The Friday before last, I travelled to Bermondsey to gain accreditation as a facilitator of Action Learning Sets. This training, run by the immensely skilled Ruth Cook, Director of Action Learning Associates, really helped me focus on the core skills of a facilitator. During the accreditation day, we attempted to create our own descriptions of the value of action learning – here’s mine:
A form of facilitation within a committed group (perhaps of peers) which enables individuals to learn and improve their skills in extremely powerful ways which are relevant to them.
The technique relies on participants asking a series of open questions, helping the presenter (learner) to see an issue or problem in a new light. The training involved being part of a practice set, taking on in turn the roles of participant, facilitator, and presenter, and in each role, reflecting on what had gone on, and to what extent the process had helped the presenter to gain insights which he or she might otherwise not have had by thinking about the problem alone.
As well as practising and honing my facilitation skills, I gained a couple of very powerful things from the 6-month programme. First, a re-realisation that facilitation is a passion and a skill that I have. In fact, this website – and my new ‘facilitation life’ – wouldn’t exist but for it! Secondly, we had to keep a ‘learning log’, a set of observations of the pieces of facilitation we’d done over the 6 months – a valuable practice I hope to continue.