Team Learning Model
Explore how learning in a team of business people
enhances and embeds business learning.
enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race.
Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not
competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases
involvement in learning. Sharing one's own ideas and responding
to other's reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding"
I believe that effective
managerial and business learning involves small groups (teams) of
business people sharing knowledge & experience and presenting,
promoting and negotiating views. Here I explore this -
first asking why is team learning necessary and second by describing what
team learning provides.
Why is team learning needed?
- Business management is not black
- Management knowledge is not black and white. It is not
even grey. Rather it is speckled and shaded with the
differing patterns depending on the current situation and
the perspective of the individual. So for managers,
learning must be concerned with developing wisdom
rather than just gaining knowledge and remembering facts.
Wisdom that incorporates different viewpoints, allows business people to deal with a changing world and
encourages thought outside the box!
- Business management is multi-faceted
- Today's business is holistic, the
successful manager must wear many hats. He or she must
understand the breadth of business across all functions -
marketing, operations, finance and design. She or he must
consider the effect of a decision on the customer (marketing),
the process implications (operations), the financial
consequences (finance) and the improvement issues (design). Working on a business simulation that involves running a total enterprise where fellow team members are from a mix of functions develops a holistic view.
- The world is changing not just in the
context of technological change but in what is regarded
as good management and business practice. Change that means that
tomorrow's business person must update
and uprate his business model continuously and solve new and unforeseeable business problems wisely.
- Working in Teams
- Some 40% of a manager's working time is
spent working as a member of a team . Thus
learning as a member of a team allows you to develop the
experience and skills associated with team working and
this is a key aspect of our simulations.
What does team learning deliver?
- A variety of Knowledge and
- A typical group of business people on a
business course will have different prior learning,
knowledge and experience and working in a team of four or
five provides a means of sharing this. (And this
contrasts with university learning.)
|Knowledge & Experience
Here we show individuals as coloured circles with overlaps that illustrate the difference in experience.
Business Experience Set
For these it is reasonable to suggest that their
management/business knowledge will reasonable and
consistent. This is illustrated by the closely
overlapping, large knowledge sets. However, the
students' will have limited and similar business experience -
illustrated by the overlapping, small experience sets.
Learners (Training Courses)
For business people the situation is the reverse.
Those who have a business qualification may have
forgotten much of what they learned and for those that
moved from another discipline in to management will not
have management/business knowledge. This is illustrated
by the small and diverse knowledge sets,
However, in work and in life they will have gained
considerable experience and this is illustrated by the
large, diverse experience sets. As both their knowledge
and experience sets are diverse this is a
resource for learner centered learning and a challenge to
- Presenting, promoting and
- Working in a team forces participants to
present, promote and negotiate their views. This is a
process that forces the learner to think critically. From
a cognitive psychology perspective, it forces restructuring
of existing knowledge and the formation of new mental schema
to organise the knowledge. This deep processing ensures
assimilation of learning. Research
 suggests that practicing by doing and discussion
have retention rates of 75% and 50% respectively.
And this contrasts with the lecture (5%
retention rate) and audio-visual (20% retention
- Teaching Others
- Sharing knowledge and experience while
working in a team is, in effect, teaching others. Again
the Motorola study  suggests that this ensures a
ninety percent retention rate. Thus working in a team
helps embed the learning and develops coaching skills.
- Team Working and Team Building
- Also, working as a team member helps build
team working skills. Additionally, if the team consists of
fellow workers, the process helps build the team and is
particularly useful in building links in a diverse
organisation. Also, if the fellow workers are from
different functions or cultures, this diversity enhances
learning as team members share viewpoints.
- The team working process both recognises
the expertise of the team members and allows them to
direct the learning process. Both of these are needs of
adult learners and hence are emotionally rewarding. (In
contrast, for student learners , the ambiguity and
uncertainty with this may be demotivating.) Also,
managers working in a team generally see themselves as
being in competition with the other teams and this
motivates them. (Often, teams work through coffee breaks
and into the early morning in an attempt to get a lead on
the others - I remember on one occasion after reminding a team that it was time for coffee I was informed firmly "COFFEE BREAKS ARE FOR WIMPS" !) This increases the amount of learning
delivered by a course.
 Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven
principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE
Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7.
 Boston University Center for Team Learning (management.bu.edu/research/ctl/)
 Hall, Jeremy J. S, B. (1995) Chalk and
cheese? Executive short course vs academic simulationsThe
Simulation and Gaming Yearbook Volume 3 Kogan Page London
 The learning pyramid, Motorola University, Creating
Mindware for the 21st Century, Corporate University Xchange
May/June 1996, Vol 2 No 3.
© 2002 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall
Most recent update: 19/09/11
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