Rapid Culture Change is Possible

Learn how the use of immersion team building and leadership development training can rapidly transform your company’s culture and allow the success of major initiatives.

Purpose: Show how immersion leadership training makes strategic initiative success possible. Adults learn through experience. We learn behaviors through experience. This is the flagpole fact of the educational world. This flag is visible for everyone to see, and it’s where educators know they need to be whether they are training hard or soft skills. Deborah Solomon Reid of Tuck School of Business strikes a bell to be heard by anyone considering this most CNFN fundamental element of adult learning. “While conceptual learning is important, the major leaps forward—these so-called ‘aha!’ moments when mental maps are rearranged—are most likely to happen when students encounter these theories experientially.” The widespread use of experiential training in the development of the soft skills of leadership and teamwork can transform individuals and your organization. The question is, “What transformation do you want?” What end state do you envision for your organization, and what behavioral alignment must take place in your employees before that vision can be realized? Whether it is agility and responsiveness, sustainability, or lean systems you wish to ingrain, it can be done. However, to reap the greatest rewards you must make two commitments. First, you must embrace the experiential training model for its ability to quickly influence behavior. Second, because everyone has a role in corporate culture you must commit to training nearly everyone. I acknowledge that this is a tremendous distance to go for most companies. You will see that there are many powerful uses for experiential training that will enhance your company’s performance without a wholesale assault on your corporate culture. Any significant impact on your leadership core should be embraced. However, if you are looking for that sweeping modification, you need to plan and resource for results. Bring a ladder tall enough to at least reach the lowest branches.

Changing values for maintainable strategic initiatives: Frances Hesselbein said, “Soft skills are now hard,” and she is right. In so many strategic initiatives, particularly in sustainability and lean systems, we must get into the person’s brain and adjust their value system. That’s not easy. Experiential training and immersion training as I’ll define here require a thoughtful approach by leaders determined to make improvements and dedicate the necessary resources to do so. When I refer to experiential training, I mean a guided experience intended to teach specific lessons. Immersion training is an extended use of experiential training where no other focus is allowed. Immersion training (table 1) uses all available time allotted for the achievement of the intended results. The understanding is that the entire day is a training environment. There are no distractive devices that connect the students to work or home, and there is no happy hour or tee time. No matter the number of days, and more than one is preferable, the objectives of the course have the un-interrupted attention of the students.

Table 1. Immersion training is characterized by:

  • Experience Based (table 2, 2a) – Students are involved; physically and emotionally. Not in role playing but with actual responsibility within the scenario. Their decisions have consequences.
  • Distraction free – For the duration of the training, there are no connections, such as cell phone, pager, laptop, to non-scenario, outside responsibilities.
  • Multiple day – More time for repetition of scenarios, which aides in internalization of intended lessons. Facilitates application of lessons in real life.
  • Extended work hours – More time for repetition of scenarios, which aides in internalization of intended lessons. Facilitates application of lessons in real life.
  • Narrow focus – Allows for frequent reoccurrence, reinforcement and internalization of intended lessons. Facilitates application of lessons in real life.
  • Reflection – Distraction free environment allows for down-time assimilation of lessons. Facilitates application of lessons in real life.

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