“Transformation is often more about unlearning then learning.”– Richard Rohr
Last week marked the completion of a 12-month journey at a renowned retail firm in Bangalore. The team of executives from the organization witnessed a series of workshops, where they introspected, rediscovered and re-invented myriad traits which made them a better version of themselves at the end of the year.
During the last workshop of the journey, I found myself brimming with accomplishment while clinging on to a hand-made ‘Thank you’ note gifted to me by the participants. They had thoughtfully filled the card with their signatures and few messages like: ‘we’ll miss you’, ‘have more of this’…etc. What was more overwhelming was the short voluntary and impromptu speeches made by some emotional/excited participants, who at the beginning of the journey was amongst the timid, shy ones who wouldn’t dare to open their mouths even in front of a statue.
So how did we as a team make this transformation impactful, meaningful and a remarkable learning experience for the team? Here are some pointers:
Making journey-based behavioral workshops a success is not as easy as it sounds, nor is it a
herculean task. The secret ingredients are: Creativity and Focus. The content developers and facilitators need to think on their feet and come up with new ways to keep the training more engaging and interactive without losing the focus of equipping the learners with the required skills sets and giving them enough opportunities to practice and sustain the learning.
Since the workshops are conducted once every month, for 12 continuous months, there are chances that it might get monotonous and fail to sustain the interest of the learners. Here are some things we did to make this program a huge success and ensure excellent feedback for every session we did.
The Prelude: Journey-based programs, being a long-term engagement, focuses on support, co-operation and relationship building between everyone involved. Hence, the importance of such programs needs to be projected to the participants as well as the support staff of the organization. A hype needs to be created surrounding the launch of the program, and some amount of branding needs to be done to build the perception and image of the program. We named our program ‘Saksham’ meaning ‘competent’ in Hindi. We had posters and danglers advertising the program and what it covers with few inspirational quotes. We had an official launch of the program with high tea, in which all the participants and the L&D team of the organization participated. The idea was to create momentum and excitement about the year-long journey that we would be travelling together.
One month – One theme: Identify one important core trait that you are looking to develop in the learners and make it the theme of your presentation, activities and action learning plan (*action learning plan is the plan to implement the concepts learnt during the class at workplace. The learners are mandated to complete this work before attending the next session). The key here is to keep the concepts and number of slides as minimum as possible and emphasize on retention through stories, case studies, videos and experiential activities for practice.
Establish a clear Interconnection: The topics chosen for a journey-based program should string together like pearls of a necklace. The effectiveness of journey-based training interventions lies in reinforcement of concepts learned in the earlier sessions, through the subsequent sessions and opportunity to practice the same with feedback from the mentors.
For this to happen, there should be a clear interconnection between the topics. In short, learning from one session should seamlessly lead to the other.
For example, we started the journey with Emotional Intelligence, which forms the base of all behavioral skills required in any organization. The concepts learned during EI, was used in subsequent sessions on Communication, Assertiveness, Conflict Management etc., thus cementing the concepts in the learner’s mind.
Vary the methodology and bring in surprise elements: Like we had different themes for each session, we brought in different facilitation methodologies every month to fit the concepts covered. We had a game-based learning session for ‘Change Management’, where the participants were put through a lot changes as a team and were given feedback and tips on how to adapt to change better.
Leadership principles were practiced through ‘Theatre’ as an impactful medium for learning. The team worked under tight timelines to put-up a great show which included scripting, costumes, make-ups and even sound and light effects.
Creativity, Innovation and Design thinking was practiced through an interesting and engaging medium: Lego Serious Play (using Lego bricks).
We even changed the venue towards the middle of the journey to an upscale business hotel in the city. The participants enjoyed this change as much as the delicious spread of buffet!
Every month we saw our team eagerly waiting for the dates of the next workshop to be published. They came for every session with a curiosity quotient, not knowing what to expect, but definitely knowing that they would take home some powerful lessons for a bright future!
These were the main elements of our journey, which I feel, made it so impactful, that there were a few teary-eyed participants who longed for more! Hope we get to do more such programs in future to impact and positively change the lives of many more people.