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

Who Is Creative—and Why? by Dimis Michaelides
How to increase and improve creativity.

PC Simulation
It's in the Cards
Form coalitions.

Mini Memoir
My French Connection
The student surpasses the teacher.

International Workshops
Workshops outside the USA
Workshops in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland.

From Brian's Brain
Illusions are Everywhere by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.





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: Jean Reese

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Matthew Richter

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2013 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 © 2013 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

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

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Dimis Michaelides is a consultant, author, keynote speaker, and magician, who combines his unique talents and business experience to inspire people around the world. He works in the areas of leadership, creativity, innovation, strategy and marketing. He is Managing Director of Performa Consulting, visiting Professor at the Executive MBA program of INSEAD, at the Royal Holloway University of London and the Cyprus International Institute of Management (CIIM). Dimis published The Art of Innovation: Integrating Creativity in Organizations. Dimis was the Guest Gamer in the March 2010 issue of TGL.

Who Is Creative—and Why?
by Dimis Michaelides

Thiagi's Who and Why game (published in the August 2013 issue of TGL) dealt with factors that improve and increase trust. Here's another version of the frame of this game related to improving and increasing creativity.

In recent years scientists have been studying what makes people creative and what makes some people more so than others. And businesspeople have been trying to understand who is more likely to generate creative ideas or manage innovation. This activity asks you to think about six people and decide why they are creative or not.


Participants work individually, with a partner, and in teams to prepare a list of dos and don'ts for increasing their personal creative potential. Eventually, each participant selects one creativity factor that he or she wants to apply immediately.


To identify and apply factors that increase people's creative potential.


Minimum: 6

Maximum: 50

Best: 15 to 30


20 to 45 minutes



Reflect individually. Tell participants that they are going to undertake a thought experiment. Ask each participant to think of three people they consider highly creative. One of them should be a well-known figure (of the past or the present), one should be a friend or a family member, and one should be a person from the workplace. Inform the participants that they do not have to reveal the identity of these people to anyone else.

Ask the participants to identify what the factors are that make these people creative. Ask them to make a list of these factors—the creativity drivers—on a piece of paper. Point out that these factors could be individual traits or environmental features. Also that some of these factors could be common to all three or they could be specific to one or two of the selected people. Announce a 3-minute time limit for this activity.

Ask the participants to think of three other people. This time, tell them to select three people they consider highly uncreative or who stand as obstacles to innovation. Again, one of them should be a well-known figure, one should be a friend or a family member and one should be a person from the workplace. Once again, reassure the participants that they do not have to reveal the identity of these people.

Ask the participants to identify the characteristics that make these people uncreative or unsupportive to creativity. Ask them to make a list of these factors on a piece of paper. Announce a 3-minute time limit for completing this task.

Distribute playing cards. Give a random playing card to each participant. Make sure to distribute equal numbers of black and red cards. (If you have an odd number of participants, you may give one more card of either red or black color.)

Form pairs. Ask the participants to pair up with someone who has a card of the different color. If one participant is left over, ask him or her to pair up with you.

Ask the participants to discuss characteristics of creative people and innovators as opposed to people who resist innovation. In other words, the participants share the factors they had identified in the first and second thought experiment. Announce a 3-minute time limit for this activity.

Form teams. Ask the participants to say “Goodbye” to their partners and to form a team of three to five people who have playing cards of the same color (red or black).

List Dos and Don'ts. Distribute a sheet of flipchart paper and a felt-tipped pen to each team. Instruct the team members to share their ideas and to prepare a two-column poster with a list of dos and don'ts for promoting creativity. Announce a 5-minute time limit for this activity.

Review lists from other teams. Blow the whistle at the end of 5 minutes. Ask the teams to attach their posters to the wall with pieces of masking tape. Invite the participants to review the posters from the other teams to discover common items and unique ones. Announce a 3-minute time limit.


Discuss the items from the posters. At the end of 3 minutes, blow the whistle and assemble the participants for a debriefing discussion. Conduct this discussion by asking questions similar to these:

Prepare an action plan. Invite each participant to individually select one of the creativity drivers for immediate action. Ask the participants to prepare a plan for applying this factor to increase their own creative output. If time permits, ask the participants to pair up with a new partner and share their application ideas.

PC Simulation

It's in the Cards

A PC simulation uses playing cards to represent different real-world elements in an activity. In this game, the cards reflect different assets that different participants have. You can use the game to explore negotiation, formation of strategic alliances, and building trust.


To explore factors related to coalition formation and negotiation.


20 to 40 minutes.


Minimum: 5
Maximum: Any number, organized into groups of 5.



Distribute the cards. Ask a participant in each group to turn the cards face down, shuffle them, and give a card to each player. Have participants show the cards to one another.

Explain the significance of the cards. Announce that each participant represents a major corporation and each card represents its Resource Index (derived from a combination of assets, years of experience, number of employees, machinery and equipment, and previous history).

Announce a request for bids. Tell the participants that they are competing to participate for a major international construction project. Any coalition of corporations may bid as long as it has a combined Resources Index value of at least 8. Coalitions may be of any size. The guaranteed profit from this contract will be $16 million.

Form a coalition. Announce that the participants have 5 minutes to form a coalition and to submit the bid. The coalition would receive the guaranteed profits, provided it meets these two requirements:

Encourage negotiations. Since there are different ways of forming a coalition with a total Resource Index of 8 or more, encourage the participants to negotiate with each other to maximize their personal share of the profit.

In a recent game, this is how the Resource Indexes were distributed: 5 to John, 4 to Karen, 3 to Sue, 2 to Russ, and 1 to poor Deb. Initially, John and Sue decide to form the coalition, splitting the profit on a 5 to 3 ratio. Karen intervenes and suggests that if Sue joins with her and Deb, they are willing to split the profit into three equal shares. Sue does some quick calculating and figures out that she will be getting a smaller amount in this coalition. Meanwhile, Karen makes a deal with John by volunteering to take $10,000 less than the amount he was planning to give to Sue.

Keep time. Announce the beginning of the negotiation period and start the timer. Call time at the end of 5 minutes. Whenever a coalition reports to you, check to make sure that they have the total Resource Index and a formula for splitting the profit. Tell them that they have received the $16 million profit. Ask them to split this amount according to their formula and to record individual share amounts on a piece of paper.

Conduct the second round. Announce that you are going to conduct the activity one more time. Ask the participants to collect the five cards, shuffle them, and to re-deal them. Explain that global economic conditions have changed and each player now has a new Resource Index for the second round. Also explain that the guaranteed profit for the second round will be $20 million and that there will only be 4 minutes for negotiations. Play the game as before, calling time at the end of 4 minutes.


Conduct a debriefing session, using questions like these:

Mini Memoir

My French Connection

It happened in San Diego, 15 years ago.

After my workshop ended, several people lingered around to shake my hand and to tell me how much they enjoyed the workshop and learned from it. After they left, I began packing my props and the leftover copies of the handouts. When I closed the bag, I noticed that one other participant was still hanging around, not wanting to intrude in my departure ritual. I looked up, established eye contact, and smiled.

Somewhat shyly, this participant mumbled the same types of the things the others said earlier. I noticed that he had a funny accent and I chided myself for being the pot that called the kettle black. I did notice that he had difficulty expressing himself in English and wondered how he managed to participate in group discussions.

He said, “My name is Bruno and may I have your permission to use your training games?”

I responded, “Of course. That's the whole point of this workshop. That's what you paid for.”

I wondered if I should shift to Basic International English to make it easier for him to understand what I am saying.

He nodded his head and continued.

“May I translate your games into French?”

I thought he was demonstrating enthusiasm just to make me feel good.

Bruno held up the hefty workshop manual.

“I don't want to directly translate this book. I want to use accelerated learning techniques to make your games more useful to French teachers and trainers.”

I gave him my blessings. I explained that even though I didn't speak French I could read and understand the language. I told him I translated a couple of chapters from Piaget as a requirement for my Ph. D. studies. I don't understand why I told him all that.

I did not expect to hear back from Bruno. A couple of months later, however, he wrote an email to announce that he had finished the book and entitled it Les jeux-cadre de Thiagi. He explained that I would receive periodic royalties from the publisher. I wrote back congratulating him and suggesting that I don't require any financial returns.

A few months later, I received an airmail parcel of 10 copies of the book. Six months later, I received a hefty check in Euros. A year later, I realized that Bruno's French book had outsold my US publication. Still later, Bruno published another book, Jeux a theme de Thiagi. He sent me a PayPal deposit of $5000 as a token of his appreciation for my work that enabled him to create training activities for his clients around the world.

My goal as a trainer has always been that my students outperform me. Bruno has done it brilliantly. A major factor in his success was Bruno's native talent, his storytelling ability, his personal style, and his focus on getting things done. What I contributed was a small amount of skills and knowledge. I am proud and happy about that.

International Workshops

Workshops outside the USA

Thiagi is continuing to conduct workshops outside the USA. Check our online calendar at for details.

From Brian's Brain

Illusions are Everywhere
by Brian Remer

The Zen master who said reality is an illusion had it right. But illusions also create our mental reality. By studying the discrepancies fabricated by visual and tactile illusions, scientists are able to map the calculations our brain makes to perceive the real world. Power Tip: Scan the environment for hidden clues that may hide a more complete interpretation of events.

Read more in the November 2013 issue of Firefly News Flash: .

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