Many leaders and HR and Learning and Development professionals will no doubt be familiar with the work of David Kolb, a global authority on how people learn. He has advocated the power of experiential learning throughout his distinguished career and it is a model that most leaders and managers can identify with – in effect it means we learn most by “doing” or on the job learning.
Kolb’s model has four steps that we use at PPI to underpin the design of many of our learning and development solutions:
By anchoring our solutions with this approach we enable people to develop practical skills. Firstly we encourage our clients to participate in a range of realistic work scenarios and to then reflect on how they behaved and the results or outcomes they achieved. From that experience we then challenge clients to reflect on what new or alternative strategies or approaches might increase their success rate on their return to work. We then provide some additional opportunities for participants to practice their new strategies or approaches and assess the outcomes – thus closing the loop in Kolb’s model.
Often when it comes to developing more complex behaviours and skills Kolb’s cycle is challenged by the time constraints of short development programmes; so at PPI we believe that a structured programme of coaching is critical for the continuation of the learning cycle from active experimentation to concrete workplace experience.
Kolb also developed the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) which is a useful tool for helping managers understand that different people learn in different ways and also to help them understand their own learning preferences. We also seek to build into our training a variety of learning experiences and methods in order to accommodate the different learning style preferences.
Kolb’s Model applied in PPI Programmes
The High Performance Business Partner Programme
Our Business Partner Programme has an outstanding and proven track record with many demanding global clients. Under the long term direction of Mark Thomas, one of our Lead Consultants and Faculty on Leadership, Strategy and Business Partnering, the programme has developed a highly experiential learning experience that very much adheres to Kolb’s Model.
Clients consistently tell us that they find the BP programme to be of very high value because it provides a very realistic and challenging set of scenarios that they clearly identify with, but also that it critically delivers a set of highly practical skills that they can instantly apply on return to their working environment.
Involving a demanding business and organization change scenario the programme challenges participants by putting them through a set of demanding business interviews and meetings. A core feature of the programme design is that it addresses skills outside of the normal remit of many support professionals and business partners. The programme assumes that most participants will already have the necessary financial, IT or HR technical skills to do their role. But frequently what many quality professionals lack are effective information gathering, problem analysis and influencing skills that enable them to convincingly “sell” solutions to senior management. On the programme we summarise many of these skills under the heading of “client management.”
The programme’s design echo’s Kolb’s definition of a “concrete experience” and mirrors the challenging reality of what many Finance, IT, HR Procurement and Project Management professionals face on a daily basis. When this design is set against a safe PPI learning environment it provides a unique experience for high performance professionals to reflect and recalibrate their approaches and strategies.
Leadership, Team working and Decision Making
PPI also offers a range of programmes in the Leadership and People Management spaces that similarly apply the experiential experience to learning and development
Elizabeth Moon, a PPI lead consultants on Leadership, Coaching and People Management, uses a very wide range of highly realistic exercises to provide the concrete experience for participants to reflect on their individual leadership style or team performance to draw out lessons for active experimentation either during a program or back in the workplace. One specific exercise that simulates leadership, team working and decision making is “Lead Out”. This exercise creates a very realistic team working environment.
Kolb also developed the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) which is a very powerful tool for helping managers and leaders understand the different ways in which people and colleagues learn. At PPI we pride ourselves on designing unique programmes that use a wide variety of learning experiences and methodologies in order to accommodate the different learning styles and preferences that Kolb advocates to being essential to effective development.
Should you want to discuss any of the above programmes or our approach to helping you or your company design a unique learning and development solution please feel free to contact: Gerry Buckley +32(0)479281601