Action learning with Cornwall VSF

Bring a fresh perspective to your planning and evaluation

The challenges of bringing about meaningful change in the health and wellbeing of people in Cornwall are difficult, reflecting the complexity of the systems and services serving these people.

Leaders and front line workers of both public and third sector organisations have to grapple with systemic challenges on a number of levels. The funding environment and statutory budget constraints are a challenge to long-term sustainability. The pressures, confusion and dynamics of this environment have massive implications.

Action learning offers an environment where commissioner, managers and front line workers can step back, make sense of this complexity, and contemplate change.

How can action learning help?

Your organisation may be facing some of the following situations. If so, action learning can have a direct, positive impact on the outcomes and objectives you set for your organisation.

  • Developing commissioning strategies
  • Co-producing services
  • Managing change and transformation
  • Stakeholder engagement and partnership working
  • Improving performance in work-based projects
  • Developing leadership capacity and resilience
  • Working creatively where there is resistance to change
  • Finding new ways of working and problem solving
  • Resolving issues and disputes

Action learning works!

Having taken part in a recent action learning set led by Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum to support the Restorative Justice tender process in March 2017, I would not only endorse action learning but also the collaborative, supportive and focused style used by VSF.

We were involved in two action learning sets from a series of three, which brought together practitioners, stakeholders and managers to support collective learning and recommendations for a peninsula-wide commissioning bid. We were delighted that each set focused on a different set of issues and was facilitated to focus on the actions which needed to happen. It was not a talking shop!

Even better, we have been informed when actions have been completed which shows the commitment that everyone had to bringing about meaningful change in this area of practice. Thanks VSF for a great learning opportunity.

Make Amends, Torbay Council

What is action learning?

Joining an action learning set is a totally confidential, amazingly dynamic way to work together to solve problems, discover solutions and move your organisation forward. Action learning provides structured time to develop reflective practice and critical thinking within your organisation. Reflective practice enables professionals at all levels to become fluid at complex problem solving and to positively affect the culture of the organisation.

The theory is that all action learning takes place within a context which includes elements which may be unconscious and unspoken and will remain so unless the facilitator takes an active role in helping them to ‘surface’. These elements may be the power relationships within a department or an organisation, the relationship between members of the action learning set, or their emotions and experiences.

Action learning provides a method and process in which complex professional challenges can be explored in a systematic, supportive way. The method is based on a combination of active listening/inquiry, helping individuals to explore the challenge in depth and consider options/actions to move it forward. The ‘generative’ quality of open questioning encourages movement towards insight and action and reflection on the process.

Cornwall VSF provided action learning for the OPCC commissioning of Restorative Justice as part of our stakeholder engagement and to inform the development of the specification for the tender document.

It was a very useful exercise and well-managed. The process of using the concept fan really helps to pull out the issues and barriers to how we can move forward. It helped to identify key parts of the tender and how they should be weighted, and to unpick the key areas of concern from the local voluntary sector. I found that both being part of some of the sets and the report from all of the sets very valuable to me as a commissioner of services.

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall

Would you like to know more about action learning and how Cornwall VSF can help your organisation? Get in touch to discuss your requirements.