Official USA Affiliate, WIAL USA
The WIAL Model of Action Learning is constructed around six components:
- a problem or challenge of importance to the group;
- a team of four to eight members, ideally from diverse backgrounds and/or parts of the organization;
- a process that emphasizes questions and reflection;
- the commitment to take action on strategies developed;
- commitment to learning as individuals and at the team level; and
- an action learning coach whose primary role focuses on and ensures that time and energy are dedicated to capturing the learning and improving the skill level of the group (Marquardt, 2011).
When all six of these components are included, development occurs at the individual, team, and organizational levels. It is vital that each of these components are considered carefully.
Why are these six components so important when using WIAL Action Learning?
- A Problem or Challenge— Action Learning teams are always working on real problems, challenges or dilemmas. It is important that they are important for the team or organization, urgent and complex – requiring breakthrough solutions, not just one expert response.
Group— We always work in a group of 4-8 people. No less than 4 because energy and exchange are needed. No more than 8, because there are too many possible mutual references. The diversity of people in the group is important, which leads to creativity and unusual solutions.
- Questions— We use questions mainly for 3 reasons. First of all: they explore the problem and stimulate reflection and creativity. Second: they keep the team focused on one specific problem or challenge. Third: they allow you to practice any leadership, communication or team skill you choose.
- Learning— It is understood as constantly drawing conclusions from the actions taken and improving the quality of work. It occurs at 3 levels: individual, team and organizational.
- Action— It takes place both in and between sessions. After each meeting, the team takes actions from which it can learn later, i.e. consciously draw conclusions for the future. The special feature of Action Learning is that the team does not only develop recommendations and ideas, but solutions that are actually to be implemented. Such responsibility leads to deep commitment and an increase in the quality of cooperation in the organization.
Coach— Part of the team is a specially trained person who primarily cares about learning. He watches and asks questions. It encourages the team to reflect on both the way they solve the problem and the actions and exercise of leadership skills. It sets the tone for the discussion, supports the team in building standards, keeps an eye on the time of the meeting and is a model, an example of a leader who thinks systematically and asks accurate questions.