2014 Award

Global Forum / Robert L. (Lex) Dilworth Award


(on the right)

Otmar is a pioneer. He played and continues to play a major role in publicizing and disseminating Action Learning in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands. We was personally acquainted with Action Learning’s founder, Reg Revans, and translated some of his work into German. Otmar was the founder of the Dutch Action Learning Association and the author of many articles on Action Learning as well as the editor of the first book on Action Learning in German (Action Learning, ein Handbuch, 1999). He is both a scholar and a practitioner, in the modern parlance, a deeply compassionate man, always ready to help others. He is a source of inspiration for all who know and have worked with him.

He started as an elementary school teacher. He went on to study law and worked in labour law after his studies. But again he went on, this time to organize management education for the employees of the Austrian Productivity Center in Vienna. Otmar also trained industrial trainers and delivered many projects in the areas of Human Resource Development and Organizational Transformation in the Netherlands.

Since 1986 he specialized in Action Learning programs for companies, health care institutions and consulting groups. He teaches at Business Schools on entrepreneurship and acts as coach for professionals on their road to becoming managers, and for managers entering into higher levels of responsibility and for management teams.

Otmar’s says that his goal is to implement successful change by building on existing initiatives and developing potential on the basis of lean thinking and working for the common good.

He is very passionate about the work he is doing with civil society, integrating institutional interests on the one hand and the concerns of citizens taking responsibility for social and ecological issues on the other hand. As co-founder of Transition Town Freiburg (Germany) he has helped build the Gemeinwohlökonomie (economy of the common good), a three  year old movement, already  present in thirty countries.  He is once again pioneering in new and critically important pathways for our common future.

“Action Learing is a way of life. Otmar was able to make that which was “implicit” “explicit” teaching me about the principles of Action Learning. Because of this “explicit” understanding of the principles of action learning he helped me to better understand what I was doing and filled in the gaps. This helped me explaining this to others, to the benefit of myself and these others. In my personal and professional (entrepreneurial) life I still benefit from meeting Otmar and his teachings of action learning. For me Otmar is someone who is able to “bring out the best in people” in the most modest way possible, the silent hero.”

“Otmar and I first met in 2002, when he came up to me during an action learning workshop and said: “I have heard about you. Let’s talk!”. You must know that Otmar was the Action Learning ‘hot shot’ in the Netherlands at the time. I was flabbergasted that he approached me - completely out of the blue. During the time I did my PhD, I met him very frequently. He was willing to share all of his files and impressions about Action Learning, both the positive and the negative. I will never forget that he did that. He also shared much of his approach to life with me. I still try to use his insights on his daily basis, and dare to say that my personal and professional life has become much happier as a consequence. Otmar – if anyone deserves this award, it is you!”… And I totally mean that. Otmar is really sorely missed in the Netherlands.”

“Seeing Otmar in Action Learning, he impressed me specifically in three quite different situations. The first time was at a conference, comparing Action Learning with the Chris Argyris method, looking for differences and similarities, and whether they were contradictory or supplementary, a hot issue at the time. Otmar was standing in front of the group, thinking aloud, sharing his thoughts and actively supporting others to give their arguments. The second time he was leading a knowledge sharing conference on change methods, being attended by change professionals propagating their own approach.  Otmar designed the conference and took care of an intensive and rather personal exchange of ideas, recapitulating and very often explicating the many tacit assumptions, hidden in often beautiful performances. It was an  intellectual tour de force, all the time remaining on top of things and overseeing the group. Thirdly, Otmar was sitting quietly in an Action Learning group, being the moderator, paying attention simply by being there, at the same time being focused, very aware and duly relaxed, sparsely intervening.  Otmar is many things at the same time: relentless in driving the things he thinks worthwhile, and remaining open to other opinions most of the time; knowing himself what are his strongly felt convictions without becoming judgmental towards others opinions:
His driving force: curiosity | His way of knowing: methodical | His perspective: never-ending.”

“Otmar’s dedication to Action Learning makes it surprisingly easy for people to commit themselves to innovative steps – so that their hesitation at the beginning becomes motivational and enthusiastic. At the end they are amazed when they see what they have been able to do! And the secret of his success is that Otmar’s life has been and still is Action Learning.

“The ultimate purpose of Action Learning is to make a difference in this world! That is for Otmar the main driver of his work and publications. For me personally Otmar is a source of inspiration! Based on my experience working with him in the field of Management & Organizational Development in Dutch organizations and in the Dutch Action Learning Association, I can say that he deserves this award for 100 percent!!”

“Otmar for a period of over 7 years was a highly appreciated tutor and examiner at our Business School. Thanks to him hundreds of Dutch managers for the first time experienced the power of Action Learning during his Change Management workshops. Students praised Otmar for his charm, great Action Learning knowledge and patience when teaching.”

“I would like to mention here some of the merits of Otmar Donnenberg:

  1. First of all Otmar has by his enthusiastic and empathic behavior, a huge number of professionals and managers personally inspired to an enduring learning attitude in their own personal and professional lives.
  2. Otmar has always had an influential and stimulating role in developing new methods and instruments in the field of Action Learning.
  3. Otmar is a networker pur sang, connecting people and institutions, so there could grow a holding space for Action Learning as a professional methodology.
  4. Otmar is always been very creative in finding new ways to use Action Learning, so organizations and societies could better face the challenges of new times.”


(on the left)

Charles, originally from the UK, now hails from Australia were he resides in Queensland, when not travelling on business, which is very often as you shall see. We are delighted to have him with us during one of his international trips. He has been an entrepreneur most of his adult life, seizing opportunities and taking risks to learn and do more than most.

By training Charles is a Chartered Psychologist having received his PhD in educational psychology. He met Reg Revans in 1973 and later went on to work with him when Revans was associated as President with the International Management Centre from Buckingham (IMCB) in the UK (1983-1985, and then later as President Emeritus to 1999). This was an innovative and dynamic private institution launched in 1982 whose faculty were practitioners and non-traditional business school academics. The Centre based itself on some of the principles of Revans’ Action Learning philosophy and approach. When researching the life and times of Revans, I found Charles’ memoir about Revans insightful and helpful. (This is available on this web site in Resources 4U.)

He is now involved in many enterprises many of which are grounded in the principles of Action Learning.

He is Chairman of Viewpoint Resources Ltd., and a member of the Royal Institution and the Royal Literature Society. He was previously one of the founding members of Bradford University’s School of Management faculty (1964-1976) and Professor of Management at the Universities of Cranfield (UK) and Queensland, Australia. He was also a co-founder of Emerald, the world’s leading publisher of management journals and databases. This grew out of his association with some of the Bradford faculty, among them Gordon Wills, who started Management Consultants Bradford and then founded the MCB Publications that in time changed its name to Emerald.

The author of more than ten books on management issues, he has developed a continuing professional development system, used in business organizations, called The Communication and Problem Solving Resource. He is the co-founder of Team Management Systems and the Chairman of Bell Hughes Music Group.

Dr Margerison is the founder, President and author of the Amazing People Club Book Series. These are books based on BioView stories. BioView is a new word that combines biography and interview. BioViews are based on the facts related to people’s lives and the author’s interpretation. Each person’s story emerges through a virtual interview. The books bring a new perspective to what amazing people have done for each and everyone of us.

“I have been a colleague of Dr Margerison's for two years. He is genuinely open to the infinite realm of possibilities presented to us via all modes of learning. Both inspired and intrigued by amazing people of the past, Dr Margerison's research of the last 10 years or so, strongly demonstrates that amazing people were action learners, and open to opportunities.  I cannot think of anyone who exemplifies, and applies the achievement principles of amazing people with such conviction as Dr Margerison. Unlike the throngs of self-help gurus, Dr Margerison's insistence on applying the principles of amazing people, is not based on wishful thinking, but rather a pragmatic and thorough understanding of what it takes to achieve. One hopes, unlike some of the amazing people of the past, that Dr Margerison and his ongoing contributions to action learning and achievement, won't be too ahead of their time.  Dr Margerison has founded a number of organizations and created employment for many, via entrepreneurial and innovative products and services, where applied action learning has been a focal point of team and personal development.”


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