“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand”
Accordion Organisational development through experiential learning
In a highly competitive and volatile world learning has never been more important to underpinning innovation, change, and organisational performance. Well-designed experiential learning and development activities have increasingly been found to have higher learner retention levels than the traditional learning approaches used by most organisations.
Accordion What is experiential learning?
The concept of ‘learning through experience’ dates back to ancient Greece with Aristotle writing in the ‘Nicomachean Dialogues’ around 350BC that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.
However, as an educational approach the beginnings of what we know today was developed in the early 1970s by David A Kolb and Ron E Fry who put forward the modern theory of experiential learning drawing heavily on the previous work of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Paiget.
The ‘Experiential Learning Model’ developed by Kolb and Fry is composed of four elements: Concrete experience; Observation of and Reflection on that experience; Formation of abstract concepts based upon that Reflection; and Testing of the New Concepts. These four elements are the essence of the ‘spiral of learning’ that can begin with any one of the four elements, but typically begins with ‘concrete experience’ and as a cycle can be repeated many times.
Experiential learning can and does exist naturally for it is part of the human ‘meaning-making’ process based upon that individual’s experience. However, Kolb considers that whilst the Pagegaining of knowledge may be a natural human process gained through personal and environmental experience, the learner must possess a willingness to be actively involved in the experience; the ability to reflect on the experience; use analytical skills to conceptualise the experience; and possess the decision-making and problem-solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.
Accordion Use in organisational development
The most effective experiential learning takes place in a risk-free environment that employs a methodology that is based in critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. It is natural that mistakes will happen and one of the cornerstones of experiential learning is the acceptance of failure and the ability to derive valuable learning from this experience.
Experiential learning has been successfully and extensively used now for over 40 years in organisational development such as leadership development, fostering collaboration, team building, culture change, business transformation, and many other development interventions.
The best interventions are based upon sound theory with the experiential activity bridging the gap between theory and practice. It is through this process that the participants get a first hand experience of practicing what is being taught with the opportunity to review and take learning back into the workplace. Specific challenges can be set up or replicated in activities that the participants may face now of in the near future.
Very few methods of learning have a dramatic impact upon the mindset of an individual. Experiential learning is importantly one of them given that participants will be trying new things in a safe environment where ownership of the outcome and engagement is high. If fun is added the learning will be further increased making experiential learning a very good return on investment (ROI) for businesses and organisations.
Accordion Outcomes - How effective is experiential learning?
Differing studies and research over the last few years has suggested that experiential learning is more efficient that passive learning such as lectures, reading, and listening where retention rates are considered to be around 20%. Experiential learning where there is a high level of ‘learning by doing’ - going through the 4 stages of Kolb and Fry’s learning cycle - researchers have suggested that retention rates could exceed 75%.
The main conclusions are that team development is importantly effective on both behaviours and performance, specially, 66% of people who went through a team development intervention showed more teamwork behaviours back in the workplace to those who did not go through such an intervention. The team development intervention benefitted equally all aspects of teamwork. For example: people were as equally engaged in making action plans as they were in resolving conflicts. Team development is likely to improve all aspects of teamwork equally. Teams were found to perform better on their tasks back in the workplace following a team development intervention.
Accordion Why us? - Our experts
Howard Betts has used experiential learning in his work for over 35 years having designed and facilitated numerous organisational development interventions, workshops, and programmes that include leadership development, the fostering of collaboration, the building of teamwork, organisational change and transformation. Chris Wright, who gained a Post-Graduate Certificate in Outdoor Education at Morar House, University of Edinburgh, is no stranger to experiential learning and has been employing its techniques to facilitate the enjoyment of Outdoor Pursuits for the last 10 year.
Accordion What we offer - Two-day collaborative skills development workshops
Collaboration is a highly important 21st century skill underpinning all the activities of an organisation that are too often taken for granted. The outcome is that the level of organisational leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, innovation, creativity, and performance is below that expected.
The aim is to provide and facilitate a highly participative two-day, one night residential, collaborative skills development workshop.
The content of the two days is based upon key theory built around practical work relatable activities that encourages and engages the participants in individual, team, and organisational learning and development that can be immediately transferred to workplace.
The activities will make use of both indoor and outside activities that make use of the excellent facilities and grounds of Giggleswick School. The activities are suitable for all people (including disabled team members with prior notification) requiring normal fitness and no specialist knowledge.
The activities highlight the importance of:
- Shared goals
- Project management
- Minimisation of waste (NVA)
A briefing sheet will be provided to the participating organisation/s that they will forward to each participant. This will give them an overview and tell them what they will need to bring e.g. ‘The workshop will include a mix of activities for which you should come prepared by wearing suitable casual clothing, a waterproof jacket, and footwear that is comfortable such as trainers (be prepared that this may get wet and muddy) or walking shoes/boots. Given the time of year it can be cold so it is best to wear layers of clothing that can be removed or added to control personal warmth.
Accordion Dates & Cost
23 - 24 January
13 - 14 February
6 - 7 & 20 - 21 March
The workshop fee is (£200pp excl VAT). Accommodation for the night, including dinner and breakfast, can be arranged at nearby hotels upon request.