SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Faster, Cheaper, Better
Earn your certificate of accomplishment.
No, it's not thirty-six!
Make effective decisions.
Clustering and constructing a tree diagram.
Another Textra Game
Convergent and divergent teamwork.
Pit Stop for GAS (Games, Activities, Simulations)
Something for newcomers—and old timers.
Three Workshops in Switzerland
See you in Switzerland.
Learning Activities Revisited - 3
Interactive lectures and coaching activities.
All the Right Moves by Brian Remer
Lost? Go back home.
99 Words Tip
Integrate Content and Activity
Avoid too much of one thing.
Check It Out
Teampedia ( http://www.teampedia.net/ )
Help them become the world's largest archive of teambuilding.
Single Item Survey
Certificates of Real Accomplishment
When do you give them a certificate?
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.
Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan
Assistant Editor: Raja Thiagarajan
Associate Editor: Jean Reese
Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Les Lauber
Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2008 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 © 2008 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for permission.
All registered subscribers receive Thiagi GameLetter free of charge.
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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 email@example.com . Thanks!
I tell the participants in my training - design workshop that the training comes to an end only when they die, not at the end of the two scheduled days. I explain that their life-long learning will be marked by various accomplishments.
At the end of the workshop, I give them a Certificate of Participation. I explain to them that they will get the real certificate—Certificate of Accomplishment—only when (and if) they complete their first training design project and send me their training package along with data from the participants who attended the session.
The goal of training is not merely to learn, to demonstrate mastery of new principles and procedures, or to change their performance on the job. It is to produce results. I focus on this goal and also encourage participants to focus on this goal by providing a series of follow-up activities, support, and coaching.
Here are examples of how the accomplishment goal can be recognized in different situations:
We explored the framegame Thirty-Five in some detail in the March issue of TGL. The same issue also contains a game called Guidelines that deals with making team members feel included in all activities. Guidelines is a direct application of the Thirty-Five framegame. You can use Thirty-Five to instantly create your own training games.
To briefly summarize what happens in Thirty-Five, participants begin by writing a set of ideas (guidelines, suggestions, facts, and other such things) on index cards. Then they move around, exchanging these cards. From time to time, they stop and compare two cards and give them relative scores. Finally, participants end up reading and discussing the cards that received the top scores.
One of the outputs of Thirty-Five is a large number of cards with useful ideas. However, not all of them make it to the top-scoring set. It would be such a waste of resources to throw away these cards. Save the cards and use them in other training. After you have played Thirty-Five four or five times, collect all cards and incorporate them in other training games.
Here are three games that recycle Thirty-Five cards:
Thirty-Five Express. This activity is conducted he same way as the regular Thirty-Five, except the participants bypass the first part of writing the cards. Instead, you recycle the cards that you collected during previous rounds of Thirty-Five and let participants do the wander-around-find-a-partner-and-score-the-cards part.
Silent Sort. Each team gets a set of cards (accumulated from previous rounds of Thirty-Five). Team members review the statements on the cards, cluster them into groups, and organize them into a tree diagram.
Pages. You create a 5-page handout that contains lists of guidelines collected from previous rounds of Thirty-Five. During the activity, each participant selects the two most useful guidelines from her page. Participants organize themselves into groups with the same page and later with different pages. They discuss their choices and come up with guidelines that are the most useful ones for most people in the room.
Detailed instructions for playing these three games are provided in separate articles below.
Although these three games incorporate statements from the cards generated by earlier groups while playing Thirty-Five, you can also use them independently. In the following articles, the section How To Prepare Game Materials gives us you details.
This is a speeded-up version of Thirty-Five, a framegame that you can adapt to explore any training topic. To understand the structure of the express version, let's walk through a sample game that deals with the topic of making effective decisions.
To play this game, you need one suggestion card for each player. Each of these cards should contain a practical suggestion for making effective decisions.
The easiest way to prepare these cards is to play the regular version of Thirty-Five with earlier groups. Collect cards from these games and incorporate them into the express version. You have to copy the suggestions on a fresh set of index cards because the original cards have score points on the back. Don't bother to edit the original cards or select the best ones. Just use a random set of cards and let the players do all the work.
You can play the express version of the game without having previous groups generate the cards. You can create the cards by using content from books on decision-making or from subject-matter experts.
Each participant gets a card with a suggestion for making effective decisions. The suggestions are mixed with each other and evaluated by being compared two at a time. Participants review the suggestions that receive the top scores.
Decision-making. Teamwork. Suggestions. Structured sharing.
To review different suggestions for making effective decisions and to select the best ones (and implement them).
Maximum: Any number
Best: 12 to 40
20 to 30 minutes
Make sure that there is plenty of space for the participants to walk around.
Ask the question. Use a slide or the flip chart to present this open-ended question: How can I make effective decisions?
Distribute the cards. Give each participant a suggestion card. Ask everyone to read the suggestion and think about it. Then, ask participants to objectively compare this suggestion with other suggestions for making effective decisions.
Walk around. Ask participants to hold their cards with the suggestion side down. Tell them to walk around and exchange the cards with each other. Ask them not to read the suggestions on the cards at this time but keep exchanging the cards.
Find a partner. After about 30 seconds, blow the whistle to stop the exchange process. Ask participants to pair up with any other nearby participant.
Score the suggestions. Ask each pair of participants to review the suggestions on the two cards they have. Instruct them to distribute seven points between these two suggestions to reflect their relative usefulness. Request participants not to use fractions or negative numbers. When ready, ask participants to write the score points on the back of each card.
Repeat the process. Ask participants to repeat the process of moving around and exchanging cards. Blow the whistle after 20 seconds or so, and ask participants to find a new partner, compare the two suggestions on their cards, and distribute seven points. Instruct them to write the new score points on the back of the card, below the previous number.
Announce that you will be conducting three more rounds of the activity. Ask participants to maintain high levels of objectivity by disregarding earlier score points and by keeping a poker face if they end up receiving their own card.
Conclude the scoring process. At the end of the fifth round, ask participants to return to their seats with the card they currently have. Ask them to add the five score points and write the total.
Conduct a countdown. Explain that you are going to count down from 35 (which is the maximum total score that any suggestion could receive). When a participant hears the total on the card, she should stand up and read the suggestion from the card. After the participant reads the suggestion from the card, lead a round of applause. Repeat the countdown process until you have identified the top five to ten suggestions.
Follow up. At the end of the session, give each participant a handout that contains all suggestions from the cards.
Here's an activity that helps participants review guidelines (collected from the play of Thirty-Five or through brainstorming) and organize them into suitable clusters. This is my version of the classic teamwork activity of creating affinity diagrams (also known as tree diagrams).
To play this game, you need one set of 30-50 guideline cards for each team of four to seven participants. Each of these cards should contain a practical guideline for making all members feel that they are included in all team activities.
The easiest way to prepare these cards is to play Thirty-Five with several earlier groups. Collect cards from half a dozen of these games and prepare suitable sets. The original cards will have score points on the back but it does not matter for playing Silent Sort. And don't bother to edit or organize the original cards. Just use random sets of cards and let the players do all the work.
You can prepare card sets of Silent Sort without playing earlier rounds of Thirty-Five. Just copy suitable guidelines from books on teamwork or ask for suggestions from subject-matter experts.
If you do not have enough cards to assemble sets for different teams, you can copy the guidelines for the cards to prepare duplicate sets.
Teams get collection of guidelines, each written on a separate index cards. Team members organize these guidelines into appropriate clusters.
Affinity diagram. Textra game. Inclusive teams.
To organize different guidelines into tree diagram.
Best: 12 - 30
15 - 60 minutes, depending on the number of items to be sorted and the numbers of teams.
A set of 30 - 50 guidelines collected from the earlier play of Thirty-Five. Each guideline is written on a separate index card and one set of guidelines for each team.
Each team will be working around a large table
Organize teams. If you have fewer than eight participants, have them work as a single team. With eight or more participants, organize them into equal-sized teams of four to seven participants each. (It does not matter if a few teams have an extra member.)
Brief the teams. Send each team to a separate workshop with a packet of the guideline cards, blank index cards, paper clips, and pens.
Impose the gag order. Explain that the first part of the activity will be conducted in strict silence. You will outline the tasks in the activity, one at a time, and the participants are to complete these tasks without talking to each other. Reassure the participants that during the latter stages of the activity, they can talk to each other as much as they want to.
Conduct independent analysis. Ask members of each team to spread the guideline cards on the table, with the written side up. Ask them to silently study the guidelines without talking to each other. Pause for a minute or two before moving on to the next activity.
Cluster the guidelines. Ask participants to informally arrange the guidelines into related clusters, using these steps:
Based on the review and clustering of the guidelines, any participant may decide to add one or more items by writing them on index cards and adding them to the appropriate cluster.
Time to talk. When most guidelines appear to be clustered, tell participants that they may talk to each other. They may discuss the logic behind different clusters and suggest new configurations. They may also add more guidelines or throw away any cards with irrelevant ideas.
Label the clusters. Working as a team, ask participants to come up with suitable labels for each cluster. These labels should highlight the logical similarity among the guidelines in the cluster.
Create a tree diagram. Ask team members to study the clusters and see if they can be organized into mega-clusters. After grouping two or more clusters into such mega-clusters and labeling them, participants move the clusters to form an appropriate tree diagram (which looks like an organizational chart), with the overall topic written on an index card stuck to the top of the diagram.
Organize a guidelines gallery. If you have more than one team, ask each team to inspect the diagrams (which are officially called affinity diagrams) created by other teams. If you have only one team, bring a panel of outsiders to inspect the final product.
Make final revisions. Ask the inspecting team (or teams) to comment on each affinity diagram, offering constructive suggestions. Give a few minutes to each team to modify its diagram.
Conduct a debriefing. Ask participants to share their insights from the activity. Also ask for suggestions for the continuous improvement of the activity in terms of how it should be modified before its next use.
Here's an activity that uses of pages of guidelines related to achieving a common goal (motivating employees, for example).
To play this game, you need a handout of five pages that contains 30 - 50 guidelines on how to motivate employees. Each page of this handout should have the same number of guidelines.
The easiest way to prepare the handout is to type guidelines from the cards generated by earlier groups of participants through the play of Thirty-Five. You do not have to edit or organize the guidelines from these cards. Just type the list, one after another, in a random order.
You can play Pages without having to play Thirty-Five with earlier groups. To do this, simply collect 30 - 50 guidelines from subject-matter experts and from books on employee-motivation principles. You can also collect suitable ideas by searching the Internet.
Different participants get different pages from a list of guidelines. Each participant selects the two most useful guidelines from her page. Participants organize themselves into group with the same page and later with different pages. They discuss their choices and come up with the guidelines that are most useful for most people in the room.
Guidelines. Textra games. Individual choices. Group choices.
To review a set of guidelines and select the most useful ones.
Minimum: 15 minutes
Best: 30 minutes
A 5-page handout that contains a list of guidelines for motivating employees. Prepare one complete set of handouts for each employee to be distributed after the game. Also prepare additional sets with pages collated but not stapled for use during the actual play of the game.
Arrange the rooms with plenty of open space for participants to form themselves into groups.
Distribute different pages. Give a single page to each participant. Make sure that each page is distributed to an equal number of participants.
Brief participants. Explain that each page contains several guidelines for creating more inclusive teams. Also explain that you have distributed different pages to different people.
Assign independent work. Ask each participant to review all the guidelines listed on her page and select the two most useful guidelines. Announce a suitable time limit.
Assign convergent teamwork. Blow a whistle to indicate the end of independent review and selection. Ask participants with the same page to organize themselves into teams and share their individual selections. Also ask them to discuss different choices and come up with a consensus choice of the top two which the entire groups thinks will be the most useful guidelines for most of the people in the room. Assign a suitable time limit.
Assign divergent teamwork. Blow a whistle to announce the end of this round and the beginning of the next one. Ask participants to re-organize themselves into new groups in which each participant has a different page. (Some groups may end up with a few missing pages or duplicate pages.) Ask members of each group to share their choices from different pages and select five guidelines among these pages. As before, instruct the teams to select guidelines that would be the most useful ones for most people in the room. Announce a suitable time limit.
Present the final selections. Ask each group to identify their top five selections. Comment on the similarities and differences among these choices.
Suggest individual action planning. Distribute complete sets of all pages with guidelines to every participant. Invite each participant to select one guideline that she would like to implement immediately. Encourage participants to make at least one small attempt to improve the motivation of their employees.
This is what participants say about NASAGA's Annual Conferences:
I traveled a long distance to join my first NASAGA conference. It was well worth it. I felt so welcomed and special. Board members and senior NASAGA members introduced themselves immediately and have been so generous with their knowledge and experience. The insights and connections have allowed me to create more success in my practice in the Philippines. I look forward to my next NASAGA conference.
—Grace Orena, May K Learning Center, Philippines
NASAGA Conferences feed my soul! I return from the conference feeling refreshed and inspired. I think it's appropriate that the conference this year is called “Pit stop for GAS (Games, Activities, Simulation)” because I know I will fill-up with ideas and be raring to go! And it's amazing how many friends that I have made through this organization.
—Deborah Thomas, President, SillyMonkey LLC
Last year, I attended my first NASAGA conference and it was the single best conference that I have ever attended. I was most impressed with the enthusiasm, passion and excitement from the other participants, and I left with new tools and ideas that I could implement immediately back on the job. I am looking forward to returning this year and bringing my entire team with me.
—Tracy Tagliati, CPLP, Corporate Trainer, Mercury Insurance Group
Near and far, old and new—all trainers and facilitators find great value in attending the NASAGA Annual Conference. Don't miss NASAGA 2008 in Indianapolis (October 15-18). Visit the conference website for more information.
The Thiagi Group is happy to announce three workshops in Switzerland during the summer of 2008. You can now register online for these workshops.
Registration for this workshop is now closed.
Registration for this workshop is now closed.
In the March 2008 issue of TGL, I presented summary information about learning activities called textra games (which build upon printed content) and replay activities (which build upon audio recordings). In the April 2008 issue, I presented summaries of three types of learning activities that build upon video recordings, the Internet, and real objects. This month, I explore learning activities associated with two “live” sources of content: subject-matter experts and coaches.
(Content Source: Subject-matter experts)
This activity involves participants in the learning process while providing complete control to the facilitator. Typical interactive lectures include presentations that are interspersed with (or followed by) game-like activities (such as built-in quizzes, group tasks, and teamwork interludes).
The training objective for this interactive lecture is to recall the features and benefits of a product manufactured by the company.
(Content Source: Coaches)
Coaching activities involve an individual coach supporting and improving the performance of a learner through questions, guidance, and feedback. Most of these activities feature just-in-time and just-enough presentations, demonstrations, and feedback.
The training objective for this multilevel coaching activity is to administer the Heimlich maneuver to choking victims.
When I first learned to square dance, I was very tense. If I made a mistake, the caller would usually say something to make me look even more foolish. Then I met Peter Amidon. Peter always makes a point of putting the dancers at ease. He teaches simple moves that are easy to remember and he always begins by making sure each dancer knows where their home base is.
He says, “If you get lost, go home and wait to hear something that makes sense.”
Excellent advice whenever we feel uncertain and out of sync!
We continue exploring the broad concept of blended learning with some how-to suggestions presented in exactly 99 words.
Most trainers load their sessions with too much content. I probably err on the other side and spend too much time on activities. Effective training requires an evenhanded combination of content and activity. If you find yourself using too much content, add interactive interludes to your session. Different types of activities are available for use with different content resources. If you use lengthy activities, remember to present some content before the activity (briefing), after the activity (debriefing), or during the activity (coaching). You can perform this balancing act while designing your training or delivering it.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Seth Marbin at Google's Learning Summit. Among other things, Seth helps run a website called Teampedia:
Teampedia is a collaborative encyclopedia of team building activities, icebreakers, teamwork resources, and tools for teams that anyone can edit.
The mission of Teampedia is to become the world's largest collection of resources to facilitate teamwork, teambuilding, and community. Visit the website and enjoy its resources. Help them prevent facilitators and organizations from re-inventing the wheel every time they want to do a teambuilding activity.
Earlier in this issue, I suggested that we should award Certificates of Accomplishment only when participants produce results in their workplace and not at the end of the scheduled training session.
Please take a minute to respond to this single survey item:
How can you apply the idea of presenting a Certificate of Accomplishment to your training participants only after they produce results in their workplace?
Here are a few sample responses:
To contribute your suggestion, visit this survey page (opens in a new window). You may include your name along with your suggestion or keep it anonymous.