............KNOWLEDGE BASE ARTICLE................................................

Serious OMD Training Principles & Pedagogy....

... personal views from Dr. Iain Jennings, Chartered FCIPD, PhD.
       Director i/c Training & Member of Register of Consultants , Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

Serious training does not have to be machismo,
but it does need to be carefully focussed on the
agreed aims and aspirations of the participants.
A well designed "serious" outdoor/indoor 
residential development training programme can without 
doubt boost the profitability of your business. It can also
help boost the perforamance of individuals and teams
working in your organisation.  It should be lots of FUN 
and if it is properly designed and properly run it will be 
enjoyable and have immediate and lasting relevance too. 

Such serious training, therefore, needs to be tailored around 
the client's specific needs...and in turn this requires very careful 
pre-event preparation and in depth consultations between
the clients,delegates and the training facilitators and 
training consultants.  We run pre-trip planning events to allow
our senior chartered consultants time to get to know our clients'
needs and give us an opportunity to agree key performance
indicators and benchmarking criteria against which the success
of such events can be meaningfully evaluated. 


True training, in our staff's experience, is about reflecting 
on and changing people's attitude and/or behaviour in a 
mutually agreed way. 

"Jolly" team building has a valid place in our training
repertoire but it is very distinct from serious staff development 
and process skills development training which we tend to refer 
toas OMD (outdoor management development ) training. We also 
refer to basic leadership skills development and management skills 
& process skills development...such as boosting problem solving 
skills, heightening decision making skills, grooming the ability to 
run meaningful meetings, and so on.   As more and more clients 
become interested in continuous improvement processes - CIP - 
often using models such as the European Foundation for Quality 
Management's Business Excellence Model,  we also refer to 
"serious training" also including forums for discussing and 
developing ideas for driving quality improvements within 
organisations coming away on residentials to prove a 
" level playing field" where staff of different grades can have 
open forums and frank exchanges of constructive ideas to help 
boost the performance of their teams.  This sort of outdoor training 
event is, clearly, quite distinct and a little longer than the sort of 
team build event where one spends a half day paintballing and 
then slopes off to the pub to discuss the cricket scores ! 
All too often these days people contacting me refer to
"team building " in such a loose way that it takes a while 
to find out exactly what's wanted.

At Peak Activities we are always happy to run "jollies"  
and light-hearted social team builds through our Corporate 
Events division but our training personnel will always 
distinguish between true training per se. and "jollies" .
They are not quite the same thing, although some people 
these days may class all outdoor training as 
essentially similar generic Outwa*d B**nd courses.

Paradoxically a "serious"  training event with us 
can be a heap of fun and involve lots more laughter 
than we see, say, amongst the Lycra clad stag groups 
we sometimes meet "enjoying themselves" in the local 
pub after a gruelling day of mountain biking - so the
term "serious training" is perhaps a misnomer...we 
mean by that expression any training event which has
serious intentions - often written down by ourselves
and the clients as training objectives and measured and
evaluated & benchmarked afterwards using prescribed 
key performance indicators and other pre-agreed
measures of performance.

In fairness if you looking through a bunch of photos 
taken from a training course and an activity holiday 
it may be hard at times for an outsider to tell which 
photo was taken on which event.They both will have 
images of fun and laughter, and both may involve 
drinking in bar in the evening .....so what's the 
essential difference ?  There will be serious benefits
with a serious event - rather than just having fun.
Both may be perfectly valid things for groups to do, 
but below are some personal thoughts on what might  
make a Peak Activities Ltd training investment distinct 
from one of our "jolly" corporate entertainment events....
which really have far less impact on the attitudes, skills
& behaviour of the delegates and stakeholders involved.


Peak Activities' clients include Rolls Royce Jet Engine Designers.

Outdoor training with Peak Activities will invartiably 
last several days and will usually involve a structured
and carefully designed set of progressive task based 
problem solving  sessions followed by reviews. The
reviews will be chaired by our our qualified trainers 
where learning points can be highlighted, discussed and 
developed. Almost every experiential training company's 
site seems to be obliged to put a diagram of Kolb's 
learning cycle in to their texts at this point...so 
we won't ( just to be different...and to avoid patronising
our readers).  Suffice to say we can all learn from 
our successes (knowledge) and our failures (wisdom) 
and serious foul up's (what Oscar Wilde called "experience" 
!!!).  We now have 25+ years of "experience" here and know 
that outdoor leaning can be very useful and non-threatening.
 At the end of the day a serious-at-the-time exercise can 
be put down to experience and hasn't cost the company 
millions in reality and will be the source of some good 
banter in the bar later ! As one of our clients once 
said at a pre-trip briefing " if a task's worth doing, 
it's especially worthwile if we do badly some of the 
time in training so we can learn from it, move forwards
 and avoid being complacent ! " As an explosives demolition 
expert himself, we could all appreciate what he was talking 
about !

All things being equal, we at Peak Activities Limited 
believe that in the field of outdoor development training 
training & experiential learning pedagogy, all programmes
should be both client & delegate focussed. Insofar as 
possible the delegates should take on as much ownership 
of the event as possible..and they deserve designated 
champions to help, support and nature them after a course 
is ended.

Programmes should also be safe both emotionally & physically 
for those with little or no prior experience of such training 
techniques..and for those with no special level of fitness. 

OMD Programmes should be designed to be fun, 
engaging & enjoyable, non-machismo & non-threatening
and there should be no "hidden agendas".

Moreover, we believe that when considering choosing 
a programmes' actual content with our clients...

1)	One activity is more worthwhile than another
	it is permits students/delegates to make 
	informed choices in carrying out the activity 
 	and the opportunity to reflect on the consequences 
	of their choices.

2)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if it
	assigns students active roles in the learning situation
	rather than passive ones.

3)	One activity is more worthwhile than another
	if it asks students to engage in inquiry of ideas, 
        applications of intellectual processes or current problems
	either personal, social or work-related.

4)     One activity is more worthwhile than another if it
	involves students with realia (ie real objects,
        materials, data or artefacts).

5)  	One activity is more worthwhile than another if
	the compeltion of a task can be accomplished
	successfully by students of different fitnesses
	at several 	different levels of ability, if 
	necessary with	some inputs from Directing Staff. 

6) 	One activity is more worthwhile than another if
	it chalklenges students to examine  in a new setting 
	an idea, an application of an intellectual process, or a  
	current problem which has not been previously studied.

7)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if
	it requires students to examine topics or issues that 
	citizens in our society do not normally examine - and 
	that are typically ignored by the major communications 
	media in our nation.

8)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if
	it involves students and tutors in "risk taking" - not a 
	risk of life and limb - but a risk of success or failure.

9)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if
	it requires students to rewrite, rehearse and polish their
	initial  efforts..

10) 	One activity is more worthwhile than another if it
	involves sudents in the application and mastery of 
	meaningful  rules and standards or disciplines.

11)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if it
	gives students the chance to share in the planning, 
	the carrying out of a plan, or the results of an 
	interesting and engaging activity with others.

12)	One activity is more worthwhile than another if	it is 
	relevent to the expressed training needs,
	 interests  and purposes of the students.

13) 	An activity which inculcates the desired outputs and 
	effects enjoyably in a shorter time than others activities 
	is probably going to be  more useful to the delegates than
	activities which take up lots of time.

14)	Activities packed into programmes which are too short 
	a duration(say at the client's request) may be far less
	effective in providing useful forums for open discussion
	than activities within more realistic  programmes	of a 
	slightly longer duration.

	(After comments on active learning curriculum planning by Rath 1970)

Programmes should be vivid and engaging and should have 
everyone fully involved, but not necessarily all doing the same things, 
and it should inculcate a pattern of involuntary learning that means 
people can't help but get involved and learn and take away useful 
lessons and insights. At the simplest level, outdoor training is fun
and a great way to get to know & understand people better.  For new
teams and newly appointed managers there are many lessons that can be
learned quickly. At best a good programme can often be dovetailed into 
other inititives back at the ranch (PDP's, ISO 9000, Investor in People, etc.)
and can really accelerate the learning process considerably and speed up the 
development of a wide range of management and teamworking process skills .

At Rock Lea we have the means through various activities to heighten 
people's emotional states. For example,  through exciting and challenging 
activities. Other means might involve a time limit or multiple tasking. This
can make a leader's job much harder during an exercise..and of course doing 
a task underground or on water or on the edge of a clifftop may also heighten 
the pulse rate. In our experience people revert to type when under mild stress, 
and this is a useful phenomenon which can be used in a good humoured way 
to help discuss and reflect on leadership styles, decision-making processes, 
efficent teamworking methods, communications, delegation, etc. in subsequent 

At a higher level, outdoor based training may be able to afford delegates 
insights and changes in attitudes and behaviour patterns that may not
be so easily or safely inculcated or fed back to people so effectively in their 
normal work environment. I frequently point out to clients that we are not 
"experts" in outdoor training, but we do have many years of experience of providing  
clients with appropriate "open forums" for colleagues in real teams to exchange 
of ideas, beliefs, values, and to heighten sensitivity of other people's problems,
etc.  Being in a strange new environment often helps strip away rank, clannish
feelings,  assumptions and prejudices, and can generate a real feeling of fellowship 
with a sense of open-ness, care and a willingness to help each other that is hard to
describe in words to one who  hasn't experienced  the feeling. Residentials also 
helps clients get away from the ringing telephones and "chill-out" away from other 

Whether you're "up to your bottom in crocodiles" or "fire-fighting", a relaxing 
strategic review of modern swamp draining and fire fighting techniques 
might be just what you need ! A change can be as good as a rest and this is 
particularly valuable for cross-functional team development when lots of little 
teams need to start working as a more cohesive whole to enable cultural change, 
continuous improvement, implemenation of Kaizen philosophy and so on. I wonder 
how many firms are out there where their senior managers keep saying they'd like 
to see their teams  working more closely together ?

As well as running all kinds of traditional
outdoor based sports, such as climbing
and caving, we specialise in the design  &
provision of carefully tailored and supervised 
task-based problem solving sessions
followed by  reviews accelerating meaningful
discussions of personal and team issues.

We have over 2 gigabytes of exercises and
training materials on file developed and tried 
and tested over 20 years.  Some of these you
may find elsewhere.  Many are unique and
the locations where we run these tasks, such as
on our farm (above)  are quite exclusive venues.

Ideal for team building !

Many of our clients have found that a modest training investment with us has quickly returned massive benefits in terms of objective outcomes such as reduced lead times., team costs efficiencies, reduced scrap values, heightened customer satisfaction, greater staff motivation and so on. Such clients see our work as part of their targeted investments rather than as an outgoing on a training budget. Endorsements Lucas Aerospace, Rolls Royce and other case studies Please call us on 01433-650345 to discuss your specific needs & the various possibilities further.



Rock Lea Activity & Training Centre Station Road, Hathersage, Hope Valley, Peak District National Park, S32 1DD Telephone +44(0) 1433-650345