Five things we learnt behind the scenes of Action Learning

11 Aug 2021

The life of a social entrepreneur can be a lonely one. With Action Learning Sets, small groups of you get together to tackle challenges you’re facing at your organisation. It provides that safe space you need to gain different perspectives, air out your frustrations and issues, and be vulnerable.

Your Action Learning facilitator plays a key role in this process. Let’s hear from Maggie Wright (from our team in Scotland) about the training she’s undergone to support you most effectively.

Our team of facilitators in Scotland recently joined together to complete our ILM accredited training in Action Learning. We’d all enjoyed our own AL experience initially as SSE students. But now, having the opportunity to be trained to deliver this to other students gave us all a deep sense of satisfaction that we were delivering something of real value.

Here are five things we learned during the training which can help social entrepreneurs like you in your journey:

1. Connect and learn from others who are also honing their skills

Coming together with fellow colleagues was a huge part of the experience – sharing our insights and learning. Our understanding of group dynamics and our growth in our own self-awareness as facilitators was heightened and honed like a beautiful piece of artwork.

2. Search for new tools and techniques to keep your practice fresh and exciting

It can be easy to fall into the “same old, same old” way of doing things. But the training taught us new ways to support our AL students. The excellent visuals that supported the students’ learning, to the creativity in the different ways a topic holder can explore their issues, were truly refreshing and stimulating. And the practice sessions helped us implement what we were learning. Now we feel we’ve enhanced our own toolkits, and in turn, our confidence as facilitators.

3. If it’s possible to enrol on the training, take the opportunity, as it embeds the ethos, principles and values of Action Learning even deeper

As an SSE student, you’ll soon become well versed in Action Learning, on the receiving end. But having the training to become a facilitator yourself could take your Action Learning experience to another level. Our course trainer was skilled and detailed in their approach, and modelled excellent facilitation which we all learnt from.

4. Don’t be afraid of the shift to online – the technology is only another skill to enable you to communicate and further reach out

Covid-19 hit us all in many ways. One of which being that our training had to be migrated online. However, this experience allowed us to appreciate the additional challenges and benefits of running virtual sessions.

Some of us had reservations about this method of delivery, but the training prepared us for any problems and issues that might arise in future.

5. View Action Learning as an art. And like all art forms, it takes practise

Like any other skill or craft, Action Learning requires practice. The training gave us opportunities to practice with each other which was crucial in developing our own skills as facilitators.

One of the most rewarding outcomes is that we’ve now established our own Action Learning Set meeting regularly for peer-led sessions. These support us in our own enterprises, but also ensures great continuous professional development.


Practicing Action Learning in the real world can be a challenge, but delivering training to students and seeing them hit on their “aha” moment due to the process is a real joy to behold. We’ve seen them grow and deepen their learning, and plan to implement Action Learning in their own lives. What we’re delivering is making a real difference. What more job satisfaction could you want?

Maggie Wright is an AL Team Leader and the CEO of Families in Trauma. Let her know what you think @FamiliesnTrauma or drop her an email at [email protected]