Publication: Playing with Purpose

In the summer of 2011, Helen and her friend and colleague Steve Hutchinson published Playing with Purpose: How Experiential Learning Can Be More Than A Game (Gower).

If you are involved in people development as a leader, manager or facilitator, this book is written for you. Here’s an extract from the Preface of the book to whet your appetite:

We hope that [this book] will act as an inspiration for anyone interested in people development and is prepared to risk livening up office meetings or encourage people to talk and honestly engage with each other.

Over the past decade, both of us have spent a great deal of our professional lives playing games. As professional trainers and developers we’ve had groups building towers, rolling balls, blowing whistles and balancing buckets to supposedly illustrate and teach vital ‘real-life’ principles and concepts. What became clear to us both is that most human resource departments or staff development sections have a training cupboard full of this type of store-bought experiences. And, despite the sometimes massive financial outlay for these toys, they are in the minds of the learners involved, often little more than games. They roll balls, balance buckets and learn something about teamwork and tolerance. Then the training day ends and they go back to business as usual.

We believe that real learning can only be said to have taken place when, back in ‘the office’, something changes as a result of the intervention. Balls, buckets and ropes can provide a new experience; but only if that experience is mined for the full impact (physical, mental or emotional) will learning take place and change occur. This book is about how you as a facilitator, coach, manager or trainer can invent or reinvigorate an artificial learning experience and have it be more than a game. Or, in the form of a short question:

Is it possible to facilitate and extract real learning from artificial situations?

We believe that the answer to this question is, of course, ‘yes’; but it leads to three others:

How can you do this more effectively?

How can you create new games/studies/scenarios that can access the kind of learning you’re interested in?

How can you reinvigorate old games to facilitate real learning?

We hope this book provides some answers to these questions.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon.