Staff rides were developed by the Prussian general staff in the nineteenth century as means of educating military officers. Since then, staff riding as a technique of furthering the military education of professional Army officers has been employed by all Western militaries. In the past few decades, this concept has been finding its way into corporate and academic fields. What both of them appreciate is the value of the battlefields as an experiential learning tool.
Military Staff Ride
A military staff ride concentrates more on the analysis of operations rather than on providing an historical narrative. As a formal military training activity, its objectives are of direct relevance to the training audience concerned. In their original form, staff rides – such as those organized by the Prussian Great General Staff in the nineteenth century – were designed as map exercises for the staff and conducted in open terrain largely from the saddle. Hence the term ‘staff ride’ came into use.
Academic Staff Ride
Universities begun in the ‘90s to emulate the militaries integrating the visiting on battlefields in their curricula. In academic staff rides students role-play the experiences of politicians, generals, and civilians who were involved in the conflict, providing memorable lessons and case studies in strategy, leadership and decision making. The academic staff ride is aimed primarily at academic departments of international relations and history.
Corporate Staff Ride
Recognising the merit of experiential learning the business world has taken advantage from staff rides. Management teams who participate in corporate staff rides visit and study a selected battlefield for the purpose of drawing parallels between that military campaign and their own corporate challenges, including leader training, timely decision-making, effective communications, resource deployment and team building. Corporate staff ride is oriented toward middle and high levels executives.