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

US Workshops
Workshop in New York City in February 2013
And you get a discount, too!

Asian Workshops
Thiagi in Singapore and Malaysia in January 2013
Coming this month.

Australian Workshops
Thiagi Goes Down Under in March 2013
Workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

Seven Sentences
Plus 21 combinations.

One Dot, Two Dots
Making reliable predictions.

Job Description in 99 Words
What does your job mean to you?

From Brian's Brain
Better Goals for Better Results by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Online Survey
Customer Service Concepts
One similarity and one difference.

Survey Results
A summary of your responses.

Video Jolt
The Hypnotist
Easy—or impossible?

Check It Out
Learnlets ( )
Clark Quinn's learnings about learning.





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 and Tracy Tagliati

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer

Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>

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.

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!

US Workshops

Workshop in New York City in February 2013

Thiagi has scheduled a one-day workshop in New York City in February 2013.

Don't miss this opportunity to attend this workshop.

Basic Information

WHAT? Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 1-Day Workshop

WHEN? Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 9am-4pm (Check in at 8:30am)

WHERE? Courtyard by Marriott, Upper East Side, 410 E 92nd Street, New York, NY, USA. Make your hotel reservations on the hotel website at .

HOW MUCH? Regular registration rate: $495. Get $50 off by entering coupon code TGL-NYC when you register online.

Register Now at .

BY WHOM? The workshop is designed and delivered by Thiagi. No bait and switch!

FOR WHOM? Trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, performance consultants, and managers.

Workshop Outline

This workshop comes in two parts. In the morning, we focus on the design, and in the afternoon, we focus on the delivery:

Part 1. Designing Interactive Strategies

The best way to improve your training is to encourage participants to interact with each other, with the content, and with you. In this workshop, Thiagi reveals five secrets of effective interactive training that is faster, cheaper, and better. Begin by rapidly exploring 60 different training strategies. Later, master additional details of selected strategies:

With Thiagi's framegame approach, you will learn how to load your content on to existing templates to create your own games in a matter of minutes. You will also learn how to avoid irrelevant fluff and fun, and immerse your participants in engaging activities.

Part 2. Conducting Training Games and Activities

Are you excited about training games and activities but anxious about losing control, wasting time, and being attacked by participants? Based on 20 years of field experience and research, Thiagi shares with you three important secrets of effective training facilitation:

What You Take Home

In addition to your new set of skills and knowledge, you will have tangible products:

Register Today and Save $50

Because you are a reader of TGL, you may register at the discounted rate of $445 ($50 off the regular rate). Enter the coupon code TGL-NYC when you register.

Register for this workshop by calling Brenda at (812) 332-1478, or visiting our online store at .

Reserve a room at the hotel by visiting the hotel website at

For more information, download our detailed brochure (169K PDF).

Asian Workshops

Thiagi in Singapore and Malaysia in January 2013

Singapore: January 10-12, 2013

Interactive Training Strategies. Organized by Stanis Benjamin and his team at Centre for Communication and Sales Training.

More information (210k PDF)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: January 21-23, 2013

Interactive Training Strategies. Organized by Click Academy Asia.

More information

Australian Workshops

Thiagi Goes Down Under in March 2013

John Loty and Associates Pty Ltd are proud to announce a Thiagifest in Australia in March 2013.

Here are the dates of 3-day workshops in three different cities:

For more information, or to register, visit


Seven Sentences

Here's an alternative to traditional brainstorming. Instead of rushing impulsively to generate ideas, this approach forces you to think a little bit about the situation first. However, it does not require you to spend several days collecting all types of background information. You only think of a few elements (seven elements, to be exact). Then you generate ideas based on each of these elements.


4 to 7.


15 minutes to 2 hours. Best time period is about 30 minutes.


Flipcharts and markers


Specify the situation. Think of a problem. On top of a flipchart, write a short phrase that captures the essence of this problem.

Example: A small group from an insurance company wants to improve the support provided to agents in the field. Jo, the facilitator, writes the phrase “agent support” on top of a flipchart.

Write seven sentences. Invite participants to call out seven sentences related to the situation. These should be factual, descriptive sentences about the actual situation rather than ideas for solving the problem. Write down the sentences on the flipchart, editing them as appropriate. Make sure that each sentence contains only one basic concept.

Example: Mick offers this sentence:

Jo splits this sentence into two:

Here are the next five sentences offered by participants:

Jenny comes up with another sentence:

Jo points out that they already have seven sentences and offers to keep Jenny's sentence in reserve for future use.

Use each sentence to generate ideas. Tape the flipchart paper (with the seven sentences) to the wall. Ask participants to focus on the first sentence and come up with creative ideas to improve the situation, based on this sentence. Write the ideas on a fresh sheet of flipchart paper, numbering each idea. When participants run out of steam, ask them to shift to the next sentence. Repeat the process until participants have generated ideas based on all seven sentences. Whenever a flipchart is filled with ideas, tear it from the pad and tape to the wall.

Example: Here are some of the ideas based on the first sentence (“There are three support staff members.”):

  1. The staff members should work as a team.
  2. They should have a common mission and goal.
  3. They should keep in touch with each other.
  4. They should have periodic conference calls to coordinate their strategy.
  5. They should help each other to solve problems.
  6. They should share information about the agents.
  7. They should share practical tips with each other.
  8. If one of the three staff members gets sick, the other two should cover for her.

Participants come up with a few more ideas based on this sentence. Then they generate several other ideas based on each of the other sentences.

Generate additional ideas. Ask participants to combine the first two sentences and come up with new ideas suggested by the combination. Repeat this process several times with each of the 21 different pairs of sentences shown in the table below. Continue recording the ideas on flipchart sheets and taping filled-up sheets to the wall.

1 & 2 1 & 3 1 & 4 1 & 5 1 & 6 1 & 7
2 & 3 2 & 4 2 & 5 2 & 6 2 & 7
3 & 4 3 & 5 3 & 6 3 & 7
4 & 5 4 & 6 4 & 7
5 & 6 5 & 7
6 & 7

Example: When Jo combines the first two sentences, Kathy contributes this idea:

Pat jumps in with a related idea:

The group comes up with several other new ideas as they work through different combinations of the seven sentences. Eventually the wall is covered eight flipchart sheets with a total of 93 different ideas.

Review the ideas. After you have listed a large number of ideas based on each of the seven sentences and each of the 21 pairs of sentences, ask each participant to silently review the ideas on the flipchart sheets taped to the wall.

Reduce the number of ideas. Go through the list of ideas on the wall and with the participants' help remove duplicate ideas, combine similar ideas, and eliminate obviously trivial ideas.

Specify selection criteria. Tell participants that they will be reducing the list of ideas to a smaller set. Present a couple of sample criteria for selecting useful ideas (such as customer satisfaction or time requirement) and invite participants to suggest additional criteria. List these criteria on a new sheet of flipchart paper. Divide the criteria into negative factors (such as time requirement) and positive factors (such as customer satisfaction). Point out that the best ideas have low levels of negative factors and high levels of positive ones.

Example: Here are the six criteria listed on Jo's flipchart sheet. The + or - sign in front of each idea identifies whether it is positive or negative:

- Cost

- Time requirement

+ Field agent satisfaction

+ Consistency with business goals

- Possibility of creating new problems

- Potential delays

Select the best ideas. Ask each participant to review the lists of ideas again and write down the numbers of the seven ideas that would provide the most benefits at the least cost. After everyone has done this task individually, give each participant a felt pen and ask him or her to place check marks in front of the selected ideas. Identify the top seven to ten ideas that received the most check marks.

Integrate the ideas. With the help of participants, edit the selected ideas and arrange them in order of priority. Prepare an action plan for implementing these ideas.


Not enough time? Begin with five sentences. Give a time limit (example: 1 minute) for generating ideas based on each sentence. Skip the step of generating ideas based on pairs of sentences. Conclude the activity when a large number of ideas have been generated. Do the remaining activities by yourself.

Have ample time? After the participants have generated a large number of ideas in a leisurely fashion, declare a break. While the participants are taking the break, copy the list of ideas from the flipcharts on index cards. When the participants return from the break, ask them to work as a team to cluster ideas into different categories. Combine suitable ideas in each category. Select the best ideas. Then, repeat the entire activity with another set of seven different sentences.

Too many ideas? Here are two alternative suggestions for identifying the top seven to ten ideas. Give each participant seven colored dots and ask the participant to place them next to the ideas that he or she personally prefers. Alternatively, go through several rounds of elimination. During the first round, eliminate half of the ideas. During the next round, eliminate half of the remaining ideas. Repeat this process until you end up with seven to ten ideas.

Too many participants? Divide the group into teams of four to seven members. Ask each team to work independently at different tables, beginning with their own sets of seven sentences. Instead of using flipcharts, ask them to use sheets of paper. When each team has completed the activity and identified the top ideas, review the lists from different tables. Remove redundancies and combine similar ideas. Alternatively, after each team has generated a lot of ideas, you can switch the lists of ideas among different teams. Ask each team to select the top ideas from some other team's list of ideas.


One Dot, Two Dots

All jobs require making predictions based on the data we collect. This jolt warns us against jumping to conclusions based on a single piece of data.


Participants draw a line passing through a single dot on a paper and discover that different people's lines go in different directions. Later, they draw a line passing through two dots on the paper and discover that all lines go in the same direction.


To differentiate between single pieces of data and trends.

Training Topics


Minimum: 2
Maximum: Any number
Best: 10 to 30


3 minutes for the activity
3 to 5 minutes for the debriefing



Prepare copies of paper with dots. Use a felt pen to place a dot in the middle of one side of a blank sheet of paper. Turn this sheet of paper over and place two dots diagonally about an inch apart on the other side. Make double-sided copies of this dotted paper.


Draw a line through the single dot. Ask the participants to turn the sheet of paper so the side with the single dot is facing up. Tell the participants to draw a straight line that passes through this dot.

Compare the directions of the lines. After a suitable pause, ask the participants if they can predict which direction the line will be headed on different pieces of paper. Let the participants compare their lines to discover that even though they all go through the dot, they could be going in different directions.

Draw a line through two dots. Ask the participants to turn over the sheet of paper to the side with two dots. Tell the participants to draw a straight line that passes through both dots.

Compare the directions of the lines. After a suitable pause, ask the participants if they can predict which direction the line will be headed on different pieces of paper. Let the participants compare their lines to discover that they all go in the same direction (if they go through both dots).


Begin the debriefing session with this explanation in your own words. Use a suitable example that will be relevant to the participants:

This activity demonstrates the difference between a single piece of data and a trend. The single dot represents one piece of data. We cannot predict in which direction the line will be headed. Similarly with a single piece of data, we cannot forecast what is likely to happen in the future.

Here's an example: If you know that I ate salad for lunch today, you cannot confidently predict that I will be eating a salad for tomorrow's lunch also. However, if you know that I had salad for the last three days, you can conclude that I am probably going to have salad tomorrow also.

Here's another example: If one customer complains about our product, we probably don't need to worry too much. However, if a dozen customers complain about our product, it's time to do something about it.

Invite the participants to come up with their own examples of single pieces of data and trends.

Learning Points

Don't jump to conclusions based on a single piece of data. Our predictions will be more reliable if we base our decision on the trend among several pieces of data.


Job Description in 99 Words

My friend Mike Stewart works as a Case Manager Trainer in British Columbia, Canada. He incorporates the 99-Words concept in one of his opening activities. He asks the participants to write what their job means to them in exactly 99 words (no more, no less).

Here's an example of a 99-word job description:

Case Management is the process in which I help people who are injured at work recover and return to their jobs or other work. It involves planning, facilitation, communication, and leadership, but, most of all, dedication.

Workers who are injured may perceive my role as a Case Manager to be adversarial, that my goal is to force them to return to work. Through the consistent application of honesty, effective communication, timely assistance, humor, and passion, my goal is to change that perception, one human being at a time.

That is what being a good Case Manager means to me.

Try this in your training session. Ask the participants to work independently to write their 99-word job descriptions. Later, assemble them in teams and have them discover and discuss common themes.

From Brian's Brain

Better Goals for Better Results
by Brian Remer

It's the end of 2012! Did you achieve your goals? This issue of the Firefly News Flash offers tools, techniques, and ideas to do just that. An interview with Glenn Hughes of SMART as Hell gives new ideas about goal setting—and achieving. Power Tip: Before setting a goal, establish your vision and values.

Read more in the December 2012 issue of Firefly News Flash: .

Online Survey

Customer Service Concepts

This issue's online survey asks you to compare a pair of concepts associated with customer service. Your task is to reflect on these two concepts and type one important similarity and one important difference between them:


After you have reflected, click the “Respond” button above to type your responses. (The survey will open in a new window.)

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

Survey Results


In the December 2012 issue of TGL we asked you to reflect on this piece of practical advice to leaders and respond with your comments:

As a leader, go beyond your comfort zone. Keep pushing your into unknown territories until you begin to feel comfortable. Then seek other stretch goals.

Your Responses

We thank the 15 readers who posted their comments. Here are a few of these comments:

Response 15) It also teaches you that you can do anything on your own, provided you take the initiative.

Response 14) You feel young and capable.

Response 12) This can be turned toward the people being led as well. As a leader, it is your responsibility to challenge people to go beyond their comfort zone. Keep pushing themselves into unknown territories until they begin to feel comfortable and then challenge them to seek other stretch goals. There is also something to be said for honing your skills on things you do well and challenging yourself to become even better at them through refined techniques, processes, or entirely new concepts.

Response 7) Q: What is the difference between a television remote control and an effective leader?
A: The remote control changes channels and an effective leader channels changes.
—Randy Templeman

Thanks to everyone who responded.

Your Turn

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

Video Jolt

The Hypnotist

We have posted our new video jolt on YouTube. You can watch it at .

This video lasts for a little over 3 minutes. The learning point in the video is that many activities look simple but they turn to be very difficult or impossible. Just because you have easily done similar things in the past, it does not mean that you could do a slightly different thing with equal ease.

My friend Lia shows the video to her friends. This way, she conducts the activity in a consistent fashion. She focuses on debriefing the participants after the jolt.

Check It Out

Learnlets ( )

Clark Quinn is one of the most brilliant minds in the instructional design field, and I have been following his work for several years.

Check out Clark's Learnlets, the official Quinnovation blog, at, for timely, useful, evidence-based, and provocative articles. While you are at his blog, be sure to read the piece on compounding intelligence. (Use the convenient search engine.) Clark discusses Tom Malone's work on collective intelligence and suggests that good meeting processes, diversity among participants, and social skills result in significantly superior outputs.

As I keep reminding my participants, I am probably smarter than any one of them, but as a group, they are much smarter than me.

Thanks, Clark, for your timely contributions.