SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
A Special Invitation from Thiagi
And you get a discount, too!
Cultivate your critical-thinking abilities.
Four Suits: Building Trust
Increase and improve your trust level.
Playing with words.
An Interview with David King
Working with people with useful life experiences.
Quick Situations by David King
A game after the training situation.
Sixty-Four More Tweets About Trust
More thoughts about interpersonal trust.
From Brian's Brain
Shining a Light on Learning by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.
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.
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>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2012 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 © 2012 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for permission.
To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( http://thiagi.com/pfp.html ).
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!
WHAT? Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 1-Day Workshop
WHEN? Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 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 http://bit.ly/MXqqcI .
HOW MUCH? Regular registration rate: $495. Get $50 off by entering coupon code TGL-NYC when you register online.
Register Now at http://bit.ly/Nljdca .
BY WHOM? The workshop is designed and delivered by Thiagi. No bait and switch!
FOR WHOM? Trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, performance consultants, and managers.
This workshop comes in two parts. In the morning, we focus on the design and in the afternoon, we focus on the delivery:
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.
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:
In addition to your new set of skills and knowledge, you will have tangible products:
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 http://bit.ly/Nljdca .
Reserve a room at the hotel by visiting the hotel website at http://bit.ly/MXqqcI
For more information, download our detailed brochure (169K PDF).
The U.S. elections are coming soon and it is amazing how many dirty tricks and mental manipulations are used in the statements from spokespersons, talk shows, news reports, commercials, and interviews. As a facilitator who conducts courses on critical thinking and clear communication, this gives me a wonderful opportunity to collect examples of how people cheat.
Dissecting real-world examples of how politicians cheat is a good way to learn about logical fallacies. Another effective approach is to ask the participants to come up with their own examples from workplace interactions. This activity lets the participants generate different examples of illogical arguments and select the best (actually, the worst) ones.
To recognize (and resist) dirty tricks used to entice and manipulate listeners (and readers) into jumping to invalid conclusions.
Best: 20 to 30
30 to 45 minutes
Prepare reference cards. Make copies of the five reference cards given below.
Prepare the rating scale. Make copies of the rating scale, one for each participant.
Brief the participants. Introduce the concept of dirty tricks for manipulating audience members. Ask for examples from political campaigns or from lawsuits and discuss them. Explain that in this training activity, the participants will learn about five different dirty tricks that are built on logical fallacies.
Organize teams. Organize the participants into five teams of approximately equal size. Each team should have at least three and not more than seven members. Ask members of each team to sit around a table and introduce themselves to each other.
Distribute reference cards. Give a different reference card to each team. Make sure that each member of the team has a personal copy of the team's reference card. Ask the team members to read and review the explanation and example of the dirty trick. Encourage team members to discuss the nature of the dirty trick among themselves.
Explain the task. Explain that the participants will write a new example for the team's dirty trick. Participants complete this task independently. The example could be based on some real events in the workplace or it could be a fictional one. In either case the example should be as realistic as possible.
Distribute the rating scale. Give a copy of the rating scale for each participant. Explain that this scale will be used for rating different examples and choosing the best ones. Encourage the participants to discuss the rating among the members of their team. Clarify any questions about the use of the rating scale.
Ask participants to work individually. Give each participant a piece of paper. Assign a suitable time limit (recommended: 5 minutes) and ask each participant to come up with a new example for the team's dirty trick. Instruct them to work independently and to write down their new personal example. When completed, ask each participant to place a four-digit number on the top right corner of their paper for future retrieval.
Exchange reference cards. Ask the members of each team to give their reference cards to the next team. (Members of the last team give their cards to the first team.) Ask each team to study and discuss the new dirty trick on the card they received.
Exchange the examples. Collect the examples written by all members of a team and give them to the next team. (Examples from the members of the last team are given to the first team.) Ask each team to collaboratively review the examples they received.
Ask teams to evaluate the examples. Ask the teams to use the rating scale to jointly evaluate the examples from the previous team. Tell the teams to collaboratively select the best example among the set they received. Announce a suitable time limit for this activity.
Ask teams to read the best examples. At the end of the time limit, ask the teams to take turns to read the best example of each dirty trick. Distribute copies of all reference card to everyone.
Conclude the activity. Identify and congratulate the authors of the best examples of different types of dirty tricks. Conduct a debriefing discussion of these tricks and how to spot them and handle them in the workplace conversations. Briefly identify some other dirty tricks and suggest sources of additional information.
As a quick reference tool, this table explains what happens during each step of the game:
|Step||What the Facilitator Does||What the Participants Do|
|0. Prepare reference cards and rating scales.||Prepare reference cards for each of the five dirty tricks. Also prepare a scale for rating the examples written by the participants.||—|
|1. Brief the participants.||Introduce the concept of dirty tricks for manipulating audience members.||Listen and ask questions.|
|2. Organize teams.||Organize the participants into teams of approximately equal size.||Introduce yourself to the other members of your team.|
|3. Distribute reference cards.||Give a different reference card to each team.||Review the reference card. Discuss the definition and the example with other members of the team.|
|4. Distribute rating scales.||Give a copy of the rating scale to each participant. Explain that each person will write a new example for the team's dirty trick and the example will be rated with this scale.||Study the rating scale and discuss it among the team members.|
|5. Ask participants to work individually.||Ask each participant to come up with a new example for the team's dirty trick.||Work independently and write the new example on a card.|
|6. Exchange reference cards.||Ask each team to give reference cards to the next team.||Review and discuss the content of the reference card.|
|7. Exchange examples.||Collect the examples written by all members of a team and give them to the next team.||Review the examples from the previous team.|
|8. Ask teams to evaluate the examples.||Give instructions.||Work collaboratively to select the best example from the previous team.|
|9. Ask teams to read the best examples.||Distribute a complete set of all reference cards. Ask teams to take turns to read the best example of each dirty trick.||Listen to the examples from the other teams. When it is your team's turn, read the best example.|
|10. Conclude the activity.||Identify and congratulate the authors of the best examples. Conduct a debriefing discussion.||Participate in the discussion.|
Don't like our reference cards? Create your own cards with dirty tricks, along with appropriate examples that are relevant to your workplace.
Instead of arguing about facts and ideas, the manipulator attacks the character and behaviors of the other person. This attack may have nothing to do with the key points under consideration.
Example: I know that you have nominated Erich to manage the project. But do you know that he recently got divorced? His wife accused him of mental cruelty. And do you remember the HR people investigating sexual harassment complaints against him?
The manipulator suggests that the initial activity will produce a chain reaction that will eventually lead to a great disaster. The series of cause-effect relationships implied by the statements is logical only in the mind of the manipulator.
Example: I notice that you were late in turning in your travel expenses. This is very irresponsible and it will lead you to committing more serious acts of irresponsibility. Before you know it, you may delay your project expense reports and hold up the essential purchase of supplies and equipment. Who knows where else this will go? Your team members will act as irresponsible as you and the whole department may be closed down.
The manipulator uses statements and testimonials from famous people to support an idea or recommendation. The people who are making the statements may not have special expertise in the technical area.
Example: At the recent sales conference, I attended a session that presented a case study on the use of the contact-management software that I am recommending. You should have heard the glowing testimonials from important leaders. Famous celebrities claim that you can significantly increase sales by 30 percent in just six months! We should definitely switch over to this system.
The manipulator provides proof for inaction by emphasizing that previous ways have stood the test of time. Social and organizational customs are invoked to support resistance to any change.
Example: There's nothing wrong with the company's educational assistance policy that encourages employees to quit their job if they want to enroll in university courses. It does not matter that some other companies gives tuition assistance and assure job promotions to graduating employees. That's not the way we have been doing things here and I see no reason to change our policies and procedures.
In this name-calling and mud-slinging approach, the manipulator ignores logical arguments and insinuates that the opponent is an evil person who will do terrible things.
Example: Our CEO is in favor of the merger because he is a greedy and power-hungry egotist. He wants to earn a big bonus and consolidate his position with the stockholders. He will not hesitate to fire a lot of employees to exploit the situation.
Our goal is to select an example that can be used for explaining a specific dirty trick.
Here's another jolt that explores one of our favorite themes: You have to unlearn something old in order to learn something new. A nice thing about this brief activity is that you don't need any supplies or equipment.
The participants follow your instructions and look at four different directions. Later, the meanings of the words up and down are exchanged, creating confusion.
To experience problems associated with unlearning previous associations.
One or more. Best results are obtained with groups of more than 10.
Three minutes for the activity, 3 minutes for the debriefing.
Brief the participants. Ask all participants to stand up. Tell them that you are going to give them instructions on which direction to look. They have to turn their head (only their head, not the body) and look in the appropriate direction.
Explain the details. When you say, “Up”, the participants should tilt their head and look at the ceiling (or the sky). When you say, “Down”, the participants should lower their head and look at the floor (or their feet). When you say, “Left”, the participants should turn their head to their left. When you say, “Right”, the participants should turn their head to the right.
Give directions. Say the words up, down, left, and right in a random order and encourage the participants to follow your instructions. Keep giving directions at a fairly rapid pace.
Change the meaning of the words. After about a minute, tell the participants that you are going to make a change. From now on, up will mean down and vice versa. So when you say “Down”, the participants should look up at the ceiling. Similarly, when you say “Up”, the participants should look down at their feet. Explain that the meaning of the words left and right remain the same. Call out the four directions in a random order and ask the participants to follow instructions. Remind them, however, that they have to remember the new meaning of the words up and down. You will see many “mistakes” and lots of embarrassed laughter.
Conclude the session. Announce the end of the activity after about another minute.
Ask the participants how difficult it was to follow instructions when the meanings of words were changed. Ask them to discuss any similar experiences they might have had in their real life.
This engaging card game requires players to recall and apply trust-building concepts and principles they have learned from training sessions, books and articles, and personal experience.
The object of the game is simple: to win one card of each of the four suits.
Each spades card specifies a trust-building category (such as examples of unselfish behaviors). To win a spades card, you come up with a rapid list of items that belong to the category.
Each clubs card contains a pair of trust-building concepts (such as building trust and rebuilding trust). To win a clubs card, you identify the most important similarity and difference between the concepts.
Each hearts card contains a mystery concept (such as hidden agenda). To win a hearts card, you silently convey the mystery concept by drawing pictures.
Each diamonds card contains a scenario (such as apologizing for accidentally revealing your friend's age). To win a diamonds card, you perform in a role-play skit around the scenario.
The game comes with
Three to six players play this game. It lasts for 15 minutes to an hour. You can play the game for a pre-specified period of time.
This card game regularly sells for $49.95 (plus shipping). As a reader of TGL, you can purchase the game at a discounted price of $40 (plus shipping). When you order this game through our secure online store, enter the coupon code TGL-SEP to receive the discounted price.
A cryptic cluster puzzle is a combination of a word association test and a cryptogram. The puzzle displays a list of items that belong to the same category. The items are coded with a substitution code in which every letter of the alphabet is consistently replaced by another letter.
Recently, I received a list of word games from through email from Daily Writing Tips (see Check It Out below). This list contained 15 word games that use cards, boards, tiles, and cube. A few of them are available as apps for iPad.
Here is a cryptic cluster puzzle that lists these 15 word games. Try your hand at decoding this list.
One of the word games in the list is Apples to Apples.
Solution to Word Games
David King is a reformed Investment Banker who is now a trainer and coach working with professionals and executives to help them improve business and professional skills. After 15 years in Banking and Finance, David founded his training company, Vue Consulting, in early 2007 with a focus on providing passionate, practical, and interactive training experiences for the modern professional. Having lived in Sydney, Tokyo, New York, and London, David and his team are based in Brisbane, Australia.
TGL: Hi David. So, in what areas does your training focus?
David: We work primarily with professionals and executives: bankers, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, recruiters, and managers. These people, who typically give advice, tend to have a strong technical background in their area of speciality but need to acquire better business and people skills. So we focus in areas such as productive use of time, finding more and better clients, building trust and business with clients, and retaining and growing client relationships.
TGL: So why do you use games for these types of training?
David: Professionals are really busy. They often come to training events quite distracted. They can also be skeptical or jaded about non-technical topics as it isn't something that gets a lot of focus during their professional training. Games and activities quickly build energy in the room. They create compelling lessons that keep the participants focused on the training (and not on their telephones). Games also draw out key points from the participants so they can self-teach, which helps break through resistance to learning new ideas. Hearing a lesson from your inner voice or a trusted peer can be a far more powerful teacher than the trainer. Finally, brief games like jolts can make key points fast. Games and activities can teach a lot in a short time, which suits the modern professional.
TGL: How do these busy, jaded professionals respond?
David: Really well. It's quite interesting to watch the participants get increasingly competitive, involved, and creative as the workshop progresses. In particular, games that allow peer discussions or peer sharing are extremely well received among the professionals. I think these games respect the fact that the participants are experienced professionals and have valuable lessons to share. Running these types of games also builds respect between the participants and the facilitator. Basically, when the facilitator does need to act like an expert for a bit, the participants are far more willing to listen.
TGL: What are some of the biggest lessons you've had in designing your games?
David: I think I will remain a student of game design forever. There is just so much to learn. Some of the key lessons I have picked up include the following:
TGL: Is there a secret to designing a great game?
David: I'm not sure if there is a secret, but the real key to a game isn't the game itself; it's the debrief afterwards. So as a part of any game design, you need to spend considerable time on designing an appropriate debrief. This is an art in itself and often the debrief from a game takes as long (or longer) than the game itself.
TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?
David: I use a lot of Group Scoop games to tap into experience in the room. I also like structured sharing games to encourage discussion, particularly as many of our topics involve dynamic issues with non-fixed outcomes. We use quite a few jolts, often at the start of the day to snap participants out of their work mindset into the training. We also use quite a few card games (with scenario cards and index cards) to help structure role-plays and discussions.
TGL: What is your favorite game?
David: We use several variations of the Envelopes games from Thiagi—actually, I reckon 30 percent of our games are based on this concept. Brain Pick is another great game when we have access to SMEs. Thirty-Five is a fantastic, and very flexible, game to allow participants to take ownership of results.
TGL: Any final tips for trainers looking to use more games?
David: The main lesson I have learnt from games is that the participants want the game to work. Participants come to training with a hope that the session will be great. Games allow them to help make the training great because the session becomes a collaborative exercise with the facilitator, rather than a judgement exercise against the facilitator. Games break down learning reluctance by creating co-ownership of the training outcomes. Participants often suggest minor changes to the games, create new rules, or develop outcomes that I couldn't have foreseen. These are all great outcomes for adults since they pay respect to the fact that we are often working with people with useful life experiences to share.
In the January 2012 TGL, Thiagi described a card game called Situation Cards. I decided to add this game to our existing sales training course. However, the game did not work as I had hoped. With our topic and participants, the game seemed to lack energy. During the workshop, I made an on-the-spot decision to change the game—and Quick Situations was born. While it's still a card game, we now use it as a debriefing game.
To allow participants to apply skills and knowledge from the training session to unexpected situations. This game helps in contextualizing theoretical concepts into real life and drawing out remaining questions and uncertainties.
Maximum: Almost any number
30 to 45 minutes, depending on the length of the debrief discussion
Handout. How to Play Quick Situations, one copy for each participant.
Situation Cards. You will need one card for each participant plus a couple of extra cards. Each card briefly describes a situation that is relevant to the training topic. (See the Preparation section below for guidelines on creating situation cards.)
Thiagi listed four criteria for generating appropriate situation cards. Here they are, with just a few modifications.
Introduce the activity. Explain that the time has come for a review and debrief. You will challenge participants to apply their new skills to real world situations. They will need to think fast and expect the unexpected.
Brief the participants. Run participants through the activity directions. Give them a copy of the directions to follow along with you.
Prepare the room. Ask participants to stand and make space in the room—by pushing in chairs, and moving personal items under the tables).
Distribute the cards. Give each participant one of the Situation Cards. Ask them to keep the card to themselves.
Begin the activity. Ask the participants to form pairs and begin the activity according to the directions. As a facilitator, you can watch and count down the remaining time.
Conduct small debriefs. At the conclusion of the activity, ask participants to form small groups of four to six people and compare cards. Allow them to talk and debrief each other for a few minutes.
Prepare for a large debrief. After a few minutes, ask each small team to pick one card from their team for a large-group discussion. Encourage them to select the most common situation, the most challenging, the most difficult, or something worthy of the entire group's attention. Once they have chosen, they should give the card to one team member, return the remaining cards to the facilitator and return to their seats.
Debrief as a group. Once all participants are seated, ask for one volunteer who has a chosen card to read it aloud. Ask this person what was the best response she heard. Ask which other participants encountered this card and what responses they got. Ask other participants to contribute their responses to the situation. Ask how common this situation is. Ask if there are variations on this situation that should be discussed. Continue the debrief through each of the chosen cards until all the key points have been raised.
Have participants write the Situation Cards. For a suitable topic, you can ask participants to create the cards themselves. Careful instructions will be required to ensure a wide variety of situations (not just the obvious ones). You may want to form small teams and assign each team a theme (such as positive situations, negative situations, and unexpected situations) to ensure variety.
Involve the facilitator in the game. There is nothing to stop you from participating in the game—it's a good way to sample how participants are applying the knowledge. If you are a SME, invite the participants to pair up with you when they encounter a particularly challenging situation. If you have an odd number of participants, your participation ensures that everyone gets to pair up.
Obtain a Situation Card. Get a situation card from the facilitator. Keep it to yourself.
Form a pair. Randomly find another participant and form a pair.
Start the round. One participant should read the situation card aloud and the other participant should immediately state how she would respond. During each round, think about the lessons learned in the training session and see how quickly you can apply them to the situation on the card.
Continue the round. When finished with the first response, read the other situation card aloud. Now the first participant can take a turn to respond.
Swap cards. Once both situations have been responded to, swap your cards.
Form a new pair. Find another partner.
Start the next round. Once again, take turns reading aloud your situation cards. (This time you will be reading the situation that you previously responded to.) Now you have the opportunity to see how someone else would deal with it.
Continue playing. When finished with each round, swap cards again and continue forming pairs and responding to the situations.
Conclude the activity. The facilitator will conclude the activity after an appropriate number of rounds. Keep the last card you have and wait for further instructions.
I'm working on a training package on improving interpersonal trust. I'm using twitter to help me share some preliminary ideas. Because it is likely to be a lengthy series of tweets, I'm publishing it in two parts. Here is the second part. (For the first part, see the August 2012 issue of TGL.)
Follow me on Twitter @thiagi .
A visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City shines a light on some important considerations for learning. Bioluminescence, the ability of living creatures to emit their own light, is more than a curiosity. Not only is it used in medical research, it provides insight for improving the efficiency of artificial lighting. This month it is also an inspirational metaphor about learning and leading in teams. Power Tip: Turn learning into action by capitalizing upon each individual's innate spark of motivation.
Read more in the August 2012 issue of Firefly News Flash: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2012/August%202012.htm .
Since I love the English language and since I love to write, I enjoy receiving my daily writing tips through email.
It takes me about 5 minutes to read the day's tips. These tips cover a wide variety of topics. Here are some recent topics:
The website, http://dailywritingtips.com/, contains several useful job aids on different topics such as these:
This website also contains reprints of popular articles.
Go to http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-basic-english-grammar-ebook/ to sign up for free daily writing tips through email and the free Basic English Grammar ebook.