Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.

Card Game
Simple? Complex? Confusing? Interesting?

Interactive Lecture
Spread the Word
Communicate with everyone.

Mini Memoir
Visit Amsterdam, But…
A case for contextualized learning.

Online Course
Coaching for Performance: A Facilitated Online Experience by Matt Richter
Last chance to get Pilot pricing and an extra discount for TGL readers.

International Workshops
Thiagi Workshops Outside the USA
Workshops in India, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Pieces of Advice
Follow @thiagi on Twitter.

From Brian's Brain
Asking Powerful Questions by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Online Survey
Complaints from Participants
Why are they not grateful?

Survey Results
Trending: Elearning
A summary of your responses.

Check It Out
Top Ten Things We Look for in a Great Game ( )
How would your games rate?





To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.

Editorial Roster

Author and Editor : Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor : Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editors: Tracy Tagliati and Jean Reese

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Matthew Richter

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2014 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 © 2014 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

For any other use of the content, please contact us ( ) for permission.

Subscription Info

To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( ).

Feedback Request

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 . Thanks!

Card Game


Understanding and analyzing a piece of advice are important activities. Here is a game that requires the participants to analyze the features associated with different pieces of advice.

About the Cards

This game uses a deck of practical advice cards.

Each card in a deck of 52 practical advice cards contains an actionable guideline related to a specific topic. We have more than 25 different ready-to-use decks of cards for sale in our online store on topics such as building trust, coaching, interviewing, customer service, facilitation, feedback, innovation, leadership, listening, managing globally, motivation, presentation skills, teamwork, and training.

We'd love to sell you the cards, but you don't have to buy them. You can create your own cards by writing different pieces of practical advice on blank index cards. If you want to be more efficient (and effective), you can ask the participants to generate their own cards, mix them up, and conduct the game.


The participants study the five cards in their hand and take turns naming a strong feature of one of the pieces of advice. All players play a card that exhibits this feature and receive a score based on how strongly the feature is present.


To analyze the features of different pieces of advice.


Minimum: 3
Maximum: Any number, divided into groups of 4 to 7
Best: 10 to 20


15 to 30 minutes



Introduce the topic. Announce the training topic for the session. Explain that instead of presenting theoretical models and complex conceptual frameworks about the topic, you will explore a few short pieces of practical advice.

Distribute the cards. Give a deck of cards to the playgroup. Ask someone to deal five cards to each participant.

Study the cards. Ask the participants to read the pieces of advice on different cards. Tell them to identify the features that make each piece of advice unique (such as simple, surprising, obvious, or precise). Demonstrate this task by reading the advice on a card and identifying a set of salient features.

Ask the first player to specify a feature. Select one participant to begin the first round. Ask this person to identify a feature that is strongly associated with the piece of advice on one of the cards that he or she is holding. Ask the participant to place the card with this strong feature in the middle of the table, advice side down.

Ask other players to select a card. Tell them to select a card from their hand that strongly exhibits the feature named by the first player. Ask everyone to place the selected card, advice side down, in the middle of the table.

Reveal the cards. Ask someone to mix up the cards in the middle of the table and turn them over, advice side up. Ask the participants to study the advice on these cards.

Select a card. Tell the players that they may not select the card they themselves placed on the table. Ask them to select from the other cards, the one card that most strongly exhibits the feature named by the first player. At the count of three, ask all players to place a finger on top of the card they selected.

Score the choices. Ignore the cards that nobody selected. Identify the player who played each of the other cards and give him or her a score equal to the number of fingers touching it.

Repeat the procedure. Ask the participants to take back the card they played and place it among the other cards in their hand. Tell the participant to the left of the previous first player to start the next round by identifying another feature strongly associated with one of his or her cards. Repeat the game as before.

Conclude the activity. The activity comes to an end after every participant has had a chance to specify a feature. At this time, the participant with the highest score is the winner.

Replay the game. If time permits, ask the playgroups to continue playing with a fresh hand of five cards.

Play Example

We recently played Features with a deck of cards called Leadership Strategies. This deck contained pieces of advice on how to inspire followers to achieve common goals.

Althea, the first player, announced “vague and unclear” as the selected feature for the first round.

Here are the five cards that were played during the first round:

  1. Adjust your leadership style according to the authority you have. If you have high authority, focus on getting results. If you have low authority, focus on establishing relationships.
  2. Be in touch. Keep connected to your followers, your stakeholders, your customers, your industry, and changes and trends.
  3. Don't be a transactional leader who exchanges rewards for results produced by followers. Be a transformational leader who changes the followers and is changed by them.
  4. Demonstrate self-confidence, not arrogance; determination, not obsession; integrity, not saintliness; sociability, not possessiveness; and intelligence, not becoming highbrow.
  5. Don't take “No” for an answer. Challenge your team to come up with alternative solutions.


Too many participants? If you have eight or more participants, divide them into playgroups of four to seven people each. Give a separate deck for each group. If you have only one deck, split the deck into equal sized packets and give a packet to each playgroup.

Too few participants? You can conduct the activity with just three participants. If you have just two, you can join the game as one of the players.

Not enough time? Play a single round. You name a feature and give a minute for the players to select a suitable card. The rest of the round is played as in the regular game.

Interactive Lecture

Spread the Word

Asking the participants to summarize the key points from a lecture is an effective way to strengthen their understanding and recall. My friend Regina Rowland and I recently designed an interactive lecture on the emerging discipline of biomimicry. In this design, we went beyond merely summarizing the key ideas to appealing to different types of audiences.


To summarize the key points in a lecture to appeal to different audiences.


Minimum: 4
Maximum: Any number, divided into 4 or 6 teams
Best: 12 to 30


30 to 60 minutes


Make your presentation. Keep the length of your presentation short: from 10 to 20 minutes.

Organize the participants into an even number of teams. Each team should have at least two and up to seven members. The total number of teams should be 4 or 6.

Assign different types of audience to each pair of teams. The types of audiences should reflect the people to whom the topic is relevant. You need a different type for each pair of teams.

The content of Regina's interactive lecture was relevant to a wide variety of audiences. Here are the different types that we specified:

Ask the teams to prepare a presentation suitable for the assigned audience. Assign the same type of audience for each pair of teams. Ask the teams to work independently to prepare a 3-minute presentation on the key points from your presentation. Encourage the teams to use appropriate language and examples that will communicate the message clearly to the selected audience.

Ask each pair of teams to make their presentation. Randomly select one team to make its presentation. If you prefer, you may ask the members of the competing team to wait outside the room to prevent their incorporating elements of the other team's presentation. Ask all other teams (who were assigned other audiences) to listen to the presentations from both teams.

Ask the other teams to select the better presentation. At the conclusion of both presentations (on the same topic), ask the other teams to quickly select the team whose presentation was more appropriate for the selected audience. Congratulate the winning team.

Repeat the procedure. Ask the next pair of teams to take turns to make their presentations. Ask the other teams to select the more appropriate presentation.

Conclude the game. Thank the teams for their contribution. Quickly recall the key features of the message.


Only two teams? If you don't have enough participants to organize four or six teams, go with two teams. At the end of the presentations, you act as the judge and select the team that made the more appropriate presentation. Alternatively, ask each team to identify the effective presentation techniques used by the other team.

Mini Memoir

Visit Amsterdam, But…

Lucy and I squeezed into a crowded tram in front of the Amsterdam central railway station. Three other people got behind us, and one of them asked Lucy in a mix of Dutch and English, “Where do I get a ticket?” Another passenger squeezed me in to make room for himself. Just before the tram took off, all three of them got off, obviously to purchase the ticket. Tourists from up North, I thought.

After two stops, we got seats to sit down. I told Lucy that the behavior of the three confused passengers was very similar to the behavior of the Malays in Kuala Lumpur who bumped into our friend Sam from Switzerland. Except, in Sam's case, his pocket was picked. His wallet was stolen.

Lucy said, “Check your pocket.”

Sure enough, my wallet was gone. Along with the passport, credit cards, and 500 euros in crisp bills.

We got off at the next stop and went back to the police outpost at the railway station. We joined a line of four foreigners, everyone to report that their pockets have been picked.

The Dutch police were friendly, sympathetic, and efficient. They had already found the wallet, discarded in the middle of a sidewalk with the passport and credit cards intact. Only the €500 was gone.

Lucy was quick to point out how stupid I was.

And she did not know the height of my stupidity: I keep telling my pre-departure training participants how pickpockets operate around the world in crowded transportation systems: In high-performance teams with amazing ability to distract and disarm you.

Once again, I am reminded that understanding concepts and principles is not the same as applying them. The context is as important as the content. And all the other clichés that I spout off.

Online Course

Coaching for Performance: A Facilitated Online Experience
by Matt Richter

Coaching for Performance (CFP) is a Thiagi Group online workshop adapting our flexible 4-Door™ ELearning approach. CFP is a completely facilitated program that occurs virtually and asynchronously—meaning participants can engage any time they want. The course is the equivalent of approximately three days of classroom time, but you have 30 days to complete it on your own schedule.

One participant, Marianne Smith (Global Director for Learning and Development for Paradigm), said, “I am very impressed with the design, materials, and how the feedback works, etc. Definitely keeping me engaged and wondering what is going to happen next!”

To learn more about the course format, structure, and objectives, see the details in our online store at or .

Special Offer

The course is currently in the Pilot period. After the Pilot period, the program price will be $1,499 for a three-day facilitated coaching skills course delivered virtually over 30 days. The Pilot price is $599, but as a TGL reader, if you enter the code TGL-CFP when you sign up in our online store, you will get $100 off.

Sign up now

If you have any questions, please email instructor Matt Richter at .

International Workshops

Thiagi Workshops Outside the USA

Thiagi is conducting public workshops outside the USA. Check our online calendar at for details.


Pieces of Advice

Every day, Thiagi tweets ready-to-use pieces of practical advice on HR topics such as coaching, creativity, customer service, feedback, leadership, listening skills, and management.

Here are some recently-tweeted pieces of advice that were retweeted frequently:

Don't be in a rush to educate and enlighten your client. Take time to be educated and enlightened.

Use this performance improvement process: analysis, intervention selection, design, development, evaluation, and implementation.

Use a positive approach to performance technology: Build on strengths and talents, not on deficits and weaknesses.

Use a positive, playful, results-oriented approach to improving human performance.

Improve human performance by focusing on the results—not on the performance, behavior, or activities.

Make sure that your goals are measurable. Make sure that you are measuring the right things.

Join the thousands of people who follow @thiagi on Twitter.

From Brian's Brain

Asking Powerful Questions
by Brian Remer

Too often we don't consider how to pose a query that will garner a big return. Yet if it's important to know the right answer we'd better ask the right question. Learn how to ask more powerful, in-depth question in this issue.

Power Tip: Deepen your thinking by widening the scope of your question to include a bigger population.

Read more in the July 2014 issue of Firefly News Flash: .

Online Survey

Complaints from Participants

How could this happen? You provide participant-centered training. You keep your sessions interactive by using a variety of activities that are engaging and effective. And yet, your participants don't like them. They complain about having to participate in games and training activities.

What is your perception of this trend?

Poll Question

Do your participants complain about your use of training activities and games?


(The poll opens in a new window.)

Open Question

What types of complaints do your participants frequently make about training activities and games?


(The survey opens in a new window.)

You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.

Survey Results

Trending: Elearning

Poll Question

In the July 2014 issue of TGL we talked about elearning trends. We asked this poll question:

Is elearning going to replace other training techniques?

As of July 30, 2014, thirty-nine readers responded. The majority of them (64%) said “No”. Eighteen percent said “Maybe” and 18% said, “Yes”.

Open Question

As a follow up to the poll, we asked these open questions:

Many decisions to adopt elearning are based on purely economic grounds: For instance, you can save on your travel budget by shifting to elearning.

What are other valid reasons for adopting elearning?

What are reasons for avoiding elearning?

Here are some of your responses, as of June 20, 2014:

Thanks to everyone who responded.

You Can Still Participate

This survey is still open. Feel free to add your comments by visiting the survey page.

Check It Out

Top Ten Things We Look for in a Great Game ( )

In this one-hour video, frequent hosts for The Dice Tower Tom Vasel, Zee Garcia, and Sam Healey discuss and debate the top ten elements they for look in a game:

Many of these elements apply largely to commercial board games:

However, several other elements relate to all types of games, including training games:

Watch the video and decide how the panelists would rate the games that you design and use.

Post your comments about this issue

comments powered by Disqus