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Management Development

Why choose experiential learning?

Why choose experiential learning?
Published: April 15, 2024
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Ailie Shackleton is Head of Content Marketing at Impact.

Impact's unique approach to experiential learning is at the heart of every solution we deliver, every partnership we have, and every Impact person’s role. I’ve watched what happens to people when they go through a learning journey, I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve spoken to our clients about the value it’s driven back in their organisations.  

Impact’s approach goes beyond the confines of traditional learning. The experiences are transformative because they resonate long after our programmes are over. But if you’ve not experienced it for yourself, understanding experiential learning can be notoriously difficult. 

Someone recently asked me why there wasn’t anything on our website telling people ‘Why they should choose experiential learning’, and I agreed. But what to say? So, I decided to ask the people of Impact to give me their thoughts – in one bullet point. I got more responses to that request than any other question I’ve ever asked. And so, forgive me colleagues. Some of these points have been amalgamated, some have been shortened and some (I’m looking at you DC) are verbatim. 

The transformative power of experiential learning 

Let’s start with Helen Hibbott, because in one bullet she articulated so much that we can build on… 

'From the day we are born, it’s the ONLY way humans learn how to do anything.'  

A human connection 

The human aspect came up a lot. Experiential learning is a process that elicits emotion, ‘moving people from their heads to their hearts’ and making the lessons we learn deeply rooted in our experiences. 


It’s not something you forget. It’s a transformative process that shapes our understanding and ‘stays with you forever’. Again, that human element is emphasised ‘because the experiences generate strong emotions that have a powerful connection to memory which allows experiential learning to be long-lasting.’ 

Real-world relevance 

The real world is complex and unpredictable, and experiential learning allows us to experiment in a safe space. Put simply, ‘it makes sense’. It’s about applying what we learn to real-world scenarios, stepping out of our comfort zones, and embracing the challenges that spark growth.  

Learning how to learn 

More than just acquiring facts, experiential learning teaches us how to learn, adapt, and continue growing. It’s about keeping the cycle of learning in perpetual motion. As David Williams brilliantly articulated it ‘nobody ever learnt to ride a bike from a manual.’ We can be moved and inspired to act through our senses, lessons and books are helpful, but nothing teaches you more than doing it. 

Learners own the change 

There was a lot of appreciation for it being a catalyst for change. Impact’s approach is at the cutting edge, merging knowledge with action, leading to personal and professional evolution that shifts the ownership of development to the learner ‘because people don't change unless they want to, and experiential learning makes them want to.’  

The learning is fun (and so you remember it) 

There’s something special that happens when learning is described as ‘powerful, fun, gripping and unforgettable!’ It turns the process of learning into an experience to be enjoyed and (here’s that critical point again) by engaging our senses and emotions, anchors knowledge deeply within us. 

Leaving our comfort zone accelerates growth 

Growth often begins where comfort ends. Experiential learning has the unique power to push us beyond our boundaries. ‘It challenges us to experiment with different ways of doing things, with new knowledge and skills and a clearer lens through which to decide how to act.’ 

And we’ll finish with David Cooper. Because – he might not have used one bullet point – but his words give you the impression of the roller coaster that you can experience on an experiential learning programme with Impact. Thank you DC… 

Feels super groovy 

'Proven to accelerate the application and adoption of skills and knowledge acquisition. Catalyses the behaviour change that leads to increased leadership capability. Creates lasting behaviour change. Makes you think. Keeps you honest. Provides the feedback loop that supports learning and change. Keeps it real. Provokes transformation. Pokes you in the eye. Feels super groovy.'

Experiential learning is not just another learning method; it embraces the full spectrum of human experience. It’s about being honest, vulnerable, and brave. When we choose experiential learning, we’re learning for life. 

Find out more:

Download our experiential learning explainer

Read more on our website