This paper outlines the impact of action learning using case examples at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). It also describes the possible benefits if the process is implemented effectively. Research indicates that escalating complexity is a major theme in business today, which amplifies the need for leaders to think and solve problems differently as well as to adapt to change more seamlessly. As a result, organisations increasingly search for initiatives that not only effectively increase agile leadership by means of leadership development, but also have organisational impact to help them navigate through uncertainty. The major focus of this paper is to outline the impact of action learning in specific organisations where GIBS action learning initiatives have been implemented. Moreover, this paper details what action learning at GIBS entails and defines the concept, highlighting the benefits and motivation for its use. In addition, this paper stresses the critical success factors identified by organisational experts that are deemed necessary to ensure successful action learning design, delivery, and impact. A framework for designing action learning effectively is also provided, based on historical data from successful action learning initiatives as part of leadership development programmes at GIBS.

GIBS clients who have used action learning effectively and could comment on leadership learning and organisational impact were used as examples to extract data. The clients referenced in the paper are Anglo American, Komatsu, Aspen, and AECI. Learning and development and human resources staff at the organisations, as well as programme managers and action learning coaches were interviewed to obtain data. The information in this paper may be useful to those involved in learning and development, human resources, and talent development, as well as organisational development and growth. The anticipated value of the paper is to illustrate the impact of action learning processes by providing examples of effective action learning delivery, to offer insight into why organisations may exclude action learning as part of leadership development programmes, and to offer a framework for the impactful design delivery and evaluation of action learning initiatives.

Download or read the report here