Industry Insights

The Experiential Learning Approach: creating a long-term business strategy

Posted by April Giarla on Dec 4, 2015, 6:00:00 AM

The experiential learning trend is a training model designed as an operational response for managers who build their company's strategy.

Reorient customer strategy, challenge the business model, redefine performance targets, and identify innovation: these are the strategic topics that are tackled in a realistic, concrete and operational fashion.

"Experiential learning, which means more specifically, learning by experience through a specific scenario, is done with simulations, in order to understand the present and future challenges of the company," said Jean-Michel Chopin, StratX Director of the international training group founded over 30 years ago.

This French company develops corporate education solutions used by both large business schools (London Business School, HEC, etc.) and corporate universities (General Electric Crotonville, the Dell Marketing Academy, the Airbus Group Leadership Academy).

The target for experiential learning programs includes executives, senior managers, and managers with high potential.

"This is high-level training that involves already highly qualified executives in positions of responsibility. These individuals must have a global vision, and a long term vision for value creation’’ says Jean-Michel Chopin.

Specifically, the training experience brings together employees from the same company, joined by teams of four to five people, in direct competition in a business simulation.

"The participants have to manage a fictitious business, both from a leadership and operational perspective. The simulation creates a setting which allows participants to experience 5 business years in only a few days of training,'' says Jean-Michel Chopin.

Companies that use StratX for training purposes (L'Oréal, AbbVie, Nokia, etc.) generally target similar objectives, such as improving customer centricity or mobilizing teams for change management.

"This is part of projecting into the future, to build business acumen but to also have participants from diverse backgrounds collaborate in order to achieve a common and collaborative dynamic," said Jean-Michel Chopin.

At Safran, for example, one to two groups of forty managers with high potential, participate each year in experiential learning programs. The objective of these training programs (which also includes theoretical courses in strategy, finance and marketing, executive conferences, visits to industrial sites and more) is to prepare future leaders for the issues and challenges that Safran will face tomorrow.

The head of the Leadership Program from Safran, Maria Banu, especially welcomed the tailored feedback given directly to participants from trainers based on their decisions.

"The debriefs from the instructors are highly appreciated by experiential learning participants” said Maria Banu. "These sessions create a collective momentum and eliminate any potential stress or anxiety. Another benefit is long-term knowledge retention. Concepts that are learned via other methods can fade quickly from memory. But, with the simulations, participants retain more than 75% of the program content because they have 'experienced’ it in an extremely realistic way. Several years later, they still remember what they learned from these simulations."

Article translated into English. Original version in French can be found here

What is Experiential Learning? 

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