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

Rapid Instructional Design
Content Is Abundant
Why create new content?

Guest Gamer
An Interview with Dr. Marlene Caroselli
Profound comments from a prolific author.

You Can Quote Me On This by Marlene Caroselli
Who said what?

This Issue's Cryptogram
Another definition from our glossary.

Thiagi's Latest Book Is Now Available
100 Favorite Games.

Textra Game
Outstanding play.

Textra Games
Five More Textra Games: 11 to 15
Wrap your reading assignments in these games.

Online Activity
Your Favorite Game
Another open question.

Check It Out
Cryptogram Helper ( )
Easier and faster.

99 Words
In Practice and Meaning by Nick Smith and Frank Felsburg
Two valuable contributions.

Introducing a new column.





To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.

Editorial Roster

Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor: Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editor: Julie England

Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Les Lauber, Matt Richter, and <type your name here>

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2006 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 © 2006 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

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

Subscription Info

All registered subscribers receive Thiagi GameLetter free of charge.

However, to prevent us from becoming bankrupt, we have decided to adopt a Busker Protocol. If you like what you read, if you find it useful, and if you'd like us to continue publishing the newsletter, please feel free to chip in with any financial contribution. Our estimated annual cost for this newsletter is $30,000. So we suggest an annual contribution of $30 (which is less than one-third the subscription cost of Thiagi's earlier paper-based newsletter). We would appreciate any amount that you send us, but make sure it is less than $30,000 (since we don't want to make a profit). You can mail your check to Thiagi, 4423 East Trailridge Road, Bloomington, IN 47408 or call us at (812) 332-1478 to charge the amount to a credit card. Or you can charge your credit card online, through The Thiagi Group, Inc. Please let us know if you need an invoice for financial record keeping.

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!

Rapid Instructional Design

Content Is Abundant

Here is one of the principles that I use for faster, cheaper, and better training design:

Avoid creating content. Instead, create structured learning activities that incorporate existing content.

Here's my take on the history of content dissemination: In ancient times, when content was transmitted by word of mouth, priests and scholars hoarded and controlled it in order to withhold information, keep the general public in ignorance, and hold on to power. The first breakthrough occurred with the advent of the printing press. Content became more easily available to anyone who could afford the price of books. However, even at this time, a significant amount of content was withheld from the public.

The impact of the Gutenberg print revolution was a relatively minor phenomenon compared with the impact of the more recent Internet revolution, which started decades ago and is still accelerating. Content is freely and abundantly available, at least on this side of the digital divide. Authors, bloggers, podcasters, wiki users, commentators, and television networks are competing with each other to provide accurate, useful, and up-to-date content, free of charge. Traditional policies, procedures, and superstitious behaviors associated with print publishing are rapidly disappearing. (This does not necessarily mean that the computer and the Internet are replacing printed content. Actually, on-demand publishing and online sales are increasing the number of print publications and speeding up their distribution.)

If you want to test my claim of abundance of content, choose any training topic and conduct a web search at Follow this up by googling the word or phrase to discover the astounding amount of online content.

Here are the results that I got a yesterday when I checked out the topic of “leadership”. yielded 17,413 books. Google yielded nearly a billion (910,000,000, to be specific) items. I also searched for the more specialized topic of “hazardous materials”. Results: 1,151 books available from and 70 million documents are available online.

“Content is not available”

Given these results, training designers cannot rationalize the creation of new content by claiming that content is not available for their training topic. Even if we assume that only one percent of the books and only one-tenth of a percent of the online documents are usable, we still have enough content to keep us (and our learners) meaningfully busy. My suggestion is that we assemble various combinations of the existing content materials (fully respecting copyright restrictions, of course) and design learning activities that require and reward interaction with the content.

When training designers complain that their topics are so specialized, protected, or new that no content material is currently available, I usually challenge them. There are always user manuals, technical specifications, or job aids floating around someplace. In the extreme case where no technical documentation is available and only a few people have the esoteric knowledge, we still have access to the content inside their crania. In this case, we can produce instant content by interviewing subject-matter experts and recording the results on video or audiotape.

The abundance of content becomes more clear when we take into account these three different types:

“We cannot use the content in its current form”

In whatever form the content currently exists, we can design effective learning activities to incorporate them. In an earlier article I talked about various activity templates (framegames) that are suited for the different types of content sources.

The complaint that learners cannot use the original content is based on the assumption that everyone except instructional designers are incompetent.

Here's something that I have always noticed about the process of instructional design. The instructional designer reviews, analyzes, and organizes the content into some structured form. In the end, learners are bored with the dead content. In contrast, I use templates that require participants to use explore partially structured or unstructured content and reorganize them into a form that makes sense to them. The result of this dynamic process is an in-depth understanding, mastery, recall, and application of the content.

There is ample experimental support that letting people analyze and manipulate the content (as a part of peer tutoring and peer coaching) results in effective learning by the participants, including the tutors and the coaches. My friend Sharon Bowman sums this phenomenon up in a pithy saying: “In a training situation, whoever talks the most learns the most.” The ancient Hindus (or was it the Romans? :-) had a pithier saying: Docendo discimus (teach to learn).

Guest Gamer

This column features interviews with outstanding designers and users of interactive experiential activities. Dr. Marlene Caroselli is the author of 58 business books and an international keynote speaker and corporate trainer for Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and professional organizations. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was chosen as a main selection by Newbridge's Executive Development Book Club. A more recent title, Principled Persuasion, was named a Director's Choice by Doubleday Book Club. One of her latest books, 50 Activities for Promoting Ethics in the Organization, has been co-released by HRD Press and the American Management Association. She has just completed 500 Creative Classroom Techniques for Teachers and Trainers, which is now available from HRD Press.

An Interview with Dr. Marlene Caroselli

TGL: Marlene, what's your area of specialty?

Marlene: The soft side of management and leadership is my specialty. I don't do statistics or six sigma or economic theory. I am not an ethicist, nor can I call myself a consultant. Rather, I like the surge that comes when extraneous ideas are plugged into my cerebral power source and I can put a spin on important but been-around-forever topics. Games allow me to do such spinning.

TGL: How did you get into designing and using games?

Marlene: I was living in Los Angeles when HRD Press quirkily accepted my first book proposal. As the relationship between the publisher and author grew, I was able to suggest titles for game books. Other publishers, too, were interested in such books. While I've never found a husband, I have found my niche.

TGL: How long have you been designing and using games?

Marlene: My corporate training career actually began in the chaos of an eighth-grade classroom. Chaos is exciting; it's vibrant and vital. The twin of chaos is confusion and—as Dewey tells us—confusion is the first step in learning. Games engender (at least at first) chaos and confusion. Ultimately, the transfer occurs and the point is made. I've used games to enliven learning since I became an educator decades ago.

TGL: Where do you use games?

Marlene: First where: At the beginning, middle, and end of the training I do. Second where: These days, I work mostly with government agencies.

TGL: How do your clients respond?

Marlene: They have come to trust me and thus permit me to do what I deem best. I tell clients in advance that I never lecture for more than 15 minutes at a time, that I like the room arranged in table groups, that participants will not be able to sleep but instead will be expected to participate. Sometimes, the client will stop in at the beginning of class to assure himself or herself that I don't resemble Salvatore Dali's self-description too closely. (“The only difference between a madman and me,” Dali asserted, “is that I'm not mad!”) Once the client observes a content-related game in progress, he or she usually walks away confident that I know what I'm doing.

TGL: How do your participants respond?

Marlene: As children respond: with glee. (I suspect they react as they do because games suggest participants will be rescued from “death by PowerPoint.”) Initially, yes, there is some trepidation, based on the chaos and confusion mentioned earlier. But, invariably, participants catch on and a definite buzz then results—the sound of learning brought to life.

TGL: What was the most horrible experience you ever had in conducting games?

Marlene: Many years ago, when I thought I knew what I was doing, I used someone else's game, designed to effect better teamwork. It was the first (and last) time I had ever used that particular game. It involved people getting into and out of chairs, as I recall—and I really was not as prepared as I should have been. The evaluations were scathing. Being once-burned has led me to create my own games.

TGL: What advice do you have for newcomers?

Marlene: In designing games, study the format of games that you and others like. Adapt the format to your own purposes.

In using games, be judicious. Don't use too many games. And make certain to emphasize the correlation between the game and the learning.

To gain acceptance from the client, tell her in advance about your training philosophy and why you use games. To gain acceptance from participants, assure them that if they do not wish to participate, you will respect their decision. And, be sure to explain the directions more than once before letting the games begin.

TGL: What do you think is the most important characteristic of an effective facilitator, an instructional game, and a receptive participant?

Marlene: Effective facilitators have the ability to maintain control, an effective game is purpose driven, and effective participant is non-judgmental.

TGL: What is one thing that you dislike the most in a facilitator, an instructional game, and a participant?

Marlene: I dislike facilitators who forget that the word comes from a Latin word meaning “easy.” Facilitators who are too serious, too controlling, too boring contribute to killing as defined by Norman Mailer: Boredom kills more of existence than war. I dislike games that are too long or too complex. I dislike participants who are not receptive.

TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?

Marlene: The type that make a statement. (As adults, we don't play just for the sake of playing—at least not when we are being paid to work.) I often start a class by asking people to take a letter from the course title and use that letter as the first letter in a word that explains why participants are there. Admittedly a simple exercise, this game lets participants know from the get-go that they will be expected to think in this class, not merely let information soporifically flow over them.

TGL: What is your favorite game?

Marlene: Years ago, when quality was king and teamwork his consort, I devised a mystery story with clue strips that were distributed to participants. (The quietest members were handed the most important clues.) Observers noted the teamwork that happened (or failed to happen) as participants interacted. I use this game at the end of the day and to entice and excite them, I tell them that if they can solve the mystery in just five minutes, they can leave for the day. I tell them about one team in Albuquerque, New Mexico, did just that in 1992. However, if it takes them the full half-hour, they will not be able to leave until the appointed hour.

I like this game because the mystery and corresponding clues can be adapted for virtually any class.

TGL: Who are your favorite game designers?

Marlene: I have only one and he is the editor of this newsletter.

TGL: Do you have any book recommendations?

Marlene: I once read that one-third of everything we read should have nothing to do with what we do. And so, I like to explore different fields and use the ideas that I glean to create new games. To illustrate that, this statement from Meg Wheatley's Leadership and the New Science:

You think because you understand one you must understand two, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand and.

A game that is based on this statement could be something as simple as challenging groups to come up with an explanation of the statement and to provide an example. The first group that does so earns a prize. (I try to avoid candy. Instead, I often distribute relevant articles I've read and liked.)

TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games?

Marlene: As long as human beings seek joy, games will have a future. Yes, they will take a different form, morphing as they have from the written page to the electronic screen and to whatever technical wonders the world holds in store. But I cannot imagine training without the sound and sight of learners engaged in interactive exercises that move away from lectures and into the realm of interpersonal introspection. (That's not oxymoronic, is it?)


You Can Quote Me On This
by Marlene Caroselli

This activity requires the trainer to gather five statements relevant to the course being presented. The statements are those made by leaders of the organization in which the training is conducted. (Statements made by leaders in the field could also be used.) The statements are listed in a column that also has the following five humorous statements. In a second column are listed the names of the five corporate leaders, mixed in with the following five names. The first group to correctly identify speaker and spoken words is declared the winner.

Column A

(Mix in five corporate quotes.)

  1. [Upon being asked why modern players have longer careers.] “Arabic exercises!”
  2. “This planet is our home. If we destroy the planet, we've destroyed our home, so it is fundamentally important.”
  3. “The word Genius isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
  4. “Sure I've got an IQ. It's a perfect twenty-twenty.”
  5. “If the people don't want to come out to the park, nobody's going to stop them.”

Column B

(Mix in the originators of the five corporate quotes.)


1.C; 2.E; 3.A; 4.D; 5.B

(Revise, once the corporate quotes and names have been included.)


This Issue's Cryptogram

Here is an encrypted definition of an interactive strategy for improving performance. Solve this cryptogram puzzle:


A hint for this cryptogram

The solution

How To Solve Cryptograms

In a cryptogram, each letter in a message is replaced by another letter of the alphabet. For example,


may become this cryptogram:


In the cryptogram Y replaces L, Z replaces E, F replaces T, and so on. Notice that the same letter substitutions are used throughout this cryptogram: Every E in the sentence is replaced by a Z, and every T is replaced by an F.

Here are some hints for decoding a cryptogram:

Letter Frequency

The most commonly used letters of the English language are e, t, a, i, o, n, s, h, and r. The letters that are most commonly found at the beginning of words are t, a, o, d, and w. The letters that are most commonly found at the end of words are e, s, d, and t.

Word Frequency

One-letter words are either a or I. The most common two-letter words are to, of, in, it, is, as, at, be, we, he, so, on, an, or, do, if, up, by, and my. The most common three-letter words are the, and, are, for, not, but, had, has, was, all, any, one, man, out, you, his, her, and can. The most common four-letter words are that, with, have, this, will, your, from, they, want, been, good, much, some, and very.

Word Endings

The most common word endings are -ed, -ing, -ion, -ist, -ous, -ent, -able, -ment, -tion, -ight, and -ance.

Doubled Letters

The most frequent double-letter combinations are ee, ll, ss, oo, tt, ff, rr, nn, pp, and cc. The double letters that occur most commonly at the end of words are ee, ll, ss, and ff.


A comma is often followed by but, and, or who. It is usually preceded by however. A question often begins with why, how, who, was, did, what, where, or which. Two words that often precede quotation marks are said and says. Two letters that usually follow an apostrophe are t and s.


Thiagi's Latest Book Is Now Available

Pfeiffer has recently published Thiagi's new collection of training games, Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games. All of the games included in this book have been field tested rigorously; many of them have appeared in this newsletter during the past three years.

Why is the topic of training games important?

Although training games have been around for a long time, people have started raving about their power and potency in recent times. Even when you drastically discount the hype, you have to agree that simulations, games, and similar activities are becoming mainstream methodologies in training. The claims about the strength of simulations and games are supported by current research on the nature of intelligence and cognitive processes. The new generation of participants demands interactive strategies in the classroom. In the workplace, training games provide the optimum environment for exploring teamwork, globalization, increasing diversity, rapid change, and other such trends. This book features a variety of field-tested activities from an authoritative author who has been researching, designing, and facilitating training games and activities around the world for the past four decades.

What can you achieve with this book?

In a single sentence, you will increase both the motivational and the instructional effectiveness of your training sessions. More specifically, you will confidently use tested training games and activities that appeal to participants at different levels in the organization and provide hands-on experiences with principles and procedures related to the workplace. The activities (which are based on proven laws of learning and principles of cognitive science) will challenge and intrigue your participants at an optimum level and ensure the application of the new skills and knowledge to the workplace environment.

How is this book organized?

The book is organized into 11 convenient sections that deal with frequently taught corporate training topics such as communication, teamwork, leadership, diversity, and critical thinking. Each section contains several ready-to-use games and activities; Instructions for each activity is presented in a consistent easy-to-use format that specifies the purpose, number of participants, time requirement, supplies, preparation, step-by-step instructions for conducting the activity, and debriefing suggestions. Reproducible masters for handouts and play materials are provided immediately after the description of each activity.

How to order

Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games is priced at $40 (plus $8.50 for shipping in the USA). You can order your copy by visiting our secure online store. Alternatively, you can phone in your order at (812) 332-1478.

Textra Game


In a recent teambuilding workshop for facilitators, I wanted participants to learn and apply the skills related to mediating disputes between two team members. Instead of conducting the usual type of roleplay, I wanted people to stage dramatic segments. The activity turned out to be highly motivating, probably because everybody loves to put on a play.

Key Idea.

Different teams create and stage a dramatic segment incorporating key principles and procedures associated with mediating a dispute among team members. One of the teams does not produce a play but evaluates other teams' plays.

Index Tags

Conflict management. Mediation. Teamwork. Teambuilding. Facilitation. Improvisation. Procedural simulation.


To effectively mediate in a dispute between two team members.


Minimum: 9
Maximum: 35
Best: 16 to 30

(Participants are divided into 3 to 5 teams, each with 3-7 members.)

Time Requirement

45 to 90 minutes


One copy of the Mediation Checklist for each participant.

Room Setup

Tables and chairs for each team. Waiting area for teams while another team is staging its play.


Brief the participants. Explain that you are going to explore techniques for mediating between two team members who are having a major disagreement. Distribute copies of the Mediation Checklist. Walk participants through the items on the checklist, briefly discussing appropriate behaviors associated with each item. Encourage participants to ask questions. Respond briefly and clearly.

Form teams. Divide participants into 3 to 5 teams, each with 3 to 7 members. Seat each team around a convenient table.

Explain the play-production task. Announce that you are going to produce a 5-minute videotape for training team leaders how to mediate in disputes among team members. The task for each team is to prepare a dramatic segment for this video and to act it out. Announce a 9-minute preparation time. Because of the limited time, encourage teams to identify a critical confrontation situation between two team members, prepare an outline for the segment, quickly rehearse key incidents, and improvise the lines.

Explain the evaluation task. The dramatic segment staged by each team will be evaluated along three dimensions:

Randomly select one of the teams. Explain that instead of playing the role of a production company, this team will play the role of a panel of drama critics. Ask the team to come up with a rating scale for comparing and evaluating different dramatic segments along the three dimensions that you identified.

Coordinate preparation activities. Explain that the play production teams and judging team have the same 9-minute preparation time. Start the timer. Let teams work on their own. Give a 2-minute warning at the end of 7 minutes. Blow a whistle at the end of 9 minutes to signal the end of the preparation time. Send all teams except the judging team out of the room.

Stage the plays. Randomly select one of the teams to return to the room and stage its play. Remind the 5-minute time limit and strictly enforce this limit. Make sure that the members of the judging team are carefully watching the play and taking notes.

At the end of 5 minutes, invite the next team to return to the room and stage the play. (The first team can stay in the room and watch the enactment.) Repeat this process until all teams have presented their dramatic segments.

Ask judges to announce their ratings. After the final segment, ask the judging team to make their decisions. Invite this team to briefly explain the items in their rating checklist and to give evaluative feedback for each dramatic segment. After the judging team has presented its feedback, ask it to identify the best dramatic segment.

Present your comments. Congratulate the winning team. Give your feedback, focusing on how accurately each team emphasized the key elements in mediating process.

Conduct a debriefing discussion. Ask questions similar to those listed below. Encourage participants to respond to each question and discuss alternative responses.

  1. How typical was the conflict portrayed in the dramatic segments? Which one was the most typical?
  2. Which item in the mediation checklist is the most important one? How did different segments portray this item?
  3. Which item in the mediation checklist was frequently ignored? What was the reason for teams ignoring it?
  4. Which item in the mediation checklist was the most difficult one to portray? How did the actors portray it?
  5. In each of the segments, how would you rate the effectiveness of mediator? How could the mediation performance be improved?
  6. In each of the segments, did the mediator intervene too much or too little? Why do you think so?
  7. In each segment, did the mediator appear to be neutral? How could we improve the appearance of neutrality?
  8. In each segment, how realistic were the behaviors of the disputing team members? How could we make their behaviors more realistic? More challenging?
  9. If we created a 30-minute segment, what additional incidents and behaviors would you have included?


If you have limited time, reduce the number of teams to three (and increase the number of participants in each team). Stage two segments.

If you too many participants, ask several teams to prepare the play but randomly select two teams to stage their plays. Ask members of the other teams act as the audience.

If you have a video camera, record the dramatic segments. Use excerpts during the debriefing. Also use excerpts as illustrative samples when you conduct the activity the next time.

Game Plan

Step Facilitator Participants
1. Brief the participants.
(8 minutes)
Identify the topic. Distribute the checklist. Explain the play production procedure and criteria. Listen, take notes, and ask questions.
2. Form teams.
(3 minutes)
Divide the group into 3 - 5 teams, each with 3 to 7 members. Join a team.
3. Explain play-production task.
(3 minutes)
Explain the play-production task and the 9-minute time limit. Also specify the 5-minute play time. Listen and ask questions.
4. Explain the judging task.
(2 minutes)
Randomly select one team to be the judges. Explain the evaluation task. Listen and ask questions.
5. Coordinate preparation activities.
(10 minutes)
Announce time limit, give instructions, and start the timer. Judging team: Construct a rating scale for evaluating the plays.
Other teams: Create a play to dramatically demonstrate key ideas related to mediation of disputes. Rehearse the play segment.
6. Stage the plays.
(5 minute per team)
Randomly select teams to stage their plays. Judging team: Evaluate each play, using the rating scale.
Other teams: Take turns to stage the play.
7. Ask judges to announce their ratings.
(3 minutes)
Give instructions. Judging team: Present evaluative feedback on each play and identify the winning play.
8. Present your comments.
(3 minutes)
Congratulate the winning team. Give your feedback. Listen.
9. Conduct debriefing discussion.
(7 minutes)
Ask reflective questions and encourage participants to discuss them. Participate in the discussion.

Handout 1

Mediation Checklist

  1. Frame the session:
    • Explain that conflicts are inevitable results of healthy diversity among members of a family.
    • Explain that a well-managed conflict provides an opportunity for future growth.
    • Stress the importance of listening to each other.
  2. Gather information and analyze the conflict:
    • Focus the conversation on the current dispute.
    • Ask the disputants to take turns to tell their story.
    • Maintain neutrality. Don't take sides.
  3. Help disputants to establish mutual goals:
    • Establish task-related goals.
    • Establish relationship goals.
  4. Brainstorm strategies for achieving the goals:
    • Focus on win-win strategies.
    • Use a variety of brainstorming techniques.
  5. Select the best strategy:
    • Ensure that the strategy is fair and equitable for both disputants.
    • Set up an action plan for implementing the strategy.
    • Identify the first small step for immediate implementation.
  6. Debrief the participants:
    • Encourage disputants to reflect on what happened.
    • Encourage disputants to share their insights for preventing and resolving future conflicts.

Textra Games

Five More Textra Games: 11 to 15

A textra game maximizes the learning from handouts and other reading assignments. Using peer pressure and peer support, this type of game reinforces learning from printed materials. In the August and September issues of TGL, I presented brief descriptions of five textra games each. This month, I describe five more textra games. You may expand and modify these descriptions to create your own activities that incorporate printed resources in training sessions.

11. Question Cards

Basic idea. Participants review the reading assignment and prepare question cards on the content. Facilitator collects the question cards, mixes them up, and conducts a quiz contest.

Reading materials. Articles, chapters, brochures, or product information.

Sample reading assignment. Chapter from a self-help book, How To Be Assertive.

Learning outcome. Recalling key concepts and terms.

Flow. Distribute blank index cards to participants and ask them to prepare as many question cards as possible (with questions on one side and answers on the other). Collect all question cards, shuffle them, and read the questions, one at a time. After each question, the first person to stand up gets to give the answer and (if correct) earn a point. Continue the procedure to ensure appropriate content coverage.

12. Open Questions

Basic idea. Participants at each table write independent answers to different questions. Later, they exchange the answers among tables, compare them, and identify best answers.

Reading materials. Books, booklets, manuals, editorials, or lengthy articles.

Sample reading assignment. Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse.

Learning outcome. Challenging, critiquing, analyzing, generalizing, or applying the content.

Flow. Prepare as many different open-ended questions as there are tables of participants. Place a question in the middle of each table and ask participants at the table to independently write the answer and place and place an identification number under the answer. Collect the answers (and the question) from each table and give it to the participants at the next table. Ask participants to work jointly to compare the answers and select the best answer. Ask the representative at each table to read the question and the best answer.

13. 2-Minute Drill

Basic idea. A small group of participants receive question cards from the judge at their table and yell out the answers. If correct, the participant keeps the card; if incorrect, she returns the card. This fast-paced game ends in 2 minutes.

Reading materials. Articles, chapters, brochures, booklets, or fact sheets.

Sample reading assignment. Product information about five different color printers along with a comparison table.

Learning outcome. Recalling factual information and terminology.

Flow. Prepare 20 to 100 numbered question cards and a separate answer sheet that lists each number and the correct answer. Appoint a judge at each table and give her the cards and the answer sheet. Ask the judge to distribute three question cards to each participant at the table. When you blow the whistle, ask participants to yell out a question number and the answer. Ask the judge to repeat the question number and say “correct” or “incorrect”. Participants place correct cards in front of them and return incorrect cards to the judge. In both cases, they receive a replacement card from the judge. Game stops when you blow the whistle at the end of 2 minutes. The player who gave the most correct answers wins.

14. Confused

Basic idea. Participants write questions about confusing, difficult, or apparently inconsistent points in their reading assignment. A subject-matter expert provides answers to these questions.

Reading materials. Theoretical papers, research reports, white papers, proposals, essays, or translated materials.

Sample reading assignment. A translated book on basic tenets of the Sufi religion.

Learning outcome. Deeper understanding of the content.

Flow. Ask participants to independently write questions about difficult, confusing, or inconsistent information in their reading assignment. Organize participants into teams and ask them to combine their questions and remove those that can be answered by a member of the team. Collect the remaining questions and respond to them (or ask the author or a subject-matter expert to respond to them). Finally, ask each participant to write down a summary statement of one of the important answers.

15. Artistic Translation

Basic idea. Participants independently draw a picture that captures one of the important concepts from the reading assignment. Teams of participants study different pictures and interpret them.

Reading materials. Essays, articles, books, or interviews.

Sample reading assignment. A technical paper on microchip architecture.

Learning outcome. Clarifying, explaining, personalizing, interpreting, or presenting.

Flow. Ask participants to draw a picture that portrays one of the key concepts from the reading assignment. Organize participants into teams. At each team, ask participants to take turns holding up their picture while others announce individual interpretations. Finally, ask the artist to explain what her picture is supposed to convey.


A Hint for the Cryptogram

The first word is TEXTRA.

Back to the puzzle

The solution

Online Activity

Your Favorite Game

What is your favorite training game? What do you like about it?

To respond to this question (and to read other people's responses), please visit its OQ page. Note: This link opens in a separate window. Close the window to return here.

An OQ is an easy approach to collecting and displaying different responses to an open question.

This is what happens in this online approach: You are presented an open-ended question along with a text box. You type your answer in the text box, editing and revising it until you are happy with the results. Then you click “Send”.

The program sends you to a new page that thanks you for your contribution and includes a link to continue exploring the question. You click the link.

You go to another page that contains a button labeled “Peer Answers”. If you click this, you are given a list of responses from other people just like you who answered the same open-ended question. You can compare your response with those of the others.

If you are ready to talk about your favorite training game (and to read about other people's favorite training games), please go to the OQ page.


Cryptogram Solution





Back to the puzzle

Check It Out

Cryptogram Helper ( )

We took a short paragraph from this month's newsletter and converted it into the cryptogram puzzle printed below. You can solve this puzzle using the guidelines given earlier. But you can solve the puzzle faster and more easily by using an online tool.


To use the online tool to solve this puzzle, go to the Cryptogram Helper . (You will need Java in your browser in order to use this.)

Copy the cryptogram to the text box.

Click the “Solve” button.

Your computer will solve the cryptogram puzzle. You will see the solution in the text box in a few minutes.

Use this tool to impress your friends and family members.

99 Words

In Practice and Meaning
by Nick Smith and Frank Felsburg

In the May issue of TGL, we introduced the concept of 99 Words as a printed version of our 99 Seconds presentations. The idea is to provide useful content (including the title) in exactly 99 words—no more, no less. We invited our readers to contribute their 99 Words articles.

Nick Smith (Experiential Trainer, xpand UK Ltd, Dunoon, Scotland) sent us this interesting report on a 99 seconds session, using 99 words:

In Practice

Recently I ran ninety-nine seconds as an evening review activity in order to get a team thinking at first about what had actually occurred. Having given them the choice between this activity and ninety-nine words, they chose the oral version as preferable. It was therefore amusing to watch them write down what they wanted to say. Working in pairs, they discussed the day, picked the salient points, organized it into a coherent whole and then shared with the wider group. They reviewed for themselves, gained useful, if somewhat short, presentation practice and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Frank Felsburg, (President, Cogent Training & Consulting LLC, Narberth, PA) sent us this meaningful opinion:


A philosopher once said, “It is not the many words which have most meaning.” The book of Proverbs says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” One of Shakespeare's most famous lines is “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Don't you hate it when people ramble? I know I do. Wouldn't it be nice if those people listened to themselves for a change?

Strunk and White, in Elements of Style, urged us to “eliminate unnecessary words.” My favorite expression is “Don't speak unless you can improve the silence.”

Hey, where's your contribution? Send your 99 Words article to .



I have always been fascinated by paradoxes: statements, states of mind, principles, or proverbs that apparently contradict each other. I believe that embracing these contradictions is the foundation of creative thinking, deep wisdom, and effective living. Several people have written books about the why and how of reconciling paradoxes. I want to write a short column identifying and exploring some of this yin-yang stuff. Let's begin with the contradictory perceptions of assets and liabilities.

Assets can be deficits; deficits can be assets.

Deficits Are Assets

In last month's issue, Brian Remer told a moving story of Devon, an autistic boy with the obsessive and annoying habit of reading every road sign on car trip. Read the story to find out how this deficit became an asset.

Here, in exactly 99 words is an opposing point of view:

Assets Are Deficits

I have a friend who is a scintillating conversationalist. He is very knowledgeable about different topics. He is sharp, witty, and capable of thinking quickly on his feet. He enjoys arguing with others and proving them wrong. In contrast, his wife suffers from a serious knowledge deficit. To avoid boring people with her ignorance, she asks questions and listens attentively to the answers.

When my friend throws a party, most people avoid him. Almost everyone throngs around his wife because people enjoy her company and conversation.

Knowing a lot can be a serious disadvantage at times.