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Copyright © 1996, Sivasailam Thiagarajan. All rights reserved.


To collect background information about the participants.


15 to 30 minutes.


At least 10.


Preliminaries. Before the workshop, figure out what types of information you want. In order of priority, here is a sample list for a workshop on simulation games: participants' needs, participants' jobs, simulation gaming experience, attitude toward simulation gaming, reason for attending the workshop, and preferred mode of learning.

Team Formation. At the start of the workshop, divide the participants into as many teams as there are categories of information you want. Assign each team to a different topic.

Planning Session. Ask the teams to retire to convenient corners and spend 3 minutes devising a strategy for efficiently collecting the information from all participants. Warn everyone that the total time for collecting all the data will be only 3 minutes.

Data Collection. Announce the beginning of the data collection period. Ask the teams to collect the data (using whatever strategies they devised earlier) within the next 3 minutes. Step back to avoid being trampled in the hectic rush to interview each other.

Summarizing Data. After 3 minutes, call time. Ask the teams to retire to their corners, process the data, and produce a summary report on a transparency or a poster.

Presenting Results. After 3 minutes, announce the start of the show-and-tell period. Call on teams in a random order and give each team a minute to make its presentation.


Too many people? Assign the same topic to different teams.

Not enough time? Suggest that teams sample representative participants rather than attempting to interview everybody.

Too much time? Conduct a preliminary brainstorming activity to identify relevant areas of information to be collected. Ask teams to design a questionnaire before collecting the data.

Too late? Use the game as an end-of-workshop activity. Here are some suggested topics: the best feature of the workshop, the worst feature of the workshop, the most useful skill learned, plans for using the skill, and suggestions for improving the workshop. Use the same frame, but call your game GOODBYE!