Experiential team building defined

By Solomon Masala | Team Building

Oct 19
Why experiential team building is best

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Albert Einstein

What do you remember from 3rd grade? I bet the first things that pop into your mind are the experiences you had – not the lectures, not the fill and drill worksheets, not the teacher talking at you, but the experiences.

This is science.  As summarized by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, experiential learning does three primary things:

  1. Offers opportunities for deeper understanding of the information
  2. Expands the development of critical thinking about/around the information
  3. Enhances the engagement with lifelong learning

So what is real experiential learning?

If you are really going to invest in doing team development and teambuilding in a sustainable way, you’d only use experiential programs. But don’t be fooled. A trip to the bowling alley with your team is not an experiential team building process. And neither is an escape room or a fun jaunt through a scavenger hunt.

Those can be fun (nothing wrong with fun), and it’s not real team development learning unless the facilitator’s expertise can engage these critical elements. The facilitator must be able to:

  1. Design and choose the experiential element (the activity) such that is actually surfaces and encompasses the real learning objectives (the skills that make your team better)
  2. Design and choose experiences that cause the participants to be accountable for consciously practicing behaviors that lead to team personal and success
  3. Design and choose experiences that are immersive – where the participants are engaged via their intellect, emotion, and physical dimensions
  4. Design and choose experiences where the participant gets to actively question, experiment and iterate, collaboratively solve problems, innovate, and is construct relevant meaning
  5. Design and choose experiences where failure and risk taking are inherent and outcomes are not guaranteed or predictable (yet safety emotionally and physically is fully present)
  6. Ask the right questions so that participants critically reflect, analyze and synthesize the learning for relevant use in their skill development and behavior change
  7. Do all of the above – and still have it be fun!

As you choose your next team building, training or team development experience, be sure the trainers and facilitators have the depth of knowledge and experience required to do experiential training the right way. Make the learning process count – make it experiential – because that’s going to beneficially impact your bottom line.


About the Author

Solomon is a trainer and consultant who works with organizations and teams in a graceful, energizing, and insightful manner - transforming the individuals and the whole. Inspiring, palpable and sustainable, positive change is always a result.