What we're about

Sustainable work organisation

(This meetup group has changed its focus, so the old events are from the previous group)

If you are interested in how to improve organisational performance in a sustainable way, then this group might be something for you.

I can help your organisation with evaluations regarding impact and organisational performance.

I also organise Action Learning seminars. The aim is that after these Action Learning seminars, you have developed practical tools, that is, new models to help you solve problems in your organisation. Both participants and facilitators contribute to identifying possible causes and ways to deal with the problems you experience.

Sustainable work and sustainable organisations can be understood as ‘meeting today’s needs without jeopardising future resources … activities and processes should create and re-create human resources rather than consume them’ (Svensson et al., 2008, p. 13, translation from Swedish). A good work environment, according to this view, results in healthier workers who develop and contribute to an efficient and successful organisation. Furthermore, a good work environment is seen as a precondition for a successful organisation.

Action Learning, as I use it, is about learning from real-life problems in organisations. A group of 4 to 5 people reflect upon perceived problems. Each participant presents their problem and the other participants mainly ask questions to clarify the problem and possible causes of the problem.

Focus in this Action Learning group are the problems people experience on an organisational level (not on an individual level), which are related to communication, coordination, decision making, motivation/engagement, health and well-being, quality of products or services, effectiveness (doing the right thing), efficiency (doing things right). It can also be about insufficient organisational learning and development, which can relate to questions like: How do we know that we are working in an effective, efficient and sustainable way? Are we reflecting on activities, policies and routines and do we change them if we find them inadequate?

Reg Revans, the father of Action Learning, has presented this learning equation as: L = P + Q (where L: Learning, P: Programmed instruction as in theoretical knowledge, and Q: Questioning insight). Action Learning starts with questions and reflections rather than trying to find solutions directly. Action Learning may lead to a better understanding of the organisation and ourselves, and the underlying assumptions that are guiding our activities (Dilworth, 2010).

For more information about Action Learning, see the photo section. The text is taken from:

Pedler, M., Burgoyne, J., & Boydell, T. (1991). The learning company. London: McGraw-Hill.

We will also provide you with a book chapter when you attend the seminars which explain Action Learning and its background.

How it works

A group of 4 to 5 people meet in four seminars (about 2.5 hours each) over five weeks. One or two representatives from each organisation participates. After signing up, each participant sends a short description of a chosen problem in their organisation, or problems that might be related to each other, to the facilitators (not exceeding ten lines). The problem descriptions will be distributed to all participants before the first seminar. Each participant also writes a learning log during the five weeks (template or structure to be suggested during the first seminar).

First meeting: One representative starts with giving a short description of the chosen problem (taking a maximum of five minutes). Then the group asks questions to further clarify the problem. We spend around half an hour on each organisational problem.

Basic questions to start with are the following:

1. What is happening? Description

2. What is ought to be happening? Vision

3. What are possible causes of the problem? Asking ‘why’ (the why behind the why) several times can help in this process. Analysis starts

Back in your organisation: Data collection and analysis to find out more about the problem and its causes: for instance, interviews, surveys, observations, documentation, research and theories (e.g. reading articles or books). Analysis continues

Second meeting (one week after the first meeting): Some ideas (hypothesis) about causes of the problem and possible solutions. Developing a change plan with the aim of solving the problem

Back in your organisation: Experimentation: try solutions in practice. Try out phase

Third meeting (two weeks after the second meeting): Experiences from trying out, adjusting/changing the solutions. Reflections and adjustment of change plan

Back in your organisation: Testing new ideas in practice and evaluation. Try out new or adjusted ideas

Fourth meeting (two weeks after the third meeting). Reflections on adjusted solutions

Venue: Queen Elisabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

Time: Thursdays, 3-6 pm. We start a group when a minimum of four people (maximum of five) have signed up (not counting the two organisers). You need to commit to the four meetings.

The organiser

P-O Börnfelt has a PhD in working life studies from University of Gothenburg in Sweden. P-O has worked several years as a lecturer in Swedish universities, teaching about working life, organisational theory, organisational change, organisational learning, competence development, health and well-being, employee participation and whistleblowing. His research interest is employee voice and whistleblowing in organisations. At the moment, he is translating his textbook about work organisation models from Swedish to English. The book covers mainly the following models: Taylorism, Fordism, the socio-technical school, bureaucracy, total quality management, lean production, organic organisation, learning organisation, knowledge management, professional organisation, new public management and sustainable work organisation. The book is used in several university courses in Sweden. P-O has also several years of experience working in ‘ordinary jobs’ in both the private and the public sector in Sweden. He likes playing tennis, cycling and walking.


Dilworth, Robert D. (2010). Chapter 1. Explaining Traditional Action Learning: Concepts and Beliefs. In Boshyk, Yury and Dilworth, Robert D (ed.) Action Learning:History and Evolution. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Svensson, L., Aronsson, G., Randle, H., & Eklund, J. (2008).Hållbart arbetsliv: Projekt som gästspel eller strategi i hållbar utveckling. Malmö: Gleerups Utbildning AB.

Past events (70)

Informational meeting about organisational development

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Action learning group. Informational meeting

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Action learning group. Information meeting

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Social outdoor tennis in Ladywell fields

Ladywell fields tennis courts

Photos (3)