Frequently Asked Questions
Why Experiential Learning
Experiential training and development is designed to deliver learning activities to adults in the way that adults learn best. The following characteristics separate it apart from conventional forms of organizational development, management education or leadership training. When employees learn effectively, they apply it effectively. As a result, your company will reap the benefits, both immediately and over the long haul.
While working under hands-on conditions, people often learn best by doing. Teams make decisions in real-time, based on the information presented by the facilitators. Most importantly, they act on their decisions and get immediate feedback on their decisions.
The exciting and emotional nature of these activities focus attention and sharpen minds. Because experiential activities often utilize perceived risks (although the activities are very safe), the activities heighten the participant’s attention and anchor the learning. People in these situations are more likely to remember what they learn. Because of the unique context and uncertainty of outcomes for these activities, no one in the group is considered to be an expert. Team building adventures tend to equalize people and break down the hierarchical barriers and apprehensions, which often exist in teams with a “chain of command”. Contributions to the team flow from the least expected places.
Errors have potential ramifications in adventures (the team will have difficulties if they do not work well together), unlike in a classroom simulation (where play money is lost). Furthermore, success and failure is supported by those who really matter (colleagues and oneself).
Adventures are a microcosm of the requirements needed and changes taking place in every organization. The behaviors demonstrated by individuals and groups during these activities are parallel representations of the way they act and what happens in the professional situations. Skilled experiential training providers use specific techniques to enhance the metaphors and build the bridges between adventure and the workplace.
Research studies substantiate that experiential learning does indeed show up when the team is working on “real time” projects or issues. People refer back to their experiences and utilize the individual and team skills they learn in the experiential training. Skilled experiential service providers focus debriefs in part on how participants will transfer the key learning of an experience to a workplace setting.
What is the average group size of a GDI program?
GDI programs have quite a large variety in size and scope. Coaching services are available on a one-on one basis and small customized training programs have been delivered for company leaders of two individuals. On the other side, we have delivered programs for groups of 500 and even 1000 participants in one day events. Our typical group size for multi-day programs is about twenty-five participants, and groups of 150 are common.
Will GDI customize a program for our team?
Program customization is our specialty. We pride ourselves in bringing content to life in novel and unique ways, whether in the form of a popular book or conference theme. This is what we do best.
What is the best way to maximize value in a team building experience?
It is most important to have a clear outcome and purpose for why a company is investing in a team building program. Is the primary reason to have a shared, unique experience to bond the team together? Might it be an incentive program where you would most like the experience to speak for itself? Would you like to open lines of communication and develop greater problem solving skills? How about building trust or team synergy? The more we know about the specific outcomes, the more we can design a specific program to meet those desires. It is also critical to express the unspoken expectations for the program or event so that we can first understand them, and then exceed them!
How safe are GDI programs, physically and emotionally?
Grand Dynamics programs often involve activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, bridge building and team problem solving initiatives. These activities feel adventurous because the perceived risk of these activities is much higher than the actual risk. As such, these activities can be powerful tools to help people confront fears, set goals, and feel what it is like to step out of the “comfort zone” and into the “growth zone.” That said, there is a distinct science behind challenging people to push their limits and also maintain safety. In our opinion, the biggest risk in experiential training programs is the emotional risk when participants challenge themselves among their peers. At GDI we make every effort to provide not only a physically safe experience, but an emotionally safe experience as well. We adhere to the “Challenge By Choice” philosophy and emphasize the Full Value Contract, where participants respect the level of engagement of their peers.
Are there any interesting anecdotes or inspirations behind the development of your organization?
Grand Dynamics International was created ten years ago out of the desire to transfer the challenge, personal growth, and peak experiences found in high adventure to business applications. GDI is owned by two brothers, Tim and Todd Walther. The company was born out of their shared passion for the breathtaking beauty and fear-invoking exposure of Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Tim recalls a moment of inspiration for creating GDI while climbing with Todd on The CMC, the east face of the Teton’s Mount Moran.
“I distinctly remember being on the face of the mountain several thousand feet above the valley floor hanging on to the rocks precariously, looking out over the Jackson Hole Valley feeling inspired. Feeling like it was my calling to find a way to combine adventure and business.” says Walther. “I knew I wanted to find a way to transfer the lessons of the mountain – such as taking on new challenges, working as a high performance team, overcoming fears and thoughts of failure and finding the courage to go one more step in adverse conditions – with others in a personal growth and professional development context.”
How long has GDI been in business?
GDI was incorporated on April 26th, 1998 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The framework for the business was a result of years of contract work with leading experiential training organizations such as AON Consulting, Pecos River, and Outward Bound Professional. The business plan was developed over two years of research around the best practices of Experiential Training and Development during GDI President Tim Walther’s Master of Science at Minnesota State University. The continuous improvement and development of GDI has been driven by co-owners Tim Walther and Todd Walther and the incredible team of full-time and contract staff who have been involved with the company over the past decade and more.
Do you have a question you would like answered? Contact us today and we would be glad to inform you about how we might best serve you.
What is team building?
Team Building refers to a wide range of activities, presented to businesses, schools, sports teams, religious or nonprofit organizations designed for improving team performance. Team building is pursued via a variety of practices, and can range from simple bonding exercises to complex simulations and multi-day team building retreats designed to develop a team (including group assessment and group-dynamic games), usually falling somewhere in between. It generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development, but can also be applied to sports teams, school groups, and other contexts. Team building is not to be confused with “team recreation” that consists of activities for teams that are strictly recreational. Teambuilding is an important factor in any environment, its focus is to specialize in bringing out the best in a team to ensure self development, positive communication, leadership skills and the ability to work closely together as a team to problem solve.
Work environments tend to focus on individuals and personal goals, with reward & recognition singling out the achievements of individual employees. “How to create effective teams is a challenge in every organization” Team building can also refer to the process of selecting or creating a team from scratch.