Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Outbound training

Business Standard has a piece on the rising trend of outbound training which uses an offsite to teach team building, trust and such. It is known as Experiential Learning (EL).

More and more companies in India are incorporating EL modules in their executive training programmes, acknowledging the superiority of this way over conventional methods of teaching several critical life skills.

Outbound training is far better than being cooped up in a room and getting fed on theoretical concepts. My personal experience has been that outbounds make for great team bonding especially when you want a new team to gel together or even incorporate some concepts into a team in a fun sort of way. Combine an office outing with some good learning as well.

Of course, the setting of outbound management development programmes (OMDPs)helps. People are pushed out of their comfort zone into a world they don’t encounter everyday — frothing rapids, sheer rock faces to rapel and, at times, no running water and electricity.

Another advantage of EL is that participants pay attention, not only because there are safety factors involved but also because it is fun.

Granted, EL gives you a high, but how long does the rush last? Can it survive being back in your cubicle, feeling the heat of approaching deadlines? Most management trainers recommend drafting a clear action plan after an exercise in EL, for both the individual and the team. And the plan needs to be reviewed in six-eight weeks.

EL is good money for training companies and resorts and far tougher to organize than regular trainings. The setting makes it impossible that participants doze off during training - something that can happen very soon in a room.

What was once a novelty, is now commonplace among Indian companies. Once you go to a couple of ELs, you begin to think if its the novelty that makes it fun or the learnings (and I have a feeling it is more of the former than the latter). At times though, the fact that you are at an offsite often overrides a lot of other learnings, unless it is reinforced through briefing, de-briefing sessions and refresher courses too.


NC said...

I have fond experiences of outward bound trainings. Being in Gujarat one was unable to drink to heart's content due to prohibition.

Outward bound trainings were one excuse to hop over to the neighbouring Diu, Daman, Mount Abu etc. and have real great fun. Of course and good training as well.

Vidyut Kale said...

You raise a point that echoes in me often.

I have experienced that OBTs that are clear from the word go that this is training intended as an Organizational Development Intervention, regardless of how much fun it is, tends to be more effective by keeping the agenda in focus.

In my experience, many OBT trainers themselves lost focus on the agenda, which doesn't help matters.

I am a facilitator myself, and I find that certain things help me design effective training:

1. Deciding on specific goals and their measures rather than a vague "team building" - example: 50% of the participants are new recruits. We need cohesiveness in the team and a method for communication that respects both experience and fresh blood. OR We are planning a new venture. We need participant perspectives to be in alignment with those of the organization - like any other training, OBTs have specific purposes. OBT is a medium, not the training programme.

2. Measures of effectiveness: Deciding on what we call effectiveness BEFORE the programme helps participants and consultant work toward it. Hindsight has a tendency to whitewash everything, because no one likes to settle on a negative feedback when abiguity provides wriggle room.

3. Follow up: I would say, the game plan to put into action can evolve in the closure of the OBT without needing to wait for returning - this way, the mood, the consultant, the insights are all fresh and available to be engaged.

Ramesh Singh said...

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