Sustainability Action Learning Sets

Action Learning Sets provide the opportunity for a group of councils to meet with a specific intention of solving a council’s own sustainability challenge. Officers will come away with a set of actions that will help to solve or understand the issues at hand.

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A problem shared is a problem halved." 


Action learning sets work on this basis and build on it by bringing people with experience of a problem together to explore possible solutions, try them out, and develop them further.

Initial requirements

Before the meeting, each member will think about the project based issue that they wish to bring to the set. They should consider the following:

  • The issue lends itself to Action Set Learning is problem based, where there is no conclusive 'right answer', and there are many ways which could be followed from the present position.
  • The issue may be complex, multi-faceted and interlinked across functions and service delivery.
  • The issues should be work related and associated with the series service theme.
  • You must have some level of responsibility for the project and initiative.
  • You must be in a position to influence the outcome.
  • It must a project that you can make realistic progress on within the time scale of the programme.

Ground rules

  • Only One at a Time (OOAAT): Only one person at a time in the set presents an issue. The others give attention and help, entirely for their sake. The space belongs to the problem presenter. Everyone has a right to their time – but they don’t have to take it.
  • Counselling Style (COST): Even if set members can see a solution with great clarity, they will refrain from giving advice or taking over the problem. Instead, they will continue listening, often allowing silence, and asking questions to clarify the presenter’s understanding, rather than their own. Contributions should offer support and challenge but avoid judgement.
  • Safe to Admit Need (STAN): Only in a group where it is safe to disclose ignorance, admit weakness and ask for help is it possible for the problem presenter to learn and develop as an individual. A primary objective of the facilitator is therefore to create an atmosphere where it is safe to admit need. Chatham House confidentiality is paramount where matters discussed in the set are private.
  • Members will provide strong commitment to attend and will ensure they provide sufficient reason if they cannot attend.
  • Meetings outside the Learning Series are permitted and can take place if colleagues wish to.
If you would like to find out more about Sustainability action learning sets, please email [email protected].