Enabling Team Dynamics

Updated: Nov 15 2003, 05:30am hrs
Picture this: there are dense forests, rocky terrains and an unfamiliar topography. Two groups have taken positions on either side and are hurling shells that are stored in the bunkers. Much to the awe and disappointment, one of those groups discovers that all their ammunition have been exhausted and the prospect of surrender or defeat is inevitable. Is this a scenario straight out of a military scene Not really. Its an outcome of a management technique ABLE (Adventure Based Learning Experience) that is being deployed as a training and development initiative.

Based on some of the percepts in military science, this new approach to corporate learning is meant to institutionalise competencies like team dynamics, resource planning and allocation, strategy formulation amongst corporate professionals.

And it is different from Management Development Programme and even simulations that have been traditionally used in training and development.

Says Mr Sanjeev Duggal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) NIS Sparta Ltd. that has initiated this corporate training programme: Unlike simulations this is typically executed in a more real environment where the entire initiatives is conducted in real forests and the attendant ambience.

ABLE is a part of the technique termed Reality Learning. This tries to combine the traditional forms of training like classroom learning and psychometric tools with some of the more contemporary forms like outbound and one-on-one coaching, to help participants understand and apply new found knowledge, skills and perspectives within a single learning initiative.

Its aimed at addressing not only the Intelligent Quotient but also the Emotional Quotient of an individual, often left out in other learning interventions.

NIS has conducted Reality Learning Programs for organisations such as NTPC, Microsoft, American Express, Hughes and Bank of India.

Unlike a management development programme here the participants are compelled to commit real mistakes and derive a more practical understanding. And to that extent this form of learning is more long lasting since they have committed real blunders like for instance, using their ammunition indiscriminately and therefore not being able to sustain the action in a war, he explains.

The attempt is also to build team dynamics. This is because its a war like situation and most of them will have to help the other member of the team by parting with their share of resources so that they are able to collectively tide a certain crisis or uncertainty.

And there is a de-briefing that is conducted subsequent to the initiative. A de-briefing would imply the participants are asked to narrate their experiences and they are guided on how some of these takeaways can be implemented in an organisational context.

The professionals would be able to benefit from this training only when they have a workplace where the subordinates are empowered to challenge traditional status quo and the environment fosters a spirit of competitiveness, inform Mr Duggal.

Similarly, the organisations also cannot benefit if they were to send only a certain set of people for such an initiative. The companies need to internally reorient themselves before they can send their troops to the war, sums up Mr Duggal.

Companies who have undergone the training initiatives suggest certain refinements to this practice so that it becomes a lot more effective. Says Mr Sanjay Sharda from Ambuja Cements Ltd who has undergone the initiative: After the professionals have undertaken the outbound sessions, there is a need for a series of interventions. This could be in the form of assisting the teams to chalk out clearer deliverables.

Adds Ms Hema Malhotra, manager, training, HCL Perot: The training programme is flexible enough to be customised to the needs of an individual organisation. But in certain areas like leadership, the training will become wholesome when a wide range of leadership related realities are taken into account.