15The Power of Engagement

Another example of practice that engages people and builds their understanding in ways that most directly mirror real work came from Performance Plus, a company that used drama as a training tool, and according to its web page, has a client list ranging from Citibank to Condé Nast to Cornell University (Steed, 2005).Though we are now drifting away from the essential structure of a Choose Your Own Adventure text, this example holds true to some of the principles underlying such a structure: the audience selects a path, applies learning to make choices, and ultimately is asked to invest deeply in an experience that, quite possibly, could change them.

Writing in Journal of Business Strategy, Robert Steed, cofounder of Performance Plus and formerly a lawyer and HR professional, sounds a lot like a teacher composing a lesson plan. The theater‐based training that his company offers attempts to “affect the learning of program participants.” He knows his training works if “the minds of participants in a program are opened to new ways of thinking, whether they can experience their reality in a new way, whether they can incorporate both head and heart, both mind and feelings, in resolving issues” (Steed, 2005, p. 52). In a way, then, he wants to equip them to become aware of the choices that are present in even the smallest of interactions; he wants to open the very possibility of what is sometimes called polarity thinking – that an either/or dilemma can often ...

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