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Turn the Action Learning Wheel

by eloepthien on January 23rd, 2011

This is a model for an Action Learning cycle for designing projects and learning experiences.

I merged this model from two sources for personal growth and learning, which I have been using a lot in the last few years:

1.       The 8 Shields Model that is based on indigenous Medicine Wheels and was created by Jon Young and other specialists in Nature Connection Mentoring (find more information here)

2.       Five components needed for effective Action Learning, as applied by Gaia University International.

Let’s take a look at the wheel, starting on the right side in the East, and read below the graphic for details of each direction.

East – Inspiration, Questioning, Conceptualization

When I get inspired and electrified about something, I love to pull in theories, models, myth and metaphors that feed the germinating seed of my inspiration. I try to come up with questions that really matter (also see this post on the Art of Questioning). I follow my intuition and draw from my logical and systems thinking as well as from the diversity of teachings and projects that are already out there to generate meaning and arrive at understandings of how to proceed. The ultimate goal is to bring whatever I am inspired about into my live or into the world around me.

South East – Active Experimentation/ Rapid Prototyping

Be playful and inventive! Here you design and operate a pilot or trial project, a rapid prototype that is easy to start and get’s you going quickly. Use this to keep the risk low and still be able to check the validity of your (project) idea, before rolling out full scale projects.  Instead of getting stuck in thinking things out to the n’th degree we can get into a getting-things-done-mode quickly, which allows for a smooth and gradual transition into the next phase

South – Concrete Experience/ Awareness in Action

Focus on the realization of your project while constantly balancing action and thought. Choose thoughtfully and intuitively when and how to act and make modifications as you go. Look for the opportunities in all constraints you are facing and remember to build good relationships with the people involved as you are progressing.

South West – Reflective Observation

Take a break and relax. Create the time, space and alliances that you need for reflecting what you did and where you’re going. Look thoroughly and from different perspectives and ask for other peoples’ feedback.

West – Appraisal of Outcome

Remember to celebrate yours and your teams’ and collaborators’ success. Give thanks to all the known and unknown contributors and party.

North West – Depth and Meaning

Take time to ask deeper questions: Why did I pursue this project? What does all this have to do with my lineage, my ancestors? What are the wounds that can be healed by me doing this? What is left unsaid/undone?

North – Integration and Critical Thinking

Merge everything you did, experienced, perceived, learned and understood. Are the insights arising from your own, first-hand experience in balance with the thinking of others in relevant fields? What is different and why? How can you enrich other areas in your life, your community or the field with what you came up? How can you scale up to make this available for more people to benefit?

North East – Vacuum and Vision

This is the moment where one action learning cycle ends and a new one begins. It might come with some dark emptiness which you might look forward to or fear, but which will eventually give birth to a new vision for a new endeavor.  You are asked to surrender and to potentially let some old paradigms and patterns fall apart, in order to create space for something new.

How do you like this model? I would love to hear your comment, especially if you’re going to try this model in your personal or professional lives. Any ideas are welcome!

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