All system improvement efforts, regardless of the approach, require some form of action learning to be effective. Systems are dynamic and their parts are interconnected. A change in one part of the system can lead to other changes. Carefully designed strategies can increase the likelihood that a desirable result can be produced, but it is never a sure thing. It is also true that there can be unintended consequences of our actions. Strategy design and implementation is also challenging because there are knowable and unknowable barriers. We can design for the ones we know, but often it requires taking action to discover what is not known.
For these reasons AOK Networks use a continuous learning and adaptive action approach (CLAA). CLAA is an iterative process that can be used at any point in the assessment, planning, and action process. It is particularly useful during strategy design and implementation. As an iterative process, strategies become more powerful, effective, and scalable through small cycles of Preparing, Implementing, Learning, and Adapting. AOK Networks refer to this as a PILA cycle. Each step in the cycle focuses on different questions.
- Prepare: What actions are necessary prior to implementation?
- Implement: What are our implementation action steps? How will we support implementation?
- Learn: How did it go? What were the results? What were the discoveries?
- Adapt: Based on our learning, what needs to happen next?
With a learning focus, AOK Networks continually seek to understand how implementation is going, how implementation can be better supported, the factors influencing implementation effectiveness, and the effectiveness of the strategies and implementation effort. By reflecting on how it is going, AOK Networks are in a better place to strategically adapt their efforts.