Today I attended the first day of the two day experiential learning workshop (ELW). ELW is offered as a part of the distance learning program by the Welingkar Institute of Mumbai. The aim of the ELW is to impart management techniques through experiential learning – games, activities, role plays etc. It sounded like a fun way to learn and so I enrolled. I had the option to choose between doing ELW at the institute and doing ELW at the Borivali national park amidst nature. I chose the latter.
Today was the first day and we all assembled at the national park gate at 8.30 am. We took a nice walk from the gate to the place where the workshop was to be conducted. I had spent so many early mornings jogging inside the national park during school and college. It reminded me of those days and triggered a thought that I should start doing it again. It would not only make me fitter but also allow me to be with nature every day for some time early in the morning. I will see how the thought develops and whether I can motivate myself to start jogging again.
The ELW course was conducted by Mr. Yatin Gharat and his support staff. They had booked a meeting room inside the national park for conducting the activities. We had a nice breakfast as Mr. Yatin briefed us about the philosophy of ELW and what can be good takeaways from the workshop. There were only six participants today – Bhushan Vyas, Vidya Acharya, Yatin Usapkar, Madhavi Shah, Ronak Gupta and myself. Probably due to the heavy rains yesterday, many participants may have cancelled their registration for the workshop. Anyways, we were determined to have fun while learning.
We had three activities pre-lunch and one post-lunch. The activities were to be done in a group and at the end of the activity; we had to analyze the ELT (Emotions- Learnings – Takeaways). I will describe each activity only in short so that the future participants are not robbed of the fun. The activities were:
- Save the world – there were 30 placards placed randomly on the open ground. As a team we had to save the world by punching in the password with our feet within a very short specified time. There were certain rules to be followed. The disqualification criteria were strictly followed.
- Cobweb – As a team we had to make sure we pass each of our team members through a spider web without touching any of the webbing material. It was a matter of survival for the team.
- Nuptial Knots – A rope was used to tie a knot. Each of the ends of the rope had three team members hand-cuffed. We had to untie the knot and tie it up again in the same original way.
- Bomb Disposal – As a team we had to diffuse the nuclear bomb with a rope and hook. Four of us would be blindfolded and two would act as coordinators and guide.
The activities were all conducted well. Mr. Yatin Gharat has invested time and efforts to make sure that the debriefing of the activities is done well. And there are good learnings and takeaways for us from the ELW. I would like to highlight some of the aspects of the ELT debriefing.
Emotions – Most of us went through some or other emotions during the activities:
- Anxiety – regarding the performance of self and others
- Excitement – about the activity on hand, especially during the execution
- Joy – on completion of the activity successfully
- Satisfaction – on completing the activity (going through the process) even if not successful
- Disappointment – on intermediate failures when results could have been achieved but were not
Learnings – are important lessons that can be applied to the next activity or project. The learnings are derived from the learning process:
- Analyzing and clarification of purpose – One need to approach any activity with clarity of purpose.
- Brainstorming – Is the non-judgmental way of coming up with alternatives to solve a problem at hand.
- Strategy – is choosing the top two or three alternatives that are feasible, economical, time bound and will achieve results. And prioritizing them.
- Planning – is thinking through the execution of the selected plans.
- Execution – is breaking up of the plan into tasks and sub-tasks and assigning them for completion.
- Feedback – Teams do not succeed at the first attempt. The failures provoke the team to re-analyze, adapt to the changed knowledge/information, fine tune the implementation and alter the execution plan. With the new plan, the team is again at step 4.
Takeaways – are important lessons that can also be applied in similar though not necessarily the same situations. The major ones were:
- Consequences – performance anxiety builds pressure because one thinks about the consequences. If one is not worried about the consequences, the performance anxiety will not be there. Disassociation from consequences will allow a person to perform with much better results and outcomes.
- Confusion – is the recipe for failure. A confused mind adds to the performance anxiety. One must ask questions to clarify any confusion before beginning with the activity on hand. One must be clear about the start, the process and the end. Attitudes like “let us get started. We will sort it out along the way”, “sab log hain, kuch toh kar lenge” and “we will figure out the best solution as we move ahead” are very dangerous.
- Communication – is very important to succeed. Verbal communication consists of only 7% of our total communication efforts whereas 33% is about tones and remaining 60% is about the body language. There are always alternate ways to communicate effectively. One must be aware of them and utilize the communication tools available to us effectively to succeed in our missions.
- Trust – We were six strangers when we met in the morning. But as friendship developed, trust issues began to get sorted out. As the day got over, the trust levels were high. Most of the success in completing in the activities can be attributed to the high trust levels within the participants.
- Give Your Best – Even if consequences do not mean anything, never be casual about your approach to the situation. Always give your best in whatever you attempt.
- Enjoy the Moment – relax and enjoy the moment. A relaxed mind performs better than a confused and anxious mind. If you can learn to enjoy the moment you are in, you will learn a lot and eventually succeed in the task.
The day was all fun with lots of learning. We all had a good time. It created a good rapport between the six of us. A new friendship was forged. I hope the friendship grows because I found them all to be nice. This was day one of the ELW. I am now waiting for day two of the ELW tomorrow.
Photo on top (L-R): Ronak and Madhavi (sitting on the floor) and Bhushan, Vidya, Sachin and Yatin (sitting on the sofa)
Note: The blog on day two can be read at: Experiential Learning Workshop (Day 2)
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