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It can be tough when a member of your C-suite leaves—let alone your top leader. No matter how long they have been with your organization, it can be assumed that they have made an impact on your company’s processes and culture. Despite the loss, however, it’s entirely feasible to smoothly move your organization forward from where they left off.

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new leaders to replace those who are currently in those positions when the time comes. It’s a reality of business, no matter what industry you operate within. It’s also a process that’s overlooked: According to a study, roughly two-thirds of U.S. employers surveyed do not have a workforce planning process in place.

When implemented properly, succession planning can improve a company’s ability to build the next generation of leaders, which will give the company a competitive advantage. To help, here are five steps to take before your top talent leaves.

1. Profile the Top Performer

There’s a reason that your organization’s top performer is so successful: They possess a collection of characteristics and habits that inspire achievement. Rather than hire a new leader based on an undefined set of ideal characteristics, remove the guesswork and profile your top performer.

It’s important to identify if this leader is in a cross-functional, legacy role that will require multiple people to replace them. If so, it’s important to hire a collection of individuals who embody different traits that reflect those of the current leader. From maintaining strategic thinking to being excellent communicators, collaborators, and coaches, there are traits that nearly all leaders share. It’s up to you to identify which ones are most relevant to your organization’s needs.

2. Decide to Recruit or Promote from Within

After you profile your top performer and outline the traits you’re looking for in the new leader, it’s time to consider whether you want to recruit a new hire or promote an internal team member. While a fresh face may bring new ideas and a level of expertise to the table, it’s worth considering your internal team. Transitioning into a new role is much easier when you build up your leaders from within.

If it isn’t already, a strong leadership pipeline should be part of your strategy—it’s just smart business. Leaders who grow and develop within an organization are already aligned with the company culture and goals and are prepared to lead when their time comes.

3. Ramp up Your Training Program

To prepare for a leader’s departure, you can build your organization’s training program while they’re still part of the team. This way, you can leverage your top performer’s feedback to ensure that the program is designed to empower incoming leaders.

In addition to having a structure that allows employees to grow within your company, it’s important to offer a leadership development program that supports this growth. These programs must address skills that individuals should have at various stages, from first-time leaders to experienced executives. Having a leader involved in these programs ensures that they buy into the initiative and will be able to support their employees who embark on a similar journey.

4. Create a Mechanism for Ongoing Coaching

In the past, organizations generally operated with a top-down leadership structure that exclusively benefited executive-level employees. While a hierarchy may still be present across your organization, it’s important to offer ongoing training and coaching to employees at every level and in every department.

Training that’s coupled with ongoing coaching support produces better results. A study found that managers who went through training increased their productivity by 22 percent, whereas managers who experienced training and eight weeks of post-training coaching saw an increase of 88 percent.

Following up through retention tools, digital learning, and coaching is just as important as the training itself. No matter what methodologies you choose, sustained behavior change should be your goal.

5. Measure Results Over Time

As illustrated by the point above, training is never a one-and-done process. Instead, it’s essential to track and measure participants’ progress to ensure sustained development. Determining the return on investment of your training efforts is not only an indication of your leadership development program’s effectiveness but also an indication of whether or not your company is retaining its competitive edge and setting up new leaders for success.

In addition to traditional assessment and measurement tactics such as surveys and tests, companies can explore how assessments can help prime the leadership pipeline, which should be a major strategic initiative for any forward-thinking organization that’s preparing for new leadership.

Post-training assessments can help teams discover which employees have made the largest learning gains and identify common competencies that a company’s highest performers share. Training efforts can then be coordinated around these competencies to ensure that a pipeline of top talent is ready to step into leadership roles as needed.


About the author



Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner, and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

“Entrepreneurship” has been a buzzword for years now, ever since the tech boom propelled big-name entrepreneurs to the forefront of cultural consciousness. These days, corporations large and small want to tap into the power of entrepreneurial thinking, even if their employees aren’t technically entrepreneurs themselves. As markets shift and change, having teams of nimble-minded employees who are able to solve problems creatively—traits commonly associated with entrepreneurs—has become a big goal of companies for their employees.

But how can companies boost entrepreneurial thinking in their employees? The answer: experiential learning.

How Experiential Learning Boosts Entrepreneurial ThinkingThis unique type of hands-on, discovery-based training fosters an entrepreneurial mindset in trainees. In fact, top universities around North America are incorporating experiential training into their entrepreneurship programs, reaffirming the link between the two. At prestigious Rice University, MBA students have the option to join Entrepreneurial Experiential Learning Labs to develop entrepreneurial skills. And at Babson College, Professor Sebastian Fixson has identified several links between entrepreneurial leadership and experiential training, which he explores in the classroom. Fixson states: “We have found that experiential learning, and the active engagement of the student in the learning experience, is the most effective method for enabling students to develop the cognitive ambidexterity characteristic of an entrepreneurial leader.”

Watch the video: Understanding & Integrating Experiential Learning Into Your Existing Initiatives

Here’s how this type of training contributes to the development of three key modes of entrepreneurial thinking: problem-solving, willingness to take risks, and taking initiative.

1. Problem-Solving

Experiential training boosts participants’ problem-solving skills in a big way. How? Its hands-on nature puts the onus on the learner to figure out the lesson of the training, meaning it puts the learning outcome into the participant’s hands. That’s in contrast to more passive training methods, like lectures, videos, and workbooks, where a participant is required to read, watch, or listen. These methods of training do not guarantee the learning sticks with participants, as it does not activate creativity, because everything they need to know is in front of them.

In experiential learning, the discovery-based training requires full participation by all trainees. Trainees must work through scenarios that mirror real-world workplace problems, without knowing what a solution looks like—it’s up to them to create and carry out the solution, which also creates complete accountability for the result. That’s what ignites entrepreneurial problem-solving skills. Without a clear path or plan in front of them—or a lecturer at the front of the room—participants must rely on their own creative and innovative instincts and often do so with conviction.

2. Risk-Taking

True entrepreneurial innovation just can’t happen if a company—and its employees—are too afraid to take calculated, well-thought-out, disciplined risks. Only by being willing to take risks can you reap big business rewards. In addition to being an incredibly effective tool for sustained learning, experiential scenarios can also help make participants comfortable with taking these kinds of risks.

That’s because, in an experiential activity, participants must take risks and get out of their comfort zones to “win” at the experience. Moreover, these sessions are designed to make doing the uncomfortable as comfortable as possible by creating a safe space for trial and error. As explained, an experiential scenario mirrors the problems that participants face on the job—but doesn’t mimic these problems exactly. Instead, they’re masked using a fun, game-like metaphor, like searching for gold in a desert. Using a metaphor removes the discomfort that participants feel at the prospect of making a misstep on the job (as nobody wants to make a mistake at work), which allows them to stretch themselves creatively and take risks to solve problems. The threat of failure just isn’t as strong in an experiential learning scenario, and that’s by design. Once participants see that taking risks can pay off big-time, they’ll be likelier to reflect that kind of calculated risk and coordinating confidence into the “real world,” if their company supports a high-performance culture driven by innovation.

3. Taking Initiative—and Responsibility for One’s Actions

Finally, experiential learning helps participants adopt an entrepreneurial mindset by driving them to take initiative—and take ownership of their actions. Creative thinking and innovation will fall flat in an environment where everyone tries to pass the buck.

So how does experiential training accomplish this? As discussed, this training method is designed so that participants must take actions to solve the scenario’s problem and therefore learn from the experience. Unlike the on-the-job scenarios that they mirror, however, these experiential scenarios are stripped down so that participants can clearly see how their actions lead to certain consequences, good and bad. Budget constraints, deadline extensions, and other common workplace issues aren’t present to cloud the results of participants’ actions. The result? Participants know exactly how their own actions influence the success or failure of the session. That does two big things:

  1. It gives participants the confidence they need to take decisive action on the job, because it illustrates clearly how big an effect their actions have on outcomes.
  2. It eliminates opportunities for participants to hide behind excuses for poor outcomes, which instills a sense of personal responsibility. Thinking like an entrepreneur means being action-oriented, a trait that experiential training helps instill.

Have you implemented experiential learning initiatives in the past? If so, what other ways have you seen experiential learning boost entrepreneurial thinking in your employees?

About the author

Dave_RootDave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

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Corporate Event

Obvious news flash: Many decisions go into planning a corporate event, from finding the right location and determining menu selections to agenda constraints and giveaways or no giveaways. You even need to consider lighting. Before you can plan the details of your event, take time to brainstorm what will truly make it successful. These four tips will help you plan an event that’s memorable, informative, and dare I say, fun.

1. Determine the Goals of Your Corporate Event First

Educate, inform, drive behavior change, introduce, celebrate, or improve skills—these are all potential goals. Whatever you choose will drive the rest of your event planning, from your budget and venue choice to content and approach. Ensure the goal is strategically aligned with the company’s overall business goals, which will improve the chances that your executives are more eager to buy into your plans. Determining goals first also allows you and your team to clarify a plan of action for measuring event ROI, something else near and dear to the executives.

2. Incorporate a Fun, Relevant Theme

Pick a fun theme to excite and engage your participants throughout the event. You can even get them involved beforehand by asking them to  brainstorm ways they can come to the event fully immersed in the theme—outfits, bringing theme-related items, viewing related videos prior, or team-related pre-work. Themes don’t just present an opportunity to amp up excitement; they can also be used to make your corporate event feel more cohesive, especially if it spans multiple days. Weave elements of your theme throughout different activities to connect the dots for participants.

When you do decide to incorporate a theme into the event, make sure you pay close attention to the details. A half-hearted attempt at carrying out a theme may deflate participants more than it pumps them up, whereas a carefully considered and well-executed one sends the message that your company has invested time and energy into creating this event—and participants are expected to do the same.

3. Keep Participants Engaged with Immersive Activities

If one of the goals of your event is to teach participants new skills, explore training approaches that require active participation. Getting your participants out of their chairs and interacting with one another creates excitement throughout the event. Plus, participatory learning is often more effective in the long term for retention. When participants learn by doing, that knowledge stays with them much longer in comparison to passive learning strategies. We have all been there before and know it’s far easier for participants to “clock out” on a lecture or PowerPoint presentation than it is with an engaged a hands-on learning activity.

If you’re thinking about including immersive training activities at your event, be sure to consider experiential learning. In an experiential learning exercise, participants are tasked with working together to tackle a fun but challenging “project” and the skills needed to successfully complete the challenge are the same ones needed to succeed at work. One of the biggest benefits is that it teaches participants new skills and allows them to practice them during the same exercise. Allowing participants to practice in a conference setting, wherein they’re able to get immediate feedback from facilitators, gives them a chance to refine and perfect those skills before they use them on the job. Plus, experiential learning is a good fit for all types of learners, thereby making it ideal for events put on for a diverse workforce.

4. Invest in Retention Tools and Strategies

No corporate event should be a “one-and-done” affair. If it focuses on teaching participants new skills and information, make sure you have a plan in place to help participants remember the lessons learned. Some post-event retention tools may include:

  • Online videos or webinars that serve as refreshers on event training
  • Interactive online games that test participants’ knowledge and retention of key concepts
  • Group discussions that explore the challenges and solutions addressed during the event
  • Forums on which participants can post follow-up questions and discussions

Keeping retention in mind throughout the planning process also helps you design components that support long-lasting learning.

If you planned a particularly well-received corporate event before, let us know what elements you think contributed to its success.


PaulAs Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.

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eLearning vs. Experiential Learning A Complete Comparison

eLearning has been gaining momentum for years in the corporate training realm—it can no longer be called a “trend.” As technology continues to evolve, so will the impressive tools and training methods coming out of the eLearning space. However, how does the relative “new kid on the block” compare to experiential learning? Let’s explore the merits of these two popular approaches and if there’s space for both in your corporate training initiatives:

eLearning in the Workplace

eLearning, or electronic learning, encompasses a wide range of training tools and methods, which has helped make it a $100 billion-plus industry. Here, though, are several common ways that eLearning takes shape in corporate training today:

  • Video instruction
  • Interactive tutorials with quiz components
  • Gamified learning, where users learn new concepts by working through online games
  • Podcasts and other prerecorded materials

The specific benefits of eLearning vary according to its implementation, but this training type as a whole has several advantages. For one, eLearning is easily scalable. eLearning can easily grow with your company, because the only things you need for implementation are computer access and the training program itself. Relatedly, eLearning may be a good fit for companies whose offices are scattered across the country or for companies that employ a lot of remote workers.

Another big benefit? More recent gains in the eLearning industry have ushered in on-the-go, on-demand corporate learning. Today, eLearning platforms are being built so that they can be easily accessed on mobile phones—many eLearning training programs even come with their own downloadable apps. This gives users more choice and flexibility in their learning, so they can fit training into busy schedules.

One big drawback of eLearning, however, is that the industry is constantly changing. Unfortunately, that means that electronic training software can become obsolete in a matter of years, as more effective eLearning platforms come along. That leaves companies with a tough choice: upgrade their entire training platforms every few years or keep using the same eLearning platforms with the knowledge that other companies—including competitors—are investing in newer, more effective eLearning approaches.

The Experiential Learning Competitive Edge

On the other end of the training spectrum, you have experiential learning. Experiential learning takes a completely different approach from that of eLearning: Trainees learn how to change their behavior through participation in hands-on, discovery-based learning sessions. During these immersive training exercises, participants work together to solve a themed challenge, like traversing a dangerous desert to mine gold. During the experience, it may feel like a fun game for participants, but it’s actually a metaphor for the issues that trainees struggle with on the job. After the participatory training exercise, a facilitator leads a debrief session. During the debrief, the facilitator reveals the metaphor and explains how the strategies that trainees used to win the game are the same strategies they can use to “win” at work.

Experiential training differs from eLearning in a couple of big ways, most obviously with its live, participatory nature. This puts experiential learning at a huge advantage in terms of retention. Learners retain up to 90 percent of experience-based learning, while passive learning (which encompasses many eLearning approaches, like online videos) has retention rates as low as five percent. At first blush, eLearning may seem like the more cost-effective training method, thanks to its scalability—but experiential training actually provides a much higher ROI. It doesn’t matter how affordable a training method may seem; paying any amount for information that likely goes in one ear and out the other is just too much.

Some eLearning approaches, however, involve more than just passive reception, like interactive quizzes and gamification. Still, experiential training has a leg up even on these eLearning approaches, thanks to one crucial aspect often overlooked in training: conviction. By participating in live and real challenges as themselves (instead of as a character in an online game, for example), trainees are able to build personal conviction. The structure of the themed challenge allows trainees to immediately see the consequences of their own actions, which means they cannot skirt personal responsibility for their behaviors. Participating in such a visceral experience with immediate consequences also illustrates the power of behavior—behaviors, and not just circumstances, can determine success or failure. Participants leave the training session with the conviction that changing their behaviors at work can have an equally powerful effect on their job outcomes.

Experiential training’s edge in retention and building conviction means it’s one method of learning that’s here to stay for the long haul. For the most effective learning outcomes for your colleagues, however, combining eLearning and experiential learning may be the best approach. eLearning can be used to support the new skills and behavior changes taught during experiential training as part of a retention program. Using online lectures to recap material and quizzes to test retention, for example, helps colleagues keep their training top of mind long after the experiential training session ends. eLearning exercises can also be used to help measure retention rates, giving managers a better idea of how impactful their training was—and what tweaks may need to be made in the future.

Do you use a combination of eLearning and another training method for your current training initiatives? What have your results been?


As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

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Measuring a company’s culture can be a challenging undertaking. While some parameters are clearly definable, others are more difficult to pin down. However, when your objective is to shift a company’s culture, it’s important to measure progress to determine if your efforts are resulting in your desired outcomes.

7 Vital Tools You Can Use to Measure Your Company's CultureWhen you consider that a company culture is the sum of individual behaviors, it becomes easier to identify measurement techniques. Making the transition from one culture to another requires behavioral change on an individual level, which is more difficult than you might expect. Even after an inspiring training event, it’s easy to slip back into old habits, especially when employees are faced with the daily pressures of their jobs. However, when individuals collectively make changes over time, the cycle is repeated, new norms are created, and the result is a new culture.

Let’s take a look at the seven measurement techniques that can be used throughout a successful culture transformation.


Before even starting a culture transformation initiative, it’s important to know the current state of the organization. A pulse check is a short questionnaire used to first capture the baseline culture and then measure change over defined periods of time. For example, you might ask employees to do a pulse check once every quarter to measure changes in responses to questions about how well the leadership models behavior that embodies the company culture.


An important component of culture change is clearly articulating the expected standard and identifying what must be done to achieve it. Creating key milestones over a period of 18 to 36 months gives employees and managers benchmarks to work toward. These milestones also help sustain the momentum of culture change over time. Many culture shifts start with a big push but can fizzle after a few months as employees revert to their old habits. Keeping these key milestones at the forefront as a measurement tool can help sustain the energy as people work to incorporate new behaviors into their daily jobs.


In the early stages of a culture transformation, it’s important to know if the new information being delivered during training is understood by participants. If the training didn’t resonate, you can’t reasonably expect changes in behavior. Knowledge testing in the days and weeks after training will confirm that employees learned the desired skills or will provide evidence that further training is required.


After confirmation that the training was effective, fight the effects of learning decay with a tool like mobile boost learning. Meant to reinforce (not reteach) knowledge already acquired, boost learning can help keep new concepts and behaviors top of mind. Mobile tools can deliver short messages to reinforce behaviors that lead to better quality, efficiency, productivity, or whatever your defined culture change goals are.


As time progresses during a culture change, employees reach a point where they understand what is expected of them, have the tools to make the desired changes, and are making a genuine effort to apply new skills and change their own behavior. During this stage, self-assessments are valuable tools that allow employees to test these new behaviors in a safe environment. Working with a manager who is able to set clear goals for specific tasks ensures that employees are able to try a new behavior, make corrections, and generate feedback that contributes to lasting change.


The next stage in a culture transformation is when employees are not just testing new behaviors, but fully deploying them. At this point, multi-rater assessments that gather feedback from managers, customers, and direct reports can help refine these behaviors even further and optimize the culture. This level of measurement is not necessarily appropriate for every organization going through a culture transformation, as it demands more resources and a level of rigor that not every company needs. However, for organizations that want to achieve a certain level of performance, multi-rater assessments can be a valuable tool.


All of the results from the above assessment tools can be combined into a culture impact scorecard or digital dashboard that allows you to centrally manage and communicate the importance of the culture in the organization. Having all of the data in a single location enables you to correlate all of the phases in adopting a new company culture.

  • Training
  • Knowledge
  • Application
  • Behavior change
  • Culture transformation
  • Business impact

Can each of these tools be used independently? Of course, but if you want to get the most from your training investment and measure how much of an impact your culture transformation efforts have on organizational goals, it’s important to employ measurement tools during each phase and tie them all together into a snapshot view. Measuring a company culture is not as simple as taking an occasional survey, but with a smart strategy and the right tools, you can measure transformation in action.


Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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More and more businesses are adding experiential learning to their corporate training strategies for one important reason: It works. It only takes one successful training event to convince both decision-makers and participants that this valuable learning approach results in higher levels of engagement, a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught, and, most important, better performance on the job.

A successful experiential learning event has eight key elements:

  1. An immersive experience that takes participants to another world
  2. A theme that is deliberately far removed from the reality of the workplace
  3. A challenge that is captivating and fun
  4. An experience that poses an exact metaphor for a real-world problem
  5. Results that are a direct reflection of the team’s behavior
  6. Compression of time to demonstrate how behavioral change impacts results
  7. A debrief that highlights the principles learned during the experience
  8. Conviction among participants to change behavior and improve performance

The #1 Element You Can't Miss in Training with Experiential LearningAlthough it is not the first item in this list, a highly relevant debrief is the single most important element in achieving the goals of experiential learning. Without it, participants enjoyed a fun and engaging experience, and they probably learned something new, but they won’t necessarily understand how the experience is relevant to their job.

Watch the video: Understanding & Integrating Experiential Learning Into Your Existing Initiatives


Without clearly linking the experience to the reality of the workplace, it’s not fair to expect participants to change their behavior when they return to their jobs. They might have mastered the art of problem-solving in the context of a spy game, but that doesn’t mean they will know how to apply that new knowledge to improving processes at work. The key is to make this connection while participants are still excited about the experience.

An experienced facilitator will guide the group through a discussion that links two important concepts:

  • How to win in the game
  • How to win at work

Having just tried to win a challenge or solve a puzzle, they will desperately want to know how they performed compared to other teams and what they could have done differently to achieve the best possible results. This is the facilitator’s chance to spark a discussion about the various behaviors that lead to a win in the game and to clearly outline the key learning concepts.

After the group understands all of the elements that are critical to success in the game, it’s time to link the experience to reality by discussing how the key concepts that it just outlined will also help it win at work. This is the most important component of experiential learning, because it enables participants to translate their excitement about winning the game into conviction about improving performance at work.

The facilitator guides the conversation and allows participants to connect these dots on their own. In order to do this, the facilitator must have a deep understanding of the daily challenges that participants face, the dynamics between team members, and the common processes in the organization.

Although it is one of the last steps of an experiential learning training session, the debrief is arguably the most critical. Of course, the debrief relies on all of the steps that happen before it, so the experience itself must also be well-executed. Working with a seasoned experiential learning provider will ensure that all elements of the experience, from creating the theme through facilitating a meaningful debrief, will provide the necessary level of expertise and positively impact the participants when they return to their jobs.


Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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The primary goal of corporate training is typically to improve performance on an individual, team, or company-wide level. There are multiple ways to achieve this goal, including both a variety of standard training approaches and experiential learning. In many cases, a combination of training methods employed on an ongoing basis provides the most advantages, so it’s useful to understand the benefits of each.

Standard Training-Learning by Reading, Listening or Watching.

Traditional training approaches have been used for decades with varying degrees of success. One of the main advantages of standard training is that once the materials or curriculum has been developed, it is relatively affordable to implement. Some of the tools used for standard training are:

  • Slide-based presentations
  • Videos
  • Digital training platforms
  • Training manuals
  • Classroom lectures
  • Case studies
  • Role-play scenarios
  • Group discussions
  • Exercises and activities

Although all of these standard training methods can be useful, they also come with limitations. In many cases, it is easy for participants to tune out, especially if they have no reason to actively participate. Following up a training session with a quiz can help increase engagement, but the forgetting curve tells us that much of the information that participants learned is forgotten within days or weeks of the training.

Experiential Learning—Learning by Doing

In contrast to standard training, experiential learning requires participants to actively engage in an immersive challenge that mirrors problems they face in the real world. The themed activity creates a metaphor for these real-world challenges and allows participants to solve them in a safe space, often without realizing that they are learning something new. By working together to find the best solution, trainees can test, learn, and hone new skills that can then be applied in the workplace.

The key to a successful experiential learning event is a skillful debrief that connects the lessons learned in the activity to the real world. Therefore, it is crucial for a facilitator to highlight the metaphor, as it enables the participants to see the parallels between the experience and the real world and also how they can improve performance on the job.

Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways to combat learning decay and create lasting change in an organization. Participants leave the training not only with new skills that they can practice on the job, but with a strong desire to improve performance. Because they just experienced how successful they can be, they are eager to make a positive change in the workplace.

Combine Training Methods for Maximum Effect

Fortunately, you don’t have to decide between these two corporate training approaches. Combining standard training with experiential learning offers the best of both worlds. Starting the day with experiential learning will spark enthusiasm and encourage participants to continue to stay engaged. They will also be better able to connect with the training content after viscerally experiencing how their actions can have an impact, especially if other training sessions reference the skills obtained during the experiential learning event.
Organizations that take a multi-faceted training approach get the benefits of affordable training methods that are relatively easy to deploy, along with powerful experiential learning events that have the potential to create lasting performance improvement.


Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

Re-blogged by Eagle’s Flight

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Providing organizational training that stays with participants long after they’ve consumed the learning material is a tough challenge. When you’re implementing traditional training methods-like lectures or presentations-how can you guarantee that your trainees are even listening? That’s the beauty of experience-based organizational training-it fully immerses participants for learning and behavior change that stays with them long after the training ends. Here are the three big reasons why experiences-and, in particular, experiential learning-are the best organizational training tools for learning that sticks.

Want Organizational Training to Stick Make It an Experience1. Participants Practice While They Learn

At its heart, experiential learning is “learning by doing.” Instead of being taught skills through traditional organizational training methods like passive presentations and then leaving participants to practice those skills on their own time, experiential learning combines skills learning and skills practice in one powerful training session. When we learn by doing, we retain up to 75% of the information we learn. Compare that to retention rates as low as 5% when we learn through lecture-based presentations.

Part of the reason that experience-based experiential learning is so effective is that it allows participants to immediately see the direct correlations between actions and results. Experiential learning takes the guesswork out of the action–consequence equation, leaving participants feeling confident that their newly acquired skills and behaviors will have a direct impact on their work. This also helps build personal conviction about the value of changing behaviors, because participants have seen and experienced firsthand the impact of certain behavior change.

2. Experience-Based Organizational Training Gets Participants Excited and Fully Immersed

One of the reasons why traditional organizational training methods don’t really stick is that they are not engaging or exciting. Lectures or PowerPoint presentations simply require passive participation, which means those lessons can go in one ear and out the other. Experience-based learning, however, requires full, active participation on the part of all trainees. Participants are up and moving, engaged in the experience at hand, instead of falling asleep in their seats!

Experiential learning takes it a step further by theming the learning experiences. The benefit of theming the training experience is twofold. First, themed experiences are simply more exciting than straight simulations or reenactments of workplace scenarios: amping up the fun of your organizational training event and keeping the energy high. Second, theming the training experience provides a safe environment for participants to take risks and learn from failure, which they would be less inclined to do in a training session that obviously mimics a real-world work scenario. Nobody wants to risk failure at work!

3. The Debrief Connects the Dots

For experiential learning to really stick, your organizational training must include a debrief, wherein the skills learned and consequences affected all come together. During the debrief, a facilitator reveals the themed training’s metaphor and how it relates to participants’ daily job responsibilities. The facilitator ensures that participants truly understand the outcomes and connections of the experience so that they can effectively apply their new skills and learning on the job. Conviction crystallizes during the debrief; it provides an “a-ha” moment for the participants, as it clearly links the experience with how to improve on-the-job performance.

Organizational training isn’t just about learning new information; it’s about instilling lasting behavior change. Immersive training experiences increase the chances that your training will actually be retained, making a lasting impact on your employees’ performance.


As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In recent years, there seems to have been a widening gap in the corporate training world between expectations and reality. According to a Deloitte survey published in 2015, managers claimed that the area of learning and development was more important than ever and yet, at the same time, they admit that they’ve become even less prepared to meet learning and development needs.

Let’s make 2017 the year to turn things around. Here are four promising trends surrounding the measurement and assessment of corporate training program that can help get your company on the right track:

Measuring Corporate Training Programs1. Focus on Real Needs, First

Forget the bells and whistles of fancy corporate training programs for a moment, because it’s time to get back to basics which means deciding what your training needs really are. This seems like a crucial step in training development, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. Companies may chase after vendor-supplied corporate training programs that will claim to solve all of their problems (without understanding what those problems are), or they rely on the outdated in-house training they’ve always used—even if needs have shifted.

2017 will see a renewed effort to match up corporate training programs with real, demonstrated needs, rather than just going through the motions. This means taking stock of the company’s current realities by meeting with key leadership one on one and identifying what’s enabling your current level of success and what’s blocking you from going even higher.


2. Defining a Baseline for Measurement

In the same vein as the above, corporate training programs need to shift focus from what goes on during training to what happens before it begins. When it comes to measurement, that means clearly defining what you will measure as a result of the training. And, obviously, to measure improvement, you must first measure where you are.

In 2017, it’s time to get granular. Once you’ve established an understanding of your company’s “big picture” current reality, use measurement tools—like organizational surveys—to develop tangible numbers and specifics that speak to that reality. Developing a clear, specific baseline results in well-designed, responsive corporate training programs that make measuring ROI a whole lot easier.

3. Develop On-Demand Learning—and Measurement

The use of cutting-edge technology in corporate training programs has been on the rise for years. While nothing can replace immersive, experiential learning, there is most definitely a place for technology in training, especially as a learning retention tool.

Today’s workers—which is now composed of more than 53 million millennials—crave on-demand learning at their fingertips. To meet this craving, companies should look into developing retention programs that take the form of apps, which can work on computers and mobile phones and are fun, short, and effective. With up to 70 percent of training being lost to learning decay within just one week, easy-to-use and addictively engaging retention activities should help stop up the learning leak.

Plus, it’s easier and faster to track learning gains through technology. While employees are engaging in learning and retention games on their phones, companies are able to collect real-time data on learning improvements to measure progress. This allows them to make quicker decisions about changes to their corporate training programs or retention strategies. Watch for more of a focus not just on tech and learning but also on tech and measurement in 2017.

4. Bringing Training and Business Strategy Together

Perhaps the biggest trend in 2017 will be a continuation of the recent push to marry HR direction and business strategy—and measurement will play a huge role. As competition for highly skilled employees remains high, training and retaining top talent become just as much a strategic initiative as an HR one. Thus, determining ROI becomes more important than ever, as it’s an indication of whether your training is working or not, yes, but it’s also an indication of whether or not a company is retaining its competitive edge.

2017 can also be the year that companies dig deeper with assessments. In addition to more traditional assessment and measurement tactics like surveys and tests, companies should also explore how assessments can help prime the leadership pipeline—which should be a major strategic initiative for any forward-thinking organization. Companies can use post-training assessments to discover those employees who have made the largest learning gains, which is an impressive feat which higher-ups should take notice of. Plus, assessments of high performers before training can be used to identify the common competencies that a company’s highest performers share. Then, training can be designed to deliver those competencies, thus ensuring a pipeline of top talent ready to step into leadership roles when they are needed.

A clear strategy for measuring results is crucial to any successful corporate training program. What trends in measurement do you think we’ll see—or need to see—in 2017?


Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Reblogged from Eagles’s Flight.

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If you’re looking to transform your training so that participants are fully engaged, motivated to apply new skills on the job, and able to remember and perform those skills long after training has ended–then experiential learning is your answer. As you explore your options for experiential training, though, keep in mind that true experiential learning must meet a rather specific set of criteria to be successful. We’ve developed four priorities that experiential learning must address each and every time for optimal results:

What Is Experiential Learning?

The 4 Priorities That Experiential Learning Must AddressBefore we dive into the four priorities, here’s an idea of what experiential learning in action looks like: An experiential learning session is an immersive, hands-on training experience that reflects the real-world work scenarios that participants often find themselves in. Crucially, however, these experiences don’t directly mirror real-world scenarios. Instead, they mask the similarities between the learning activity and a participant’s day-to-day reality by using a fun and engaging theme—like a journey through the jungle or an expedition through the Wild West. Having participants engage in an activity that parallels the real world without directly mirroring it creates a safe, supportive environment that encourages participants to take thought-out risks and try new strategies to solve problems.

Read an Exclusive Chapter From the Book Experiential Learning: Changing Behavior to Improve Performance

Experiential Learning’s Four Core Priorities

To make these priorities easy to understand and remember, we’ve branded them thusly: Heart, Head, Hands, and Harvest. Here’s what each priority means and why it’s crucial for success through experiential learning.

1. Heart: Building conviction to engage all participants

It’s hard to care about something that you don’t feel personally invested in. That’s the problem with many traditional training programs, particularly those of the “lecture” or role-play variety. When trainees aren’t fully participating, they’re not necessarily invested in the learning outcomes. In experiential learning activities, however, every trainee participates—and the outcome of the learning activity hinges on the participant’s behavior. There’s a direct correlation between what a participant does and the result of the activity, which builds real conviction and personal responsibility to want to explore new behaviors.

2. Head: Transmitting knowledge so that participants understand

At its heart, any kind of training program is essentially about transmitting knowledge. What sets experiential learning apart in this priority is much higher success rates when it comes to retaining that knowledge. Too many training programs—like those that rely on PowerPoint presentations, for example—attempt to transmit knowledge passively. With this approach, learning goes in one ear and out the other, so participants may never fully understand the material. Experiential learning is different because it allows participants to both learn and practice new skills all in one go. This way, participants “learn by doing,” which study after study has revealed leads to greater, longer-lasting learning outcomes.

3. Hands: Understanding what actions to take to put new knowledge to use and see real behavior change

In other words, the information learned during training must shift from theoretical to practical—and this is where a lot of traditional training programs fall short. Participants may learn about new skills during a training, but they’re often left to figure out how to apply those new skills to their actual jobs by themselves.

With experiential learning, a debrief session connects the dots between learning and action. After participants have completed their themed experiential learning activity, a training facilitator guides a debrief session, where they discuss and reveal how to “win” at the activity. For example, the facilitator engages the participants in a discussion about what behaviors, skills, and strategies the participants would have displayed to have achieved a better result in the activity. But here’s the truly crucial part: The facilitator then links the participant answers to business relevance. They show that the principles necessary to win in the activity are directly applicable to “winning” at work. Participants walk away from the experience knowing exactly how to change their behaviors at work in order to bring about new results, and they have some practice already under their belts, thanks to the immersive nature of experiential learning.

4. Harvest: Producing results

Every experiential learning activity should have clear, measurable, objective expectations about how the new behaviors should be applied back in the workplace and what results those new behaviors are expected to produce. When you invest in an experiential learning training program, it’s important to know what the learning outcome should be and what success looks like. For lasting results, experiential learning activities should be paired with retention programs that reinforce learning for participants with fun games, testing that measures the impact and retention of learning, and development programs that build in support from leadership and managers.

When taken together, experiential learning’s four priorities bridge the gap between knowledge and action. Participants not only learn new skills, but they reinforce those skills with real-time practice, link the skills to real work outcomes, and commit to changing their behavior by taking personal responsibility for results.

Does your current training method address the four core priorities above? If not, what’s missing—and how do you think that’s impacting your training?

About the Author

JohnSince 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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