Action Learning Questions: Making Sense of Organizational Chaos

Jennifer Bowerman, Richard Hale


This article uses a dialogic and questioning approach between the two authors, to explore how action learning questioning as a process has been used to create transformation and capability in some organizations impacted by massive change. Action Learning, based on the original work of Reg Revans, is a question driven approach enabling complex business issues to be explored through action and reflection with fellow set members. The authors narrate how such an approach has been used as the foundation for programs of professional development qualifications, with the assistance of some universities willing to forego their usual practice of teaching and testing concepts and theories, acknowledging that these new business development programs can succeed in bringing about results, resilience and competence in workforces battered by change fatigue and chaos. Too often organizational development concepts have become dry theoretical concepts in text books. This exchange demonstrates how they can come to life through questioning, reflective action and organizational support using evidence from major programs now underway in government and commercial sectors in the UK. The authors demonstrate how Action Learning Questioning based initiatives have the capacity to build social capital, and generate effective learning in complex and rapidly changing business and organizational environments.  It concludes with suggestions for the future.


Action Learning, Organization Development, The Learning Organization, Chaordic Organizations


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