Posts Tagged ‘Action Leaning’

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: At the start of the session a participant gets up and closes a door.

Song Zhang

For ThoughtWorks, talent is the source of the enterprise’s growth and competitive advantage. ThoughtWorks’ AURORA-Leader Development Program used Action Learning as a core method to build a talented team with excellent capabilities, broader vision and connection with the culture and mission.

During the 6 month program, trainees follow a cycle around real scenarios, learning, practice and retrospect. Each of them receives the support from a mentor, an external WIAL Action Learning coach, and the BU head.

Action learning allows trainees to think about and explore the macro issues facing senior leaders at the company’s strategic and organizational level, and at the same time work on their individual leadership development. Action learning helps us to solve real organizational problems and evaluate the corresponding results. After 2 successful years, the third AURORA starts this year !

“The more complex the problems are, the more significant improvement in trainee’s leadership capability can be observed.”

Song Zhang
Managing Director
ThoughtWorks China

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The team is working on a porch with windows around three sides. As the session starts two participants stand up at the same time. One walks to one side of the room and closes a window, the other walks to the other and opens a window.
As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The session has been going for a long stretch and participants start stepping out to use the bathroom.

Lyreco is one of the world’s leading B2B distributors of Office and Workplace products with a strong and growing ecommerce presence complementing its traditional channels. Operating in Europe for over ninety years, Asia has been one of the growth markets for the past two decades. Due to rapid growth over in Thailand, the local leadership team were searching for a way to confront many of the internal challenges resulting from rapid expansion.

Action Learning was identified as a key tool and over a six-month period, two groups of directors and managers attended foundation courses in Action Learning in either Thai or English. Seven potential coaches were selected from the earlier cohorts who were trained to become Certified Action Learning Coaches (CALC). Within the first year, the CALC at Lyreco were holding regular cross-functional Action Learning sessions with a wide selection of attendees from Lyreco in Thailand.

There have been many benefits, even in the first year; Action Learning has clearly promoted work related interaction between the departments at the different geographical locations in Thailand and all the participants are learning from each other about what is happening and planned for the future in their departments and Lyreco as whole.

The Action Learning group members are learning to ask powerful questions and it has created a format where people “have’ to ask work related questions, where previously it may have been seen as culturally inappropriate or insensitive to ask questions.

The company has clearly begun to develop a learning culture and whilst the Action Learning is helping to solve problems, we see this as a by-product, as the improved inter-departmental cooperation and openness to ask questions amongst our employees producing learning and better understanding is already a real benefit.

“Whilst there is still work to change the perception of some employees of Action Learning from a short-term program to becoming being part of our DNA, I am confident that the benefits of Action Learning will continue to impact everyone who has been exposed to it whether they remain at Lyreco or continue their career elsewhere.”

Managing Director
Lyreco Co., Limited Thailand

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: A year earlier there was a merger in the organization. All fun elements had been stopped – picnics, team outings and were replaced with ridged procedures. The team was tasked with determining was to bring back fun in the work place. The top HR person on the team is convinced it can’t happen and derails every idea.
As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The teams has been working on fleshing out a breakthrough solution to a problem that has been haunting the organization for years. A long term employee stops by just long enough to tell them it won’t work.
As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The team starts brainstorming some great solutions; stopping short of actually developing a fully and clearly implementable plan.

David Loke

The Thermo Fisher Scientific team brought together 130 team members from various functions in two locations- Taiwan and Singapore to discover the power of Action Learning. Participants experienced the importance and benefits of Psychological Safety when working together. It was a rare occasion where our participants could share freely about their challenges at work. With the guidance of the Action Learning coaches, participants started learning the skills of active listening and understanding the power of questioning.

“The Action Learning coaches created a safe environment for us to share about challenges and to learn. That leads to open and courageous communication among team members, and to both challenge and help others think through the issues they are facing.”

David Loke
Regional Sales Training & Development Manager
Thermo Fisher Scientific




As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: The team seems to be at consensus but continues to question the nature of the real problem.
As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: A participant is convinced of the true nature of the problem and repeats the same questions over and over in an effort to persuade the others, even after others have made it clear that they don’t believe that is where the real problem is, that what this particular participant is advocating is just another symptom.

Teng Li

China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Co., Ltd. built its second youth-talent development program around Action Learning with a hybrid training model to improve abilities in problem-solving, innovation and leadership. In the intensive learning, participants integrate their learning results with actual work through deliberate practices and tools of “leadership in action”.

Their projects help solve important issues supporting the company’s strategy while strengthening participants’ leadership and teamwork.The program has become a benchmark of talent development in the company and the WIAL Action Learning skills are deployed to the talent development at all levels of the company.

“Action learning develops a systematic and deductive way of thinking and supplements participants’ intrinsic mindset and subjective experience. The program has helped the company build up young people who identify with the company culture, dare to innovate and who bring an enterprising spirit, efficient working ability and professional accomplishment.”

Mr. Teng Li
Training Manager
China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Co., Ltd.