Personal growth

Applying action learning in executive education

Action learning in executive education

In order for learning to stick – to actually have an impact on how people do things and make decisions – learning must be embedded in what people are doing and how they work. At The Ivey Academy, we refer to this method of teaching as Learning Embedded in Action and Practice (LEAP).

What Learning Embedded in Action and Practice looks like

Learning Embedded in Action and Practice can take many forms. Case studies, role plays, experiential exercises, simulations, and group action learning projects are all examples of LEAP. To optimize learning from LEAP, experiences must be carefully designed, implemented, and facilitated. The more intense the action and practice, the higher the potential for learning. However, the highest intensity learning experiences offer the least control over the learning itself in real-time. It’s why we utilize only the most experienced, seasoned faculty and expert practitioners – learning professionals with tremendous executive presence who facilitate complex situations and move participants forward to the next stage, all while providing context for strategic connection.

LEAP projects

In our Ivey Executive Program (IEP) and many of our custom academy programs, participants are asked to identify a specific strategically-important challenge they are currently facing. The challenge is part of their day-to-day job and may stretch the targets beyond their job description. The practice of solving this problem is known as the “LEAP project.”

Over the course of each program, our faculty help each participant learn how to solve this problem with examples from other companies and leading edge research. Participants are exposed to a broad range of industries, organizations, and complex situations to help find unexpected and innovative ways of thinking about their LEAP project.

Facilitated by a faculty coach, participants in customized programs work on projects in teams, as do participants in IEP – even though each participant in IEP has an individual dilemma. The reason? People learn a great deal through the observation of others. By learning vicariously through others and engaging in dialogue and feedback, learning is multiplied. Having peers from diverse backgrounds, job functions, and industries sets the stage for the sharing of different perspectives and ideas – viewpoints that we may not have access to in our own “bubble.” The insights and tools presented over the course of the program will resonate more when they are connected with personal challenges and opportunities.

Between program modules, participants experiment with ideas to solve the LEAP challenge in their own organizations while in constant contact with their faculty coach and peer group to maintain momentum. At the conclusion of the program, participants have a clear response to the LEAP challenge, with objectives, milestones, performance metrics, and an inspiring pitch-ready solution to communicate to their organization’s stakeholders. At three and six-month intervals following the conclusion of the program, faculty coaches check in with each individual and their peer group to maintain the connection as the LEAP solution is implemented. The solution to this challenge has long-term implications for each participant and their organization, providing a tremendous amount of tangible value to both the individual and the organization as a whole.

An ideal teaching method

A well-realized LEAP process of design, implementation, execution, and the establishment of the proper environment results in knowledge dissemination and learning retention that is unparalleled by any traditional teaching method in comparison. High intensity LEAP has the potential to transform lives, careers, and enterprises, both immediately and in the longer-term. In order to achieve its potential, the learner has to experience and actively engage, challenging him or herself to push through comfort zones and adopt new knowledge and capabilities. LEAP allows the application learning to continue long after the conclusion of a program – an incredible value-add to organizations and their leaders.

To read why LEAP ensures maximum learning retention, click here


About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.