Peer wisdom conversations at Mencap

Talent development / Collaboration / Employee Engagement

Relationship: January 2012 – now
Sector: Not for profit/Charity

In their words...

"Our partnership with TCS has enabled us to develop something that feels very different to the traditional training model and is something that will provide a real business benefit for us in a number of aspects from cultural alignment to skills and capability of our management teams."

Sara Sheard
Head of OD / Mencap


Neuroscience is confirming that we are hardwired for connection – our nervous systems work hard to connect us with other people. Mencap wanted to build more collaborative and connected working across their leaders at the same time as provide focus on leadership development, roles and behaviours.

Learning sets provided a supportive yet challenging environment to build better conversations through shifting mindsets, sharing learning, advancing skills and putting these into action ‘in the moment’ as well as taking them back to the workplace.

“Since 2012 we have set up and facilitated over 24 learning sets”


The Conversation Space (TCS) have supported Mencap to establish Action Learning Conversations as a leadership development approach across the organisation. Since 2012 we have set up and facilitated over 24 learning sets, each consisting of up to eight peers.

Sets have met for half or full days, meeting regularly over a 12 month period. Mencap wanted to provide support for leaders in a real and practical way, offering space and time to discuss and explore live or on-going issues with honesty and openness with colleagues in the same role, facing the same challenges. This has encouraged participants to ‘unplug’ from work for each set meeting to ensure presence and commitment to the set.

The programmes have also provided rich organisational learning through insights reports.

“Almost 200 of the top leaders have been actively involved in a learning set”


Over the three years that Mencap have been using Action Learning Conversations as a leadership development approach, almost 200 of the top leaders have been actively involved in a learning set.

  • Many groups have continued to meet as self-facilitated sets following the end of their formal programme
  • High levels of trust and enhanced relationships have built continued, collaborative working outside of sets
  • Participants have rolled out an action learning approach to working with their teams
  • Team meetings are now structured to encourage wider and more inclusive dialogue
  • TCS are now supporting the launch of Mencap’s new leadership framework with Leadership Learning Sets
  • Action Learning in Mencap has now evolved to include a member of the executive team attached to each set, to share insights and feedback through dialogue rather than in a written report.

In their words...

"I have applied a number of AL methods in the way I now manage staff, in particular allowing my team to be able to reflect more on the works that they do, the problems they face and are challenged by."

Action Learning Participant

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