Practice of self-managed action learning

Suzanne O'Hara, Tom Bourner, Trix Webber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes how an innovation in the practice of action learning, self-managed action learning (SMAL), was developed and then applied in practice on a number of management development programmes for a Health Board in Ireland. The nature of action learning set facilitation is discussed. The paper describes how the term set facilitator was replaced by set manager, since it provided a more accurate description of the role needed to sustain action learning sets. The skills necessary for effective action learning set membership and facilitation are considered and are found to be the key skills for facilitative management and the 'soft skills' for managing change. A new SMAL set process and its support structures are outlined. Details are given of how SMAL has been used on management development programmes involving more than 380 managers. The key beliefs and values that underpin SMAL are also explained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalAction learning: research and practice,
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


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