​Actions Learning Sets – Collective Thinking to Solve Complex Issues

Author: lily.chapman_8961Date: 6 months 2 weeks Ago

Our Action Learning Set (ALS) for the South involves Angela, Sheila, Jon, Mike, David and me (Rebecca Clegg).  Paul Miller is steering us through the process of learning how to run an effective ALS and got us started at our first session in September with some of the theory and the opportunity to practice on a few issues that we identified individually.  My issue was about peer relationships and how to manage expectations about performance.  I found it difficult to describe the issue but the questioning really helped and I welcomed the ideas that followed.
We had our second ALS meeting on 19th December - mince pies supplied by Paul. 
So what did we discuss at our latest session? Well, Chatham House Rules apply in relation to individual issues, but Paul had suggested some common issues in advance which were:

  • How to motivate staff, particularly in an organisation that is failing to achieve its financial and non-financial targets? 
  • How to ensure an organisation delivers for today, whilst transforming as a system for tomorrow?
  • How to retain emotional health and welling being at a time of great work stress and pressure?

We covered the first two issues and were into the swing of it quite quickly with one person starting the conversation, almost presenting it as their issue in the first instance and then we dug deeper and all brought our own perspective to the issue before presenting some of our ideas on how to manage the issues.

The challenges we face in the workplace and in managing the work/life balance are in many respects common but manifest themselves in different ways.  This has meant that we have all been able to contribute to each conversation.  In addition to receiving advice and ideas from colleagues, we are signposting each other to answers that we hold inside ourselves already and the fact that we have taken time to talk through an issue and really understand it means that the ideas and reflections don’t really come as a surprise and often seem like common sense.  It will be interesting to hear about what has changed as a result when we reflect on progress at our next session.

At the end of the December session Paul asked us what was the most enjoyable thing for us about 2017.  We had some interesting and very heartfelt responses, which we were happy to share and we ended the session on a high note.  Paul then revealed that we are his first Action Learning Set – we would not have guessed that! 

We have been set free to run our next session ourselves and are meeting up in Kent, where we will combine the ALS with the opportunity to meet some of Sheila and David’s colleagues and share some of the learning from our ACS and STP work.  Perhaps we’ll use the issue about maintaining emotional health and wellbeing at our next session?  It sounds like it could get a bit personal, but we’ve set ourselves up nicely for that sort of discussion.

Rebecca Clegg, Acting Chief Finance Officer, NHS Wokingham Clinical Commissioning Group