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The Forgetful Navigator

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Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips ~ ISSN 1465-8046
Active Reviewing Tips is a free monthly publication from Reviewing Skills Training.

  Active Reviewing Tips 17.3 - The forgetful navigator


~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Which is the best tool to use in this situation?

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: The Forgetful Navigator

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

~ 5 ~ THE OTHER NEWSLETTER: Experiential-CPD

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Active Reviewing 


~ 8 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Which is the best tool to use when ...?

  • ... when a group simply wants fun and does not expect to learn much
  • ... when there is groupthink or too much agreement
  • ... when there is a split group or cliques not communicating well with each other
  • ... when the group is complacent or self-limiting
  • ... when someone asks "But what's this got to do with work?
  • ... when an individual in the group has important information they are not sharing

This last point leads to the story of the forgetful navigator which is the main article in this issue of Active Reviewing Tips. It will be the first of many articles in which the starting point is a situation that you might have faced already or that you might face in the future.

You might not be in the habit of reaching for your active reviewing toolkit when facing such situations, but in each of these articles I will consider two or three active reviewing methods that have been (or would be) my own favourite response to each specific situation.

For new readers (welcome!) you may find that the methods are new ones that you have not encountered before - you will find links to fuller descriptions at the end of the article.

For loyal readers, you may recognise some of the methods but you will discover more about the powerful ways in which each method can be used or combined when there is an urgent need or an unmissable opportunity to help people learn their way through a problem.

Another new series beginning with the next issue is 'Six of the best ways to ...' and these are more in keeping with the spirit and meaning of 'Tips'.

If you also like a bit of provocative thinking about experiential learning, then please visit my new blog on Rethinking Experiential Learning where my focus is a little more theoretical - much as I like to believe that there is nothing so practical as a good theory.

Oh - and I also have a new home page from where you can get quick access to an ever growing collection of audios, videos, articles about active and creative reviewing. The next upgrade will be to a website that you can comfortably read on any screen size in between a watch and an IMAX.

Some pages can already be viewed on any screen size:

This is where you are just now:

Active Reviewing Tips is a free newsletter from Roger Greenaway that will help you to re-charge your reviewing and facilitation skills.

Typical contents:

  • a practical feature on reviewing tips
  • links to sites about active learning methods
  • tips, comments and ideas from readers
  • what's new in the Guide to Active Reviewing at http://reviewing.co.uk

Maximum frequency: monthly. Average frequency: quarterly.

"16 years of promoting better learning experiences without chalk, flipcharts or marker pens."

I welcome requests for topics you would like to see included in Active Reviewing Tips, any questions you would like to see answered in a FAQ, and enquiries about trainer-training workshops (open or in-house).

Roger Greenaway

Don't just do it - actively review it!

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

For the latest information check
The Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
where you will find the most up to date list of open/public workshops provided by Roger Greenaway.

The other newsletter: the Experiential-CPD Calendar
The Experiential-CPD Calendar lists 'trainer-training' and 'educator-training' events from several UK providers. The events listed here are of interest to facilitators who work indoors or outdoors. The Experiential-CPD calendar features a 'Thought for the Month' about experiential learning from the editors or from readers.

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: The Forgetful Navigator

The Forgetful Navigator

Which is the best tool to use in this situation?

by Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

The Forgetful Navigator is the first of a series of articles in which the starting point is a situation that you might have faced already or that you might face in the future.

You might not be in the habit of reaching for your active reviewing toolkit when facing such situations, but in each of these articles I will consider two or three active reviewing methods that have been (or would be) my own favourite response to each specific situation.

As you read through the article, please consider which of these three methods would be your own favourite response to the situation. If your favourite method is not described, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk and share your own favourite.


The forgetful navigator

This was a leadership training course for participants in their twenties from a wide range of occupations. When it came to a night navigation exercise the obvious choice for navigator was the pilot from the air force. My training group of 8 young leaders got into the rowing boat and headed out into the darkness on the lake. Every so often participants would ask the navigator how far it was to the next checkpoint. The navigator made some confident estimates, but as they rowed ever further into the night (and beyond the estimates) the group started losing confidence in their navigator. Eventually one group member asked the navigator "Why are you not looking at the map?" The navigator reluctantly admitted a mistake that he had been hoping to conceal: "I'm sorry guys I left the map in the planning room".

From a reviewing perspective there is a wonderful opportunity here not for an on-the-spot review in the heat of the moment but the following morning after a night's sleep.


Option 1

Storyline could work well. The basic form of Storyline (pairs sharing stories with each other) would face the same limitations as an any paired exercise (such as Empathy Test). But Storyline does create a visual aid that can be readily shared in the whole group. So I would invite each individual to make a storyline, then have everyone view the shapes of other storylines (in silence) and I would then invite the two people with the most different storylines to share their stories in the whole group. I would then invite the team leader and the navigator to share their stories if this has not happened already. I would be prepared for any outcome, but these are the three outcomes I would be expecting:

  • People discover the variation in stories and that not everyone has the same story to tell even if they have been working closely together in the same team. This is a particularly valuable insight for leaders.

  • The navigator's storyline about his dilemma makes it easier for him to show how the situation developed and may give him (and others) fresh insights about how to cope with such dilemmas in future when making a mistake in a leadership role.

  • Group members may also take away useful learning on the same theme and may even offer to share similar experiences which they have had in leadership roles. This not only spreads the learning opportunities, it also saves the navigator from feeling too isolated (which is not a position in which it is easy to be open to learning).


Option 2

Action Replay could work well. I would first explain the purpose: "This is not about humiliating our navigator who already feels bad enough and who is probably not looking forward to this review. Although I cannot say at this stage what you will each learn from this review I think there are two main questions worth exploring:

  1. Why did it take so long for the group to question or challenge the navigator?

  2. Why did the navigator not inform the group sooner that he had left the map behind?

You are all here to learn about leadership. We all make mistakes. And we can all learn from mistakes. Any one of you might find that you do the equivalent of "forgetting the map" at some time, and that you need to decide on the best course of action."

I would choose to direct the replay starting at the planning stage. I would pause the replay to ask those who had taken on special responsibilities "How confident are you about fulfilling this responsibility?" And I might ask others "How well do you think the group will perform at this task?" I would then fast forward to launching and getting in the boat. And I would then fast forward to the first question asked to the navigator. I would ask others about whether they were also curious at the time and why they had not asked the question. I would then fast forward (or rewind) to the point where the navigator first realised that the map was back in the planning room. I would ask about the reasons for the delay between this realisation and his eventual confession. If the group recovered quite well from this point on (after the navigator's original confession) I would hand over the replay controls and ask the group to use them to show and explore the story of how they recovered from this difficult situation.

If (during the replay) the navigator has worked out a better course of action (on realising he had left the map behind) a variation of Action Replay could be used for him to rewind to the point where he would have said or done something differently. From this point you can offer a Take Two. And if the group approve of this different strategy they will appreciate it and in doing so this vivid demonstration of learning will also have diminished the navigator's discomfort and will have diminished the group's disappointment.


Option 3

Horseshoe could work well. The starting point could be a search for questions that participants think it would be useful to explore during the review. Or you could have some ready-made questions up your sleeve, such as:

  • At the start, how successful did you think you would be as a team in this exercise? (try 'not very' to 'very')

Ask participants about the factors that made them hopeful of success and explore some of these on the spectrum. For example:

  • Some of you expected good quality teamwork to contribute to a successful outcome. So I'll ask you to rate the actual quality of teamwork during the activity (try 'poor' to 'excellent')

Ask participants about their priorities as a team in future tasks. Perhaps start with the basic question:

  • For the next task will you take much the same approach as a team or would you want to change how you work as a team in some way? (try 'same' to 'change')

Ask participants about the kinds of changes they would like to see in how they approach things as a team. If the suggestion is not made you may want to explore:

  • "Let's give feedback to people with leadership or other responsibilities during the tasks" vs "Let's wait to the end before we give feedback to people or question them."

Whatever decision they come to on this point, you could also explore statements about the frequency of giving and receiving feedback in the workplace, such as:

  • "It is better to go through day-to-day work without giving or receiving any feedback" vs. "It is better to give and receive feedback continually in the workplace".


Which option would you choose?

So which is likely to be the best option given the scenario and the context of this being a leadership training programme?

I think the main challenge is to find a way of moving the navigator on from his deep embarrassment and maximising the learning for him. To settle for the learning being summed up as "be honest" would. I think, be letting him down. I think he needs to think through how he ended up in this situation and how to avoid repeating this pattern in the future (even if this is the one and only time he has experienced this kind of situation). A secondary challenge (but probably the more important one for most of the group) is to conduct the review in a way that everyone learns something of significance for themselves.

Therefore I would be tempted to use a combination of Storyline (mainly because it engages everyone instantly in personal reflection, including the navigator) and Action Replay because the interviewing process can be used to help share out the blame a bit (why was it so long before anyone challenged the navigator?). Also, with suitable questions, Horseshoe can provide a good way of concluding the review. Using the examples given, Horseshoe can open up new angles of relevance to everyone involved: how we improve as a group, the desired frequency of feedback in our group and in the workplace. And I would never go into a review without the Joker Card which allows everyone (including me) the flexibility to change direction in the review and seize opportunities as they arise. I guess I have played the Joker just now: I found it difficult to choose just one method so I have chosen all three.

If your favourite method is not described, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk and share your own favourite.

New Readers: I promised these links for you - or for any readers who want to see a description of Storyline or Action Replay or Horseshoe. You can learn more about these methods from the videos in the Online Training Course - see next.

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

Taking part in this online course will enable you ...

  • To engage your students' full set of learning skills so that their learning is rapid, significant and memorable.
  • To inspire long lasting results by generating immersive learning experiences.
  • To become an expert in facilitating learning from experience.
  • To master the Active Reviewing Toolkit (A.R.T.), a selection of versatile reviewing techniques.
  • To use tools such as the Horseshoe, the Activity Map, Action Replay and others in order to engage and empower your students.

You can view the full course content and sample the training videos for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com

Really interesting and innovative

This course is really useful, very interesting and innovative, but also quite simple to understand and put into practice.

It's a good mix of written, video and other media, and the content is so useful and effective (I have tried it, and it really works).

Highly recommended!

John Tomlinson
Trainer Tools 

Genuinely Awesome!

I have a been a trainer / facilitator for a numbers of years and this was just a great support to the work we do within the McDonald's Corporate Training Team. I would highly recommend the course to anyone with experience of debriefing / review experiential activities and who is focused on continuous improvement. Cracking!

Ben George
McDonald's Corporate Training Team

A treasure

On the whole, Im VERY EXCITED that you are doing this. It makes what youve been doing all these years so clear and so accessible. The videos are technically very well made - really exceptional.

Bernie DeKoven
Deep Fun

A good range of practical reviewing tools and techniques that are well explained!

I took this course to refresh my capacity as a trainer, facilitator and coach to review experiences... The course provides a good range of ways to review different aspects of experience and the team that have put this together provide examples and support through thorough documentation... I would recommend this course to anyone who is looking to become a better trainer or coach. The tools here do work and I have applied many of them into my work already. A great piece of continuous professional development that is worth the investment!

Andi Roberts

Take Your Training Skills to the Next Level

The best way to learn the procedures and principles related to actively reviewing is to enroll in this e-learning course. You will enjoy your learning experience from this practical, hands-on approach to active learning.

Sivasailam Thiagarajan
See Thiagi's full review

A must for all trainers not experienced in Roger's reviewing methods

A programme that will really help trainers get to grips with active and creative reviewing skills. It's in nice short sections so it's easy to go back and review a method before you use it. I might make this a prerequisite for my associate trainers!

Shirley Gaston

You can view the full course content and sample the training videos for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com

~ 5 ~  THE OTHER NEWSLETTER: Experiential-CPD

opportunities for Continuing Professional Development
for and by UK-based experiential educators and trainers

Get free monthly news of opportunities to develop your:

  • facilitation skills
  • groupwork skills
  • skills for working with specific client groups
  • 'experiential' skills - indoors or outdoors

Keep up to date with outdoor and/or experiential ...

conferences, publications, research, networks, UK CPD events and English language CPD events in Europe

Challenge your 'experiential' ideas with Thought for the Month 

Topics have included: CPD & cpd | Working on the Edge | The Benefits of Play | On Being Resourceful | Too Experiential? | Walking and Learning | Getting Beyond the Caption | Thinking about Hybrids | Paradigms Lost | Mantle of the Expert | Who Needs Models? | Designing Richer Learning Experiences | The Undesignables |

 Learn more about this Experiential-CPD Calendar of UK trainer-training events

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Active Reviewing

A revised version of my very first article on the subject can be found here.


See the previous issue of Active Reviewing Tips: Learning from Triumphs and Disasters

Topics under consideration for future issues include:

  • The Active Reviewing Cycle: update
  • Making the case for active reviewing
  • Making reviewing a memorable experience
  • Reviewing as a takeaway skill for participants
  • Evaluating Active Reviewing: how well does it work?
  • Reviewing for different outcomes (using the same activities)
  • End of programme reviews
  • Co-facilitating reviews
  • The art of improvising
  • Remote Reviewing
  • Reviewing over a cup of tea (informal reviewing)
  • Readers' Questions about Reviewing (please feed me with questions for this 'FAQ')
  • Sample designs for learning and development
  • Integrated practice in experiential learning (when does an activity become a review? when does a review become an activity? examples of integrated practice - and do these
    challenge or demonstrate experiential learning theory?)

Please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk if you have any topics you would like to see included or put at the top of this list (which is not yet in any particular order).

~ 8 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
ISSN: 1465-8046
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
EMAIL: roger@reviewing.co.uk Feedback welcome
ARCHIVES: Index of back issues
HOME PAGE: Active Reviewing

"I like the way you look at everything and then return to what is simple, effective and memorable."

"You always have material I don't want to miss."
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