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International Conference on Action Learning


The Association for Management Education and Development (AMED) and the International Foundation for Action Learning (IFAL) is hosting:

Making A Difference
…..unlocking potential and achieving lasting change

What do all these sectors have in common?

Local Government
Health Service
Financial Services
Off-Shore Oil Industry

….. they are all managing change through Action Learning

Date: October 8th 1999
Venue: The French Institute, Edinburgh

What Is Action Learning?

Action Learning as a method of bringing about personal and organisational change has been in use for over fifty years. It is not a science, nor is it a technique. It is a practical process for accelerating learning. It is a very simple approach that helps employees develop themselves and their business while solving real problems. People learn to ask questions to unlock potential and learn to find answers in order to get more done.

Action learning works for all manner of problems, for owner- managers, top directors of large internationals and for those at the "coal face". The ethos is that the best experts in solving awkward and tricky problems are those who have got the problems and must find a way forward for themselves. Working in learning sets, small groups meet on a regular basis to find ways of understanding and solving their problems. It can be used for personal development and to solve work problems.

Action learning is being applied around the world from China to Sweden, from Egypt to Indonesia, from the USA to Australia and in businesses from chemical works to insurance companies, in new ventures and declining businesses and at all levels of business.

Who Is This Conference For?

Developers interested in finding out more about action learning in practice. Line managers looking for new ways to develop the potential of their staff, bring about change and make lasting improvements.

The Association for Management Education and Development

AMED is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee with around 1,500 members who are managers professionals, academics and consultants interested in organisation and people development. It is a vibrant and participative network from which innovative and exciting ideas are sparked. Members’ thinking and practical skills are continuously developed through the exchange of insights, ideas and best practice in the field of organisation development. Activities centrally organised include conferences, workshops and CPD for members. AMED members self organise to take responsibility and create their own Special Interest Groups in such areas as: Ethics and Governance, Director Development, Transformational Mentoring, LETS, Co-Consulting and Knowledge Management. Further benefits of membership include a quarterly journal, a monthly newsletter and an annual membership directory

What does AMED offer near you?

Members can also attend local events. Contact Louise Clarkson on 0131 667 8059 for information on what is happening in Scotland and Helen Trussler in London on 0171 235 3505 for elsewhere in the UK.

Interested in a qualification?

AMED works in partnership with Salford University Management School to offer a one year part-time Post Graduate Certificate in Management Development. Part of this is delivered through learning sets that meet in Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

How to get further information

Helen Trussler, Membership Support Services Manager
AMED, 14-15 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PS
Tel: 0171 235 3505
Fax: 0171 235 3565
E-mail: HYPERLINK mail to:

The International Foundation for Action Learning

IFAL is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee with about 280 members. The aim is to identify and encourage a network of enthusiasts to support and develop the work of action learning world-wide. Membership includes both individuals and organisations. It provides opportunities to meet with and learn from others engaged in practising action learning; develop members skills as practitioners in action learning; and increase understanding of the radical implications of action learning for organisations. In 1999 IFAL WW organised a conference at the Mil Institute in Sweden on 'Creating a Framework for Learning - Worldwide'.

How to get further information

Pam Wright, IFAL Administrator
Dept of Management Learning, The Management School,
Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YX
Tel/Fax: 01524 812254


Coffee and registration

Welcome: Chair, Louise Clarkson, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Director of The Keil Centre and committee member of AMED Scotland. Louise uses Action Learning as an integral part of in-house and open management and executive development programmes

Keynote Speaker: Ian Offor of The Change Practice was Chief Executive of Royal Scottish Assurance, one of The Royal Bank of Scotland's core businesses and a Director of the Retail Bank. In eight years he took the business from start-up to a turnover of £550m. While Chief Executive he completed the MSc in Strategic Change at Sheffield Hallam University where part of the programme involved worked in learning sets with senior people from other organisations. Ian will talk about the process and how it impacted his whole life.

Learning sets: you are invited to join and experience being part of a learning set for the day.

Workshops - Session I

1. Action Learning for Quality Performance
Local government today is a fast changing environment and Action Learning has proved itself as a method of not just adapting but keeping ahead of the changes. Action Learning ensures staff gain the skills they need, often helping them keep their sanity in the midst of downsizing, outsourcing, constant re-organisation and much political change. This workshop will demonstrate how managers and other staff have improved their competence levels and quality performance. Delegates will gain an insight into how the method works in three organisations, and will take away the R.E.C.I.P.E. for success, which enables groups to support, challenge, learn from and with each other, while tackling live work issues.
Ray Mahoney is the Learning and Development Manager at the Corporation of London (the local authority for the City of London). Viv Woodcock is Corporate Training Manager London Borough of Hillingdon.

2. "Driving for Success" – a journey with ups, downs and new vistas
The Chief Executive wanted a programme that would develop his middle managers and broaden their understanding of how the whole business operates. ‘Driving for Success’ was designed around senior manager competencies with Action Learning as a central component. Participants came from bus operator MTL North, rail operators Northern Spirit and Merseyrail Electrics plus MTL’s commercial and environmental arms. During the project the company went through major change and uncertainty but as well as personal learning and change, tangible business benefits were also demonstrated. In this workshop Richie and Jo will share their experience from the eyes of a participant and a facilitator.
Richie Woods, Operational Support Manager, MTL North (responsible for 300 staff) and Jo Cumming, Director and Chartered Occupational Psychologist, The Keil Centre.

3. "Mark" - The Swedish Learning Community
Learn about a project, which involves 800 teachers and 40 head-teachers where we challenge the old concept of learning and learn with and from each other in small groups. How to get teachers to believe that they are important, confident and competent. How to start with the leaders and let them try it out first. How to be less in the hands of external experts in an organisation. How to get a balance between Action and reflection. How to learn from actions, real problems, different point of views in a small group were the group members experience support and challenge. How to use the fact that people are different, different ways of communications, different ways of processing information and different ways of learning. Learn with and from three of the community members.
Christer Ferm is a Swedish consultant working with change, and will be presenting with two other Community Members.


Learning sets continued

Workshops - Session II

4. The "Dunoon Experience" - Making A Difference In A Community Hospital
The hospital at Dunoon had experienced a "command & control" style of management for many years. With a new nursing manager in post and active encouragement from the HR director and the Chief Executive, the problem was how to move people from dependence to interdependence - how to change an embedded culture. This is the story of what happened, what was learned, what changed and where things are going from here!
Yvonne Mc Intyre (A leading Sister in Community Nursing) was a participant in one of three Action Learning sets which ran from November 1998 to June 1999.
Ian Hall is a people development consultant who acted as co-ordinator of the project and facilitated the three sets, he splits his time between directing a Masters programme for developers and consulting for a variety of companies.

5. Learning Laboratories Across The Globe – Developing Leaders In Conoco Inc
In the fall of 1997 and early 1998, Conoco management supported the start of twelve learning laboratories – seven in Europe and five in the USA. We knew then that, by combining learning with action around real work issues, we had a great process for developing leaders. What we know now is that the Learning Laboratories ensure more accountability for results than a task force, can produce more sustainable skill changes than training, will create genuine appreciation for diversity, and can strengthen any level of leadership in Conoco. Today we will be asking: "What’s missing?" "What’s next?", if you’d like explore this question please attend this session.
Sallie T Hightower is a senior HRD consultant within Conoco Inc, with more than 30 years experience. Margaret McCoy is a HR Associate for Conoco Inc. and has a MSc in Personnel Management.

6. Action Learning In Practice At The Bank Of Scotland
Using action Learning to drive the personal development plans of a large group of senior managers seemed all right in theory. What was the experience of these managers and the perceived benefits to the organisation? Two years on the organisation is looking at whether Action Learning has provided the catalyst for improved collaborative behaviour and peer coaching. You will have the opportunity to discuss the initial findings and look at how this model would perhaps work in your organisation. Participants will be encouraged to share their experience of using Action Learning and how well the theory has been translated into practice.
As Development Manager at The Bank of Scotland Stephen Davis is involved in the design and implementation of Leadership and Management development across the group.

Join speakers and facilitators at their separate tables and ask questions about the sessions you missed

Tea or coffee with your learning set

Fishbowl session: Facilitator Antony Shearn, Development Manager at Halifax PLC
Antony is responsible for the development of middle and senior managers in the retail network, he is particularly involved in work to bring the bank and estate agency under a single management line. As well as introducing Action Learning into the Halifax, in his previous position at Clerical Medical he pioneered the use of Accelerated Learning techniques in technical and behavioural skills training
The closing session will centre on a lively discussion amongst the main presenters. The Keynote Speaker and workshop leaders will come together to highlight the key themes of the conference and discuss unresolved issues. The fishbowl format will enable conference participants to join the debate and to challenge conclusions or raise questions of their own



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