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This article is written by Nick Ombewa who is a Learning & Development Facilitator and Role Player based in Nairobi Kenya

My experience in using drama-based methodologies to improve learner experience and impact in training

In my nine years of experience as an L&D facilitator, I have been exposed to different learning engagements and different learning methodologies that seek to enhance the effectiveness of leaners experience and impact in training.

One of my collaborative engagements since 2016 has been with Impromptu Limited as a role player involved in the delivery of a leadership development program for Standard Chartered Bank in Africa where I have led and worked with a team of highly experienced professional role-players.

Created in partnership with Standard Chartered and Cirrus, the programme, Leaders Drive High Performance (LDHP) is closely linked to Standard Chartered’s strategic goals. The program commences with the organization and leadership diagnostic assessment, line manager meetings and coaching interventions where the learners get to work on defining their learning priorities in relation to the program aims.

About a third into the learning journey, the learners walk into a disruptive and immersive two-day workshop. The workshop is designed to build the leadership capability of managers in order to change behaviours and create a cultural shift in line with the bank’s overall growth strategy through a combination of business simulations and role plays.

My most unforgettable experience was in the last LDHP engagement in Ghana. There was this one participant who could not hide her expressions at being notably disturbed by the disruptive approach of the workshop from the beginning. At the end of one of the role play sessions, I noticed the same lady having a total change of her expressions to one of elation and great optimism.

During a feedback session in the workshop, I informed her of my observation and sought to find out if she could share with the group what may have happened in the course of learning.

”Through this last role play, you have played out a challenging issue that I am going through at work, you have demonstrated how practically I can deal with the situation and now I know what to do when I get back.” She said. You should have been there to see how engagement and participation scaled up through sharing of personal learning experiences. 

How could such a simple learning activity yield so much profound and life transforming power?

I came upon the realization that for any learning initiative to be successful, any organization or L&D practitioners must ensure that learners:

  • Are exposed to the context of real work challenges.
  • Activate taught knowledge and skills as a foundation for developing new ways of working.
  • Observe a demonstration of the skill they are working to acquire.
  • Apply their newly acquired skill to solve identified work place challenges.
  • Reflect on their performance outcomes through targeted feedback for future improvements.

This moment of interaction with the learner reinforced my belief that drama based approaches is such a powerful vehicle that improves learner experience and impact in training because:

  • It provides a “contextual training model,” that includes lifelike and relatable business simulations and role plays for participants to practice managing complex human interactions in a safe and controlled learning environment.
  • The participants examine the intricacies of human behavior and their influence on corporate culture and business results through a present-centered process, one that transforms a learning challenge into an insight, a habit into a new set of behaviors and a plan into corporate action.

I now play in a very unique space where I have cultivated the use of the creative power and influence of drama and experiential techniques combined with contextual commercial insight to deliver learning experiences that drive personal development, leadership influence and team performance.

www.nickombewa.com