Author Profile Picture

Andry Anastasiou

The Learning Moment


Read more from Andry Anastasiou

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Learning Journey for Collaborative Change


.  What did we do ?

  •  'Learning Journeys' or 'Discovery Journeys' encourage you to move out of your daily routine, allow you to observe more deeply and to experience a workplace, team or community challenge, or system through the lens of different stakeholders. 

What happens on a facilitated  Learning Journey? 

  • For our Learning Journey,  UK and International climate change and development specialists spent time in a local community with  some of the key stakeholders such as market stall holders, market managers, local shoppers, local economy activists, leaders of social enterprise support organisations, representatives of local businesses - all people working on real economic and community challenges. 
  • Our aim was to deepen our understanding of resilience within the community – economic, personal and community resilience and to take  away learning to inform the development work all over the work. During the day, we observed, talked, listened,  asked questions and reflected – all with guiding principles, informed by the techniques of Presencing Institute, created by Massachusetts Institute of Technolobgy.  The group were led and supported by myself Andry Anastasiou from The Learning Moment and Jane Clarke,  international development specialist.  

Learning benefits for everyone: 

  • Every person in the group had some insights from the day about how to bring about collaborative change. Here are some of the most striking ones:  

Reenergising others and ourselves at work: 

  • A clear message in participants’ comments were that this Learning Journey was an energising experience. If you are energised you  are more inspired, connected, and engaged with your work and your career. At its heart,  the Learning journey process (as  part of the  tools and approaches from the Presencing Institute),  also aims to support individuals to reconnect with their  passion for work, career and life:  "This has changed the way I engage with people and probably what I do next.  Result."

Managing Change: 

  • "Change evolves over time for the better, when more peoople and greater diversity of ideas are involved".  Using the Learning Journey technique  to discover new ways to engage face to face with your staff, teams, policy-makers, investors or stakeholders  can take you to a deeper level of understanding -  beyond consultation -  and stimulate new possibilities. The use of informal, open conversations, outside the office environment can generate a real connection and in this setting listening  really happens. 

Collaborative change: 

  • This approach  has the potential to improve your design principles, deepen your experience of  collaborative change for many situations,  including  in a local community context:  “being there physically make a lot of difference  - engaging with people…In an office situation a lot of focus is on papers and write ups”. Sharing stories between stakeholders  and other parties proved to be a great way to reduce barriers and enable that connection between people.

Listening and neutral observation: 

  • " Sometimes as we listen with an answer  in mind…,"we don't give space to listen and absorb". This starts with having the respect for and confidence in the people with whom we are talking to. As practitioners we often either have the solution or the assume we have the  tool to get us there.  This model challenges that approach and makes  participation and collaboration authentic, rather than paying lip -service to those essential practices.
  • An early response from the team was just how willing people were to engage with us if we give them the time and space. The surprising bit (but why!!!) is that when you do stop and engage the people in organisations or  community just what a rich picture can emerge. A focus on the quality of listening and observing, served as a great reminder to us all. 

Not listening: 

  • We can often sense the results of not listening – we miss the key message  or answer in a conversation, we fail to connect with someone, we miss opportunities and we create results or programmes  that are resented or  have no shared ownership.  At worst we  don't fully solve challenges or don’t represent a good investment. Participants on the Learning Journey  day could see how a different way of engaging would giave them an experience that was the polar opposite of this. By dropping assumptions and, cynicism,  judgments  about  people, places and solutions you potentially could improve outcomes.

Changing habits:  

  • Making this change to  listen more deeply and to bring about more collaborative change  is not easy or instant.  It is the equivalent of letting go of an old  habit, such as thinking you know the answer before the conversation has even happened.  It also requires practice.articipants thought this  was a powerful way of breaking down barriers between groups and individuals. It was recognized on the day,  that there are many ways this  approach can improve your work,  e.g.  in team meetings or in  developing a shared understand in consultants or when  convening people together around a problem or issue or engaging staff.
  • This process both requires and enables you to keep challenging yourself, to create a new narrative about people,  a current  challenge and how you see them. For some organisations,  such as our climate change and development specialists,  it is also about modelling this behavior with our colleagues in the office and making sure that the people we fund listen well when they are working with the people we are trying to help. 

What next - the emerging  future:  

  • The  Learning  Journey tool is part of  a wider body of techniques  and approaches ( Presencing Institute tools and approaches) that can be used to help design and bring about collaborative change at many levels.  This approach to can help to tackle tough and complex challenges in organisations, communities or even globally. The Learning Journey for us was a one-day  facilitated experience, but it's the foundation work of listening and observations  and ongoing  experiential practice that will make it relevant to working on   organisational, local, national and international challenges.

Thanks for kind support from Brixton Bid, Impact Hub Brixton,  Brixton Pound Café, Pop Brixton and Brixton Station Road Community Market

[1] Adapted from   PI Tool: Sensing Journeys 

[2] See:  ‘Leading from the Emerging Future’ –C. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer and  ‘Theory  U’  C Otto Scharmer



Author Profile Picture
Andry Anastasiou


Read more from Andry Anastasiou

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!