The Action Reflection Learning process (ARL), represents a new approach to executive development. It is a developmental process differing substantially from traditional training programs and workshops which rely on case studies, business simulations, and role-plays to help develop managers to improve performance. ARL is a learning-by-doing alternative to this expert-based training.
The process was founded by the MiL Institute in Sweden as a kind of 'protest movement' against the dominant traditional perspectives, both of management (mainly functional) and teaching (mainly lectures and case studies). The idea was to focus on leadership rather than management, and learning, rather than teaching. The simple premise adopted was that the learning would emerge from taking action on actual business problems and then from reflecting on the action taken. This represents a radically different way of developing leaders—one that focuses on learning rather than on teaching.
While in the beginning the approach was similar to other action learning, over time the training activities began to be more sensitive to, and relevant to, the needs, interests and business reality of the participants.
The current ARL methodology still adheres to the grounding principles of solving actual business problems, and then alternating action with reflection as a way to develop new mindsets, attitudes and behaviors as leaders face new challenges. However, the approach evolved and developed characteristics that no longer fit the original action learning settings and specifications, and we named it Action Reflection Learning.
ARL is a dynamic methodology, and over the years has evolved into a learning methodology, applied in a diversity of settings. It has been used for a number of purposes that have one thing in common—something has to be learned. For example, it has been used:
- To help individuals learn to work together in post-merger integration;
- To help teams learn how to handle conflicts or a crises;
- To prepare young talent for their next challenges;
- To help learn how to implement performance appraisal processes;
- To develop synergy in regional teams.
- To design conferences, courses, meetings.