Keeping the Mountaintop Experience Alive

I invite you, dear reader, to contribute to this list. It is prompted by an associate who asked me last week how to keep learning alive. She lamented that she conducted team building sessions and led participants to great insights based on personality assessments and other items in her professional toolkit. Her people were wowed with their learning and then returned to their jobs with a “well, that was nice” and most tended to leave the learning behind. Back to business as normal. “How can I keep the mountaintop insights alive?” So, let’s suggest some ways:

  • Journaling. Provide participants with a notebook of some sort that contains blank pages but with pithy reminders as insets. Invite them to record ongoing insights, concerns, or puzzlements based on your content. Then invite them to meet with another member once a quarter for a meal and a discussion of some of their entries.
  • Desk Mementos. You’ve probably seen small desk stands that recap someone’s test scores with attractive colors. At CentACS, we use ovals—about six inches high and ten inches wide, with the teammate’s face and Big Five supertrait scores emblazoned thereon and posted on the outside wall beside their office door. It serves as a reminder of our salient behavioral tendencies as individuals while identifying who occupies that office by name and title.
  • Posters. At our team and class sessions, we ask participants to put their names on little sticky circles and place them on a large (24” x 30”) reproduction of our personality assessment’s report form. When a work team does this as a team building activity, we encourage them to take the poster home with them and post it in their conference room or meeting area. It serves as a group reminder of their tendencies as a work group.
  • Novelty Items. Pencils, notepads, t-shirts, “baseball” caps, shirt pins, thumb drives, ballpoint pens, leather folders, mugs, carry bags (like those you get at major conferences), Frisbees, and so forth have been labeled with personality models and test results to serve as reminders. At CentACS, we give our certification program graduates a nice ball point pen and a 3” x 3” foam rubber cube—each face of which presents a different dimension of our Human Resource Optimization model while the malleable cube serves as a stress reliever.
  • Slogans. Create or find and distribute slogans and quotes that illustrate what it is you want folks to remember. Place them at the end of emails, on your signature block, or as insets on newsletters or memoranda.
  • Monday Morning Quarterback Sessions. Identify a recent and significant victory or failure and discuss how individual traits contributed—either by their presence or absence. Then, how can we build on these learnings for current and future endeavors?
  • Drip Campaign. E-mail software can help you send out a series of mailings on pre-defined dates. Each mailing serves as a reminder or refresher of previously learned concepts, or invites the reader to expand to new but related concepts.
  • Leave Behinds. Give participants some reading material that was not covered in class, but that you invite them to read after you have “left them behind.”
  • Letters to Self. Towards the end of the mountaintop experience, make time for each participant to write a letter to themselves. The letter can recap their major learnings, their intentions to change, their goals, and so forth. The facilitator will mail the letters six weeks or so after participants have returned home.
  • Case of the Month. Invite persons who are expected to use the mountaintop material in ongoing planning, mountaintopdecision-making, and problem-solving, to attend a monthly session in which you feature a case based on your mountaintop material (in my case, the Five-Factor Model). The case could entail a selection decision (who to hire or appoint), performance problem, coaching challenge, career crossroad choice, or some other issue. Provide food to encourage attendance.
  • Wuzzles. Wuzzles (word puzzles) make a game out of recalling a concept. Perhaps you’ve seen them in your daily newspaper, as in “FenzaLU” for ‘influenza.’ (“enza” is in FLU, or in FLU enza).
  • Crossword Puzzles. At our annual conference (there’s another way to extend mountaintop experiences!), we often include a crossword puzzle that incorporates our key terms and concepts among the clues and answers.
  • Headers and Footers. In the various documents that you distribute throughout the year, consider using the space in headers and/or footers to place notes and reminders.
  • Content Analysis Competition. Using a well-known or important person in their field (the Wright Brothers in engineering, Lee Iacocca in manufacturing, and so forth), have a group of people who need to keep the learning alive analyze the biography of the key person with respect to your content. I have identified two dozen diverse, international figures, have read their biographies (or autobiographies), and have typed up excerpts from the books that illustrate trait-related behavior (about ten pages for each subject). Then, I ask folks to estimate their most likely Big Five profile based on the excerpts.
  • Holiday Communiques. Every November I identify a secular holiday carol, print it as a greeting card from CentACS, and insert trait symbols that jocularly (or not) indicate how the various words reflect personality traits. For example, “Chestnuts (low Originality) roasting (high Warmth) on an open (high Openness to experience) fire (high Warmth, again).”
  • Goal-Setting Partners. Have each participant set one or more goals by the end of the mountaintop experience, then ask everyone to partner with one (or two) other participants. Ask them to pick a time and a place three months for meeting to report on and support each other on their goal progress.
  • Naming Public Behavior. Develop the habit of naming behaviors during meetings and conferences that illustrate specific learned material, as in “Fran, your O2+ [high score on complexity] has just kept us from making a premature and overly simplistic decision. Thanks!”
  • Guess Who’s Who. After securing their permission, prepare a handout that contains the profiles (traits, values, etc.) of three or so key figures in your organization. Then have your group, class, or team (who need a refresher in your learned concept) dialog around which profile belongs to which person—i.e., a matching exercise.


Each of these suggestions is meant to stimulate your thinking. Pick several that appeal to you and adapt them to your model and circumstances. And, I invite you to make more suggestions in the WordPress comment area—what are ways you’ve helped sustain a mountaintop learning experience, either for yourself or for others?

One thought on “Keeping the Mountaintop Experience Alive

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  1. This is another great blog, Pierce! Thank you! This post made me also think of virtual teams and how to keep the mountain top experience alive for them. What came to mind was to facilitate a series of virtual peer learning groups. People could share reflections for discussion on how they have used or would like to use WorkPlace. The facilitator could bring a question for the group to discuss.

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