Action Learning

Action Learning is a group approach to problem solving. Using AL based methodology for Impact Assessment:

  • Emphasises the importance of approaching an impact assessment as a group.
  • Is a quick and effective way of exploring impacts with people.

The process:

People involved are:

  • The officer: the person responsible for completing the impact assessment. This could be more than one person.
  • The group: the people who will explore and feed back on the impacts.
  • The facilitator: the person who will assist the process.


  • Identify a facilitator (this could be the involvement manager or equality officer). The facilitator will explain the process, provide guidance/steer on questions, make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak at the appropriate time, and ensure the session keeps to time and focus.
  • Establish a group of about eight people to provide friendly challenge and insight.
  • The group could be made up of staff, service users, members of the Equality Reference Group, other engagement forum members, or others with relevant skills and knowledge. You will want to ensure that each member can take responsibility for providing critical challenge/insight across one or more of the following characteristics (these could be divided between group members):

Age, disability, gender reassignment and gender identity, marriage and civil partnership (for employment issues only), pregnancy/maternity, sex, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity/culture, religion and belief.

Human Rights and other socio-economic characteristics should also be considered such as rurality and low income families.

Further information is available in the DCC online Diversity Guide.

Allow approximately one hour per topic.

The session 

  • Everyone sits in a circle.
  • The facilitator welcomes and introduces everyone and explains the process (5 minutes).
  • The officer presents the issue by describing the service, the proposal and reason for change/review (10 minutes).
  • The group can ask questions for clarification (approximately 5 minutes) – make sure these are questions based upon the description of the service and reason for change rather than opinions or questions about the proposal itself.¬†
  • For the next part of the process the officer does not join the discussion. They could leave the circle and sit where they can hear the discussion of the group but not get involved. They should make notes of the discussion.
  • Group have a discussion about the impacts for each of the protected characteristics (20 minutes). They could:
    • Ask questions if there are concerns or gaps in the proposal. For example, how will a Deaf person access the information?
    • Refer to real experiences and data/information where possible.
    • Be clear if presenting a fact or assumption/feeling about a community.
    • Consider and suggest alternatives that will: enhance positive impacts (advance equality), reduce/eliminate negative impacts and discrimination, and ensure good community relations and prejudice is addressed where necessary.
  • The facilitator could ask questions to ensure all protected characteristics and potential issues are covered.

This leaves the officer with an understanding of what they need to consider and do, what the impacts are or what further information they need.

At the end of the session the officer can re-join the group and there is an opportunity for the officer to ask and answer questions about the proposal and its impacts (5-10 minutes).

The benefits of this approach:

  • Non-confrontational.
  • Draws on expertise from a range of people.
  • Encourages people to think with an open and questioning mind.