Connecting the Dots: Learning Experience Design and Expedition Training

In the expedition realm we tend to talk about ‘safety’ and ‘competency’ in guiding using broad and impersonal tones. These things come across as clear cut necessities. They are states of being required to keep an industry, or a company, afloat and on a course for expansion. 

Yet, if I stop to consider these terms in a fully human context – with empathy first and foremost – then I can reimagine the dynamic. If safety is interpreted as ‘security,’ and competency becomes ‘confidence in one’s abilities’ then an expedition guide relaying these qualities to their clients delivers a sense of well-being and comfort to the landscape of any expedition. 

Afterall, expedition guides ARE the product. They make – or break – the guests’ experiences aboard and ashore. Long after a guest’s memories of the midnight sun fade away, their recollection of the welcoming and fun environment cultivated by the expedition team, will linger. 

Thoughtful learning experience design (LXD) is fundamental to building empathy-fueled relationships between expedition guides and their guests, between guides and operators, and between operators and their clients. This trifecta of rewarding interactions therefore becomes fundamental in supporting any successful expedition enterprise. 

After all, the alternative is insecurity and incompetence. Those states of being lead to a lack of confidence and mistrust amongst all the players, and are unsustainable as modes of doing business. High functioning companies pride themselves on clear internal communications and the execution of a robust value system that supports each individual on their team. 

And so I put forward the idea that LXD for safe operations and professional growth, driven by the need for guide competence and confidence, should be integrated into every expedition operator’s business model, rather than simply helping to brace the bottom-line. 

Sincere and lasting human connections are the goals at the heart and soul of successful, value-based, and empathy-centered companies; just like this one. 

“Every problem is about the people you are trying to help, first and foremost.” 

– Jessie-Lee Nichols

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