Drop-in Action Learning – an new approach to Action Learning

Drop-in Action Learning

What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a process developed by Reg Revans to support groups engaging in learning from taking action. It is used on many different sectors and industries all over the world as a basis for teamwork. The process is one, which follows what is sometimes known as “the learning cycle”, where people reflect on their experience, leading to the development on new ideas and concepts, which are then tested out in practice. It is used by successful organisations all over the world. You have a time slot in a group meeting and get to explore a chosen question, issue, problem or ongoing challenge. You can use your time slot to explore, and discuss and, before the end of your time slot you agree some action(s) you will take before the next action learning group meeting. At the next meeting you reflect on the learning and progress on your actions since the last meeting. The learning cycle is really a process of generating new ideas, experimenting, taking action and then reflecting on that action.

The Experiment

Usually action learning sets/groups take place as a series of meetings. Here we experiment with the idea of a one-off meeting where you can reflect on actions taken so far – before this meeting – in relation to a live issue or problem challenge or question. The group will help you explore the issue further and you’ll set up to three actions for the future, which you are invited to personally reflect on a month from now.

Traditional action learning groups meet over several meetings. In this process each participant identifies a clear point in time (or points in time) where a situation arose or when action was taken leading to the current issue being viewed as an issue . The participant may have stalled, may see the issue now as a bigger challenge, may face a blockage to action, may seek clarity on next steps, may have made a mistake and wishes to put it right, and so on. Here the participant is encouraged to reflect on any action(s) taken so far, prior to the drop-in action learning meeting. They then can learn through this reflection and identify more consciously what input they require from the group in their allocated time slot at the action learning meeting.

Towards the end of an individual’s time slot at a traditional action learning meeting, a participant is invited to set actions to be carried out before the next meeting that will take the participant forward. These actions are then reviewed at the subsequent meeting. So a cycle of learning takes placed based around action/exploration, reflection. In the drop-in version, participants are encouraged to identify intuitively a point in time in the future when they will individually “take stock” and reflect on actions they propose to take which are noted down at the end of their allocated time slot at the drop-in session. So the key difference is that the later reflection is done alone, or with colleagues outside of the drop-in session. The benefits of traditional action learning can still be experienced if the reflection on past action and the commitment to personally reflect on action in the future is genuinely carried out.

The following proforma can be used to gather issues and actions in takeaway note form


Your issue

Agreed actions





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s