Today, I’m writing to you about something you can implement in your workplace. It is a unique leadership and team building program suitable only for companies and B-schools.
You may know that every year, we take students of Indian Institute Of Management (IIM) on a Himalayan Mountain Challenge (HMC). It is not just a trek. It is an experiential learning program focussed on imparting real life management and leadership skills.
In these experiential learning programs we have seen tremendous changes in the participants’ attitude and behaviour. The difference, later, at the workplace is significant.
We have noticed companies and organisations spend significant money in team building and leadership activities. Unfortunately, they do not yield much results. That’s because most team building activities do not factor in the power of repetition, uncertainty and reflections.
How our Experiential Learning Programme is unique
In the experiential learning programs that we run, participants are forced to take decisions in the face of uncertainty every minute and every hour. These are not small decisions. These decisions can change the outcome of the entire program. These decisions are not only about the team but even about themselves.
Here, students of IIM (who have rarely trekked before) are forced to plan, run and manage their own trekking expeditions. They have to climb a summit. While doing that they also have to compete with other teams to win the Himalayan Mountain Challenge (HMC). The HMC is a specially designed series of challenging circumstances that have been built into the trekking expedition.
Let me explain a bit.
The treks that we run for regular trekkers cater a lot to making a trek very comfortable. While that makes trekking easy, it does not lend itself to much learning. On the other hand the kind of program that the IIM students do has an incredible amount of learning built into it.
The reason is simple. In the unknown outdoors, participants have to deal with challenges that they have never encountered before. Imagine trying to find your way successfully through a forest with no one to help except GPS tracks. A fork on the trail can take you off course for many hours. Teams have to make immediate hard choices. And live with the consequences.
It is not just finding the trail. On reaching safe grounds they have to establish their own camps. Without prior knowledge they must learn how to set up their camps and cook their food. Sometimes they have to do this in pouring rain or biting cold.
This is where the learning comes in.
Forced to come together in adverse situations participants:
- Learn leadership skills that are essential at work
- Learn to collaborate and succeed at teamwork
- Become more resilient
- Gain an inner confidence that helps them tackle difficult situations
The reflection sessions that come in at the end of everyday are the secret sauce of the program.
During reflections, participants often break out into conflicts, anger is expressed, strategies are hotly debated. Guided by our expert Game Masters, teams discover how to express themselves openly and frankly.Over time frankness is tempered by empathy and a new collaborative dynamic emerges. Over the course of the program participants learn to become ‘ideal team players.’
At the end of the Himalayan Mountain Challenge, the participants come back with a deep sense of accomplishment, of newly discovered leadership skills, of being more collaborative team players, a confidence to take risks and bold decisions, and a deep resilience to face hardships and uncertainties head on.
Which is why we strongly recommend this program to companies and B-schools. The transformation is immense.
This is what the dean of IIM Bangalore says about the program.
“There is a strong need for bringing in the experiential component where students really learn about skills, they learn about values and attitudes. This is precisely the idea behind having such innovative courses where students not only learn about leadership and teamwork but are actually involved in tasks that involve leadership and doing things that can be called teamwork,” says Professor Sourav Mukherjee, Dean, IIMB.
Given the high value in this programme, I believe it is something that will help all workplaces.
We have noticed that most organisations struggle to make teams work. There is tremendous inefficiency at work. The output is much lower than expected. Yet, everyone is working hard.
The problem is that their teams don’t work well together. There is a general lack of cooperation and leadership among team members.
This is where the Himalayan Mountain Challenge could help your organisation.
Usually these programs are for 4 days. But even on a weekend, companies can expect to see big changes in their employees.
When done right, it can be a boon to your organisation. Keep in mind that this is not a regular corporate outing. There definitely will be no alcohol or smoking. Or dance and music. Just ensure that your organisation is in it for the learning and seriousness that comes with it.
Ms Izzat Yaganagi from our team will get in touch with you. She’ll help formulate a programme that will suit your team and solve your organisational problems.
How do companies view this programme?
This is what Vijay Kapnee of MBB Labs Company, a subsidiary of Maybank Malaysia, has to say about the program:
“How do you build a cohesive & driven team in this age of technology savvy customers forcing an ever-changing market landscape? Give them a great speech? Bond over chilled Bavarian craft brews? Take an oath of allegiance?
…or why not just trek into nature’s cradle, as a team, where familiarity & trust can be bred by just sharing daily chores or encouraging each other to climb higher…
I’ve recently experienced the finest bonds being forged over 6 days, that were 3 years in the making! A big thanks to Indiahikes from my rejuvenated team & our happy clients.”