Teambuilding via Outward Bound

November 26, 2019 | 11:35
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In Cat Hai commune of south-central Binh Dinh province, the local chapter of an international organisation has commenced operations. Outward Bound began operating pilot courses from this site in 2016 and scaled up to full operations in 2018.
teambuilding via outward bound
Kayaking as part of the activities at Outward Bound Vietnam experiential learning course

The organisation’s goal is to unlock human potential. It provides short-term team building and leadership courses to foster values and strengthen life-skills. These courses include adventurous outdoor activities such as sea kayaking and rock climbing to help individuals and teams improving their soft skills while connecting with each other.

Each year, about 250,000 people complete an Outward Bound course around the world, making it the largest and most established teambuilding organisation globally with activities in over 30 countries and a total turnover of over $100 million per year.

In Vietnam, Outward Bound is a registered social enterprise and to date, about 1,500 people have completed a course. Outward Bound Vietnam operates from a coastal centre, including 100 dormitory-style beds for residential training as well as a large hall with an indoor climbing gym and a rope course. The location also maximises opportunities for sea kayaking and other ocean activities, making it an ideal destination for schools and companies looking for teambuilding retreats.

A team of international staff and several cohorts of local instructors from the Outward Bound community have been recruited to establish operations. All undergo a year-long training programme as part of their job. This training includes hard skills such as sea kayaking and hiking, as well as soft skills such as leadership and teambuilding theory. There are international training courses, such as first aid training in the wilderness, with trainers from the US. Local instructors also learn how to swim, as they must complete a lifesaving certificate.

Outward Bound courses provide a real and tangible classroom to develop the leaders of tomorrow, which is more vital than ever in the rapidly expanding business and educational environment in Vietnam. The organisation also offers a separate range of courses for schools and businesses. These courses focus extensively on crucial skills that are often neglected at the workplace and in business schools, including workplace communication, co-operation, and collaboration. School courses include building resilience and perseverance, vital for success in school, as well as confidence-building and practice in skills like public speaking, environmental care, and compassion for others.

Joining an Outward Bound programme in Vietnam, participants are not only talking about theories but also actively test their leadership, resilience, and co-operation abilities. The courses are unique and offer specialised leadership and team-building programmes in stunning natural training environments. However, participants are not forced to undertake any challenge they feel is beyond their capacity. Instead, teams are impelled into value-shaping experiences. The teaching approach for such courses is supportive and uses experiential learning methods. By this, Outward Bound Vietnam is distinctly different from boot camp training programmes.

The participants work in teams of eight to 14 diverse individuals, and Outward Bound relies on training methods which emphasise the development of self-reliance and character strength. To this end, the courses start at the basecamp and move out often on short expeditions, which are designed to place each team in control of finding their route.

Over the past 75 years, thousands of schools and businesses across the globe have used Outward Bound corporate programmes to help them develop into high-performing teams. Gordon French, former director of organisational development at Cox Communications said, “If work leaders want great financial skills, they should go to Wharton Business School. If they want to learn about business theory, they should go to Harvard Business School. However, if they want to develop great leadership and team skills, nothing has more impact than an Outward Bound expedition, wherein three or four days they begin the transformation from being managers to becoming leaders.”

Moving towards 2020, with an ambitious investment strategy and passionate staff, Outward Bound Vietnam promises new and exciting destinations where teams can unleash their potential and return to the workplace invigorated and inspired.

By Van Anh

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