Learning in action

Kenning’s work is informed by the principle that adults learn by doing.  And more doing.  And then doing some more.

Learn and knowWhen adults learn new things, then need to try them out.  Especially when learning at work. Repetition and integration of new concepts into everyday work tasks and interactions transform new understanding into established practice.  “Interesting” workshops are fine.  But sustained efforts that drive real change are better.

Because most significant change takes time and support, Kenning buttresses all but our shortest learning programs with Action Learning components.

What is Action Learning?

Popularized in the 1990s by systems thinkers like Peter Synge, Action Learning creates peer counseling groups whose explicit purpose is to increase individual and collective capacity to generate breakthrough insights.  Team members, often with a facilitator, use curiosity-based questioning (in contrast to what might be called “fault-” or “problem-focused” questioning) to help participants see seemingly intractable problems from new angles.

The result of well-facilitated Action Learning groups is almost always significant learning about specific work problems, as well as increased capacity among participants to think curiously and complexly.

How does Action Learning work at Kenning Associates?

During a Kenning learning event, participants encounter new skills that help them look at problems in new ways.  Participants might learn to structure problems, communicate information transparently, question and listen curiously, or think about their own leadership trajectories in new ways.

One-time training events are generally designed to end with a group session where participants practice integrating their learnings by applying them to a real-life situation with the help of fellow group members and a Kenning facilitator.  Multi-workshop programs are built around Action Learning groups that support and drive learning during the residential portion of the program, as well as through periodic interim conference calls.

During an Action Learning session, each member has a chance to present his or her real-life challenge to the group while the group asks questions to help him or her work the problem.  The Kenning facilitator supports presenter and group-member learning by ensuring that concepts and tools presented to that point in the program are brought to bear and that the process is focused on opening up possibilities and new ways of thinking, rather than driving to obvious or simplistic solutions.