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How to use experiential activities for the 50% of learning that is vital to efficient performance, but can't be done 'in the workflow'

How to use experiential activities for the 50% of learning that is vital to efficient performance, but can't be done 'in the workflow'

This is the third in a series of linked pieces about the deployment of Experiential Learning “in the workflow”. In the previous two pieces I’ve demonstrated why this is not a viable proposition:

  • If it’s happening in a way that fits any definition of ‘learning in the workflow’ it isn’t experiential learning.
  • If it fits any definition of ‘experiential learning’ it’s not going to be possible to make it fit in the workflow.

I’ve recognised and applauded the fact that around 50% of the ‘taught content’ that is vital to efficient performance can be delivered in the workflow, and moved to ask questions about the other 50%? What learning is needed in the workplace that isn’t cognitive / information based yet is vital to efficient performance?

“Essentially this is anything that’s important to smooth business process that requires people to constructively interact with one another to achieve a particular outcome. It can’t be assumed that people will get these constructive interactions right first time, it takes a bit of practice to determine how to get the best out of the situation and each other. Experimentation is the beating heart of EL, experimentation takes time and it needs people to be in the same space at the same time (face-to-face or virtually).”

What I haven’t suggested is that in the workflow learning and experiential learning are mutually exclusive. EL addresses the question of how to build on the development of highly-informed individuals to turn them into high-contribution members of a human organisation. My suggestion is that there’s no more effective way to do it than getting them to temporarily step out of the workflow and into an Experiential Learning environment.

In this final piece of the series I want to suggest some sessions that you might consider as really important content to schedule alongside existing or planned in the workflow content. Short periods of learning that take people out of everyday workflow to acquire the skills that enable the deployment of the knowledge they are learning via digital learning engagements. 

As ever the start point for suggesting experiential tools is to define the learning objectives that the session is structured and designed to deliver.

Emergency Delivery

“I have somewhere in the range of 4 - 20 people in several different locations, and less than an hour to explore how we produce top quality results through effective collaborative decision-making under pressure within tight deadlines.”

A very effective way to extend the work you’ve done on individual decision-making to include situations where collaborative decision making is required, especially where teams from several locations need to contribute data. This is a virtual session so participants can join on-line without the need to be face-to-face.

The task is a two-stage, business-based, decision-making challenge that initially requires individuals to process information, then contribute to the creation of a workable team strategy within the challenging 15 minute time deadline imposed. The second stage involves using feedback provided to revisit the strategy developed in stage 1, and provide a final response. The feedback will provide the opportunity to revisit some earlier decisions, and move towards the optimal result.

Simbols and Simbols (online version)

“I have somewhere in the range of 6 - 30 people, about an hour, and I can choose to deliver a session face-to-face, virtual, or some combination of these. I want people to understand how the style, timing and nature of individual contribution enables the team to solve problems.”

In the workflow learning may have given your people a real sense of the skills needed to perform their role. It’s unlikely, however, to have given them a space to deploy their skills in a task that requires flexible and responsive inputs from numerous other individuals. This session offers that rehearsal space, working towards a well-defined and mutually shared task.

This experiential learning activity excels in improving communication skills within a team, challenging them to quickly develop a common language, use problem solving techniques and strategic thinking to succeed. Once they have a solution they think will work the team comes together in a second phase time trial to test their working against a challenging team target.

Images of Organisations and Challenging Assumptions

“I have a team of 12 who have been working effectively on-line without meeting each other. I want them to come together to strengthen their sense of team identity and make some decisions about the team culture that they want to develop going forward. We have a couple of hours for activity and discussion.”

The key learning objectives here are to get team members to recognise that they may well have made considerable assumptions about the colleagues with whom they have worked, but never met. That there is a need for some sharing to move past these assumptions, and that developing a new, shared team culture needs to start with how people perceive the current culture. This session uses two tools to address these objectives.

Challenging Assumptions reveals how the assumptions we make strongly impact our ability to solve problems and reach successful conclusions. The review of the activity (from the facilitators manual) asks the participants to consider the assumptions that they are working with - both individually and collectively.

The team then move to Images of Organisations, using the cards in the activity deck to respond to the question “Which of these images, for you, best reflects the current culture of this team?” Individuals select their image(s) and describe to colleagues why they chose that card. The facilitator can then run a second round against the question “Which of these images, for you, reflects the culture that would best support the purpose and composition of this team?” The subsequent discussion should allow the team to share their thoughts and make some commitments to moving towards a mutually attractive culture.

These are simply examples of sessions that can be developed using RSVP Design’s portfolio of experiential learning tools. To view the full range CLICK HERE

Related Articles
  1. Revisiting a definition of Experiential Learning in a world of restricted delivery Revisiting a definition of Experiential Learning in a world of restricted delivery
  2. Delivering Authentic Experiential Learning “In the Workflow” - Is It Even Possible? Delivering Authentic Experiential Learning “In the Workflow” - Is It Even Possible?
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