SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Improve interactions that improve human performance.
An Interview with Brian Remer
This is a metaphor for a serious conversation with a playful person.
Snake Eyes by Brian Remer
An activity for reprocessing summaries.
Classification Card Game
Another fast-paced two-person training game.
Three Books on Leadership by Matt Richter
Resident Rogue Scholar Matt Richter starts a new book-review column.
Solve the puzzle and join our co-design project.
This Month's RAME
Can you come up with a better name?
Test First, Teach Later
Learning from experience as a metaphor for an interactive lecture.
SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.
Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan
Assistant Editor: Raja Thiagarajan
Associate Editor: Matt Richter and Julie England
Editorial Advisory Board: David Gouthro, Diane Dormant, Kat Koppett, Les Lauber, Steve Sugar, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2004 by Workshops by Thiagi, Inc. However, they may be freely reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no need to obtain special permission for such use as long as you do not reproduce more than 100 copies per year. Please include the following statement on all reproductions:
Reprinted from PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE. Copyright © 2004 by Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for permission.
All registered subscribers receive PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE free of charge.
However, to prevent us from becoming bankrupt, we have decided to adopt a Busker Protocol. If you like what you read, if you find it useful, and if you'd like us to continue publishing the newsletter, please feel free to chip in with any financial contribution. Our estimated annual cost for this newsletter is $30,000. So we suggest an annual contribution of $30 (which is less than one-third the subscription cost of Thiagi's earlier paper-based newsletter). We would appreciate any amount that you send us, but make sure it is less than $30,000 (since we don't want to make a profit). You can mail your check to Thiagi, 4423 East Trailridge Road, Bloomington, IN 47408 or call us at (812) 332-1478 to charge the amount to a credit card. Or you can charge your credit card online, through Workshops by Thiagi, Inc. Please let us know if you need an invoice for financial record keeping.
Thiagi believes in practicing what he preaches. This is an interactive newsletter, so interact already! Send us your feedback, sarcastic remarks, and gratuitous advice through email to email@example.com . Thanks!
Writers in journals, presenters at conferences, and consultants at client meetings keep repeating the same mantra: Training is out; performance is in.
As I indicated in last month's opening piece, this is the basic prescription from human performance technology (HPT): Analyze the situation to discover the root cause of the performance problem. Select a suitable strategy (called an intervention) to reduce or remove the impact of this root cause. As an example, if clerical workers make too many errors because they feel that nobody appreciates their work, use a reward-and-recognition system as the suitable intervention. If they are intelligent but don't pay attention to details, use personnel selection as the suitable intervention. If their productivity is down because they suffer frequently from carpal tunnel syndrome, redesign the keyboard, using ergonomics as the suitable intervention.
If you are a trainer and if you are worried about job security, I have some good news. Actually, I have three pieces of good news.
If you are a designer and user of interactive techniques, I have more good news: You can use interactive techniques to increase the effectiveness of all types of interventions. Here are some examples:
The manager of a fast-food restaurant was plagued by employees arriving late for work. Having identified a lack of incentives as the root cause, she created a reward-and-recognition system to reduce tardiness. Whenever a worker arrived on time, he or she received a fifty-cent bonus for that day. This intervention cost about $1,200 a month and worked effectively—but only for a couple of months. Faced with workers reverting to their tardiness, the manager added an interactive element to the incentive system. She randomly organized the workers into teams of five people. Every day that all the team members arrived on time, she gave that team a playing card from a shuffled deck. Every other Friday, the teams created the best poker hand from the cards they had collected during the two-week period. The team with the best poker hand received a bonus of $500, to be divided among its members. This minor addition of a team activity to the reward-and-recognition system reduced the system's cost and increased its effectiveness.
The manager of a retail store was troubled by performance problems at the customer-assistance desk. Having identified a poor match between employee characteristics and job requirements as the root cause, the manager hired a consultant to administer several test instruments to select the most suitable employees with appropriate attitudes, skills, and values for the customer-assistance job. This personnel selection intervention worked fairly effectively. However, because the job involved interpersonal interactions, the manager decided to move away from paper-and pencil tests to actual interactive testing through roleplaying. In this approach, test situations were carefully selected to reflect different types of customer requests and complaints. The roleplays were conducted in a setting that simulated an actual customer-assistance desk. A group of six professional actors from a local improv theater were employed to play the roles of different types of customers. These actors were briefed about the characteristics of customers and how they should behave. Each candidate for the job played the customer-assistance provider role to indicate how he or she would handle each of the six actor-customers. These roleplays were recorded on videotape and later analyzed with a behavioral rating scale. The candidates with the highest scores on this rating scale were selected for the job.
Cognitive ergonomics, according to my friend Lynn Kearney, involves restructuring the workplace, equipment, and furnishings to improve individual and team performance. Here's an example of how the impact of this type of intervention can be increased by adding a playful twist to it.
An internal OD consultant at a large bank designed a conference room with appropriate furniture and equipment to facilitate problem solving in small groups. Different groups met in this room, analyzed the problem, and came up with solutions. However, all of these solutions turned out to be conservative; there were no break-through ideas. So the consultant decided to encourage people to think out of the box by redesigning the room. First, he removed all conventional chairs and replaced them with a few high stools and cushions on the floor. People could also sit in a large sandbox, which was filled with clean white sand. Three walls of the room were covered with whiteboard paint. Large erasable markers with felt tips were placed in hanging baskets. The fourth wall was a huge mirror—with some distorted surfaces. The room contained an aquarium and several exotic plants. Toys and board games were randomly placed around the room. Large containers of construction materials, modeling clay, and finger paint helped people to prepare visual representations of problem situations. A large-screen television and a videotape player enabled individuals and teams to watch cartoon programs. Several video game machines were placed in a corner. A single poster on one of the walls extolled people to “take serious things lightly and to take light things seriously”. Within days of its availability, this room was in great demand. Teams that held their “problem-solving meetings” frequently came up with innovative ideas. Sometimes, these ideas had no relevance to the problem, but they often turned out to be useful concepts that solved other problems and exploited elusive opportunities.
Collecting and using feedback from different sources is another intervention for improving employee performance. Most hotel chains distribute feedback forms to their guests, collect these forms, and sometimes analyze the data and make high-level decisions. A performance consultant at an international hotel chain added game elements to this type of feedback system to improve its impact on employee performance. First, he playfully redesigned the feedback form with rating scale points being represented by cartoon faces that ranged from a broad grin to a heavy frown. A large-print note proclaimed that each completed feedback form would be automatically entered in a lottery drawing with prizes that awarded points in the hotel chain's membership reward program. To ensure that all employees paid attention to the feedback data, each week every employee was encouraged to predict the average rating on a specific question for that week--along with a suggestion for improving the rating on that item. The three employees whose predictions were the closest to the actual data received prizes. Among these three employees, the person whose suggestion was rated the highest by a panel of peers received an additional prize.
Human performance can be improved by appropriate interventions. And all interventions can be improved by the appropriate addition of interaction and playfulness.
This column features interviews with outstanding designers and users of interactive experiential activities. Brian Remer is an independent training consultant specializing in the use of interactive strategies and facilitation techniques to increase stakeholder participation and improve performance. He has worked nationally and internationally developing programs for managers, teachers, novice trainers, community organizers, and human service professionals. His areas of specialty include training of mid-level managers, team building, training of trainers, change management, strategic planning, and building social capital. Brian is based in Vermont and is the vice-Chair of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association.
Thiagi: How did you get started using games in your training?
Brian: I was looking for ways to make smooth transitions between different activities in my workshops. I wanted to help participants make better connections among the various objectives so I started learning about icebreakers and energizers. That led to the world of games and simulations.
Thiagi: Why do you use games?
Brian: The obvious reason is for fun. When people are having fun, they relax and learn more.
In addition to that, there are so many advantages. In a game you can experiment with different roles and responses. I do things in Monopoly® I would never do in real life. You can also practice skills safely without fear of the consequences. I often tell people when they are playing a game that they can win by getting the most points or they can win by learning something new.
The other thing I really like about games is that they draw you into their own world. This world of the game is a place where you forget about the persona you have been practicing for public consumption. Instead, you become so involved with the game that you begin to reveal bits about who you really are that perhaps you were unaware of. In this way, games provide a wealth of data which, when invested with a good discussion session, can yield profound learning.
Thiagi: When did you first use simulations or games?
Brian: The first time I used a simulation, I didn't even realize what it was. I was to give a lecture about my experiences living in Egypt, which for me was a crowded, noisy, exciting, three-year cross-cultural encounter. How could I possibly convey any sense of what that meant in just a few minutes? I lined up some chairs at the front of the room to represent an Egyptian bus. Every twenty seconds, someone gave a signal and another person from the audience got on the bus. Soon, people were sitting on each other's laps and standing nose to nose in the aisle.
By the time I was finished speaking, most of the audience had a visceral idea of what it might be like to ride a bus through Cairo. In addition, the timing of people entering the bus represented the actual frequency of births in the burgeoning population of Egypt. When I saw the “Aha's” in the audience, I realized how important it is to involve learners and ground your training in an experience. I was hooked.
Thiagi: What type of games do you use?
Brian: I like games that have a metaphorical connection to the training topic. The connection can either be that the game invites people to use a metaphor or that the game is itself a metaphor for what you are training about.
Thiagi: Can you give some examples?
Brian: Well, in a game of mine called Five Ten Five, people have to write five sentences using ten key words in five minutes. Now, of the ten key words, half are related to the training subject matter and half are totally random words. So people have to think of all the words metaphorically or their sentences won't make sense. It's a fun way to summarize a workshop and people leave with catchy phrases they are likely to remember.
On the other hand, you can take a Bingo-type grid and load it with different job titles then have people mill around searching for others who fit the job titles. If used in a workshop about professional networking or building sales contacts, the game becomes a metaphor that represents what you are teaching about. Yes, people meet each other but you also can ask serious questions: How meaningful or trivial are most of our contacts? What's the result of making contacts for a short-term “win”? Who determines or controls the “score card” you use when making business contacts? What is a real life analogy to the “free space” on a Bingo card? How can we take advantage of that to develop our contacts? And so on.
Thiagi: What's so special about using metaphors?
Brian: Our brains are made up of the physical connections between neurons and each new thought results in new connections. So the more relationships we can establish between different concepts or ideas, the stronger those ideas become in our minds. Memory improves and concepts become incorporated into our thinking. Metaphors make those connections in unexpected or novel ways. They give our brains a unique hook to capture our new learning and secure the old.
Another thing that's wonderful about metaphors is that they are all around us. If you look for them you can find connections and analogies between any two objects. So you can literally turn anything into a metaphor if you challenge your mind to make the connections. That means that anything, objects, events, interactions, can become a teaching tool. Obviously, some metaphors work better than others but the concept still holds true. So using metaphors can dramatically increase your options as a trainer and teacher.
Thiagi: Who has influenced your use of games?
Brian: Andy Kimball has helped me see the value of identifying a theme or fantasy for a game to involve the players. All things being equal, most people would rather play a game based in the old west than today's office cubicles, right?
Mel Silberman has been very inspiring to me. He uses a lot of short, quick, simple games and activities but he gets a lot of mileage out of them. He does that by asking people to make connections between real life and the process or the activities of the game. He treats the game as a metaphor. That surprises people and that's why his jolts have such power for learning.
And my third big influence has been Thiagi. He tends to do the opposite of Mel. He is constantly demonstrating how to use whatever you are given in the moment as a metaphor for what you are teaching. I think it's important for trainers to make that leap; to use whatever is happening and help the participants see the connections to what is being taught. When you can do that, the whole world becomes your training room!
Thiagi: What was your worst experience as a trainer?
Brian: I once had someone tell me after a workshop that the skit I had done brought up painful and traumatic memories for her. She wanted me to promise never to use that skit again! Well, I was surprised because I hadn't intended anything of the sort and I had never gotten this type of response before. In fact, what the woman was describing had never occurred to me, it was so far from my own experience.
I think it's very important to be sensitive to cultural differences and to be politically correct. You've got to avoid what could be triggers for your participants. Unfortunately, you can't predict everything. And you can't be responsible for the past experiences and coping abilities of individuals. They, themselves, need to take responsibility for how they learn from those past traumas.
Thiagi: So what about your best experience?
Brian: I think my best experiences as a trainer come from what you might call “reality training.” By that I mean using something that has really happened as a metaphor for what you want to teach about. This could be something that people haven't even realized was going on as part of the training.
For example, in a workshop on wise and sound decision-making, I begin with a discussion about how each person decided where to sit in the training room. Sounds sort of lame except several chairs have been “customized” for the event. One has a block of wood with nails sticking out of it. Another has a “reserved” sign on it. A third is facing into a corner and a fourth is right in front where everyone can see it. No one ever sits in these special chairs. So, as people explain their chosen seating, we discover that even our casual decisions are influenced by our logic, past experiences, social norms, personal expectations, and emotional needs. Each of these influences has an analogy in one of the chairs. People are struck by the complexity of their decisions and how much they take decision-making for granted. And now they are ready to look at their corporate and team decision-making process more seriously.
The reason I like “reality training” is that it sensitizes people to expect to learn from anything. Hopefully they transfer that to their job and begin to improve performance on their own.
Thiagi: Seems like there is some potential danger in “reality training” if people don't know what is really real in the classroom.
Brian: Well, you do hear once in a while about the high school assembly where everyone is told several teenagers have been killed in a car accident just to point out the dangers of drinking and driving. It causes intense emotional reactions and then outright anger when people realize they have been tricked. Sometimes a simulation is too real and the facilitators should ask themselves whether the learning will outweigh the psychological damage this type of simulation can cause. It can also do serious damage to the facilitator's reputation. Will anyone trust that facilitator the next time or will they always be a bit suspicious?
I think what I'm trying to point out to people is that there are opportunities for learning all around them and at every moment. So I am trying to find ways to highlight those learning moments in a harmless and playful way. We don't know when we will have our next opportunity to learn something or what we might learn from any given situation. It's helpful to have practice deconstructing our experiences in the classroom so we can be more open to learning from our experiences in the world.
Thiagi: What advice do you have for other game designers?
Brian: I would say begin by thinking as creatively as you possibly can. Ask yourself, “How can I make this material more engaging? How can I bring it to life? How can I make it fun?” So, if you feel you have to lecture, what props, metaphors, and examples can you use to involve people? How can you hook them? That will probably lead you to a game—or at least a playful way to make your material interactive.
When you already have a game in mind you can be more creative by stretching its metaphor. For example, if you're using the board game Clue® as a basis to teach about customer service, give people the props or costume elements a detective would have. People get involved with the fantasy of the game and you suddenly have the potential of adding more meaning to what you are teaching.
And then, for game leaders or facilitators, I would say be open to serendipity. Anything can happen in a game and anything that does happen can used to teach something. We learn from the data we gather and you can begin collecting data as soon as people enter the room.
Here is a game that uses an element of chance to drill down into the major themes of your workshop. Use Snake Eyes to wrap up and review the major themes of the training.
20 minutes, longer if you like.
Flipchart, markers, dice, paper, and pens.
Ask the group to generate six statements about things they have learned in the workshop. These can be a one-sentence summary, a truism, or a piece of sage advice. Post the statements on a flipchart and number them one through six.
Next, post the following numbered catalyst phrases:
Divide participants into teams of three to six. Each team takes a turn rolling two dice. The first die indicates the number of one of the catalyst phrases. The second die indicates one of the statements that summarize the workshop (from the list generated by the whole group.) The catalyst then tells how the second statement must be altered to make a new statement. Explain to the participants that, if they roll a 1 with the first die, they are to write a new statement that “is similar to” the statement indicated by the second die. If the first roll is a 4, the new statement will be “a potential problem for” the statement that corresponds to the second die.
For example, in a workshop on improving supervisory skills for managers, 3 and 2 are rolled on the dice. The first die, 3, indicates the catalyst “Is a logical extension of…” Let's say 2, the second die, indicates a predetermined statement like “Managers should communicate clearly and often about their expectations for teams.” Teams must write a statement that is a logical extension of the statement about managers and expectations. One team might write, “Teams should ask for clarification of expectations when they see evidence of mission creep.” A role of 5 and 2 might produce “Asking team members a lot of questions is essential for insuring that expectations are agreed upon.”
Give teams about three minutes to write their new statement then take turns sharing. Record the statements and distribute them as a follow up to the workshop.
Here's another two-person card game called Ginny that is based on Gin Rummy. This game also deals with the stages in team development. It uses the same deck of classification cards.
See the Four Stages of Team Development instructions to review information about the four stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing. (For your convenience, we have duplicated this handout from last month's PFP.)
To rapidly recognize the behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, perceptions, expectations, problems, and strategies associated with the four stages of team development.
Two. Larger groups may be divided into pairs to play the game in a parallel fashion. If an odd player is left out, the facilitator can play the game with this person.
5 - 10 minutes. The game may be replayed several times to determine the winner of a match.
How To Play Ginny Handout. This handout summarizes the rules of the game. Make a copy for each player.
Four Stages of Team Development Handout. This handout summarizes Tuckman's model. Make a copy for each player.
Feedback Table. This table is used for settling disputes during the game. The table lists each card number and the correct team-development stage (or stages) associated with it. Make a copy for each player.
A deck of Growing a Team Cards. This deck contains 99 cards. Prepare your own deck by typing the numbers and statements from this list on your own cards. (See below if you don't have the patience to do this.)
(All words in italics are defined in the glossary.)
Deal the cards. Deal nine cards to each player, one card at a time. Deal the next card (the 19th card) face up on the table. This is the upcard. Place the rest of the deck face down. This becomes the stock.
Assemble Sets. The object of the game is to assemble at least one set of each of the following types:
A set may have up to six cards. A player may also assemble three sets, each with three cards. In this case, the third set may be a suit set or a rank set. Any card that does not belong to a set is a deadwood.
Make the first move. The nondealer begins by picking up either the upcard or the top card of the stock (which is face down). After adding this card to her hand, this player discards a card face up on top of the upcard.
Repeat the procedure. The other player now picks up a card (either the upcard or the top card of the stock) and discards a card.
Continue the game. Players take turns to repeat the procedure, trying to assemble the required sets. At the end of each round, the player's hand contains nine cards.
Go out. Whenever a player has assembled the required sets and wants to conclude the game, she goes out after picking a card during her turn and placing the discard face down on top of the current upcard. She then places her hand (with the cards arranged in sets) face up on the table. The other player also reveals her hand.
Win the game. The players check out both hands. The player who went out wins the game if her hand contains no deadwood. If it contains deadwood, then the number of her deadwood cards is compared with the number of deadwood cards in her opponent's hand. In this case, whoever has fewer deadwood cards wins the game. (So it is possible for the player who goes out to lose the game if the other player has a better hand.)
Reduce deadwood. Remember that you may lose the game even if are the first player to go out with the two required sets. This will happen if you have more deadwood cards than your opponent. To reduce this probability, keep adding cards to your two sets (by collecting cards of the same rank or suit). Alternatively, you may create a third set (either a suit set or a rank set) of three cards.
Using the Feedback Table. Permit beginning players to refer to the Feedback Table whenever they want. However, wean them from the use of this cheat sheet as soon as possible to help them make decisions on their own and become more fluent about the four stages (suits).
Break the tie. In the rare occasion when both you and your opponent have the two required sets and equal number of deadwood cards, use this rule: The player who has the card with the lowest number (in the sets or deadwood cards) wins the game.
Penalty. Advanced players should play without referring to the Feedback Table. At the end of the game, use the Feedback Table to make sure that all cards in the suit set belong to the same suit. If they don't, this player loses the game and the other player wins by default.
Dealer. At the beginning of the game, one of players shuffles the deck and distributes the cards one at a time. This player is the dealer. When more than one game is played, players alternate being the dealer.
Discard. Removing a card from your hand and placing it, face up, on top of the upcard. This card becomes the new upcard.
Hand. The set of nine cards that each player has at the beginning and end of their turn.
Nondealer. The person who is not the dealer for this game.
Number. One of the three attributes of a card. This is the complete value of the number printed on top of the card. (See also Rank and Suit.)
Rank. One of the three attributes of a card. The rank of the card is the last digit (units digit) of its number. Card ranks range from 0 to 9. Example: The rank of card 27 is 7. Cards with the numbers 18, 38, 88, and 118 all have the same rank of 8. (See also Suit and Number.)
Stock. Cards that are not dealt at the beginning of the game.
Suit. One of the three attributes of a card. The suit is the category to which the printed item on the card belongs. Example: Forming (See also Rank and Number.)
Every playing card in the Growing a Team deck has three attributes: rank, suit, and number.
Here's a sample playing card from the Growing a Team deck:
The number of the card is the complete number on the card. The number of the sample card is 48.
The rank of the card is the last digit of the number on the card. The rank of the sample card is 8, which is the last digit of 48.
The suit of the card is the stage of the team development process associated with the statement on the card. This is not directly printed on the card; you must read the statement and decide which suit it belongs to. This sample card belongs to the forming suit because the statement belongs to the forming stage.
It is easy to determine the rank of a playing card: Just ignore the first digit of the card. So 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, and 92 all have the same rank (that is, 2). Ranks run from 0 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).
It takes some effort to determine the suit of a Growing a Team card. Read the statement on the card, analyze it, and classify it correctly.
Some statements may describe more than one stage of team development. These playing cards belong to more than one suit. When you play one of these cards, you choose the suit to which the card belongs.
In 1965 B. W. Tuckman, who had been studying the behavior of small groups, published a model that suggests that all teams go through four distinct stages in their development:
Forming. The first stage in a team's development is forming. During this stage, the team members are unsure about what they are doing. Their focus is on understanding the team's goal and their role. They worry about whether the other team members will accept them. Team members frequently look for clarification from their leader.
Storming. The second stage in a team's development is storming. During this stage, the team members try to get organized. This stage is marked by conflict among the members and between the members and the leader. Through this conflict, the team attempts to define itself.
Norming. The third stage in a team's development is norming. This stage follows storming, after the team members have succeeded in resolving their conflicts. They now feel more secure with one another and with their leader. They effectively negotiate the structure of the team and the division of labor.
Performing. The fourth stage in a team's development is performing. During this stage the team members behave in a mature fashion and focus on accomplishing their goals. This stage is marked by direct, two-way communication among the team members.
|Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit|
|1. P||21. F||41. P||61. S||81. F|
|2. N||22. P||42. F||62. N||82. P|
|3. N||23. S||43. S, N||63. F, S||83. P|
|4. P||24. S||44. S||64. S||84. N, P|
|5. F||25. N||45. N||65. F||85. P|
|6. P||26. N||46. N, P||66. N||86. F, S|
|7. F||27. P||47. P||67. F||87. P|
|8. P||28. S||48. F||68. P||88. P|
|9. F||29. N||49. S||69. P||89. N|
|10. S||30. S||50. F||70. P||90. F|
|11. S||31. S||51. P||71. P||91. S|
|12. N, P||32. S||52. P||72. F||92. S|
|13. F||33. N||53. S||73. N||93. F, S|
|14. P||34. F||54. F||74. P||94. P|
|15. F||35. N||55. P||75. N||95. F|
|16. N||36. N, P||56. F||76. P||96. S|
|17. P||37. F||57. F||77. N||97. P|
|18. F||38. N, P||58. P||78. P||98. N, P|
|19. F||39. N, P||59. S||79. F||99. N|
|20. N||40. N||60. P||80. N, P|
We will sell you a deck of ready-made printed cards with team-development items, along with the Feedback Table. Currently selling for $18, we will give you a 50 percent discount of $9 and throw in free shipment (for USA orders only)! Order your decks through our secure online store.
Hi. I'm Matt Richter, Resident Rogue Scholar for the Thiagi Group. I am an instructional designer, trainer, performance consultant, and whatever else is needed at the time. Often, Thiagi, Raja, and I are asked where we get the content we use for our projects. The answer is easy—we study and read non-stop. And so, starting this month, I am going to provide a series of brief book reviews that have recently informed our work, either directly or peripherally. Some of the choices will seem clearly affiliated with a specific topic designers and trainers know intimately, such as this month's set of Leadership books. Others may not be so directly associated with a particular topic, such as my upcoming reviews of Steven Pinker's work in cognitive psychology. Please email us with any questions, clarifications, suggestions, complaints, or comments. Enjoy!
Leadership by James MacGregor Burns,
ISBN 0061319759 .
James MacGregor Burns wrote this seminal book in the late 1970s, describing the process of leadership as one of transforming followers into creative leaders themselves. A historian and political scientist, Burns used history and political science to concretely describe the process of leadership as occurring “when persons with certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others, institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers.” Reading Leadership transformed me; first, by making me aware of the transparent relationship between leaders in business contexts and in political contexts. And second, by highlighting the symbiotic flow between leaders and followers. Followers, Burns explained, were just as important as leaders. In fact, leaders couldn't exist without them.
Transforming Leadership: The Pursuit of
Happiness by James MacGregor Burns, ISBN 0871138662
In this sequel to Leadership, Burns continues to expand his vision and value around leadership, focusing on the ways that leaders emerge from being ordinary "transactional" brokers to becoming true agents of principled social change. These leaders empower their followers to achieve freedom and happiness. Using characters and events from history, Burns demonstrates that leadership is not a "descriptive term, but a prescriptive one, embracing a moral, even a passionate, dimension." Reading Transforming Leadership—lofty, abstract at times, and visionary—makes it clear why so many of the current popular leadership models (from such authors as Tichy, Bennis, Kouzes and Posner, and Goleman) stem from Burn's leadership ideology. There is much value for businesses to look beyond business texts, and learn from history. Burns makes the links.
Leadership: Theory and
Practice by Peter G. Northouse, ISBN 076192566X
This textbook is a great survey of the major theories of leadership, including Situational Leadership, Transformational Leadership, and Contingency Theory. Northouse opens the book by exploring the question of whether leaders are born or made. He maps the lineage of each approach and notes the fact that comparing the two theories is like comparing apples and oranges, since each defines the goal and approach of leadership differently. Northouse provides both strengths and weaknesses of each theory, and provides practical applications and case studies. He includes instruments associated with each theory. Though slightly dry, this book provides details of all major leadership approaches based on where they come from. The book categorizes the big names in popular management literature (such as Blanchard, Bennis, and Tichy) and it explains the inherent struggle between simplicity and complexity among alternative approaches. For example, some of the more complex models, such as Path-Goal Theory have quite a bit of research to back them up, but are often too difficult for people to implement. Others, like Situational Leadership, have some holes in their research, but are quite popular because people can easily apply them. Taking an objective stance, Northouse (and the other contributors) do not offer recommendations, only explanations and histories.
An ampersand phrase is a pair of words that are typically linked by the word “and”. In a partial ampersand phrase, one of the two words is replaced by a blank.
Here's an example:
SALT & ___
What is the missing word?
It's obviously PEPPER as in SALT AND PEPPER.
Here are three more partial ampersand pairs. See if you can find the missing word in each:
___ & PEACE
BED & ___
___ & PREJUDICE
Here are the correct solutions: WAR (as in War and Peace), BED (as in Bed and Breakfast), and PRIDE (as in Pride and Prejudice).
We have created a crossword puzzle for this issue of PFP. All the clues for the puzzle are ampersand phrases.
We have two versions of the puzzle available. You can solve the interactive version on the web, if you have Java support in your browser. Alternatively, you can print out the Adobe Acrobat version (PDF; 4,283 bytes) and solve it with paper and pencil.
In the April issue of PFP, I explored a dozen uses for crossword puzzles. Review this article and come up creative ways for incorporating this ampersand crossword in a simulation game, jolt, or a team activity. Send me your design ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will publish them in a future issue of PFP.
RAMEs (Replayable Asynchronous Multiplayer Experiences) are web-based games that collect valuable ideas from virtual focus groups. For more information about this online strategy, see the Tool Kit section of the March 2003 issue of Play for Performance. See also the April 2003 issue for the results of a RAME activity that dealt with the question, “How can we make our training games more effective?”
The RAME that we use frequently is called Best of the Best. It begins with an open-ended question in Round 1. All players respond to this question. In Round 2, each player reviews the answers from a group of other players and selects the top two. In Round 3, players review the best answers selected by different groups and choose the top two “best-of-the-best” answers.
This RAME uses two types of open-ended questions. In the March/April 2003 activity, we used a problem-solving question. This month, we would like to use another type of open-ended question that requires a brief and creative answer.
Structured Sharing is an interactive strategy from our list of strategies for improving human performance. This strategy facilitates mutual learning and teaching by creating a dialogue among participants based on their experiences, knowledge, and opinions. In a typical structured-sharing activity, participants generate their own learning content. The facilitator merely helps them recall, share, and discuss their best practices and ideas.
Many participants and facilitators do not like the label “Structured Sharing”. Here's a creative challenge for you: Think about the nature and the purpose of this interactive strategy. Come up with an alternative name that is more catchy and memorable. Make sure that your new name reflects the essence of this strategy.
Please visit the web page listed below and register yourself as a player.
The registration activity will only take you 15 seconds (unless you have a long name like “Sivasailam Thiagarajan”).
Registration deadline: Friday, August 13, 2004.
You will get simple instructions for participating in the first round after the registrations are completed.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test
first, the lesson afterwards.
—Vernon Sanders Law
You succeed or fail in a training activity just like you pass or fail a test.
Real learning from your experience occurs when you (and other participants) take part in a debriefing discussion, come up with useful insights, and share them with each other. This important “lesson afterward” is the main purpose of debriefing.
We can incorporate the principle put forward by Vernon Sanders Law in a training strategy by requiring the participants to take a test before a lecture presentation. We can then conduct an interactive lecture by presenting the correct answer for each test item and explaining the reasoning behind it.