussed attention to specific areas of change and transition when budgets for development can be under pressure.

A definition that we like and use is:

“Action Learning is a method for individual and organisational development based upon small groups of colleagues meeting over time to tackle real problems or issues in order to get things done; reflecting and learning with and from their experience and from each other, as they attempt to change things.”
John Edmondstone, The Action Learner’s Toolkit

Action Learning is built on solid theory with pragmatic, concrete techniques and practices. Although Action Learning contains some essential principles and elements it is flexible and adaptable to work well in a wide variety of settings and situations. Learning is what makes Action Learning strategic rather than tactical.

Our experience of using Action Learning in a wide variety of settings convinces us that it:

  • Is cost effective and delivers a return on investment
  • Enables people to learn actively with and from each – a learning environment of exchange, support and challenge
  • Can be project focussed, in alignment with business objectives
  • Generates transferable work/life skills – especially in terms of both intra-personal and inter-personal skills
  • Develops change management understanding and builds capability
  • Is a vital part of the learning mix for any manager
  • Builds personal (and subsequently corporate) leadership confidence
  • Focuses on real work issues and helps people to tackle difficult challenges
  • Invites the sharing of creative and innovative ideas in a wider network
  • Is flexible and effective in a wide variety of work settings
  • Supports and accelerates organisational change and transition
  • Is a form of knowledge management in action (instead of just talking)
  • Can lead to the development of internal expertise and delivery

Our experience of Action Learning in the Workplace

Our expertise includes the design, introduction and development of action learning based programmes across organisations. We provide Set facilitation and the training and development and support of facilitators within organisations.

We are active members of the Northern Action Learning Network and as part of our continued professional development we take part in Action Learning sets with other professionals, both face to face and ‘virtual’

We have provided Set facilitation for:

  • The NHS Institute for Improvement and Innovation ‘No Delays Commissioning Community of Practice Programme’
  • Central Manchester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to support their service improvement programme.
  • A Succession-Planning Programme for aspiring Directors at North Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Network.
  • GPs and Practice Managers and Specialist Registrars.
  • Senior mangers in Eircom (in association with Trinity College Dublin) – board level projects were used as a vehicle for leadership and team development in their move from a public to a private organisation.
  • National Management Development Initiative (NMDI) hosted by Lincoln University for Trent SHA.
  • The Department of Health and two Strategic Health Authorities – as part of national initiatives to develop the leadership potential of middle/senior managers, focussing on specific business projects.

Action Learning based Development programmes

(for a full account see ‘Case Studies: NHS Sefton’)

We devised, developed and delivered a programme for the Provider Services of Sefton PCT’s Adult, Childrens and Therapy Services which had Action Learning at its core. Service leads worked in cross service sets, focussing on Change and Service Development projects identified and sponsored by the organisation.

Sara Woodward, Childrens Service Manager and participant of this programme, provided this evaluative comment:

“The opportunity to engage in Action Learning, facilitated by TBG, has had a significant impact on both my personal and professional relationships. I have been able to appreciate my own learning and communication styles, and how to engage more effectively with others. Above all I have grown in confidence and realise that I can have a positive influence on those around me. Particular thanks to Liz, who has helped me grow”