Die neueste Ausgabe der IFAL news (September 2014) – wie der Newsletter der International Foundation for Action Learning heißt – enthält eine von Uta Boesch anschauliche und informativ geschriebene Besprechung des Buchs „Action Learning – Workbook für Trainer, Berater und Facilitators“ von Bernhard Hauser für die englischsprachige Action Learning Community:
Action Learning: Workbook mit Praxistipps, Anleitungen und Hintergrundwissen für Trainer, Berater und Facilitators by Bernhard Hauser, Manager Seminare Verlags GmbH, 2012.
This is a book for practitioners: for the action learning facilitator looking for a concise summary of the theory and practice of action learning and for practical advice on its design and implementation. Equally, this book is aimed at professionals in Human Resources Development, managers, and consultants who want to learn about action learning, its applications and to find out how and when it could be of use. Finally it is for everyone who is looking for a concise and easy to read introduction to action learning. Unfortunately, it is only available in German.
This book is an ambitious mixture between a handbook and a practical manual and therefore represents the dual nature of action learning as a philosophy and a method, as Mike Pedler describes in the foreword. It draws upon the rich experience of Bernhard Hauser as a consultant, facilitator and coach on the one hand, and as a professor for change management and action learning on the other.
The book is organised in four main sections: philosophy, action, learning, and design. Each chapter follows a similar format: a table of contents and a short overview at the beginning of each chapter and a summary at the end provide a useful orientation for the reader. Written in a clear and engaging style, enriched with interviews, examples, diagrams, checklists, and tools, this book is a comprehensive and useful resource for the practitioner.
Philosophy discusses briefly the origin and history of action learning and its relevance for the current challenges organisations have to face. The main part of this chapter introduces different approaches to action learning: experiential learning, critical action learning and action learning research.
Action provides three detailed examples of action learning: as part of a management development programme, in a change management process and in higher education. This is complemented by suggestions for integrating action learning in project management and in the support of civil society initiatives.
Learning focuses on several aspects of action learning: The roles of the facilitator and the set meeting provide an insight into the practice within a set and the most relevant aspects to consider. The texts about the power of questions, crises in action learning and evaluation will interest even the experienced practitioner with interesting tools, examples, and reflections.
Design shifts the focus to the design and implementation of action learning in organisations. The reader finds a broad range of suggestions for the design of action learning programmes: typical structures of action learning programmes, mandatory and optional roles and advice about the selection of set members and problems. As special design variants it introduces business driven action learning, virtual action learning and self‐facilitated sets.
In summary, the theory, examples and interviews provide a concise insight into the landscape of action learning and its applications. The checklists, tools and tips make it a useful resource for the practitioner.
The particular strength of this book is its focus on for‐profit organisations, the majority of examples coming from action learning in management development and change management. This is also reflected in the language and the nature of the content, which makes it easy for the practitioner to discuss action learning within a corporate context.
This book has been long overdue, providing an excellent overview of action learning for German speaking readers. However, placing it only in comparison to the sparse German literature on action learning would do it no justice. It is an excellent resource for every practitioner working with for‐ profit organisations and for those working inside corporates, who would like to learn when and how action learning could be an answer to their organisational challenges.
Reviewed by Uta Boesch, August 2014