Dr. Rick Brandt, TalentQuest Consulting Services
In April 2010, TalentQuest began working with the State of Tennessee to support its LEAD Tennessee initiative, a new leadership development program designed to address the challenges of the new millennium. In addition to conducting before- and- after 360 assessments on the program’s participants, we developed content for the program and facilitated much of it. At the year-long program’s core was six day-long summits, each of which was focused on a different leadership topic. Having successfully utilized ExperiencePoint’s ExperienceChange™ simulation tool with several other clients, I was eager to find a way to incorporate it into the LEAD Tennessee program.
While the concept of ‘active learning’ is not new, ExperiencePoint has actually found a way to make it far more effective than most: they’ve made it fun. Instead of sitting in all-day lectures, ExperiencePoint’s ExperienceChange™ simulation requires participants to engage, roll up their sleeves and practice what they are learning.
LEAD Tennessee, however, had 130 participants which presented a number of unique challenges. Given my successful experience with the simulation tool, I was committed to finding a way to make whatever adjustments would be necessary to accommodate the larger group. There were some technical challenges, but with a little creativity and resourcefulness these were easily overcome.
The first challenge was determining how to divide 130 participants into functional teams. Larger teams make it easier for less assertive team members to sit back and watch which defeats the training’s purpose. In smaller groups, passive participation isn’t an option. So the first decision we made was to utilize the same approach of dividing participants into 26 teams of five, which brought us to our second and most difficult challenge.
Because ExperienceChange™ is a web-based tool, each of the 26 teams had to have access to a computer with an internet connection. In smaller groups it was fairly easy to set up a handful of temporary workstations in a conference room environment. LEAD Tennessee summits, however, were held in a large, open ballroom that wasn’t hard-wired to allow for this type of setup.
We configured the space in a way that easily allowed for independent team collaboration as well as full-group discussion. We brought in CPUs with large video monitors and external speakers and connected them to the internet using a wireless carrier’s mobile hotspot.
From the virtual simulation itself to the fully functioning mobile workspaces created for 26 teams, LEAD Tennessee’s Change Management session was as innovative as the award-winning program itself.
The moral of this story is, once you succeed in finding a training program that engages participants in the way that ExperiencePoint’s ExperienceChange™ simulation does, it is worth finding ways to overcome technical obstacles to enable you to utilize it!