outward bound courses

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Are sets of physical activities in which participants work as teams to complete various tasks, such as building a bridge to cross a river or orienteering through a forest. They have become increasingly popular as a tool for management development—in particular developing leadership skills, team-building, and group problem-solving. The advantage of outward bound courses is that the activities are normally fairly simple and not related to the participants' day-to-day jobs, so the problems and deficiencies of the team can be analysed with the help of a facilitator, thereby leading to collective and individual learning. The disadvantage is that the artificial situations can make it a poor simulation of how the team might behave in a work environment, faced with complex, job-related problems. Moreover, there is sometimes a credibility gap which leads some participants to fail to see any link between the outward bound course and their job requirements—thus a person might protest, ‘How does building a raft to cross a river in mid-Wales help me to manage my sales team?’ Only by clearly specifying the learning objectives and undertaking thorough debriefing sessions can such scepticism be reduced. [See experiential learning.]

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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