SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
The assumptions people make.
Five Textra Games
Wrap your reading assignments in these games.
Silence by Gregory Webb, Kansas City Country Club
A priceless piece of advice.
Barnga: 25th Anniversary Edition
A revised and expanded version.
Listen to an audio clip.
Check It Out
North American Simulation and Gaming Association ( http://nasaga.org/ )
Some good things in life are free.
The Secret of Successful Presentations
Burning and dying.
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: Jean Reese
Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Les Lauber, Matt Richter, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2006 by The Thiagi Group. 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 THIAGI GAMELETTER. Copyright © 2006 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us (email@example.com) for permission.
All registered subscribers receive Thiagi GameLetter 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 The Thiagi Group, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks!
Michel Hodges (Blonder Home Accents) sent a nice piece of feedback about the online activity (Least Preferred Patient Test) that we published in last month's TGL. Based on Michel's and other reader's comments, we decided that this activity deserved a face-to-face version.
Participants make impulsive assumptions.
Jolt. Assumptions. Hospital. Baby.
To identify the causes and effects of assumptions that we make.
3 minutes for the activity and 5 minutes for debriefing
Handout, Least Preferred Patient Test (one copy for each participant).
Three PowerPoint® slides:
You can download these slides from http://www.thiagi.com/lppt/patients.zip . Alternatively, you can create your own slides using your own photographs.
Distribute copies of the Least Preferred Patient Test. Ask participants to read the instructions and circle their choice.
Give feedback about the first two patients. Ask participants who selected Patient B. R. as the least preferred patient. If anybody selected this patient, it is likely they misread the directions and selected the most preferred patient. Ask them to re-read the instructions and change their choice if they want to. Show the slide with a picture of this patient. Repeat the same procedure with Patient S. T.
Give feedback about the third patient. Ask participants who selected Patient J. T. as the least preferred patient. It is likely that everyone selected this patient. Show the slide with the cute baby picture. Pause briefly while participants realize the impulsive assumptions they made.
Debrief. Don't make fun of the participants' “error”. Ask them what makes the difference between older people and babies who have same behavioral characteristics. Follow up by discussing these two questions:
Don't have access to a laptop, projector, or screen? Print out the three Powerpoint® slides. Hold them up for the participants to see. Pass them around.
You have been recently hired by Burlington General Hospital, well known for its work in geriatrics. As a part of the hospital's personality testing battery, they ask you to take this test:
Circle the patient you would least enjoy taking care of.
Patient B. R.
B. R. is kind and appreciative. She cannot talk too much, but is otherwise communicative. She is friendly, fearless, and inquisitive. She looks good and is relatively self-sufficient. She asks about the nurse's well-being and sleeps through the night.
Patient S. T.
S. T. is grouchy, and something of a hypochondriac. He is scraggly-looking. He needs help walking, but can take care of himself when he reaches his destination. He sleeps, but not a lot.
Patient J. T.
J. T. is self-centered. He cries a lot, and can't walk or talk. He is incontinent and can't feed himself. He is almost bald, wrinkly, and cranky. He wakes up at all hours of the night.
In the past, traditional training techniques were based on the fact that content was sparse, controlled, or hidden. This resulted in training designers investing a lot of resources in creating handouts and manuals. This situation has changed drastically. Today, for example, when I searched for books on leadership at amazon.com, I came up with 17,042 different titles. When I searched for leadership in Google™, I came up with nearly a billion (915 million, to be exact) references.
These days, content is abundantly available. This is why I keep nagging trainers (and training designers) that our job is not to create content but to create activities that require and reward participants for mindfully interacting with existing content resources.
A textra game combines the effective organization of printed text with the motivational impact of playful activities. Participants begin by completing a reading assignment before playing a game that uses peer support (and peer pressure) to encourage understanding, recall, transfer, and application of what they read.
Beginning with this issue of TGL, I plan to present brief descriptions of different textra games. You may apply the main strategies in these games to create your own training activities that incorporate a variety of existing printed resources ranging from flyers and job aids to technical manuals and encyclopedias.
Here's the first set of five textra games.
Basic idea. Three teams read and analyze a research report and prepare an abstract. A fourth team comparatively evaluates the three abstracts.
Reading materials. Research reports, experimental studies, or scholarly articles.
Sample reading assignment. Individual differences in study processes and quality of learning outcomes (and four other similar research reports).
Learning outcome. Critically read research reports, prepare abstracts, and evaluate different abstracts.
Flow. Assign five different research reports for self-study by participants. Organize participants into five teams and ask each team to prepare a 100-word abstract of one of the five research reports by identifying key variables, results, and limitations of the study. Teams put their abstract inside an envelope, attach it to the research report, and give the report and the envelope to the next team. Each team now writes an abstract for a different report, places the abstract inside the envelope, and gives it to the next team. After repeating the procedure one more time, each team receives a new research report, opens the envelope, and comparatively evaluates the three abstracts.
Basic idea. Each participant prepares a summary of the main points from an article. Teams of participants evaluate summaries of another team and select the best summary.
Reading materials. Articles, new items, essays, research reports, or short chapters.
Sample reading assignment. Four types of happiness.
Learning outcome. Identify key points and summarize them.
Flow. Ask participants to read the article before coming to the training session. Ask participants to write a summary of the key ideas presented in the article. Organize participants into equal-sized teams. Distribute summaries from each team to the next one. Ask team members to collaboratively identify the best summary among those given to them. Ask the team representatives to read the selected summaries. Finally, ask all participants to vote for the best among the best summaries.
Basic idea. Participants mark a numbered space on their Bingo cards after providing correct answers to review questions related to a reading assignment. Whenever a participant marks five spaces in a straight line, she gets to mark a bonus space. First participant to mark all 25 numbered spaces wins the game.
Reading materials. Articles, reprints, pamphlets, brochures, instruction sheets, or job aids.
Sample reading assignment. Features and benefits of our newest medication.
Learning outcome. Recall factual and conceptual information.
Flow. Ask participants to read the pamphlet before coming to the session. Give a Bingo card to each participant with the numbers 1 to 25 arranged in different random orders. Ask a question related to the content of the reading assignment. Pause while participants write the answer. Announce the correct answer. Select a random number from 1-25. Ask participants with the correct answer to mark the space with that number. Repeat the process with other questions. Whenever a participant has marked five spaces in a straight line, ask her to mark a bonus space. Continue the activity until someone has marked all 25 spaces in her bingo card.
Basic idea. Participants study a two-page flyer. Each participant looks at a different page and takes turn asking questions about the content on that page.
Reading materials. Two-page flyers, brochures, fact sheets, job aids, or product brochures.
Sample reading assignment. How to recognize the agents of bioterrorism (one page dealing with plague and brucellosis and the second page dealing with anthrax and tularemia).
Learning outcome. Fluently recall key items of information.
Flow. Ask participants to study both sides of the brochure. Pair up participants and ask them to sit facing each other. Participants hold the brochure vertically in the middle so that each participant sees a different side. Ask participants to take turns asking a question based on the content on their side. If the other person gives the correct answer, she earns a point. After a suitable time, participants rotate the brochure so they see the other side. They continue taking turns to ask questions as before. When the game ends, the participant with the highest score is identified as the winner.
Basic idea. Participants begin by creating crossword puzzle clues for key terms from the reading assignment. Later, participants pair up and solve a crossword puzzle that tests the understanding of the reading assignment.
Reading materials. Articles, chapters, books, technical reports, manuals, spec sheets, theoretical papers, or research reports.
Sample reading assignment. A multicomponent conceptualization of authenticity: A theoretical model.
Learning outcome. Recall key terms, facts, and ideas.
Flow. Ask participants to pair up and prepare a list of key terms and concepts from the assigned chapter. Ask each pair to select five of these terms and create crossword puzzle clues for them. Take the word lists and clues from pairs and give them a crossword puzzle that tests the understanding of the contents of the chapter. Pause for a suitable period of time. After a suitable pause, give the solution to participant pairs and have them score their responses. Identify (and congratulate) the winning pair that has solved the most number of items.
In the May issue of TGL, we introduced the concept of 99 Words as a printed version of our 99 Seconds presentations. The idea is to provide useful content (including the title) in exactly 99 words—no more, no less. We invited our readers to contribute their 99 Words articles.
Gregory Webb, General Manager of the Kansas City Country Club, provides this month's piece on the important—but difficult—skill of keeping our mouths shut. Thanks, Gregory.
How about your contribution? Send your 99 Words article to email@example.com .
Sometimes it takes 99 seconds of silence to get the job done.
Learning to be comfortable with silence can be difficult for some people, especially in some cultures.
Often we so want interaction that we forget to pause and let people process.
99 seconds allows participants to get caught up on notes or to revisit a thought or formulate a question.
As a facilitator it is time to scan your audience and see who needs to contribute next.
For some it is just a chance to breathe.
They say silence is golden, if so, 99 seconds is priceless!
On April 15, 1980, Thiagi designed a simulation game called Barnga, while being confined to a compound by rebel soldiers during a military coup in Liberia, West Africa. This simulation has become a classic, played by thousands of people all around the world. Hundreds of facilitators have selected Barnga as the simulation game of choice in diversity and intercultural communication.
This year, Intercultural Press is bringing out a special 25th anniversary edition of Barnga. Completely revised and enhanced by Thiagi with the help of Nancy Bragard (French), Samuel van den Bergh (German), and Ivan and Alexandra Cortes (Spanish), this edition has several unique features.
Barnga explores communication challenges across cultures. While playing this simulation game, players realize that despite good intentions, people interpret things differently in profound ways. Players learn that they must understand and reconcile these differences in order to become a functioning team. The book contains complete instructions for facilitating and debriefing the activity. While the instructions are in English, the book also contains reproducible masters for handouts and slides in French, Spanish, and German.
Here are some of the new features in the 25th Anniversary edition:
We are planning to create a special section for Barnga users in our website ( http://thiagi.com/barnga ). Whether you are a new or an experienced user of this simulation game, please contribute modifications you have made to the game, reports of interesting experiences in conducting the game, additional uses for the game, and translations of rules into other languages.
Price: $35.00. Publication date: June 2006. Number of pages: 40 pages + 80 reproducible pages in English, French, Spanish, and German.
You can order your copy of this special edition of Barnga through our secure online store.
In a format called 99 Seconds, the presenter makes a brisk, self-contained presentation that lasts for less than 99 seconds. For more details about this format, check out the April 2002 issue of our newsletter.
You can incorporate simple physical activities to increase interactivity in your 99 seconds presentation. Here are a couple of examples:
Here's an audio version of a simple physical activity. For non-auditory learners, here's a printed version:
Are you ready to interact—with yourself?
Here are some simple instructions: Place your hands in front of your chest, palm to palm, as if you are praying.
I am going to count to three. When I say “Three”, push your right palm forcefully.
Are you ready? Here we go: One, two, three, … push.
(Pause for 5 seconds.)
Thanks. You may relax now.
And are you ready for a quick debrief?
I am not interested in your right palm. But I am curious about what you did with your left palm.
Did your left palm push back? I didn't ask you to do that.
Here's the simple learning point from this exercise: People automatically resist when they are being pushed. This is true of all kinds of pressure: physical, mental, psychological.
Are you trying to change someone's mind? Good luck. Be prepared for automatic resistance.
And, hey, thanks for letting me push you around. Goodbye from Thiagi.
The North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA) is a network of professionals working on the design, implementation, and evaluation of games and simulations to improve learning results in all types of organizations. NASAGA maintains a very useful web site.
Visit the web site and review the valuable information in the Resource and Community News sections. Also, read the current and back issues of SIMAGES, NASAGA's online newsletter.
The web site displays latest exciting news about NASAGA's 2006 conference (to be held October 11-14, 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).
When you visit the NASAGA web site, be sure to sign up to become a member. This membership is free and perpetual. No need to renew your membership every year. When you become a member, you are added to the NASAGA discussion group where you can ask questions and supply answers about different aspects of simulations and games.
Talk about something that you are burning to say and your audience
members are dying to hear.
At a recent conference session on storytelling, Jon Pearson shared this secret of successful presentations. I think that this secret applies not only to conference presentations and storytelling but also to training sessions.
You must have passion for what you are talking about and training others to do. Otherwise, your apathy is going to contaminate your session. It is better for you to say “No” to presentation and training requests on topics that do not excite you.
Your audience must be highly motivated to listen to you and to learn from you. Unless there is a strong and direct connection between your message and the personal goals of audience members, no amount of entertaining them is going to result in sustained improvement in learning and performance.
Use Jon Pearson's criteria for evaluating the potential impact of your training sessions and conference presentations.