Our history

The Action Learning Institute is a private research and training organisation, established in South Australia in 2011.

The Institute emerged from work undertaken by founder, Bob Cother, dating back to 2006, delivering action learning programs in the manufacturing and associated industries. This early program, Lean Action Learning, was funded by the South Australian government and used action learning to address problems of real importance for the companies involved, by applying Lean tools and principles and sharing the lessons learnt across the cohort.

Based on the results achieved, the Tasmanian government invited Bob Cother to visit in 2009, with a view to establishing a similar program for manufacturers in that region. After a period of consultation, a pilot program was established in 2010. The Tasmanian Lean Action Learning program introduced a more structured model and incorporated a very early system for collecting and assessing evidence of competency for participants to achieve a nationally recognised qualification under the Australian Qualifications Framework. Three companies collaborated in the program, Tamar Valley Dairy, Bell Bay Aluminium and ACL Bearing Co. Each company achieved measurable business outcomes as well as formal learning outcomes for the individuals involved.

In 2012, the Institute registered as a Registered Training Organisation under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 and became the first education institution in the world to deliver nationally recognised qualifications entirely through action learning.

The Tasmanian program has evolved over subsequent years and a network of ‘alumni’ companies formed. A Coordinating Team comprised of a range of stakeholders, including the Institute, organised and established an independent entity, Business Action Learning Tasmania Ltd (BALT) in 2017.

The success of the Lean Action Learning program prompted the Tasmanian Department of State Growth to fund the development of a similar model, specifically designed to meet the needs of small business. This program will be piloted in early 2018 in the Circular Head region in the far north-west of Tasmania.

The Institute has taken an action learning/action research approach in its business development. A strategic goal of the company is to establish programs and then ‘step back’ as individuals, participating companies, and the regions in which they operate, increase their own capability in action learning. An important aspect of this process is the creation and sharing of new knowledge across the networks created and in the public domain.