Play for Performance – Part 1

Through the “Play for Performance” series we will be bringing to you the various experiential based learning tools which are increasingly being used today by corporates and academics alike to bring their training programs alive. Given that 70% of an individual’s learning happens through experience there is little doubt of the relevance of using game based learning tools in delivering training programs for creating long term and sustainable impact.

In this article we will explore the concept of Outbound trainings and board game based trainings.

  1. Outbound Trainings ( OBT’s)

The concept of using the outdoors as a tool in management training was first developed in the 1940’s by Dr. Kurt Hahn, a philosopher outdoorsman who believed that the outdoors has many lessons  that help people enhance their personal as well as group thresholds

The crux of OBT lies in taking a group of people away from their normal environment and placing them new, unfamiliar challenges before them, in the solving of which a whole new equation is thrown up. The program works on the principle that when a team is thrown together in wilderness or adventure settings where they have to fend for themselves and meet challenges together, there is growth in many directions

Outbound learning works on the following assumptions :

  • People are generally more resourceful and capable than they think they are
  • A small heterogeneous group is capable of successfully coping with significant physical and mental challenges
  • Learning is more successful when problems are presented rather than solutions or frameworks
  • Single most critical factor determining a person’s future is his idea of self
  • Stress and shared adventure are important catalysts in the self discovery process
  • Significant long lasting earning can be achieved through an intensive, short term experience

The areas where outbound trainings are most effective include building successful teams, leadership development, change management, strategy management and planning, effective communication, interpersonal skill and conflict resolution, personal effectiveness

What makes outbounds an effective training tool is the ability to create an environment of open and non-threatening communication, building mutual trust which can be transferred to work place situations and creating awareness of self and others

Moreover the calm and serenity offered by nature, allows one to return to the work place refreshed and energised. Employees appreciate the efforts of the management in providing them a memorable and rewarding experience


2. Board Game Trainings

Board games have been played for thousands of years in all human cultures. They are a source of fun, social interaction, as well as amateur and professional competition. However, the use of board games as a focused and specific tool for developing thinking and other skills is a recent and less known practice.

The skills needed for playing games are not only cognitive. The basic setting of games requires the ability to operate while involved in intense competitive social interaction, with alternating moments of cooperation and confrontation. Obviously, similar skills are needed in the daily functions of people in general and of managers in particular. Improving these skills is a great part of the learning and training managers need to undertake.

Board games are an important tool to provide hands-on and heads-on skill and knowledge development for people of all ages on all subjects. Not only do well-designed games create an engaging atmosphere, they also provide a non-threatening, playful, yet competitive environment in which to focus on content and reinforce and apply learning. Mistakes are useful and point out what we need to learn. The board itself provides a visual metaphor to help connect information. Game elements, discussions, and problem solving with fellow team members about the content are vehicles for learning. Subtle redundancy to reinforce learning and insure retention should be incorporated into the game design. Good questions, problems to solve, and situations to consider allow players to think through and apply what they learn. Effective games serve to organize information in a conceptual framework and to make it concrete. They provide analogies and metaphors to link new information. When played in teams, members learn together; no one ever feels singled out for not knowing an answer.


.Board games are most successful when :

  • They are used to support training content
  • They are played in teams to promote collaboration and diversity.
  • They have an ending or time limit that can be achieved within a short time frame.

. In addition to enhancing critical thinking, team-based board games help to build communication and relationship skills as players work face-to-face to answer questions or solve problems and see that together they often figure out something they thought they didn’t know. The power of collaboration becomes apparent to all and, in organizational settings, can transform working relationships.

Board games provide exceptional, cost-effective resources. They

• incorporate heads- and hands-on learning

• summarize and reinforce important information in an easy-to-grasp format

• reduce the time needed to learn, remember, and apply new information

• promote discussion, collaboration, and build communication

When it comes to board games designed for educating, Play for Performanceis not an empty slogan – it is a fact!



2 thoughts on “Play for Performance – Part 1

    • Thanks.. most of the board games we use are proprietary and developed in-house. However, there are some games esp. finance and strategy games that are available online for purchase. Paradigm learning has a similar repertoire of board games for training. In case, you are looking at developing generic behavioral skills such as interpersonal effectiveness or managing ambiguity, some interesting board games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride etc may be useful with some tweaks!

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