Header: Anthony Delanoix via Unsplash.

Has your team ever gotten stuck on an issue, unable to move forward, even after several rounds of conversation and multiple attempts at different strategies? One of the practices I have found most useful to help teams get unstuck is the Action Learning Set, a powerful group-coaching activity to share lessons learned and to foster a safe environment to explore and test new ideas. Action Learning Sets promote individual accountability and enhance the group’s problem-solving capacity as well as opening up the space for self-discovery and improvements in communication skills.

Traditional coaching principles apply to this group activity, such as confidentiality, resourcefulness, openness, non-judgment, etc. but the one concept I would like to focus on is learning. You live in a world of global information and technology-driven organisations. A huge amount of information is transferred every second. The success of your work also depends on your (and your team’s) ability to relate and learn from this information so that your organisation can stay lean, agile, and resilient in these times of change. You should aspire for your organisation to become a “learning organisation”, which “harnesses the full brain power, knowledge and experience available to it, in order to evolve continually for the benefit of all its stakeholders” (The Power of Learning, Mayo and Lank).

How does coaching interpret learning? Well, for a start, learning involves change. In Transformative Coaching: A Learning Theory for Practice, authors Susan Askew and Eileen Carnell quote Habermas who differentiated between three learning domains:

  1. Learning to act in the environment, i.e. developing skills and competences to control, manipulate, and act in the environment. In this domain, change involves a change in behaviour.
  2. Learning for personal meaning and understanding through social interaction, i.e. making sense and developing insights and understanding which happen through interaction with others.
  3. Reflective learning leading to perspective transformation, i.e. learning about the self through reflecting on the self in practice. In this domain, change relates to one’s perception of themselves and their context.

What kind of learning is practiced in your team? Does your team learn to relate to the rules of the organisation so they can get the results that the organisation asks them to? Or is your team encouraged to move beyond observation and seek meaning and understanding? And is your team also invited to learn about the self through reflection on the self, aiming to transcend its current level of consciousness? When you invite perspective transformation in your team, you will help them find a new sense of responsibility and of agency which may also lead to transformative action, which brings us back to the Action Learning Set.

Through a structured process built around the use of powerful questions, the Action Learning Set invites your team to reflect and learn together, to tap into its collective wisdom to get unstuck, and to promote accountability and ownership when taking action. It is an important first step towards becoming a learning organisation, constantly evolving to serve its community.

You can access the full guidelines here. The theme for the next month is Self-care September so the next article will discuss the importance of becoming our best wellbeing buddy.

About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing

Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for WellbeingAkasha InnovationPitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at info@recipesforwellbeing.org.

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