Experience based learning forms the underpinning approach to all our interventions – whether we are running an outdoor programme, delivering a conference, or using actors in forum theatre and role-play.
Our business is ‘about nurturing personal growth' in the context of the organisation's goals and values. Personal growth implies changes to the way we normally do things – changing our habits. An intellectual appreciation of the need to change is often the first step in this process, but to convert this recognition into a change in habit we need to feel the difference for ourselves – to experience the change, so that the new behaviour is anchored in emotion, as well as intellect.
When habits change then tangible benefits at an organisational level will follow and when leadership habits change then the effect is leveraged and cultures start to shift.
An experience-based learning method has the following major advantages:
It re-stimulates the learning process. Very often managers have been subjected to a surfeit of traditional, theory-first learning. By turning the process upside down and presenting it in a new and challenging context, learning becomes fun and a person's capacity for learning can be revitalised.
It is grounded in the experiences of the individual and thereby becomes a process of self enlightenment and self learning. This means that the process is more likely to have real impact on the individual and can result in genuine changes to habit.
Because the exercises themselves are both cerebral and physical, and because experience is always supported by theory, this method embraces all learning styles.
By ensuring that the tasks are different from the person's everyday work experience, the usual preoccupation with the task is removed. This then enables the process by which groups or individuals achieve their objectives, to be examined more clearly.
Away from the workplace people are more free to learn from their achievements and their mistakes, safe in the knowledge that the worst consequence of failure is perhaps dented pride!
The use of tasks which are unfamiliar and often challenging helps reduce the distorting effect of organisational relationships on behaviour. This then allows the individual's full potential to become more apparent.
Finally, experience based learning provides powerful visual images, capturing valuable moments of insight and self discovery in a mental picture which then serves as a vivid reminder when similar challenges occur in the workplace.
These factors combine to create the profound impact required to take the learning process beyond an intellectual understanding of ideas, towards actual changes in behaviour which will impact the organisation’s success. In the final analysis, this is the essential requirement of any development programme.
Programmes are designed to
accommodate different learning styles