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Authenticity Consulting's Free Video Series

Action Learning Process and Programs

The group-based, Action Learning process has become a standard tool used around the world for personal, professional and organizational development. The free videos described on these pages will describe the Action Learning process, how to customize it for various applications and outcomes, and how to integrated the process into a high-quality program.

If you need help with Action Learning, contact us at
Action Learning Source

Table of Contents

About This Series

Introduction to the Presenter, Carter McNamara

I'm Carter McNamara, the presenter in each of the series. I first read about Action Learning in the early 1980s, when I developed two Action Learning groups. Our firm has learned a great deal since then, about successfully customizing the process for a wide variety of outcomes and applications.

A primary value of our firm is to provide free, highly practical resources to expand learning and productivity for people around the world. For example, our Free Management Library is one of the world's largest collections of well-organized, free resources for personal, professional and organizational development.

I invite you to get to know me even better by watching the video
Carter McNamara on the Action Learning Series (13 minutes).

Thank you, and I hope you'll enjoy -- and greatly benefit -- from our series.

Goals for This Series

Make Action Learning More Available and Accessible

Authenticity Consulting is one of the world's leaders in customizing Action Learning programs for a wide variety of outcomes and applications around the world. We're pleased to bring the process to so many people. Accordingly, we're providing this free series to make the process even more available and more accessible.

We recognize that many people are extremely busy, and cannot afford the opportunity to attend workshops over several days. So we've designed this series to include short, practical and focused videos, each about an important aspect of the Action Learning process and Action Learning programs. Each video ends with suggestions to yet more resources.

Explain Larger Contexts of Action Learning Process

Readers might gain even more appreciation of the Action Learning process if they understand the larger context within which the process emerged as such a powerful approach to solutions and learning. They also might benefit from understanding the larger context within which the Action Learning process operates -- in programs that are carefully planned, developed, operated and evaluated. This series explains both contexts.

Encourage Openness to Variety of Configurations, Models and "Schools"

There is a wide diversity of perspectives on Action Learning, and a wide variety of Action Learning models to apply. While this is a significant benefit to people and organizations, it's also causing some confusion about what "Action Learning" really is, as practitioners naturally refer to their own model as "Action Learning." We all can benefit even more from the process when we acknowledge -- and mention -- the rich diversity of configurations, models and schools of Action Learning. We try to do that in this series.

Focus of This Series

On These Aspects of Action Learning

  • Overall Action Learning process and each of its elements.
  • Context of the process in an overall Action Learning program.
  • Guidelines to plan and develop a program.
  • Guidelines to operate and evaluate a program.

On Guidelines, More Than Theories

There is a wide diversity of audiences who are very interested in Action Learning, ranging from strong theorists to practical practitioners. The Action Learning process encompasses many aspects of adult learning, problem solving and group theory. Consequently, there is vast range of information about various theories associated with Action Learning. Our videos are focused primarily on guidelines to do Action Learning programs, rather than on various theories.

On Overviews to Acquaint Viewers

The videos are not at a level of detail sufficient to guide the viewer through every step of planning, customizing, developing and operating a program -- not even an Action Learning book is not sufficient to do that. Perhaps the best way to establish a program is to take an Action Learning approach: do what you can with what you have -- and learn along the way. Each of our videos helps you develop your program.

On General Action Learning Process, Not On Any One Model

The Action Learning process is a general framework that can be modified in many ways according to the values and beliefs of practitioners, and to the particular application for which the process is being used. As the process has grown in popularity, so has the number of different perspectives on the process and the specific models derived from them. While we've tried to recognize a wide diversity of views, some practitioners might disagree with certain points in our videos, depending on their particular perspective and model.

Audiences for This Series

We've designed the videos to appeal to a wide range of audiences, including:

  1. Anyone who is new to the Action Learning process and wants to learn more about it.
  2. People in learning and development (educators, trainers, coaches, etc.) who are considering Action Learning for their learners.
  3. Leaders and managers who want to use Action Learning to solve problems, build teams and spread learning across their organizations.
  4. Consultants who are considering Action Learning for their clients.
  5. Those who already have participated in Action Learning and want to expand their knowledge to more models and approaches.

Preparation for Watching the Videos

The best way to learn Action Learning is do to it. However, until that occurs for you, please consider the following suggestions:

  • Scan the list of topics on the home page of the Free Management Library. During the series, whenever you encounter a term or practice that you want to know more about, you can find it in the Library by using the Search box in the upper, right-hand corner. Remember that you can pause, or replay portions of, a video on YouTube by controlling the scroll bar below each video.
  • Various Action Learning terms are referenced throughout the series, and are usually defined when first used. There is also an Action Learning Glossary for your reference.
  • Take notes as you go through the videos, about any really good points that you appreciate, questions you might have or suggestions for your Action Learning program.
  • Watch other YouTube videos about Action Learning, by searching for the phrase "Action Learning" in YouTube. Remember that you're probably watching just one session, and that a program includes numerous sessions.
  • Buy a book or two on Action Learning. The Resources section, below, has links to various resources that, in turn, suggest various books.
  • Pair with someone, and practice Action Learning and coaching by having each of you briefly describe a current, real priority and then getting questions from the other to clarify the priority, and to identify relevant and realistic actions to address the priority. Then meet in several weeks, and do the same thing. Always be asking "What new knowledge, skills and abilities am I getting so far?"
  • Form a discussion group and discuss each video one at a time.

Video Series -- Action Learning Process and Programs

We strongly suggest that you watch each video in the order listed in the next section. However, if you're interested in the agenda in each video, here's an
Index of Videos and Their Agendas.

Segment -- Overview of Action Learning

The videos in this section will be useful, especially for those new to Action Learning or even to those who are briefly acquainted with it. People should know why Action Learning is so popular -- there's many reasons for it and those are described in this section. As the process has grown in popularity, so has the different perspectives on the process-- which can cause a lot of confusion. So the video on different perspectives, below, tries to clear that up. The videos also give an overview of the different results that Action Learning can be used for -- some very common, and some not so common.

  1. Why Use Action Learning Now? (21 minutes)
  2. Action Learning Process (15)
  3. Examples of Action Learning Program and Meeting Formats (13)
  4. Different Perspectives on Action Learning (12)
  5. Typical Results From Action Learning (13)

After you've finished the above five videos, it would be useful to watch some Action Learning meetings, by searching for "Action Learning" in YouTube and watching some of those meetings. Keep in mind, though, that each video is very likely of only one meeting, and that Action Learning typically occurs within the context of an overall program, which includes numerous Action Learning meetings. The nature of each meeting depends very much on the purpose of the Action Learning program and on any specific model chosen by the program, so the videos of meetings might differ somewhat.

Segment -- Elements of Action Learning

The hallmark of Action Learning is its very intentional focus on actions and learning. Once you've got a good impression of what the Action Learning process is, from having watched the videos in the previous section, then see the following overviews of each of the components and how they combine to focus on actions and learning.

  1. Projects That People Work on in Action Learning (9 minutes)
  2. Membership and Groups in Action Learning (13)
  3. Facilitation in Action Learning Groups (20)
  4. Coaching and Questions in Action Learning (18)
  5. Actions for Progress and Learning in Action Learning (11)
  6. Capturing and Spreading Learning in Action Learning (10)

After you've finished watching the above video, "Coaching and Questions in Action Learning," it would be useful to watch some coaching sessions to get a feel for the nature of a coaching conversation. Search for "coaching" in YouTube and watch some coaching sessions. Keep in mind, though, that the nature of a coaching session depends on the purpose of the coaching program and on the particular model of coaching that the coach uses in his or her coaching.

Segment -- Designing and Developing Action Learning Programs

The Action Learning process usually occurs within the broader context of an Action Learning program. Ideally, a program starts with some careful planning, and then a training or two, followed by a series of Action Learning meetings. The design and activities in the program depend very much on the particular purpose and application of the program. The following videos share an overview of how to develop an Action Learning program using a planned, systematic approach.

  1. Approaches to Developing Action Learning Programs (13 minutes)
  2. Choosing Projects in Action Learning Programs (12)
  3. Designing an Action Learning Program (13)
  4. Developing Resources for an Action Learning Program (13)
  5. Training Others About Action Learning (10)

Segment -- Implementing and Evaluating Programs

Once a program has been developed, then certain activities need to occur in order to maintain high-quality meetings and results. The following overviews describe how to administer a program, including to conduct regular evaluations and address any issues that they find.

  1. Administering Action Learning Programs (11 minutes)
  2. Evaluating Action Learning Programs (18)
  3. Troubleshooting Action Learning Programs (12)

Segment -- Future of Action Learning

We've been collecting various ideas and suggestions to enhance Action Learning and to make it even more accessible to more people. We'd love to hear your ideas, as well.

  1. Suggested Enhancements to Action Learning (13)

Additional Resources for Action Learning

The following links will help you to learn even more about Action Learning

What is Action Learning?
--- Action Learning Framework
--- Brief Descriptions of Process
--- Overviews of Process and Program Components
Theories Underlying Action Learning
Models of Action Learning
Numerous Examples of Applications of Action Learning

Action Learning Components and Programs

--- Projects
--- Group (Set)
--- Coaching (Sharing Questions)
--- Actions
--- Learning
--- Facilitation
Developing Action Learning Programs
Evaluating Action Learning Programs

Additional Resources

Action Learning Glossary
Resources for Coaching and Action Learning Programs
Peer Coaching Groups and Action Learning Process
Authenticity Consulting's Action Learning Services

Video -- General Resources for Action Learning

This video tells more about our many resources for Action Learning, including:

  • Our website, ActionLearningCentral.com, which references numerous a glossary on Action Learning and numerous free, online articles about all aspects of Action Learning.
  • Our firm's customized Action Learning services for a wide variety of applications and organizations.
  • Our Free Management Library, which is one of the world's largest collections of well-organized, free resources for all aspects of personal, professional and organizational development -- including about all aspects of Action Learning.

General Resources for Action Learning (4 minutes)


We've learned a great deal about Action Learning over the past decades and we want to thank those who contributed to our learning. The entire list would go on for many Web pages, but here's some of the key people. Thanks to you all!

  • Reginald Revans, who started it all, many decades ago – his insight, wisdom and tenacity are the reasons we're benefiting from Action Learning today.
  • Kathryn Weinstein, who wrote one of the most straightforward books on Action Learning, "Action Learning: A Practical Guide."
  • Mike Pedler, whose book “Action Learning in Practice,” provided a wonderful overview of specific examples of Action Learning.
  • Lex Dilworth, an Action Learning pioneer, who exchanged numerous emails with me, particularly about the dynamics that occur in Action Learning groups.
  • Judy O’Neil, a leading theorist of Action Learning, who made herself available to me on numerous occasions.
  • The McKnight Foundation and MAP for Nonprofits, that underwrote a 2-year grant for me to research -- and play with -- Action Learning.
  • Mike Marquardt, of the World Institute for Action Learning, who continues to advocate for Action Learning around the world.
  • Jerilyn Fosdick Hirsch, who brought me back to Action Learning, after my first few fumbles back in the early 1980s.
  • The 1,000s of people who participated in our Action Learning groups and the 100s of facilitators that we've trained over the years.
  • Andy Watson, of ANDVD Media, who worked tirelessly to guide us through the design and technical considerations to develop this series.
  • Teri McNamara, who kept encouraging me, many years ago, when I even couldn't get people to come to free orientations about Action Learning.

Your Feedback to Us

We'd appreciate your feedback about this series, including your reactions, suggestions, concerns, questions and suggested additional materials. You can send email to carter@authenticityconsulting.com . Thank you!