Mayvin Practice-based Learning Community Event

Practice-based learning in your world

How can practice-based learning support your development at times of discontinous change? At our June Mayvin Community event, we are joined by an ‘un-panel’ of speakers from different sectors who share their stories of practice development in uncertain times.

Earlier in the year, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) joined us at our event The Development Trap to share a powerful story of practice-based learning: how people are learning close to the grain of the work in response to unprecedented change.

We invited the Mayvin Community to “think of a time when you found yourself learning on the job: what conditions helped you to do that?” People shared their experiences of ‘getting close to the experience’ in order to learn and change in a discontinuous environment.

Some of the principles people shared that enable practice-based learning happen include:

Know your own strengths as a leader: this builds trust and brings comfort to people’s vulnerability.

Look for the non-traditional data points that can help you discover the story so far and take the next steps.

Use appreciative inquiry as part of an organisational diagnostic. There will be something you can use as a baseline and you’ll be starting from something positive.

Always be evaluating: targets and benchmarks are the wrong paradigms for a complex, ever-changing environment.

Courage is key…  As practitioners, we may be the only ones with an OD perspective on change; our organisations may not recognise it. So we are the ones who have to work through the layers of fear to create the change. Take small steps in: hold your nerve to get far enough into it and to deal with the knock backs along the way.

…and so is owning your vulnerability. Recognise that change practitioners also find change a struggle! We feel the uncertainty and are hunting for patterns and security just like those we are supporting.  Sometimes we may feel that we are ‘being paid to have the answer’. It can help to remember that our clients probably share this same internal dialogue. Sharing our own vulnerability can enable those around us to do the same. This lays the groundwork for open and honest conversations to come.

Practice-based learning as a multi-sector issue


The Development Trap was our most popular event ever, highlighting that practice-based learning in times of discontinuous change is a multi-sector issue. Third sector organisations are experiencing a radical shift in their power base. Universities are facing a funding crisis. The NHS is balancing high targets with staffing and infrastructure challenges. And private sector companies are confronted with market disruption and ongoing uncertainty.

At our June Mayvin Community event therefore, we looked at ‘practice-based learning in your world‘. We were joined by an ‘un-panel’ of speakers from different sectors. They shared their stories of practice development in uncertain times.

Together with the Mayvin Community, we explored questions such as:

  • Building on the Defra learning model, how do vulnerability and expertise come together in my practice and my particular context?
  • What does ‘being close to the grain’ mean in my world and how can I capitalise on this concept to support my learning?
  • How does my own practice-based learning offer insights into how I can better support learning at an organisational level?

You can read more about this follow-on event, Practice-Based Learning in Your World on the Mayvin blog.

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Contact us to find out more about how practice-based learning can help your organisation.