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Fostering Innovation: Leveraging Action Learning and Design Thinking

  • 30 Jan 2023
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
  • Zoom


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Fostering Innovation: Leveraging Action Learning and Design Thinking

Chuck Appleby, Ph.D.


Chuck will showcase how he has integrated Action Learning and Design Thinking to create a repeatable method to address complex challenges and foster innovation amid great uncertainty. Chuck was one of co-founders of the World Institute for Action Learning and continues to seek ways to strengthen the impact of action learning.

Action Learning is a powerful tool in use around the world to solve difficult challenges and develop leaders at the same time. Professor Reg Revans (Cavendish Physics Lab, Cambridge University) founded Action Learning over 70 years ago. He noted that the world was changing so fast that organizations needed a more powerful way to solve complex challenges. His answer was Action Learning, a process in which a small group of diverse people gather and use  powerful questions to first define and then solve a challenge.

Design Thinking is another problem-solving method that places great emphasis on using empathy and inference to understand an individual’s needs, both spoken and unspoken. Design Thinking emerged from product design and rapidly expanded into the design of experiences, processes, strategies, and organizational structures. Made famous by companies such as IDEO and academic programs like the Stanford d.school, Design Thinking has brought the human to the center of the design process.

The combination of Design Thinking and Action Learning is guided by mindsets that both disciplines share in common, including the importance of framing the problem first; the necessity of a diverse team; and the need to reflect on actions taken to refine the solution.


Chuck Appleby, Ph.D.


Chuck is the owner of Appleby & Associates, an organization development consulting firm based in Vienna, Virginia. He specializes in leadership development and solving complex problems using action learning and design thinking .  He has had over 200 clients in industry, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, as well as federal and county government agencies. His clients include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Intel, John Hancock Financial, Wells Fargo, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Arlington County, and Goodwill Industries International.

Chuck is the co-founder of the World Institute for Action Learning (WIAL), Design Thinking Source, and the Peer Learning Network. He has taught action learning, design thinking and peer coaching around the globe including Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Cape Town, Nairobi, and Dubai.

Chuck has a Ph.D. from The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in History and Economics from Dartmouth College. He is certified as a Master Action Learning Coach (WIAL). Chuck has taught as an adjunct professor in human and organizational learning at The George Washington University and Georgetown University.

He has served on three non-profit Board of Directors including: (a) Co-Founder and Board Secretary, Children of Imprisoned Parents International; (b) Board Chair, Washington DC Public Charter Schools, Student Support Center; and (c) Co-Founder and Board Secretary, World Institute of Action Learning

Chuck enjoys vacationing with his wife and three sons wherever fish, shells and long-stretches of sandy beaches are plentiful.

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Chesapeake Bay Organization Development Network (CBODN) - is the premier DC Metro area network and community of practice of Organization Development (OD) practitioners. Founded in Chesapeake Bay, MD, our name still pays homage to our founders, and we are grateful for their brilliant minds and vital contributions to the field of OD.

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