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Dear Managers,

I am currently working on a presentation for a German university about adventure coaching. Therefore I created an 14-day expedition through the Grand Canyon National Park. The expedition would start with an 2-day training in the wilderness near Flagstaff. During the camp stay, 8 participants (managers), 1 coach and 1 guide would teach the group hard skills (wilderness medicine, building shelter, primitive living skills, using maps and compass...) and soft skills (how to behave when being lost, dealing with frustration, loneliness, sickness, death...) as a preparation for the expedition.
After those two days the expedition will start in order to reach following goals:
- personal development
- teambuilding
- leadership skills
- outdoor knowledge and experience
- group dynamic
- risk management
- self awareness
- ...
Those goals will be approched during the expedition by including following program:
- hiking (sometimes up to 20km a day)
- everyday reflection of the day
- everyday theoretical seminars about leadership development, group leading in the company environment (such like a seminar you probably have attended many times on weekends (Dale Carnegie etc.); but those seminars will be outdoors and the practical experience you have gained during the day will be transferred into your daily life. Basically you will be able to apply what you have learned on the expedition in your company)
- visit of the Hopi Indians to get explained how to bake their traditional bread by using hands and facial expressions to communicate with them
-> intercultural communication
- lots of hiking by using compass and maps -> paritcipants will take turns in leading the group
- rock climbing
- building shelter in the wilderness
- fishing
- camping at camp grounds
- cooking on fire
- purifying water
- role play (participants solve tasks in and with the group by playing a certain character)
- night hike up the Devil's Cork Screw Trail at the Grand Canyon
- mule ride up the Canyon to the South Rim
- 3-day stay on a horse ranch, to be taught leadership skills by horse (coaching by horse); including a overnight horse ride
- visit of the salt lakes near Las Vegas
- Solo (night alone in the wilderness)
- 2-day stay in Las Vegas including a hot-air balloon ride

That would be the expedition explained shortly.
For my presentation at the university I would be very grateful if you could answer me following questions:

1. What do you think about the idea?
2. Have you ever heard of a similar idea?
3. if yes, which company or organization offers something similar
4. Do you think a company would send their manager two weeks on such
a training?
5. Should the expedition be shorter?
6. How much money would be worth such an expedition; food and accommodation included, but without the flights to Flagstaff and from Las Vegas?
7. Do you think the expedition could be included within a TQM (Total
Quality Management) concept?
8. Would you be interested in such an expedition?
9. Do you know people who would be interested?
10. Is there an advice you would like to give me to make my expedition
become reality?

Thank you very much for helping me.
You could also answer me via e-mail:
[email protected]

Thank you very much,

Carmi

Mark's picture

Sorry, but I am not a fan of adventures as a way of teaching leadership or management.

Mark

dhkramer's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Sorry, but I am not a fan of adventures as a way of teaching leadership or management.

Mark[/quote]

It's not an adventure, it's (just) a job?

deforest's picture

Hi carmi-

Interesting idea. I have heard of adventure training and 'team building' but nothing quite like this one.

I have some issues with this concept:

1) Although I personally would love the adventure, I think that within a given business, there would be at least one person, and probably more, who would not. If this were made mandatory at my firm, a few would refuse outright and some might even quit on the spot. Potential alienation aside; if one manager was handicapped, making team manager training integrate physical experiences may be considered exclusionary and potentially cause for lawsuit.
2) I would suspect that the costs/ROI would be prohibitive for the firm.
3) I also suspect that the firm's insurance company would have issues with the potential risks.
4) From the time perspective only: I don't think taking eight managers away from the firm for 14 days is the most effective and efficient way to provide training for the firm, not to mention pulling them away from their families.

You might be better positioned by offering this for individuals to do on vacation.

Best-

Stan DeForest

Peter.westley's picture

Carmi,

I'm with Mark on this one.

However, if you must, what's important to keep in mind when helping people develop their 'emotional intelligence' skills, is that retained learning happens best when there's emotion attached to the learning experience. And by emotion I don't mean that participants have to break down crying, I mean that the experience was something that made them think and become committed.

If you must do development in this way, [i][b]ensure there's always a specific reason, something specific to learn that is tightly related to each experience you provide[/b][/i]. Don't do adventure stuff just for the sake of it and expect people to learn. It doesn't work.

For example, while I have not attended one, I know that Mark and Mike's conferences work - people retain and put into practice what they learn - because they develop a strong community atmosphere that makes people think and has them committed and not just involved. (As in for bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved, the pig is committed). There's a strong 'emotional' component to the experience. This happens despite the fact that Mark and Mike don't take people abseiling down the nearest cliff face...

Anderson2's picture

Hello, I have been to various teambuilding activities. I had fun and always learned something new. The best thing we ever get there is the camaraderie developed amongst us and be able to do our action planning for our jobs. Have you hear about the Young Entrepreneur Society from www.YoungEntrepreneurSociety.com? don't miss the useful stuff they have there.

US41's picture

Did someone say feedback? You got it!

I love the idea of your trip. I would LOVE to go on it. However, I would NOT love to go on this trip with my coworkers.

[quote]- personal development[/quote]

Personal development is not a weekend activity. It is an every day all year long activity. I personally believe that most people do not have the stuff to develop themselves, because self-development requires the courage to face one's own shortcomings and weaknesses and admit to them.

I think what you are referring to here is coaching.

Listen to these podcasts about coaching. Here at MT, there is a model we follow to coach our directs to develop them best we can even on topics we don't understand.

http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/08/the-art-of-coaching/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/09/more-on-coaching/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/11/coaching-revisited-part-1/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/12/coaching-revisited-part-2/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/the-late-and-early-stage-coaching-m...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/late-stage-coaching-model-review-pa...

There you go! Around 3-4 hours of discussion on how to approach a four to six step coaching model with your directs. I've been at it for 1.5 years, and coaching is still a huge challenge and not a strength of mine. I am a darn good trainer, but coaching people requires a disciplined focus and determination I am still digging for.

This coaching model is integrated into the other management techniques here on Manager-Tools by our hosts Mike and Mark. All of these tools depend on one another and are complimentary. None of them is stand alone.

[quote]teambuilding[/quote]

Here's a good listen:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/05/team-building-101/

The MT philosophy is that teams happen, they are not built, and they happen because people perform and know they are performing. In other words, because of coaching, feedback, 03's, and other behaviors we learn here, our folks begin to realize that their team is awesome, and what they are doing is of value, appreciated, and understood. They develop high morale.

We don't do trust falls. We perform and let teams happen through the natural human social works.

[quote]leadership skills[/quote]

http://www.manager-tools.com/complete-index

There's more than a hundred podcasts behind that link, every one of them related to multiple leadership skills. Probaby over 100 hours of listening.

[quote]self awareness[/quote]

I personally believe this cannot be taught. People either have it, or they don't. I don't know if it is spontaneously learned or genetic or what, but I don't believe in one person being able to force another to mental health.

You can try, but I believe you will fail.

[quote]visit of the Hopi Indians to get explained how to bake their traditional bread by using hands and facial expressions to communicate with them[/quote]

I would tread lightly when introducing "The Beautiful People" myth as an inspirational experience for two reasons:

1. Some of the people in your adventure group might view it as ethno-superiority and take offense. In fact, it is very volatile to introduce culture, race, or sex as a topic with coworkers. It will foment discussions that are inappropriate between them when they should just be working together and guarding their remarks. Good managers do not address these topics except to be fair in their treatment of everyone based on performance and qualifications.

2. Sometimes "The Beautiful People" have a chip on their shoulder and destroy the inspiring effects through bad behavior.

I visited a Hopi pueblo one time. I was treated to an hour-long sermon by a Hopi on how guilty I should feel for having stolen their country and destroyed their culture. The sermon went on for a while before I interrupted and asked the young lady to stop trying to punish me for the sins of my forefathers.

Maybe you should interview the Hopi in advance and set some ground rules based around worst-case scenarios.

[quote]intercultural communication[/quote]

That's a huge topic. I lived in Asia for years, and I have great trouble with this despite extensive language skills. I wouldn't go there if I were you.

[quote]1. What do you think about the idea?[/quote]

I would love to go. As a manager, I would never suggest my folks attend such a thing. I think there would be a mutiny.

[quote]2. Have you ever heard of a similar idea?[/quote]

Many times.

[quote]4. Do you think a company would send their manager two weeks on such a training?[/quote]

My company would not.

[quote]10. Is there an advice you would like to give me to make my expedition become reality? [/quote]

Do not offer this as a B2B product. Offer it to individuals - particularly to adults involved in Scouting and high adventure. You'll find a market there that you might not realize existed. You could eliminate the touchy-feely stuff and amp up the outdoor adventuring and make a killing on a tour of the West like this.

tcomeau's picture

[quote="US41"]
[quote]self awareness[/quote]

I personally believe this cannot be taught. People either have it, or they don't. I don't know if it is spontaneously learned or genetic or what, but I don't believe in one person being able to force another to mental health.

[/quote]

I have observed that it is possible to teach self-awareness. I'm spending a lot of time these days trying to do that with my daughter.

Locke identifies self-awareness as one of the key traits of being human, and as the basis for morality. Buddhists teach mindfulness, which includes intentional self-awareness in the current moment. It takes many years to master such skills, but you can get the basics down in a semester course if you have a good teacher.

I expect that any neurologically intact human can be taught self-awareness and mindfulness. A significant number choose to live "an unreflected life," but I take no position on whether such a life is worth living. Perversely, I think such people are easier to deal with, since they are led entirely by their appetites.

tc>

FUNdamental's picture

[quote="deforest"]Hi carmi-

Interesting idea. I have heard of adventure training and 'team building' but nothing quite like this one.

I have some issues with this concept:

1) Although I personally would love the adventure, I think that within a given business, there would be at least one person, and probably more, who would not. If this were made mandatory at my firm, a few would refuse outright and some might even quit on the spot. Potential alienation aside; if one manager was handicapped, making team manager training integrate physical experiences may be considered exclusionary and potentially cause for lawsuit.
2) I would suspect that the costs/ROI would be prohibitive for the firm.
3) I also suspect that the firm's insurance company would have issues with the potential risks.
4) From the time perspective only: I don't think taking eight managers away from the firm for 14 days is the most effective and efficient way to provide training for the firm, not to mention pulling them away from their families.

You might be better positioned by offering this for individuals to do on vacation.

Best-

Stan DeForest[/quote]

Excellent point! I am almost 45 years old, in pretty good health, fit, but I slipped a disc in my back a few years ago. I am usually fine, but every now and then by back comes back to haunt me. I lifted my four year old son last week, twisted a muscle in my back, and I am in a little pain right now. I can hide it at work with a pad on my seat, and getting up and moving around and not sitting for more than 90 minutes straight.

If I went on a trip like this now, mule riding, rock climbing, camping, night hiking, I could do some serious damage to my healing lower back, or I could be putting myself in danger because I am not 100% up to the challenge. Did you ever think that those less agile in general could become embarrassed in front of their coworkers by perceived inability or clumsiness on a trip like this?

Also, what about senior workers who can't do the hikes or activities in the blazing sun? could this be considered age discrimination? A hot air balloon ride? Many in our society are afraid of heights.

Go back to the drawing board on this one, I think there are too many factors overlooked, and good managers are paid to think things through.