I have not had much experience with inductive methods of learning in the past and my time spent at the EIIL on this workshop is my first sustained exposure to this. As I made my notes throughout the workshop, I was thinking about the two days from the perspective of a Learning and Development professional who would consider sending colleagues and staff to attend such a workshop. In particular about the value of the workshop once participants had returned to their workplace at the end of the experience. Would I recommend this to others? Yes I would.
The two day workshop uses the KOLB Learning (Improvement) cycle as its method of learning for the Participant Group. This cycle encourages learning by experience and this was the first time I have been introduced to it. During the workshop, the Group were learning several things at once; working with the KOLB cycle, refining their interviewing techniques, obtaining opinions and views on innovation from different industrial sectors and using this information to develop a protocol about the subject of innovation for use back at their workplaces.
The commitment to self learning runs through the whole workshop. During the first morning a Key Task was set; to develop a protocol about innovation for use back at work and a set of Aims was offered to assist with clearly defining the key task. The Aims act as a reference point for the Group through the whole workshop and keeps them from wandering away from the Key Task. An introduction to innovation and how it is fostered in organisations was offered by the Coach. From this point the Group work to an agenda of activities which includes preparation, experience, review and adaptation/incorporation/preparation ready for the next experience: the KOLB Cycle. At the end of the two days, the work groups present their findings and protocols which they can use once back at work. What is learned, considered to be valuable and included in the “next round” is entirely the decision of the working groups. The Coach may comment but does not direct or add what may have been missed by the Group.
At times I found this approach by the Coach frustrating as I am used to more “hands on” facilitation on the part of the workshop leader however I kept telling myself to trust in the process, and indeed, it produced results. I found that the groups, by the time they presented their findings, had indeed covered the vast majority of the key issues raised by the interviewees about fostering innovation. The participants took away the outputs of the workshop and, in my opinion the most valuable learning for them was the experience they had in ‘Learning to Learn’ with the KOLB Learning Cycle.
I consider this an important skill that is required in management roles. The Group worked through the cycle four times during the course of the two days and improved their skills in interviewing to learn from others. Once back at work will have the skills and knowledge to delve into any subject area or issue using this process.
Monday, 18 March 2013
Written by Anne Betts-Walker