What are the project selection criteria?

  • Addresses an issue of high priority to the company.
  • Likely to benefit from "fresh eyes".
  • Potential to demonstrate best practice/sustainable/lean principles.
  • Likely to achieve a tangible outcome in the time available.
  • Company willing for outcomes to be used in the public domain as a case study.

Seven Slides in Seven Minutes

Throughout the project, team members are encouraged to research relevant topics and present their findings to the team. Typical topics might be 5S, Total Productive Maintenance, Set-Up Time Reduction, Value Stream Mapping, Team Building etc. A useful discipline is to set a limit of seven minutes and seven Powerpoint slides for the presentation. This ensures that presentations are short and to the point.

Who developed the Action Learning Institute process?

The process delivered by the Action Learning Institute was devised by Cother Consulting Pty Ltd and draws extensively on their experience with this type of program.

The Action Learning Process

A typical project has three phases as follows:

Selection and Preparation

This phase is vital to the success of the project. Key elements are:

  • Potential projects are evaluated against the selection criteria.
  • The Minimum Critical Specification for the selected project is established with the host company. This step may include mapping the project requirements against nationally recognised AQF Qualifications.
  • External companies are canvassed to participate.
  • The team is selected.
  • Relevant learning resources are identified.
  • The team is briefed.

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Project Delivery

The project is undertaken at the host company. The facilitator attends all sessions.

The team works together for one day per week over five weeks. This format has been found to work well. Five days is enough time for the team to achieve significant outcomes. The time between sessions enables participants to undertake further research and reflect on what they are learning.

The focus of each day is as follows:

  • Day 1: Familiarise and plan
  • Day 2: Record and examine
  • Day 3: Develop
  • Day 4: Refine and justify
  • Day 5: Finalise and present

The team presents to the senior management of the host company at 3pm on Day 5. This presentation is video taped and later edited to form the basis of the video case study.

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Project implementation

Over the next two to three months, the team implements the recommendations of the project and practices the improvements identified.

Assessment and feedback

The team is reconvened and staff of the host company make a presentation on implementation progress and the effectiveness of the team's recommendations. The case study video is reviewed at this meeting and certificates are presented to the team members.

The case study is subsequently made available on DVD for distribution free to South Australian companies. These case studies can also be viewed from this website, including a day-by-day description of how the teams tackled the projects.

Project Facilitation

The role of the facilitator is to guide and assist but not actively direct the process. It is important that the team take responsibility for their own learning. This is the key to Action Learning.

A typical breakdown of how the facilitator spends their time across the phases of the project is:

  • Organising 30%
  • Mentoring 40%
  • Instructing 10%
  • Reporting 20%

Traditional classroom instruction is kept to an absolute minimum. It is preferable to encourage team members to carry out their own research and present their findings to the team. (See Seven Slides, Seven Minutes). However the facilitator still requires a sound working knowledge of the relevant principles and tools and their application. The skill is to be able to recognise opportunities to introduce these principles and tools as a natural part of the problem solving process.

The ultimate goal of the facilitator is to render themselves redundant. If the facilitator has done their job well, by the end of the project, the individual will be sufficiently excited and motivated to go on to confidently plan their own learning projects. Likewise the organisation will be sufficiently excited and motivated to make Action Learning an intrinsic part of the culture.

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