SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Reflective Teamwork Activity
High Performance Teams
How to be a top team.
What Do You Do?
Practice your pitch.
An Interview with Bob Wiele
Conduct smarter meetings.
Group Order by Tracy Tagliati
Line up in different orders.
Say It Quick
Too Much Talk! by Brian Remer
Parental advice in 99 words.
Tagxedo by Brian Remer
Make your own word clouds.
Open Space Thinking by Brian Remer
Analyze your writing with word clouds.
Making Words Work by Brian Remer
Using word clouds for evaluation and review.
Thiagi and Tracy in Singapore
With Stanis Benjamin.
Attend Thiagi's Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training Workshop and become a Certified Trainer by Tracy Tagliati
Our next public workshop in the USA.
Thiagi and Sam in Zurich
On interactive strategies.
Single Topic Survey
Looking Back on 2010 by Tracy Tagliati
The year is almost at its end.
Generation Gap in the Workplace by Tracy Tagliati
A summary of your responses.
Improve Your Training Sessions Through Improv Games
Bend Your Brain with Thiagi and Tracy.
Check It Out
Will Thalheimer's Learning Landscape Model
A bird's eye view.
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.
Author and Editor : Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan
Assistant Editor : Raja Thiagarajan
Associate Editors: Jean Reese and Tracy Tagliati
Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Matthew Richter
Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2010 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 © 2010 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us ( email@example.com ) for permission.
To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( http://thiagi.com/pfp.html ).
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!
To select and implement guidelines for achieving high performance in a team.
Four or more.
30 to 45 minutes.
Organize participants into teams of four. If you have extra players, distribute them among the teams.
Distribute copies of the Teamwork Guidelines handout. Give a different version of the handout to each member of the team. Ask the participants to individually review the 10 guidelines listed in the handout and to select three that will be the most useful for helping the team complete its mission. Announce a 5-minute time limit and start the timer.
Ask team members to share and discuss the selected guidelines. Pause for about 5 minutes. At the end of this time, blow the whistle. Ask the team members to share their selected guidelines. Explain that there is some overlap among the guidelines from different handouts. So it is possible that more than one team member selected the same guideline. Ask teams to discuss their choices and select five guidelines that must be applied to achieve their mission.
Distribute copies of the Teamwork Planning form. Ask the members of each team to record their five selected guidelines in the first column. (They don't have to copy the entire guideline; just the heading will be fine.) In the second column, ask the teams to write the name of a team member who will be in charge of applying this guideline. Announce a 5-minute time limit for completing the task.
Ask the teams to debrief their behavior. Instruct the teams to use the selected guideline on the Teamwork Planning Form as a 5-point checklist. Ask the person responsible for each selected guideline to lead a discussion to reflect on how the team members carried out the previous tasks (of sharing their selections and filling out the Teamwork Planning Form). Suggest that the team should rate its previous behavior on a 5-point scale where 1 indicates that the guideline was ignored (or violated) and 5 indicates that the guideline was effectively used. Announce a 5-minute time limit.
Ask for improvement plans. After the team has rated its previous performance, ask the team members to brainstorm strategies for improving their scores on individual guidelines and their total score. Roam around different teams and listen to their discussion. Ask suitable questions to focus their attention.
Conclude the activity. After a suitable pause, remind participants that implementing the strategies they came up with is a very important step.
I dread the moment when people ask me, “What do you do?” I don't know how to explain that I am a performance technologist, or an instructional designer, or a facilitator. So I cheat by saying that I am a trainer.
Here's an activity that helps you become more fluent in explaining what you do for a living.
To describe the nature and significance of your job.
Participants are divided into three teams. Members of each team work cooperatively to come up with the best way to explain their jobs. During the first round, two of the teams have one-on-one conversations to toot their horns. During the second round, members of the third team make individual presentations.
30-45 minutes, depending on the number of participants.
Form teams. Divide participants into three teams. Label them A, B, and C.
Brief the participants. Give a pep talk about the importance of being able to explain one's job interestingly, concisely, and clearly. Ask team members to brainstorm how they should talk about their jobs and to practice their technique with each other. Announce a 5-minute time limit for this activity.
Conduct one-on-one conversations. Ask participants to reorganize themselves into triads so that each triad has one member of each team. Explain that the member from Team A will act as a judge. Ask the Team C member to cover her ears while the Team B explains her job to the judge. Follow this with a similar presentation from the Team C member. After the two presentations, the judge quickly announces whose presentation was better and explains why.
Conduct small-group presentations. Send all members of Team A outside the room. Explain that the members of Teams B and C will act as audience members. One by one, Team A members return to the room and explain what they do on their job. Immediately after everyone from Team A has made her presentation, the audience members vote for the best presentation.
Debrief the participants. Conduct a discussion of what features made the presentations clear, concise, and interesting.
Encourage personal action. Pause for a few minutes while participants individually jot down the key ideas from the activity so they can prepare a better explanation of their job to others.
Do you have more time? Ask each team to watch two different TED lectures. This will enable them to discover how different presenters use the same humor technique.
Do you have less face time? Ask participants to watch different TED lectures before they come to the face-to-face session. Also ask them to come prepared with individual lists of humor guidelines.
Bob Wiele modestly claims that he is more of an inventor of thinking tools rather than a game designer. The tools he developed are embedded into learning programs that use games to open up learning and get work done. The tools include the 4D-I online thinking and operating styles personal development system and the new Smarter Meetings program—a process mapping type of framegames that help organizations save a lot of money and teams engage their people to get more done in less time. (Check out www.smartermeetings.com .) Bob's books include Smart for Life, Smarter Meetings, and Working with Volunteer Boards.
TGL: Bob, what is your specialty area?
Bob: Everything I do is built off our own universal common language for connecting people and accelerating collaboration. We use a traffic light metaphor to describe three types of thinking and work: red — stop and decide for decision-making; yellow — slow down, develop understanding; green — go and get creative to generate ideas and options. The fourth dimension, white, is to appreciate and initiate for personal spirit. The four key applications of this language and the tools are in leadership development, team and meeting productivity, accelerating change (with RIP IT and our Rapid Innovation Program), and building 21st century skills for students in schools and colleges.
TGL: How did you get into designing and using games?
Bob: I am a green guy—a relentless creative thinker and have always been looking for newer, better, smarter ways of learning how to learn. It all began when I started the first full time school for adult Inuit in Canada's Arctic over 40 years ago. My students were in their 20s like me, but operating at the grade school level. So I had to invent ways of how to learn stuff that worked for adults. Since I had never gone to teacher's college, I was free to figure it out as I went along. My M.Ed. helped me learn the principles and my clients taught me the ways to success.
TGL: How long have you been designing and using games?
Bob: Almost as long as Thiagi.
TGL: Where do you use games?
Bob: In every thing I do with people—from presentations to workshops to organizational interventions. I use the word games to mean having people do purposeful active things they were not expecting to do when they turned up.
TGL: How do your clients respond?
Bob: Depends on the client. The more open the client, the more we engage them in the design process and the more committed they are to games as a means to learning. The more worried the client, the less we share the process, the more we tell them to look at our client list so they know they will be in good company no matter how it goes. We want all our clients to look brilliant and get a promotion for having selected us.
TGL: How do your participants respond?
Bob: It's all in the framing and the naming. If I feel great, make a quick, sound business case for why we are doing this, and then toss them into it, they love it. Bye-bye PowerPoint slides, hello powerful human connections.
TGL: What is the most embarrassing moment you had in conducting games?
Bob: Let me count the ways! Sleeping in and forgetting to drive 100 miles to conduct an experiential workshop with the client phoning me about his 75 people at a lodge wondering what to do. Having a Bounce sheet stuck to my rear end (no static cling?) during a workshop on smart thinking. Sensitive people not appreciating my wonderful sense of humor and getting upset. Using a competitive puzzle game with 10 teams and realizing one of the teams was stuck because they were missing a key piece. (I reframed the activity on the spot: What is the missing piece?). The toughest ones are the odd times when a game surfaces a deep personal issue that brings tears or anger flowing out. Due to the size of the group, the length of time available, and the learning purpose, it is really difficult to deal with these feelings properly in the context of the workshop experience.
TGL: What advice do you give to newcomers about interactive training?
Bob: Call me. I want to find great game designers to work with who can take my content and your gaming skills to co-develop and license game applications of our system to help people think better and work smarter together.
If you build a great design that is well thought through from the participant's experience, clearly defined so people have a clue about why they are doing it, structured at the outset so they know what to do and it engages them right away, then let it go and trust the people to do good work and the process to get them where they need to go. When my kids used to ask, “Hey Dad, what do you really do?” I would take a page from Thiagi and pose a zen-like koan in response: “I am a learning mid-wife. I am only there for the team's heavy breathing while they birth a new solution. The baby is always theirs and never mine.” I think that's why my son Matt is now a horror movie producer.
TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?
Bob: I am an applied learning kind of guy—more grounded in getting results than focusing on the learning. I think of learning as means and not as end. Do it right and you get both done. So, I often start a workshop off with asking people to identify the most pressing issues that require their best thinking. They focus on the complex issues for which there is no obvious or simple answer. Group Scoop works well here. The reality is that it is always the same type of issues that come up, no matter what the organization is. As the game designer, I have no worries about what the answer needs to be. It is clear that the participants will build solutions that work for them. We park those critical issues on a flipchart and then belt into learning the key skills in our Smarter Meetings team productivity system (green for creativity, yellow for understanding, red for decision making, and white for personal spirit). We use cards, card games, job-aids, and simulations to get people comfortable enough with the frameworks and the behaviors. Then we go back and pick one or more of the big issues they identified earlier and apply one of our smart lean process tracks to enable the teams to think through together—same page at the same time—and drive to real solutions. I like the Fish Bowl game to build skills with coaching and Detect and Connect that build skills in observation, different types of thinking, and coaching. We often finish with one of Thiagi's integration exercises such as Essence and Backstabbing to nail down the insights and to help sustain transfer.
TGL: What is your most favorite game?
Bob: Anything that does three things: gets people moving, gets them out of their comfort zone, and connects them with other people in positive ways.
TGL: Who are your favorite game designers?
Bob: Thiagi, the leader of the pack. I also have great respect for my friend and colleague, David Gouthro. The big shift is to transfer the burden of learning and to allow learning to emerge.
TGL: Do you have any book recommendations?
Bob: Here are four books that I am enjoying right now:
TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games?
Bob: Games are learning on steroids. All the gens from X onwards will want to learn this way: real time, simulation, virtual. Build the right games, make sure they jolt you, and build the people skills that are the root cause of all high performing teams and leaders.
Here's an energizing activity that helps members of a group get to know each other, network, and recognize what they have in common.
5 to 10 minutes.
Whistle (or some other attention-getting noise maker).
Sometimes our words have an impact we never intended. In this issue, we'll discover some unique ways of visualizing the impact of words beginning with this example of the problem in just 99 words.
I was having a heart to heart conversation with my daughter. About to enter her teen years, I knew she would benefit from my reflections of how to survive those troubling pubescent times. As I revved up for a helpful review of my main points, I looked over in her direction.
She was staring into the middle distance with glazed eyes and slouched shoulders. She'd been turned off. I'd been tuned out.
Too much of a good thing had become another lecture. Less is more. I wish I'd shared my sage advice in only 99 words!
A picture is worth a thousand words and a picture made completely out of words is both beautiful and worth talking about. That's the gist of this month's Discovery suggested by Jose Ochoa of Madrid, Spain. Jose was inspired by the lyrics from Dan Bern's song “Jane”, referenced in last month's issue about attention, to make a word cloud using Tagxedo ( http://www.tagxedo.com/ ).
Word clouds evolved from the efforts of web developers to create a visual representation of the frequency of tag words in a document. There are many word cloud generators that are free as well as those for subscribers. Some, like Tagxedo and Wordle (which I have used in other issues of this newsletter; http://www.wordle.net/ ) offer many options for customizing the cloud as a work of art. Others like Wordsift ( http://wordsift.com/ ) take a more grammatical perspective providing links to synonyms and images for the purpose of strengthening writing skills.
I have more experience with Wordle but I've become a quick convert to Tagxedo which has so many more options for customizing a word creation. One of the most interesting is the ability to import a graphic like a portrait or logo which acts as a stencil for the word cloud pattern. The Tagxedo site also has a presentation with 101 ways to use a word cloud - a great inspiration for anyone who, in addition to reading them, loves to look at words.
|Fonts||34 with options to add more||30|
|Color Themes||More than 16 plus add and customize||15|
|Layout||Horizontal, Vertical, Both, or Random||Horizontal, Vertical, Both, or Random with options for round or smooth edges to the cloud|
|Saving||5 options||Print or Save to Gallery|
|Shapes||50 options plus add your own||XX|
|Printing||Print on a T-Shirt||XX|
|History||Experiment with different designs but still find that one you really liked 10 minutes ago||XX|
|Extras||101 Ways to use Word Clouds||XX|
Read a brief review of several other word cloud generators here: http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/waiting-for-wordle-free-word-cloud-options-to-use-now/
As the 99-Word Story this month suggests, we can easily become carried away with talk. Our words, as they spill from our mouths, take on a life of their own with results we may not have intended. One way to address this might be to use fewer of them!
Though it can be difficult to do that in real time when
emotions and urgency are also strong factors, writing is a
different story. If you examine this word cloud created in
Tagxedo from “Too Much Talk!” (the
99-Word Story selection above)
you'll notice most of the words have the same weight. This reflects the careful attention to word usage needed to write in just 99 words. If you aren't using many words, you tend to be choosy!
Tools like Wordle and Tagxedo make it easy to analyze the impact of written words. Visual representations of text can show frequency of words used and reveal the underlying emphasis of the text. Create a word cloud of a news article or a speech and with a quick visual scan, you get the gist of its overall theme.
Or, if you're stuck without a muse, look at your writing in a completely different way. Here's a new perspective, with new inspiration, from the previous three paragraphs. The repetition of vocabulary actually makes the graphic more appealing.
It's interesting to consider how words take up space. Spoken, they can fill an awkward silence or crowd out the thoughts of a careful thinker. Written, they can cover the page leaving only a slim margin while metaphorically they might also fill the mind. As a cloud, words and the spaces around them contribute to one harmonious design. For me, it's a helpful reminder to use my own words in a way that opens more space for the words and ideas of others. When that happens, I usually learn something too!
If these ideas have opened some space for your thoughts, I hope you'll share what you've learned (email Brian)!
Play with word clouds yourself and you will probably invent more than one way to apply them in your own setting. After seeing word clouds from the last issue of the Firefly News Flash, Jennifer van Stelle shared how she uses them for evaluation.
She writes, “Here's a word cloud I made last year, showing students' favorite activities in UCSF's three-week experiential summer program for high school juniors interested in exploring careers in science and health care. As you can see students' most favorite activities were hands-on (often in the lab), or relational (meeting people).”
In my own work, I was recently asked to help a church group reflect upon their accomplishments from the previous year. Here's how I incorporated the use of a word cloud into the day's activities.
Each person was given four blank cards and asked to write what they thought were the most significant accomplishments, one per card. All the cards were collected and redistributed randomly to all participants. People were then asked to mill about the room reading each other's cards and trading when they wished to get four cards they felt were the most important achievements.
Next, people organized themselves into groups of four to six and, looking at all their group's cards, they selected three as the most significant achievements for the year. Groups shared these with everyone.
While people worked on the next task, making a collage to represent projects for the future, the notes about their achievements were fed into Tagxedo. In a few minutes, I was able to project a giant, colorful graphic representation of the past year on the wall. As you might guess, the effect was both dramatic and satisfying.
If you use word clouds in an interesting way, please share them (email Brian) and describe the results!
Tracy and Thiagi will be conducting their workshops in Singapore. Here are brief descriptions of two workshops organized by our colleague Stanis Benjamin.
Interactive Training Strategies
Agenda: Day 1: How To Design Training Games and Activities. Day 2: How To Design Different Types of Training Simulations. Day 3: How To Conduct Training Games, Simulations, and Activities.
Dates: January 11, 12, and 13, 2011.
Venue: Grand Park City Hall, 10 Coleman Street, Singapore 179809.
Registration fee: Singapore$2250 (approximately US$1650)
Follow-Up and Certification Workshop
Requirement: Completion of the 3-day workshop on Interactive Training Strategies within the past 2 years.
Agenda: Advanced interactive strategies: online games and simulation, outdoor adventures, and positive psychology exercises. Facilitation challenges: intercultural participants and controversial topics. Training design: Rapid prototyping and levels of evaluation. Design clinic.
Date: January 14, 2011.
Venue: Grand Park City Hall, 10 Coleman Street, Singapore 179809.
Registration fee: Singapore$450 (approximately US$330)
For more information, download the brochure.
Did you miss out last year? Here's your chance to attend Thiagi's Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training Workshop. Attend the fourth day and become a certified Thiagi trainer.
This event sold out last year.
March 28-30, 2011
Courtyard by Marriott Dallas Central Expressway
10325 North Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75231
Planning on staying at the hotel? We have blocked off a limited number of rooms at a discounted rate of $99. Mention “The Thiagi Group” to get the best price when booking your room.
The 1-day certification workshop (that licenses you to conduct this workshop) will be held on March 31, 2011 at the same location.
If you register now, you save $370 for the 3-day workshop and $125 for the 1-day certification program.
Here are some additional details about these workshops. You can also download a detailed brochure (194k PDF).
If you register before January 15, 2011
Groups of three or more who enroll at the same time will get a 15 percent reduction on their registration fees.
Online. Visit our online store at thiagi.com and click on “Workshops: 2011”. (You will automatically be given the early bird discounted fee.)
Telephone. Call (812) 332-1478.
For more information, please download our detailed brochure (194K PDF)
Van den Bergh Thiagi Associates are happy to offer their tenth annual workshops in Winterthur, Switzerland (near Zurich).
June 21-23, 2011 (three days)
This workshop is designed for trainers, instructional designers, facilitators, managers, and performance consultants. The workshop helps a wide range of practitioners, from newcomers to experienced specialists, to master skills and concepts related to different types of training games, simulations, and learning exercises.
This workshop practices what it preaches. Participants learn new principles and procedures and apply them to creating and conducting different types of learning activities that meet their training objectives, audiences, and needs.
June 24-25, 2011 (two days)
This workshop is designed for participants who have completed Thiagi's 3-day Interactive Training Strategies workshops.
The workshop design strongly incorporates individual needs of the participants. At present Thiagi suggests the following three major components:
Bonus: The workshop will provide you with a software package for designing online games and train you how to use it.
For more information, please download our detailed brochure (615k PDF)
Training professionals faced a lot of challenges in 2010: outsourcing, budget cuts, and unemployment, just to name a few. All of this may make us tempted to skip a 2010 review and go straight to planning for 2011. But that would mean skipping the opportunities and areas of growth that 2010 has also brought—such as the emergence of new social media possibilities, the increase in technology-based delivery methods, and the slow but steady increase of dollars spent in learning and development departments.
As a training professional do you think the opportunities in 2010 outweighed the threats?
(The poll opens in a new window.)
What do you think were the top influences in the training industry in 2010?
(The survey opens in a new window.)
Feel free to include your opinions, anecdotes, guidelines, suggestions, or anything else on your mind.
You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.
We asked some of our colleagues, and here is a partial list that they created.
Clotilde: I think 2010 was an explosive year for social media in our industry. Many companies that I consult with are embracing Twitter and Web 2.0 like they were the next overhead projector.
Thuany: The hiring freeze has forced my company to develop the talent of its current employees. We hope that in the long run this will result in employees who stay longer and reduce the training costs.
Aaron: I've found that the unexpected benefit of cost cutting measures is that companies are going more “green”. For example, computers and lights are shut off at night, more documents are read electronically rather than printed, and water is served from pitchers instead of being served in individual water bottles.
Anne: My company has increased their outsourcing and off-shoring activities. This has reduced costs, but it has also lowered employee morale and increased our company's security risk.
Last month we asked if you thought the generational differences in the workplace were just a myth. Here's how you responded:
(Percentages reflect votes received by November 23, 2010.)
We also asked for your thoughts about the different generations in the workplace. Here's what some of you had to say.
Response 27) I have boomers, gen x and gen y. I see more variation by MBTI than variation by age. We may be different ages but we are the same species and I am not sure we have evolved that much in 60 or 70 years.
I have as many gadgets as the 23 year old on my team and may know a little more than they do about the latest apps. The one variation is the use of gmail vs yahoo mail (or aol or hotmail) The younger people are the more likely they are to be on gmail.
Response 25) I really notice generational differences around telecommuting/working from home. The younger generation is used to working anywhere and I notice the older generation still associating working hard with total hours spent at desk, rather than with results. There's a fluidity to the lifestyle of the younger generation that can be leveraged by employers if they can learn to embrace it.
Response 11) People of different ages are often more comfortable doing things the way those of the same age do but I am not sure that it is fair to label them of a particular gen type.
Personality has a lot to do with how people behave.
Thank you for your responses.
Tracy and Thiagi are doing a monthly webinar series, sponsored by Training Magazine Network. You can attend for free, but you must register.
Here's the description of this month's webinar:
Based on sarcastic slights from corporate types, we have identified three major objections to using improv sessions for training purposes. Using an interactive improv approach, we will explore strategies for reducing and removing these complaints. You learn how to adapt improv games to improve their instructional effectiveness. In this walk-the-talk session, you will explore and plagiarize improv strategies for improving human performance.
This month's 60-minute webinar will take place at 1pm Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, December 14, 2010.
For more information, see the webinar's page at http://www.trainingmagnetwork.com/topics/show/2237 . You may need to register (and log in) before you can view the webinar description.
I have learned a lot from trainers with street smarts and practical experience. But sometimes the tips from these friends lack conceptual rigor and research backing.
I have learned a lot from academic friends who shared their evidence-based prescriptions on how to improve training. But sometimes the prescriptions from these friends do not directly apply to real-world corporate training.
I have learned a lot from Will Thalheimer, and I still continue to learn from him. Will has a unique combination of practical experience and scholarly discipline. He reads many more juried journals than I do and he has worked with several corporations.
Will has recently created a YouTube video that elegantly summarizes his model of learning. This is a very practical model and I have immediately used it to adjust the current training courses that I conduct.
Take a few minutes to check out Will's Learning Landscape Model ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIYHFVXzbZk ). You will be a better trainer and training designer for it.