Experiential Learning – A missing ingredient in Transformation Programs


Organizations have to now cope with more change than they ever have before. Whether it be automation and digitization, cloud, lean operations or analytics and big data- the pace of change is faster and more critical than ever.

Efforts to keep up so far have had mixed results. Research from McKinsey found that two thirds of business transformations are failing to meet their objectives.

Capability building is now a top priority for companies. A study by McKinsey* found that 60% of organizations state that building organizational capabilities such as lean operations in now a top three priority. However, only a third of companies actually focus their training programs on building these capabilities that will add the most value. This is where they are missing a trick with regards to experiential learning.

What is experiential learning?

Kolbs experiential learning theory states that “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. His model sets out four distinctive learning styles (or preferences) based on a four stage learning cycle. It is based on the notion that different people naturally prefer a certain learning style based on certain influences within each persons life.


Kola's Cycle of Learning

In the workplace experiential learning has proven itself time and time again to be the most effective way to acquire new skills. When it comes to building knowledge and skills for successful business transformation, often the success depends on the combination of hands on experience and knowledge.

Experiential learning can take many forms. In essence, it seeks to immerse participants in an active and shared learning environment. At G2G3, our simulations are highly engaging and immersive experiences which takes participants on a journey through a real life business scenario. Lets look at the concept of DevOps as an example. This is a (relatively) new concept. Oragnizations are beginning to recognise the importance of developing a process which means a faster and more efficient software delivery cycle. The DevOps simulation is an experiential workshop that seeks to demonstrate the business value of adopting a DevOps approach. It allows people to venture outwith their comfort zones, to break down silos, increase communication and probably most importantly allows them to “fail fast” in a realistic environment without having to worry about any blame culture. Facilitators with strong subject matter expertise and practical knowledge help to guide you through the simulation and help each participant on their individual learning journeys.

Good experiential learning programs should allow your particpants to do the following:

  • Experience and explore (doing)
  • Share and reflect (what happened?)
  • Analyse (why did it happen? What can we change?)
  • Apply (what worked? What didn’t? how can I apply this to my own job?)

The simulation experience allows participants to progress through a number of rounds, effectively reflecting and analysing at the end of each round to improve and optimize.

Experiential learning is not only great for increasing capabailities, skills and knowledge around driving organizational transformation, they are also a fantastic experiential tool for team building, gaining senior leadership buy in to programs and engaging the wider business.

Your people are such an important part of any transformation initiative. They need to be fully engaged, aware and understand what you are trying to achieve and how to get there. Gone are the days of death by Powerpoint mandatory training. Savy organizations are investing in experiential learning to drive new talent, enhanced capabilities and future transformation.  We will also see experiential learning become a major  component of training virtual teams. I’d personally be very interested to see the possibilities that virtual and augmented reality will have at driving fully immersive experiential learning in the future.

G2G3 have a portfolio of experiential simulations including IT Service Management (ITIL), Project Management , DevOps,  Cloud,  Enterprise Service Management and more. To find out more get in touch below.

1* McKinsey & Company- Building Capabilities For Performance