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What Our Peer Learning Groups Are Not

Leveraging the Power of Peers(sm)

Some people might get the mistaken impression that the Authenticity Circles peer coaching groups (based on the overall Action Learning process) are simply a loose-knit collection of group members engaged in discussion. Wrong!

Not a Discussion Group

Usually, a discussion group is intended to generate ideas and conclusions via a cumulative collection of comments. Comments are provided usually in an open, even random exchange among participants. On the contrary, Authenticity Circles are highly focused working sessions in which each member gets a dedicated block of time to get highly focused feedback from other members. Often, the nature of exchange between members is based on sharing powerful questions, along with any practical advice and materials. Each member is charged to take actions between meetings. This is unlike discussion groups, wherein each member is at most responsible to generate ideas or conclusions.

Not a Seminar or Workshop

In Authenticity Circles, unlike a seminar or workshop, each member is considered to be an expert and, during their time slot in the meeting, leads the group in helping that member. The focus is on learning, primarily through insightful questioning and reflection on actions, rather than on presentations by a subject matter expert.

Not a Therapy Session

Authenticity Circles is not intended to help members overcome major and often crippling issues in their mental or emotional lives. Participants are primarily fully functioning adults each of whom is fully committed to achieving some current, real-life goal in their life or work. The focus of is on doing something about current, real-life challenges -- and on learning at the same time.

Not a Quality Circle

Typically, in quality circles, workers come together in open discussion to generate ideas regarding how to improve the design, development or operation of some process, product or service in the organization. Usually, that's all they have to do.

However, in Authenticity Circles, members do more than make recommendations about issues. Each member is charged to actually implement recommendations in their life or workplace and to learn from that implementation. In addition, they must report back to the group about the results of their application of the recommendations.

Not One-on-One Coaching

Coaching and consultation is typically carried out in a one-on-one format between coach and client. In our peer learning process, peers often coach each other. Their peer-based process is carried out according to the same principles common to many coaching models. The benefits are the same and many of the methods and tools are the same. However, peer learning groups have certain advantages over one-on-one coaching and consultation:

  • Along with getting coached, members develop core skills in coaching.
  • Members receive more diverse forms of feedback resulting in more diverse views, opinions and perspectives.
  • The peer learning program can be much less expensive because one coach/facilitator helps groups of peers to help each other at the same time. Or, members can facilitate their own groups, as well.
  • Most importantly, members gain regular peer support and networking that they can't get from a professional coach or consultant. (In a study of 1000 new entrepreneurs in which Authenticity Consulting, LLC, co-founder, Andy Horsnell participated (at Acadia University), they found that the support was the single most important factor in determining the success of early start-up organizations -- more than management expertise, more than marketing, more than capital, more than any other single factor.)

To return to Action Learning and Peer Learning Programs

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