When a team is faced with learning new information and behaviors, an organized approach makes all the difference.

We developed the use of the Study Action Team (SAT) as a way to help groups and organizations understand new information and put it to use quickly. This unconventional approach creates openness, tolerance for disagreement, and trust among the team while building the capacity for organizational change.

In an SAT, we start with a text or series of articles that address the objective of the group.  The reading is divided into manageable pieces and everyone completes the reading before each SAT session.  During the session, the discussion leader facilitates a conversation where we have to objectives. As a group, we first want to understand the author’s massage for each part of the text.  We often challenge the the author’s message and each others’ understanding as part of the conversation.  Next, we want to understand what this message might have to do with us.  Are there lessons to be learned or changes we should make as a result of our new knowledge?

In this way, we build a common understanding that the team uses as their basis for action.  The process of learning the material has made us a stronger team with more respect for each other and a deeper understanding of each individual’s perspective, experience and value.

At the conclusion of the SAT, we conduct a planning session to put our new knowledge into action.  This session is organized to collect possible actions and prioritize them based on the level of effort, potential reward, and likelihood of success of each.  The team agrees on the path forward and has a clear map for how to get there.  The results of the planning session are documented on a A3 Report to share with others in the company and track our progress.

Our experience has showed us the power of the Study Action Team as a mechanism for organization change.  It often releases the power of an organization to grow and improve in a way that was previous not considered possible.  Change does not have to be the daunting chore that you might think – the right approach makes all the difference.