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Experiential learning and more at Breakthrough

robin-paul-training-programsAn outbound training service provider, Breakthrough uses experiential learning to train teams on behaviours and values. Impacting organisations for more than 13 years, Breakthrough is a project of Sports Outreach India, a trust established in 1993. CEO and founder Robin Paul talks about his journey and ways to get your breakthrough in an email interview:

1) How did you begin the journey?
I grew up in Bengaluru, with parents from different religious backgrounds. My parents divorced when I was growing up, a fact that largely contributed to a difficult upbringing. I struggled to find my identity as a teenager and entered the world of sports and began to find success and identity. I represented India at the100 and 200 metres and relay.

After years of peak performance, I went through a rough patch which brought a lot of disappointments. The downside to being embedded in sports is losing. This hit and made me search for my purpose. I became a follower of Jesus during that phase and began to find meaning. I went on to become a Chaplain at several sporting events like the Asian Games in Seoul, the Seoul Olympics, World Athletics Championships in 1993, 1995 and 1997 and finally at the Sydney Olympics 2000.

I travelled around the world interacting with sports stars like Carl Lewis Madeline Mims and Jonathan Edwards. In the year, 1994 I founded the trust Sports Outreach India with the purpose of promoting sports as a means for human development.
During one of my visits to the US, I had the opportunity to attend a conference by the Association of Experiential Education, which opened my eyes to the world of experiential education. This led to the formation of Breakthrough, a project of the trust, Sports Outreach India in 2000.

2) What is the USP of your training company?
Three aspects that make Breakthrough unique are the organisational culture, safety and quality standards, and the methodology of facilitation. The organisational culture is special as it is made of individuals with a vision to impact lives. Servant leadership, openness to feedback, a continuous improvement curve, striving to excel and innovation are characteristics of the culture at Breakthrough.

Breakthrough adheres to the international safety standard of Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) and OHSAS 18001:2007. It is also in the process of being certified to the Quality Management System ISO 9001:2008. It is one of the very few Outbound Training service providers in India to follow such stringent safety and quality policies. The types of equipment used at Breakthrough are also of high quality to ensure the safety of participants.

What is unique in the methodology of facilitation at Breakthrough is that the training programmes are co-designed and co-facilitated. Breakthrough advocates the involvement of leadership in organisations in the facilitation process. This brings about a remarkable relevance to workplace applications of the training programs.

3) Beginning of Breakthrough
As I said earlier, I was a former international athlete. During one of my visits to the US, I had the opportunity to attend a conference by the Association of Experiential Education, which opened my eyes to the world of experiential education. This led to the formation of Breakthrough.

Breakthrough began in the year 2000 in a one and half acre of land which was a brick kiln. The land is located off Bannerghatta Road, 45 mins from MG road. Uniquely placed on the land, is a rock which is about 40/60 foot with a fig tree on top of it. The tree and the rock together were an inspiration for the creation of the Breakthrough Logo. The tree is unique as it has broken through the rock which was its challenge and is now a strength. The tree continues to inspire each and every participant who enters the Breakthrough campus to ‘challenge the challenging’.

In the beginning, Breakthrough began with the intention of creating awareness of life skills training in school children. Soon, corporate organisations were interested in bringing their teams. Slowly, the scope expanded opening doors to become a training service provider to corporates.The journey of Breakthrough, has been one of high and lows, where it turned out to be a champion amidst struggles like the ‘Breakthrough tree’. In 2003, key individuals from the organisation moved on. However, there was a remarkable growth percentage of about 300 percent that year mainly driven by faith and a passion for impacting lives.Breakthrough has grown to impact lives of people for the last 13 years. The products have also been innovated consistently to facilitate inspiring training programs to corporates, schools, colleges and NGOs.

Breakthrough has grown to impact lives of people for the last 13 years. The products have also been innovated consistently to facilitate inspiring training programs to corporates, schools, colleges and NGOs.

4) The concept of experiential learning in training.
Experiential learning has taken the field of behavioural training to a whole new level. Throughout life, experiences change the way we function. According, to David Kolb, founder and chairman of Experience Based Learning Systems, people learn either by doing, feeling, thinking or watching. Experiential learning caters to all the different ways in which people learn. In the training programs, powerful experiences are created, through Action-learning methodologies by simulating business behaviour through high energy challenges.

The strength of this method lies in its ability to enable teams to improve performance by understanding themselves better and respond to different situations. Change in behaviour is not extrinsic but intrinsic and is aligned to the organisational needs. The change is not forced by fear or reward but through realisation from within.

5) Any person/organisation which has experienced this breakthrough and if you could narrate the experience.
The aim of the programs held at Breakthrough is to facilitate change in behaviours and attitudes. The methodology of experiential learning has the power to facilitate that change in numerous ways for individuals and organisations.Oracle GFIC provider of financial services to Oracle subsidiaries, had an organisational need to create a consistent culture of high performance and ownership. To cater to that need company-wide customised high-performance culture program was designed and rolled-out by Breakthrough. The program is co-facilitated by the Senior-directors of the organisation along with facilitators from Breakthrough. During the course of the program, specific performance blocks are addressed. Breakthrough continues to work with Oracle GFIC for the past six years.

Oracle GFIC provider of financial services to Oracle subsidiaries, had an organisational need to create a consistent culture of high performance and ownership. To cater to that need company-wide customised high-performance culture program was designed and rolled-out by Breakthrough. The program is co-facilitated by the Senior directors of the organisation along with facilitators from Breakthrough. During the course of the program, specific performance blocks are addressed. Breakthrough continues to work with Oracle GFIC for the past six years.

Krishna Kumar, Senior Director at Oracle GFIC said ‘We don’t consider Breakthrough as a vendor but more as a partner in our training’.

Another remarkable experience was by the Bangalore-based Hockey team, Karnataka Lions. They were at the bottom of the table during the 2012 season of the world hockey series. The team underwent an experiential training program to identify problem areas and rectify. On completion, of the guided process of self-evaluation, the performance of the team began to improve. A continuous follow-up was done by Breakthrough through-out the tournament. The team reached the semi-finals in the 2012 season of the World Hockey series.

6) What is the future vision and mission?
The vision of Breakthrough is to impact lives. The mission to add four new centres by 2017, impact two lakh lives by 2017 and equip individuals to lead centres.

 

Text by Ambica Gulati

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