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Experiential Learning and Belbin for Meaningful Team Building

All too often great models such as The Belbin Team Role model are associated with purely academic, and classroom based mediums.

Whilst the academic, psychological and social sciences underpinning the model are indeed highly robust, at the end of the day Belbin pays its highest dividends to its users in the cut and thrust of the real world where "real people" will tackle "real work" together.

Quality "experiential learning" tools such as business games, simulations and executive management exercises can provide an excellent bridge between the theory and the "at work" follow through by enabling people to see behavioural clusters come to life a lower risk environment first.

What is required transcends the sterotypical "teamy stuff" and "string and bucket games" often found at conferences and off-sites. What's needed are carefully crafted and sophisticated constructs that can intelligently mirror the complexities of actual workplace decision-making and team dynamics.

Novel themes and engaging approaches are fine (in fact essential to engage people), but they must be anchored in pragmatic processes and designs sophisticated enough to draw out the required behaviours and key learning experiences.

An activity must be "outside" of the usual experience base of participants in its functional construct, yet be matched to the maturity and level of the group in terms of its complexity. A good challenge will create enough disequilibrium and unfamiliarity to force individuals to project their natural Team Role styles into the task in a genuine way.

Furthermore, you are also looking to observe the collective biases that will occur within the team for targeted de-brief and reviews that can be meaningfully aimed at developing some strategies for enhanced planning and execution back at work.

A successful activity needs to create an atmosphere where the same "cognitive biases" that occur at work, occur in the task. This offers enormous scope for real learning to take place.

Only the best approaches can do this reliably.

At Sabre we have been designing high-end business games, simulations and approaches for exactly this purpose since 1988.

When we combine them with Belbin profiles and our Team and Leadership DNA concepts it creates a powerful approach indeed.

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