Engaging, Sticky, and Effective

I’ve seen a lot of professionals forget what they’ve learned through training programs. And I’m not talking here about detail and minutia – but about the KEY objectives and takeaways. If they’ve forgotten those, they’ve wasted a lot of time and money. And, those two things are in short supply these days.

Many people turn to Experiential Learning to deliver the “sticky” (Heath Brothers, I’m looking at you), because making things sticky isn’t just important. It is essential. Nigel Rayment wrote a recent Huffington Post piece regarding Experiential Learning that got me thinking:

Given his take, the question becomes: Are your experiential learning programs really learning programs?

Consider Rayment’s criteria:

  • Specific learning outcomes: The outcome of the exercise must be specific and have depth
  • Participants should understand their starting point: no guesswork here…as Covey taught us all, “Begin with the end in mind”
  • Structured learning cycle: experience, discuss, learn, apply, review
  • Interact with the participants: this is a facilitative approach
  • Debriefing is a key: immediate and intentional discussion
  • Structured re-assessment: sustain the impact of the learning, rinse/repeat

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to all six, there is a danger that your experiential learning programs aren’t achieving the desired results. If that is the case, you’d either have to revise the experiential learning program to meet the criteria, or consider the real possibility that experiential learning isn’t the right answer for this instance. (Option 3 could then potentially be that it is time to vacation…?)

I started using this criterion in my consulting practice,hesitatingly at first, because I feared the worst: that my experiential learning approach might have been engaging, innovative, and TOTALLY without value. Let me report: it has been a great test. Where I thought such a structured approach would inhibit the enjoyment factor and creativity of the designs, it has been just the opposite. Instead, the structure has been liberating, and given me permission to add additional creative wattage. And clients have noticed. The connections to mission, “real” work, daily impact have been tangible for them. First, in the session, and in the weeks to come, I’ve heard positive feedback regarding the effectiveness of the sessions.