The rapid pace of change means organizational learning and innovation are essential for building stronger organizations and creating healthier communities.  But we need to learn and innovate in ways that are practical and relevant for participants and the organization.

Action learning is a powerful strategy that brings people together for learning and action..  At CHS we support action learning projects for associations, foundations, nonprofits, public agencies, and other organizations interested in facilitating focused learning and improvement.

Learn more about our action learning supports below, and contact us to discuss the possibilities.

Nonprofits need to embrace continuous learning and innovation in order to survive in a rapidly changing landscape.  This need to ‘learn at the speed of change‘ is not easily met by traditional training and consulting models.

  • Generalized training programs often fall short when a team needs to quickly translate learning into real-world solutions.
  • Consultants can help, but when they take most of the knowledge generated from the project with them after the project, the organization loses an opportunity to develop its own talent.
  • We need a better solution to support learning and action to solve challenges and build internal capacity.   That solution is action learning.

As the name suggests, action learning combines focused learning with practical action to help teams solve workplace challenges as they learn new skills. It is a powerful solution because it adds value for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities.

  • Individuals learn and grow as a result of working on a project in a collaborative learning environment.
  • Teams learn and grow as they recognize how every member can have an important role to play in solving challenges.
  • Organizations benefit from stronger teams and higher performance.
  • Communities benefit from the positive impact created by high performing organizations.

Learn more about the action learning process below.

Action learning is a repeatable process that can by applied by an individual, a team, an organization, or participants in a multi-organization collaborative.

  • Focus. The process begins with a focus for learning and action to solve a real-world challenge. The challenge could be a problem to be solved, or an opportunity to be developed.
  • Reflect. The process continues with participants reflecting on their own experience, insight, and ideas, and sharing their perspectives as partners in the project.
  • Explore.  In this phase participants explore possibilities for action based on their own ideas as well as promising practices from the field.
  • Plan.  Having explored the possibilities, the next phase is to plan an approach with defined objectives, actions, and roles.
  • Apply.  In this phase participants apply the approach with a flexible mindset, testing and refining as needed to optimize results.
  • Repeat.  Action learning is a repeatable process that can be used to foster continuous improvement across the organization or community.

The results of action learning can be seen in stronger teams, better organizational performance, and greater community impact. Learn more about how we support action learning below.

We work closely with our client partners to design, develop and implement action learning strategies that work in the local context.

Design & Development Support

Our guiding principle is that action learning should be tailored to meet the needs of participants. Whether the action learning program is structured for a single organization or a multi-organization collaborative, we can help you:

  • Engage participants
  • Define the focus
  • Design the approach
  • Identify subject matter experts
  • Develop action learning resources
  • Monitor participation
  • Evaluate impact

Implementation Support

We support implementation of action learning by providing a menu of supports tailored to meet the needs of participants.  This includes:

  • Research on promising practices
  • Data to support project planning and evaluation
  • Tools for applying promising practices
  • Training in selected topics, using various subject matter experts as needed
  • Technical assistance to help participants apply tools and solve challenges
  • Facilitation of group learning sessions
  • Coaching to help participants clarify goals and solve challenges

Learn more about action learning topics below.

CHS has helped hundreds of nonprofits build stronger organizations and create healthier communities through action learning projects.  Each project is tailored to provide the right combination of training, tools, technical assistance, and strategy coaching to accomplish the goals of the organizations involved.  Some example action learning topics are outlined below.

Capacity Building: 

We have used action learning strategies to help organizations build capacity for:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Community needs assessment
  • Community value analysis
  • Community collaboration
  • Community research
  • Program design
  • Program evaluation
  • Quality improvement
  • Design thinking
  • Positive teamwork
  • Positive leadership

Health Improvement:

We have used action learning strategies to help organizations improve:

  • Cardiovascular care
  • Child health promotion
  • Children’s behavioral health
  • Chronic care models
  • Early childhood screening
  • Health equity strategies
  • Home visiting
  • HPV vaccination
  • Integrated care models
  • Low-value care reduction
  • Medicaid expansion
  • Mental health services
  • Nurse leadership
  • Oral health
  • Patient centered medical home
  • Physician leadership
  • Positive leadership
  • Reducing low-value health care
  • Rural telehealth
  • Senior services
  • School health
  • Social determinants of health
  • Substance use services
  • Youth violence prevention

Learn more about action learning formats below.

CHS can support action learning for a single organization, a community collaborative, or a state or national collaborative. We facilitate action learning in a variety of formats depending on the project aims and context.  Formats include:

Action Learning Workshops. Action learning workshops are focused sessions in which participants engage in rapid learning and design to solve specific challenges.  Workshops can be conducted virtually or onsite, and may range from 90 minutes to most of a day depending on the content.

Action Learning Programs. Action learning programs include a series of workshops for topics that require more than a single session, plus strategy coaching and technical assistance between the workshops.  The timeframe is typically a few weeks or months.

Action Learning Collaboratives. In an action learning collaborative, teams from multiple organizations come together to learn and apply effective strategies for achieving shared goals. A collaborative typically includes a series of learning sessions supplemented with strategy coaching, technical assistance, tools, and online resources.   The timeframe for a learning collaborative can run from a few months to a year of longer.

Action Learning Networks.  While action learning collaboratives are focused on engaging teams around common goals, action learning networks are designed to engage diverse individuals in exchanging insights and ideas in specific topic areas.  For example, elevation is an action learning network for individuals interested in community health innovation.

Visit our project examples page to view examples of action learning projects addressing a wide range of topics.

Let’s talk.

Please contact us to learn more about how we might help you accomplish your goals.

Let’s talk
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