Action Learning is a simple but powerful tool for personal and professional development. It offers the opportunity to focus on self, career and life, work on real problems and implement solutions, with the support of a small group of impartial people – whom you meet and get to know through the commitment of a number of sessions (usually 6) over an agreed period (usually 6-12 months).
IDMN will be offering action learning sets for producers which will be delivered by our partner PANDA, which has extensive experience in delivering action learning sets for independent practitioners. The sets will run monthly from February to July 2018, and locations and venues will be determined by where the participants are based. Please note that we are awaiting the outcome of a funding application to subsidise this programme, and therefore we cannot confirm the cost as yet, but we expect to charge approximately £120 for the six sessions if it is funded, and around £160 if it is not.
Depending on the number of applicants, we may hold a free taster session to help identify who will benefit from being part of this specific set. We will continue to run these sessions, so if you are unsuccessful, there will be subsequent opportunities.
Because of the niche area in which producers work, these action learning sets aim to create a safe space for producers to discuss and share their issues, and to foster greater learning and sharing between independent producers.
What Is Action Learning
PANDA Action/Peer Learning follows an accredited format and process under the guidance of a fully qualified and experienced learning set facilitator. Each ‘Set’ consists of between 5-9 individuals bringing different perspectives, who all commit to meeting up to create a confidential, supportive and challenging group, providing ‘fresh heads’ on issues throughout the agreed duration of the Set. Sets can meet physically or virtually - depending on the wishes of the participants and negotiated with the facilitator. 'Virtual' sets can meet online or over the phone.
Participants will gain:
• space for individual reflection
• learning to take back to the workplace and translate into action
• support and challenge from peers
• the chance to work smarter and find creative ways to bring about change • a chance to test beliefs and assumptions and learn what works
• a safe environment to explore new ways of thinking and doing
• personal, as well as professional, learning and development
• insight into how others achieve different solutions
• a chance to progress new opportunities and develop new ideas
When is AL useful?
People who are freelance or in positions of responsibility often have difficulty finding others who are able and willing to explore work situations and offer objective evaluation of possible courses of action. AL can alleviate this problem because it can simultaneously address: problem solving, organisational learning and development, team building, and personal and professional growth and leadership development.
It is particularly useful when:
• it is necessary to map out ways to deal with a new situation;
• needing to test out new ways of working and/or to change the way things are done;
• a job, role, organisation or environment is changing;
• faced with major challenges;
• looking for continuous management development.
What are the benefits of AL?
• problem solving time & space;
• support, feedback and positive challenge from peers who understand each others work, but have no vested interest in the outcome;
• a safe environment to explore personal and professional strengths and weaknesses, take risks, experiment and ask for help;
• the bringing together of skills and the opportunity to learn from good practice;
• an antidote to isolation and a group of people who become, for short periods of time, mentors for each other;
• an opportunity to express feelings as well as facts about their work situation;
• an opportunity to hear and be heard objectively and non-judgementally;
• learning by doing and developing how-to-learn skills;
• a move from a culture of training (where someone else determines/provides the tools for others development) to one of learning (in which everyone is responsible for his or her continuous development).
What skills do participants of AL sets gain?
• Improved communications and teamwork.
• Empathy, a non-judgmental attitude, listening and diagnostic skills.
• Greater self awareness, insight into hitherto unknown hidden resources and self confidence.
• Facilitation, emotional intelligence and coaching skills.
• Insight into the way individuals relate in a small group which increases understanding of work relationships.
• Ability to ask better questions, review, critically reflect and get to the heart of a problem.
• Increased motivation and pro-active approach.
Why do we learn so well from an Action Learning set?
AL embodies a number of key learning principles:
• Learning is increased when we are asked questions and reflect on our actions and experience, when we are given time and space to deal with problems, when we can see results, when we are allowed to take risks and when we are encouraged and supported.
• We can learn critically when we are able to question the assumptions on which our actions are based, ie. when we receive feedback from others and from the results of our problem-solving actions or, when we listen to others working to find solutions we automatically question our own thoughts and actions.
• When relying totally on experts we can become immobilised and fail to seek or trust our own solutions.
• Non-hierarchical groups from across sectors, organisations or departments and functions are often better able to gain new perspectives.
• We are most challenged when we work on unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar settings, where we can unfreeze some of our previous ways of doing things and develop new ways of thinking.
• By working co-operatively, objectively and outside of any hierarchies on real immediate issues, the group can move to a higher level of learning.
• People learn when combining doing, reflecting and planning. AL facilitates all 3.