Greetings from Malawi


June 30th, 2013

A confluence of circumstances, coincidences and good luck means I am writing this from Lilongwe in Malawi. It’s my first visit to Malawi and so far, I’m loving it – and looking forward to a road trip today to our workshop venue, Hippo View Lodge at the edge of the Liwonde National Park. As Johnnie keeps reminding me – it’s not your usual training gig.

Johnnie and I are working with an NGO to develop their skills in action learning. There’s a strong link with facilitation of course, and also evaluation. And that’s where any similarity to a traditional approach to training ends. We know that most learning happens on the job, not in a training venue. We know that learning is not like a FedEX package, neatly tied up and delivered to your door. Learning can be messy. We like to think it can be fun and productive too, with unexpected outcomes and lots of ah-ha! moments that sometimes sneak up in the wee small hours of the morning or wallop you across the head in the middle of a conversation or an activity.

I first came across action learning way back in the last century when I did some study at the University of Western Sydney with Richard Bawden and Nadarajah Sriskandarajah, and again when I did an on-line action research course with Bob Dick. Bob says this: ” For me, the overlap between facilitation and action learning is large and important.  In most of the action learning I do, the purpose is leadership development for the participants.  This happens when team members become more facilitative in the leadership practices.”

As usual I feel as if I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. I expect I’ll learn a lot this week.

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