Implementing a management development programme
A Britannic Assurance case study

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Page 3: Experiential learning

Britannic Assurance 7 Image 2Management Forum was not just about training. It was also about creating a continuous process of personal development. It aimed to create a pool of people within the Britannic organisation who would be:

  • flexible
  • capable of understanding and applying management theory within their work roles
  • able to undertake different management positions across the company.

A key aspect of this process was that of experiential learning. This was designed to help people by giving them an opportunity to undergo certain experiences and then encouraging them to reflect upon those experiences and make critical, considered choices about how best to respond.

Experiential learning can be viewed as part of a cycle. Within this cycle, learning starts with a concrete experience, which involves responding to events and to direct experiences. Experiential learning cannot take place without reflection. Reflection involves having the ability to think about these concrete experiences in relation to the job role and the workplace. Making choices involves integrating experience and reflective thoughts into decision-making. Application involves putting theories into practice to see how they work and this creates further experience.

It is important to appreciate that, within this process of experiential learning, most people have preferred learning styles as defined by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford. For example:

  • Activists - respond immediately to concrete experiences without spending too much time reflecting.
  • Reflectors - will be less action-orientated and will spend time on observation and on mulling over their reflections.
  • Theorists - will constantly be assembling ideas based upon their reflections.
  • Pragmatists - will be concerned about putting new ideas into practice.

Management Forum set up a range of active, enjoyable simulations that helped people to recognise their preferred learning styles and to develop their ability to use less preferred learning styles. The programme also helped managers within Britannic to respond to change by managing and controlling their experiences, rather than letting experiences manage and control them.

Britannic Assurance | Implementing a management development programme