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

Textra Game
Textra, Textra
Read all about it.

Interactive Lecture
The Missing Key
Discover the missing item.

Online Course
Coaching for Performance by Matt Richter
A virtual, asynchronous, facilitated coaching program.

Online Game
Hangman for Trainers by Raja Thiagarajan and Thiagi
Different training activities.

US Workshops
Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 2-day workshop
Last time in the US in 2014.

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

Pieces of Advice
Follow @thiagi on Twitter.

From Brian's Brain
Growth Mindset by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Online Survey
Learning and Performance
Is training the best solution?

Survey Results
The Serious eLearning Manifesto
A summary of your responses.

Check It Out
Subscription Learning ( )
Daily nuggets.





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 Editor: 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!

Textra Game

Textra, Textra

I am a great believer in walking the talk. So I wanted to use a textra game to teach about textra games. Here's the result.


To recall basic information about textra games.


Any number, divided into pairs


Minimum: 15 minutes
Maximum: 40 minutes
Best: 20 minutes



Distribute the handout to all the participants. Tell the participants that there will be a quiz on the contents of the handout and encourage them to read it carefully. Suggest that they should take notes, underline key words, memorize important facts, and make up their own questions. Announce a 5-minute time limit and start the timer.

Pair up the participants. At the end of the assigned time, blow the whistle. Ask each participant to find a partner and sit (or stand) facing her. If one participant is left over, you become the partner.

Assign pages. Ask each partner to toss a coin. The winner owns the first page of the handout, and the other participant owns the second page. Ask one partner to hold up the handout so that each of the two pages faces the partner who owns the page. Each partner also takes an index card to keep track of the points earned by the other person.

Begin grilling. Ask partners to take turns asking questions about the content on their page of the handout. The other player gives an immediate answer. If the answer is correct, the questioner makes a mark on the scorecard to award a point to the other player. If the other player gives an incorrect answer or does not answer at all, the questioner shows the relevant part of the handout to give the correct answer.

Continue playing. Monitor the group as they take turns asking and answering questions. Encourage the partners to match the nature of the question and its difficulty level. For example, if one partner asks a difficult question with a two-part answer, the other partner should ask a similar question from his or her page of the handout.

Conclude this round. Blow the whistle after 3 to 5 minutes. Ask the partners to add up the points awarded to other player, write the total score on the index card, circle it, initial it, and give it to the other player.

Review the handout again. Explain that participants will have an opportunity to ask questions from the other pages. Suggest that they review the handout to get ready for the second round. Give the participants a 3-minute time limit.

Get set for the second round. Ask the participants to walk around and find a new partner who owned the other page during the previous round. As before, ask the partners to sit or stand facing each other and hold their handouts in such a way that they can see the new page.

Repeat the grilling procedure. Ask the partners to use the same procedure as before for asking questions, answering, and scoring points. Suggest that the partners exchange their scorecards and use the other side for keeping track of the points for this round. At the end of a suitable time period, ask the partners to complete their scorecards.

Determine the winner. Ask the participants to add up their scores from the two rounds. Congratulate the highest scoring individual or individuals.

Interactive Lecture

The Missing Key

I came up with this interactive lecture format at a recent workshop in Paris. My colleague Bruno Hourst gave a 10-minute presentation in French. I don't understand spoken French but this did not prevent me from attaching an interactive extension to Bruno's lecture.


To summarize the key points in a lecture.


Minimum: 2

Maximum: Any number

Best: 12 to 30


In addition to the time required for the lecture presentation, you need 5 minutes for each team.


Make your presentation. Clearly identify different topics. The best length for your presentation is 15 to 20 minutes.

Organize the participants into two or more teams. Each “team” should have at least one member and up to seven.

Identify four key points. Ask each team to come up with four key points that summarize your presentation. Ask the participants to make sure that these key points don't duplicate or overlap with each other. Announce a suitable time limit for this activity. Set the timer.

Ask a team to read three of its sentences. At the end of the time period, blow the whistle. Randomly select one of the teams to be the first team and ask it to read three of its key items, in a random order. Ask the other teams to listen carefully and to think about the key point that was left out.

Conduct the guessing game. Ask the other teams to figure out which key point was left out. Ask the teams to write a sentence about this key point. After a suitable pause, ask the teams to take turns to read the missing item they came up with.

Score the guesses. Ask the first team to listen to the various guesses and read the fourth item they left out. Then ask this team to figure out how closely each of the other team's guesses resembled to missing item. Ask the first team to award zero to three points to each of the other team's guesses reflecting how close it was to the original item.

Repeat the procedure. Choose another team and ask one of its members to read three sentences in a random order. Ask the other teams to write their guesses of the missing item. As before, ask the teams to read their guesses and the original team to score these guesses.

Online Course

Coaching for Performance
by Matt Richter

Picture this: You are the manager of a product development team for TLA, Inc. You and your team are responsible for launching a new database system in time for E3—the big, big electronics show. You have several team members. Some are ace performers, others… not so much. As you progress through the development process, you have to coach these team members through various situations. You also must deal with difficult peers and a sometimes-overbearing boss.

Pictures of your 8 team members

The Online Course

Welcome to the course. You will meet Vijay, your best engineer and brightest employee—or, so you think. Bob… well, what is there to say about Bob? He has a pretty severe gap when it comes to recognizing his own skills and abilities. A headache in the making. Mary is a terrific team lead, but your boss, Anand (with his own insecurities) is causing havoc by bypassing you and going to her directly. Petra is new, serious, older, and not quite fitting in. Paul is a great person, just out of college. Earnest and talkative… have we mentioned talkative? Petra may just kill him soon. Your job is to interact and coach all these team members. You will also have to manage up and across, providing coaching and feedback to your colleagues and your boss. Can you do it?

How It Works

Coaching for Performance (CFP) is a Thiagi Group online public workshop. It adapts our flexible 4-Door elearning approach. Participants will access a special website that hosts all of the content and allows for interactivity among students, facilitator, and the cast of characters.

Participants will review the overall context of the simulation. They will have access to 3-minute video character profiles. Each profile provides background information about a character and bits of information about the overarching story.


In the Library, participants access job aids, tools, and checklists for preparing, delivering, and following-up a coaching conversation. There are over 20 specific practical tools in the library. All tools are provided as downloadable PDFs and many have additional screencast, video, and podcast support to provide deeper understanding.


In the Mission Control, participants are assigned missions where they are given specific scenarios and asked to provide appropriate responses. For example, Bob has consistently misapplied important code-naming conventions. He is oblivious to this fact. The participant will have to identify a strategy for approaching Bob, and then execute parts of that strategy using video responses.

Video responses are an essential component to the program. Participants receive their mission, watch, and review any pertinent data, and then upload a video response using their phone, tablet, or computer. We provide each participant with a Vimeo account that links their device to the course for one-button uploading.

Participants engage in eight missions, each with unique tasks that provide them with opportunities to practice these principles and procedures:


After each participant submits a response to each mission, the Facilitator (Matt Richter, President of the Thiagi Group) provides feedback through video. Each character has been acted by a professional actor and captured on video, thus putting a face to the different team members.

Performance Test

At the end of the eight missions, participants step out of the simulation to complete the final performance test. They go out in the real world and conduct a coaching conversation with a real-life team member. We offer three different formats for this test to accommodate unique situations participants may have.


The course goes live June 16, 2014 and closes July 15, 2014. Participants can engage at their own pace during that period.

Once registered, participants will receive a special Vimeo account and instructions for linking it to their primary video recording device.

Normally, the course will cost $499, but for this first outing, we are only charging $125. Space for this initial launch is limited to 20 participants, so register today!

To register, please visit our online store at .

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Richter at 415-385-7248 or .

In the Meantime…

Meet Bob.

Online Game

Hangman for Trainers
by Raja Thiagarajan and Thiagi

We have a new mobile-friendly version of the Hangman game. It requires JavaScript to run, and is specifically designed to work on mobile devices (i.e., iPhones and other smartphones, iPads and other tablets). It also works with modern desktop browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and up-to-date versions of Internet Explorer.

The game presents a question (or a clue) and a series of dashes representing the answer. Tap a letter or number if you think it's in the answer. (If you have a machine with a keyboard, you can tap the yellow box and enter your guesses there.) If you make a correct guess, every occurrence of that letter (or number) will appear in the answer and you'll hear a pleasant sound. If you guess wrong, you'll hear an unpleasant sound, and one piece of pizza will disappear. You lose if you run out of pizza (that is, if you make six incorrect guesses).

You can play the game any number of times. Each time you play, you will see the items in a new order. (It should also have a chance of presenting new items each time you play, but we need to fix a bug preventing that. The bug is fixed as of 2014-06-17. Each time you play, the game grabs seven items out of a pool of 14 and shuffles them.)

This month's game requires you to recall seven different types of training activities that are frequently featured in TGL. Please try the game out at and come back and tell us what you think by using the comments link below.

US Workshops

Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 2-day workshop

Here is Thiagi's upcoming workshop in Washington, DC / Arlington, VA. This will probably be the last public workshop we organize in the USA this year.

Discount: TGL readers can register for the workshop at the discounted rate of $949 (a savings of $150 from the regular rate of $1099).

Scholarships: A few scholarships are available for this workshop. Write to for details.

Dates: June 10-11, 2014

Hyatt Regency Crystal City
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: (703) 418-1234

More information: Review the detailed brochure (1.3M PDF)

Register now!

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 pieces of advice tweeted during May that were retweeted frequently:

Avoid animation and special effects in your slides. From a training point of view, they distract the participants rather than help.

Don't present any content that is not used in a learning activity. Don't conduct an activity that does not incorporate the content.

After training, organize follow-up coaching sessions in which the participants pair up and support each other.

While training, ask open questions. Give appropriate feedback through sample answers or lists of key points.

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

From Brian's Brain

Growth Mindset
by Brian Remer

Is your glass half full? Sometimes it's difficult to see what's positive about a situation. Yet looking for the positive, especially when it's least likely, actually creates new opportunities. Explore why an optimistic approach is in your best interest.

Power Tip: Look for signs of growth. Whether plants or people, change is often incremental.

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

Online Survey

Learning and Performance

In our previous issue, we talked about the serious elearning manifesto ( ) issued by four thought leaders in the field of elearning (Michael Allen, Clark Quinn, Julie Dirksen, and Will Thalheimer).

As one of our survey respondents pointed out, the characteristics of effective (“serious”) elearning are also true of any kind of learning.

One of the supporting principles that accompany the manifesto provides a suitable warning:

Do Not Assume that Learning is the Solution. We do not assume that a learning intervention is always the best means to helping people perform better.

Are you incorporating this principle in your training? Think back on the last training you provided.

Poll Question

Are you sure that your training is the best means of helping people perform better?


(The poll opens in a new window.)

Open Question

Instead of training (or in addition to training) what other interventions can you employ to improve human performance? Which of these interventions have you used on your job?


(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

The Serious eLearning Manifesto

Poll Question

In the May 2014 issue of TGL we introduced the Serious eLearning Manifesto and presented a table that compared typical elearning with Serious elearning. We asked this poll question:

Have you ever seen an example of serious elearning that features all eight elements identified in the table?

Eighteen readers responded. All but two of said they had not seen an example of serious elearning that featured all the required elements.

Open Question

As a follow up to the poll, we asked this open question:

What are your reactions to this comparison of typical elearning and serious elearning? What insights do you get from this comparison?

Here are some of your responses:

Thanks to everyone who responded.

You Can Still Participate

This survey is still open. Please visit last month's issue for background information about the manifesto and the link you can use to respond.

Check It Out

Subscription Learning ( )

Subscription learning is an exciting new training technique.

Do you know what it is?

According to Will Thalheimer, subscription learning “provides an intermittent stream of learning-related interactions to those who are subscribed. These learning-related interactions—called ‘nuggets’—can involve a great variety of learning-related events, including content presentation, diagnostics, scenario-based questions, job aids, reflection questions, assignments, discussions…”

To learn more about subscription learning, its importance, and what is happening in the field, check out the website curated by Will Thalheimer, .

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