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What Are Authenticity Circles Peer Learning Groups?

Leveraging the Power of Peers(sm)

".... learning ... consists mainly in their new perceptions of
what they are doing and in their changed interpretations
of their past experiences."
-- Reginald Revans, original developer of Action Learning

Authenticity Circles - Guidelines to Customize Coaching Programs

Numerous Formats of Coaching Programs

In a coaching program (peer, group or team coaching), one, some or all can get coached in a meeting. Similarly, one, some or all can do the coaching. Also, the nature of the coaching itself can vary greatly, depending on the nature and needs of the members in a meeting. Coaching might be done in-person or via telecommunications. Facilitation might be done by a professional facilitator or the tasks in facilitation might be shared by the group members themselves. Members of the group might be required to participate in the program or participation might be voluntary. The number of meetings and the length of each might vary widely as well. For more information, see
What is Group Coaching? How Do You Develop Group Coaching?

Authenticity Circles is a Set of Guidelines, Not a Specific Program Design

Most Important Requirements for Successful Development Programs

The most important requirement in any form of long-lasting, successful human development is that all people participate authentically – they participate wholeheartedly, respectfully and tactfully in the moment with themselves and others. For that to occur, everyone must be engaged at all times in the development program -- they must continually attend and participate. For that to occur, they must continually feel that they are getting their true needs met in the program, whatever those needs might be.

The second most important requirement in any human development experience, whether an ongoing program or an event, is that the true goals of the experience continue to be met. For that to occur, every participant must continue to take responsibility for voicing their own needs as well as addressing whether the experience is meeting their needs or not.

Authenticity Circles Makes Sure Requirements Are Met

Authenticity Circles is a time-tested set of guidelines for customizing peer, group and team coaching programs to always have the ongoing authentic and responsible participation of all participants in the programs. Thus, the Circles are not one specific format of coaching. Instead, Circles ensure authentic and responsible involvement all of participants in a variety of ways, for example, to ensure:

  • Participants, themselves, take part in the design of the program
  • Every participant participates in every group meeting
  • Every participant must act to address his or her priority between meetings
  • All participants encouraged to actively support each other between group meetings
  • Every participant continues to explicitly express their opinion about the quality of the program
  • Every participant generates recommendations to improve the program
  • All participants share opinions about the approach to evaluating every aspect of the program
  • All participants review the results of evaluations
  • All participants can generate recommendations to improve the program

Authenticity Circles Used Around the World

Authenticity Circles have been customized for a wide variety of different applications and outcomes, and can suit any type of culture, organization and model of coaching. Circles have been very successfully customized in numerous countries around the world.

Authenticity Circles is based on the overall Action Learning process founded and developed by Reginald Revans. You can learn more about Authenticity Circles by learning more about the Action Learning process explained below.

Action Learning: Some Definitions

"Definition" from Original Developer of Action Learning, Reginald Revans

Revans did not offer a definitive statement of Action Learning. He explains that "it is more than tricky and time-consuming to communicate an idea by word and by argument when the central quality of that idea is that verbal exchanges are themselves extremely poor at communication." Revans added that "It may, in essence, be no more than learning by doing, but it is learning by posing fresh questions rather than copying what others have already shown to be useful ...."

"Action Learning is a deceptively simple yet amazingly intricate problem-solving strategy that has the capacity to create powerful individual and organization wide changes."
-- Michael Marquardt, in "Action Learning in Action"

Definition from the Canadian Chapter of the
International Foundation of Action Learning

"Action learning involves working on real problems, focusing on learning and actually implementing solutions. ... Action learning is a process of inquiry, beginning with the experience of not knowing 'what to do next', and finding that answers are not available through current expertise. When expertise fails to provide an answer, collaborative inquiry with fellow learners who are undergoing the same questioning experience is always available. To be effective, this partnership in learning needs to be both supportive and at the same time challenging, deeply caring yet questioning. Such partnerships actually create themselves when different people with different ideas engage whole-heartedly with each other to resolve each other's problems.

This is a profound shift: from dependence on available expertise and pride in the steady accumulation of knowledge to learning with and from fellow learners, honestly disclosing doubts and admitting ignorance. Action learning is based on a radical concept: L = P + Q. Learning requires Programmed knowledge (routine knowledge in use) and Questioning insight. The process integrates research on what is obscure with action to resolve a problem, and personal and communal reflection."

Authenticity Consulting's Definition

Very simply put, Action Learning is an ongoing, highly focused process among group members that includes members helping each other to solve current, real-world problems -- and learn at the same time. The learning comes primarily from the learner's continued actions toward current, real-world goals in their lives or work and from continued reflection on those actions. Reflection is primarily based on addressing powerful questions posed by group members. This is in contrast to the traditional approach of learning by collecting large amounts of knowledge and materials that might be used later on somehow. In Action Learning, learners work in cohort groups to enhance the learning of each member by sharing highly focused questions, supportive challenges and ongoing support.

There is a range of viewpoints about Action Learning. "Purists" believe the process should include only questioning as forms of help among members, use of few or no external experts or expert materials, and use of no external facilitator at all. (The founder, Reginald Revans, widely held this view).

"Pragmatists" (a term used by this author) believe that forms of help among group members can include focused and limited use of advice, experts and expert materials, and even full-time use of an external facilitator (ideally, groups evolve to be self-facilitated).

".... learning ... consists mainly in their new perceptions of
what they are doing and in their changed interpretations
of their past experiences."
-- Reginald Revans, original developer of Action Learning

Focus of Authenticity Circles

Focus On Authenticity

Our firm believes that the strongest outcomes from the Action Learning and coaching processes is hardly ever mentioned at all! That outcome is authenticity. We believe that authenticity is critical for the long-term success of any form of human development. To us, authenticity means wholehearted participation, that is, to participate:

Focus On Practicality

Members of our firm believe that without practice, there is no knowledge. We realize that Action Learning is doing -- and learning at the same time. Consequently, our firms work to ensure that our Authenticity Circles peer coaching group process always keeps focus on participants getting things done and learning from those actions.

Focus On Adaptability

While problem solving is certainly a major application of the Action Learning process, it is not the only application. The process can be used in a wide variety of other applications that are too often ignored in Action Learning literature, for example:

  • Coaching groups
  • Networking groups
  • Support groups
  • Training groups

Our Authenticity Circles can be customized for a wide range of applications.

Additional Perspectives on Action Learning

It helps to review others' points of view about Action Learning. The following links are to additional descriptions of Action Learning posed by other writers and practitioners.

"Action Learning is a process underpinned by a belief in individual potential: a way of learning from our actions, and from what happens to us, and around us, by taking the time to question, understand and reflect, to gain insights, and consider how to act in the future."
-- Krystyna Weinstein, in "Action Learning: A Practical Guide"

"Hell has no senate more formidable than a conspiracy of
shortsighted leaders and quick-witted experts."
-- Reginald Revans, founder of Action Learning

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