The Rise of Event Based Learning: Viraj Kalra, Co-Founder White Ladder Consulting

Viraj Kalra of White Ladder Consulting Pvt Ltd. writes about the rise of Event Based Learning and how White Ladder is taking this concept to its next level.


At 4 PM on an April Wednesday, 23 senior executives that make up for the international leadership team of a leading global FMCG company are trying to fit into the same frame for a teamfie (a team selfie) against the backdrop of a picture-perfect Windmill somewhere between Rotterdam and Delft. While they are in no particular rush (despite the slight drizzle), you nonetheless can feel the sense of excitement and industry in their actions. 

When you eavesdrop, you realize that the team is on a 50 miles cycling treasure-hunt over three days covering some of the more popular historic sites in Holland and this windmill is site No. 4. They have 3 more miles of cycling before sunset to reach this 120-year-old castle hotel that will be their home for the night. A successful teamfie results in the facilitator handing over the clue that gives them the Google coordinates of the said castle hotel. Helmets and other guards are briskly clipped back on, bicycles are promptly mounted and peddle away they do in orderly unison with a team slogan being chanted in chorus – “All for one-one for all – together we stand tall”.  

What you just witnessed is a scene from an Event Based Learning (EBL) intervention designed and delivered by White Ladder Outdoors (the EBL wing of White Ladder Consulting). Six months before this Holland offsite, the Chief Learning Officer had given the offsite brief to Viraj & Luv of White Ladder. The brief was simple – 23 of our global leaders will be in Rotterdam for our annual leadership meet and we want to take this opportunity to breakdown silos between them. They have been leading their regions successfully but we are afraid that unless they start collaborating with each other we will not remain global leaders for long.  Also, added the CLO that while ‘collaboration’ needs to be the key experiential learning outcome of this offsite, the element of fun and sightseeing cannot be compromised. 

And so, team White Ladder designed this EBL such that each one of the leaders through this 3-day cycling treasure hunt has a critical role to play - even if one of them misses, team as a whole will not find success. Over the next 6 months White Ladder worked on getting this concept to become a reality – route planning such that major tourist attractions in Netherlands get covered; liaison with the Dutch tourism office for the requisite permissions and on-ground support; safety & security in accordance with the compliance policies of the client company; travel and stay logistics; briefing and orientation for local agencies such as doctors, police and road safety; manuals, maps, clues, kits, souvenirs, bikes, protective gear and such and plenty more. Most importantly ensuring that every activity, experience and engagement results in the central message being reinforced – need for collaboration. 

After cracking their final challenge at the Heineken Museum in Amsterdam (Site No. 10), while the participants were celebrating their win over a round of beers, the chief of the company’s Singapore office came-up to the White Ladder facilitator and said that his biggest learning came out of the team-challenge where the participant had to paint and customize a pair of clogs (Dutch shoes made out of wood) for a loved one. He chose to design a pair for his 11-year-old daughter. The activity was time bound and they were almost out of time and he had not even started painting the clog since it took him a long time initially to find a pair that was his daughter’s size. He said that some of the others who had successfully completed their task noticed him struggling and came to his rescue. With four pairs of additional hands he was able to finish a beautiful pair of lilac (his daughter’s favourite colour) clogs with a few minutes to spare that he then utilized to help his Brazilian teammate finish a pair that she was designing for her father. For him, this led to the realization that while each region had to focus (with ownership) on their regional targets they did not need to do it alone. There is enough and more potential & resource between the 23 of them to enable global and not just regional success for the company. And this for the White Ladder team is the definition of success for an EBL – participants realize the intended message and learning experientially rather than having to be told. 

White Ladder specializes in designing and delivering learning interventions in multiple formats. But EBL as a format is what they are most passionate about. They have successfully designed and delivered (end-to-end) EBL thematic ranging from Battlefield, LOST, Great Race, Survivor, DaVinci Code, Big Brother, 300 to Escape Rooms at destinations such as Coorg, Goa, Mysore, Cochin, Amritsar, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Corbett, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore and such.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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