There are a number of schools of thought on action learning facilitation. We subscribe to Revans’ philosophy, as described by Pedler and Abbott (2013), which presents the facilitator in three roles:
"No organisation is likely to embrace action learning unless there is some person within it ready to fight on its behalf... "
Professor Reginald Revans
Accoucheur translates as “midwife” and is arguably the most important role of an action learning facilitator. As Accoucheur, the facilitator undertakes the planning and preparation for learning to occur. This process is akin to preparing the set to ‘give birth’ to the learning. This includes clearly defining the problem or opportunity under focus, engaging senior management and other important stakeholders, and preparing the individual set members to be effective participants in action learning.
The set advisor is the most contentious role of an action learning facilitator. There are several schools of thought as to what form the set advisor role should take. In Self-Managed Action Learning (SMAL), the facilitator may attend the first few meetings only to ensure that the set is functioning properly. According to Revans, the facilitator in the set advisor role should endeavour to gradually ‘step back’ and remove themselves as soon as possible. In any case, the facilitator should act only as a ‘guide on the side’ and should not assume the role of an expert as this will dampen the potential for new ideas to emerge. The set advisor takes responsibility for the essential ‘cat-herding’ and ensures that everyone understands and follows an agreed process. The set advisor observes and moderates the group dynamics, drawing out less assertive members and helping learners to explicate tacit learning.
The role of the action learning facilitator includes establishing systems to support action learning. This could include designing or utilising frameworks for knowledge management and forums for sharing learning. For example, organising face to face events such as conferences, or introducing and managing virtual tools such as social learning platforms or shared online teamspaces.
Learning & Development
The objective of our facilitator program is to develop facilitators capable of identifying learning opportunities and designing interventions that promote self-directed learning and organisational development. Contact us to learn more about becoming an action learning facilitator.
We work with a team of exceptional people, learning with and from each other, exploring action learning and continually improving our practice. Each team member brings a range of skills and experience to bear on the various roles of the action learning facilitator and the application of technology to enable learning.