The Action + Learning + Service = Success Formula

I have recently developed this 3-part formula for success.  Let me know what you think.

Draw an equilateral triangle.  Label each corner “Action”, “Learning”, and “Service.”  Place a dot in the center.

1.  Actions define successful businesses.  Founders and anyone cited in a history book have one trait in common:  an obsessive focus on action.  Score yourself 1 (low) to 10 (high) on the question “How action oriented am I?”  If you are unsure, focus on actual results, rather than intentions.

2.  Learning leads to failure, and failures lead to success.  I track “Learnings” in digital folders and update them regularly.  I regularly attend conferences and take on projects so that I can fail, faster.  Yesterday I had lunch with a consultant who repeated the same points I heard him make 12 months ago.  He is not learning much.  I cut the lunch short and moved on.  Score yourself 1 (low) to 10 (high) on the question, “How much am I learning?”  Learning is a messy process.  If you are not tracking your learning, you are probably repeating ineffective old patterns.

3.  Service is a measure of your relationship with others.  Humans are social animals.  We yearn for relationships.  We exist to serve others- clients, loved ones, communities, goals…  The most impact-ful businesses track user engagement.  The best nonprofits, like Rotary, reward service above self.  Score yourself 1 (low) to 10 (high) on the question, “How well am I serving others?”  If you are unsure, ask your clients or loved ones.  Or solicit more clients.

Now place your scores on the triangle you created.  Use the dot to represent 1 (low) and let the corners represent 10 (high.)

What do you notice when you study your self-assessment triangle?

Where do you need to invest energy and resources?

Who can help you develop ?

You may know that action learning is a methodology, using cross functional teams of 4-8 people to solve a key problem. They are tasked with breakthrough, and with a short deadline such as 6 months. They require executive sponsorship and some resources. But the action learning process is a small investment with proven ROI.

In Europe and Australia, the Action Learning methodology is thriving. In the U.S. there is less adoption. One reason for that lagging adoption may be the fact that the business environment does not encourage accountability between cross functional teams. Yet.

We provide individual and team accountability.

How are you planning to share this Action + Learning + Service = Success Formula with others?

Please call me with your stories!

Here is a sample image to get you started:   ALServiceFormula

What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a behavioral change process model that works 1) for groups and 2) for individuals.


For groups, Action Learning occurs when stakeholders use real problems to acquire learning and implement system-wide solutions.

For individuals, Action Learning is a behavioral coaching methodology that applies the same 4 steps.  


The Action Learning change process model includes four steps:

1) decide what breakthrough requires you to invest resources,

2) act with a talented, cross-functional team and executive endorsement,

3) reflect on steps achieved, and

4) connect or expand the results across business or functional lines, to new markets or clients.

We have facilitated organizational Action Learning change using both virtual and direct processes:


1. Technology processes: SharePoint, Action Item task lists, virtual teams, e-coaching and e-consulting, digital consulting and short implementation teams.

2: Direct meeting processes: assessments, facilitation in a series of workshops, coaching and consulting, project initiatives, leadership off-site retreats, strategic reorganization

For a summary of consulting fees and investment levels for organizations click here, and for individuals click here.  


Our Services typically include:

Assessments  (e.g. individual, group, organizational, strategic)

        Qualitative or Quantitative 360 assessments

        Organizational Culture Assessments

        Leadership competency assessments

Leadership consulting and behavioral coaching (e.g. individual, team or group levels)

Strategic planning and organizational redesign


Shadow Coaching

Facilitation, training, retreats or workshops


The result is that the Action Learning process helps individuals and groups become true learning organizations.

What are you waiting for?

Download this list of services and investment levels now:

Please contact us or call immediately at 704.995.6647 or schedule your initial consultation here.

Book Review of “Leading with Questions” by Michael Marquardt

The subtitle is “How leaders find the right solutions by knowing what to ask.” (2005)

What would that success look like?

How can we create answers?

Open-ended questions like these are always useful when seeking solutions.  As learning organizations drive toward change, the quality of question-based approaches will define the success of that organization.

Some highlights (in my signed copy) include:

p. 80+ behaviors and mindsets of a judger vs a learner

p.134+ traditional leaders vs coaching leaders behavior and legacies

p. 176+ relevance of action learning

p. 181+ a groundrule for action learning teams

Michael Marquardt does a great job of incorporating examples from interviews, and provides ample lists of questions so that readers can apply this content to their worlds.

He provides a strategic framework, and two tactical models for those who want training.  The Global Institute for Action Learning and the Institute for Inquiring Leadership may be better for practitioners seeking tools.

Based on this book, I have developed a chart that moves from key/opening questions, to other questions, to notes, to action items.

How do you Lead with Questions in your world?