SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Talk to Us
Help us walk the talk.
Increase resilience, reduce resistance.
Who and Why?: The Framegame
Save the structure, change the content.
It's how you say it.
Another Smart Aleck
Trainee outperforms the teacher.
What most participants learn.
Thiagi Collection 2014
Happy new year.
Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 2-day workshop
Improve your interactive techniques.
Decide: A Simulation for Making Better Business Decisions
Increase your business acumen.
Thiagi Workshops Outside the USA
Around the world with Thiagi.
Here's a Piece of Advice
Follow @thiagi on Twitter.
From Brian's Brain
Discrepancies Jolt Us To Learn More by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.
A puzzling exploration.
Objections to Training Activities
A summary of your responses.
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: ** NOBODY **
Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Matthew Richter
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Reprinted from THIAGI GAMELETTER. Copyright © 2014 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for permission.
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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!
We have a system to start and sustain conversations among you, me, and other TGL readers.
In this system, all comments are clearly visible to all readers: You can comment on the articles, games, and your opinions about activity-based training. You can comment on other people's comments. You can comment on other people's comments on your comments. And I can comment on your comments.
TGL is an exercise in co-creation. Please participate.
Keep checking out the comments section frequently. Check out my responses and talk back again.
In these days of constant change, adaptability and resilience are highly desirable personal qualities. This activity enables the participants to tap into their group wisdom and work on their ability to flourish under frequent changes.
Participants work individually, with a partner, and in teams to prepare a list of do's and don'ts for increasing their ability to adapt to changes. Eventually, each participant selects a factor that he or she wants to apply immediately.
To identify and apply factors that enable people to thrive under constant change.
Best: 15 to 30
20 to 45 minutes
Ask the participants to select three people. Tell the participants that they are going to undertake a thought experiment. Ask each participant to think of three people who handle major changes with composure—and even seem to thrive under constant turbulence. These role models could be public figures, colleagues, friends, family members, or fictional characters. Reassure the participants that they do not have to reveal the identity of these people to anyone else.
Ask the participants to identify flexibility factors. Invite the participants to think what makes these three people so agile and adaptive. Ask them to make a list of the flexibility factors on a piece of paper. Point out that some of these factors could be common to all three or they could be specific to one or two of the selected people. Announce a 3-minute time limit for this activity.
Ask the participants to select three other people. This time, tell the participants to select three people who cannot cope with even the smallest change and who become agitated by the slightest discrepancy. As before, these role models could be public figures, colleagues, friends, family members, or fictional characters. Once again, reassure the participants that they do not have to reveal the identity of these people to anyone else.
Ask the participants to identify the rigidity factors. Invite the participants to think about what makes these people break down at the slightest change. Ask them to make a list of these factors on a piece of paper. Announce a 3-minute time limit for completing this task.
Distribute playing cards. Give a random playing card to each participant. Make sure to distribute equal numbers of black and red cards. (If you have an odd number of participants, you may give one more card of either red or black color.)
Pair up with a partner. Ask the participants to pair up with someone who has a card of the different color. If one participant is left over, ask him or her to pair up with you.
Discuss coping and collapsing factors with the partner. Ask the participants to share the flexibility factors they had identified in the first thought experiment. Ask them also to discuss the rigidity factors. Announce a 3-minute time limit for this activity.
Form a team. Blow a whistle at the end of 3 minutes. Ask the participants to say “Goodbye” to their partners and to form a team of three to five people who have playing cards of the same color (red or black).
List Do's and Don'ts. Distribute a sheet of flip-chart paper and a felt-tipped marker to each team. Instruct the team members to share their ideas and to prepare a list of do's and don'ts for increasing the ability to thrive under continuous change. Announce a 5-minute time limit for this activity.
Review lists from other teams. Blow the whistle at the end of 5-minutes. Ask the teams to attach their posters on the wall with pieces of masking tape. Invite the participants to review the posters from the other teams to discover common items and unique ones. Announce a 3-minute time limit.
Discuss the items from the posters. At the end of 3 minutes, blow the whistle and assemble the participants for a debriefing discussion. Conduct this discussion by asking questions similar to these:
Prepare an action plan. Invite each participant to individually select one of the flexibility factors for immediate action. Ask the participants to prepare a plan for applying this factor to increase their ability to flourish under changing circumstances. If time permits, ask the participants to pair up with a new partner and share their application ideas.
What is common among these three training games published recently in TGL?
Here's the answer: They are all based on the same framegame. We kept the structure of the framegame and changed the content.
Here's the template for the basic Who and Why? framegame:
|1. Positive role models||Ask the participants to work independently to select three positive role models.||Select three people who demonstrate high levels of the quality associated with a desirable characteristic (example: trust).|
|2. Positive qualities||Ask the participants to work independently to identify positive qualities.||Analyze the characteristics and competencies of the three selected people. List three items.|
|3. Negative role models||Ask the participants to work independently to select three negative role models.||Select three people who demonstrate high levels of the quality that is opposite (example: distrust) to the earlier characteristic.|
|4. Negative qualities||Ask the participants to work independently to identify negative qualities.||Analyze the characteristics and competencies of these three selected negative role models. List three items.|
|5. Two groups||Distribute equal numbers of red and black tokens (example: playing cards or colored dots), one to each participant.||Receive and display your identification marker.|
|6. Pair work||Ask the participants to pair up with people who have an identification marker of a different color.||Pair up with a participant who has an identification marker of a different color. Share and discuss characteristics and competencies of positive role models.|
|7. Team work||Ask the participants who have identification markers of the same color to form teams.||Form a team with participants who have identification markers of the same color. Share and discuss all the information collected.|
|8. Checklist||Ask the participants to prepare a checklist.||Work jointly to create a list of Do's and Don'ts. Display this checklist on the wall.|
|9. Review||Ask the participants to review different checklists.||Review the items listed on different checklists.|
|10. Debriefing||Ask appropriate questions and conduct a discussion.||Discuss checklist items that are common and unique.|
|11. Action planning||Ask the participants to create a personal action plan.||Identify one of the checklist items and create an action plan for its implementation.|
You probably have several soft-skill topics (such as leadership, management, active listening) that can be effectively explored through games designed with this template. We invite you to creatively plagiarize the Who and Why? framegame for your personal use.
Here's a piece of practical advice: When using a framegame approach to design a training activity, think inside the box. Don't make unnecessary changes to the flow of the game or to the wording of the instructions. Pretend that you will be punished for making unnecessary changes. Think of this activity as a mindless search-and-replace task.
When you have designed your game, share it with others. Send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will publish it in a future issue of TGL with your byline.
Ever heard the cliché, “It's not what you say, but how you say it”? The Seven Words jolt dramatically demonstrates this principle. It was an activity from the American Accent Training program that I am attending. My thanks to Ann Cook, a wonderful instructional designer.
You demonstrate how the meaning of a sentence changes as you emphasize different words. Later, you invite pairs of participants to explore this concept.
To explore the impact of word stress on the meaning of sentences.
Maximum: Any number
Best: 10 to 20
3 to 5 minutes
Practice with your sentence. Write a seven-word sentence. Practice saying that sentence repeatedly, emphasizing word at a time. See the examples below.
Write a sentence. Write a seven-word sentence on a flip-chart page. Make it a personal sentence saying something about you.
Example: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Say the first versions of the sentence. Say the sentence from the flip chart, stressing and emphasizing the first word. Ask the participants to comment on the message they heard from the way you said the sentence, going beyond the literal meaning of the words. Pause to collect a few interpretations.
Emphasis: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: I am not talking about other people. I am talking about me.
Say different versions of the sentence. Ask the participants to listen carefully. Say the sentence again and again, emphasizing different words. After each time you say the sentence, invite the participants to share their interpretation of the changed meaning.
Second version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: Many game designers feel the activity to be frustrating. However, I find it pleasant.
Third version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: There is something special about the act of creating a game.
Fourth version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: It is not only the act of designing that is enjoyable. There is another thing.
Fifth version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: I am not just an introverted designer. I also enjoy inviting the people to play the game and watching them.
Sixth version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretation: I am not into trivial fun games. I am serious games kind of guy who wants people to learn from the play.
Seventh version: I enjoy designing and conducting training games.
Possible interpretations: I am not into boring training exercises. I want people to play interesting games.
Invite the participants to explore the idea. Ask each participant to write a seven-word sentence. (It does not matter if the sentence is longer or shorter.) After a suitable pause, ask the participants to pair up. Ask them to take turns to share different versions of their sentences and appropriate interpretations.
Conduct a debriefing discussion by asking these types of questions:
At the end of the pre-conference workshop, one of the younger participants stayed behind and offered to help me pack up my stuff.
“Hi, my name is Matt,” he said.
Unlike other people, Matt did not continue with testimonials about how much he enjoyed the workshop and learned from it. He cut to the chase.
“I want to work for you.”
I thanked him for his enthusiasm and told him that I am not hiring any employees. I added that in my culture, we establish family businesses and the only person who worked for me is my son Raja.
“I believe in nepotism,” I said, “As long as you keep it within the family.”
I thought it was a funny line, but Matt did not laugh. Little did I realize that he was already plotting the next move in a battle of wits and wills.
A couple of days later, my wife Lucy told me, “A nice young man called me and asked me to adopt him.”
Lucy was very impressed. She said the Matt was very polite and well-informed about Hindu families. She claimed that he behaved more respectfully and loyally than Raja.
Eventually, I compromised. I told Matt that he could work as an informal associate of our professional group. He could use my name but he has to get his own clients and projects. He could keep whatever money he makes for himself. He does not have to share any of the money he makes. And I will not pay him a regular salary.
Matt proclaimed that he wanted to give all the money he made to the company and take only a appropriate share. I figured out this was a ploy to get paid during the months when he had no clients work.
Anyhow, I decided to be nice to Matt and trained him on all the nuances of the marketing professional services.
The first month after Matt came on board, I sold $30,000 worth of our services. Matt sold $120,000 worth.
I should have known.
The next month we rented a booth at a national conference. The first day, Matt was absent, working for a client. Raja and I sold $35 worth of my books. The next day Matt came to the booth and took over. He sold $2000 worth of our products. I worried that he might start selling the carpet off the floor.
During the past 5 years, Matt has been generating most of the revenue for the “corporation”. He has established a reputation for delivering on all the promises he makes during the sales pitch.
I keep mumbling platitudes about pursuing one's passion, the spiritual value of our services, and the possible evils of capitalism. And I keep hoping that one of these days, I will train someone who is not smarter or more talented than me.
We took seven popular corporate training topics and chopped them into two- or three-letter chunks.
Here's what we got:
Your challenge is to reassemble the seven topics from these chunks of letters.
Here are the clues to these seven topics. We have specified the number of letters in each word in parenthesis.
The first word is MANAGEMENT.
We're celebrating the arrival of 2014 with a discounted collection of books by Thiagi.
This collection contains nine books by Thiagi on games, simulations, and training activities. Whether you are a newcomer or an old timer in the training profession, you will find hundreds of ready-to-use learning activities and practical advice on facilitation and debriefing in these books.
Here's what the collection includes:
Creativity Games. This collection contains 12 games that deliver playful techniques for solving problems and utilizing opportunities. The games provide a structure for individual and teamwork through different steps in the creativity process. They can be speeded up, slowed down, divided into phases, or combined into a total creativity project.
Design Your Own Games and Activities: Thiagi's Templates for Performance Improvement. This 400+ page book by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer is a collection of Thiagi's most popular books: Interactive Experiential Training, Interactive strategies for Improving Performance, and More Interactive Strategies for Improving Performance. If you are a performance consultant, instructional designer, facilitator, or trainer, you will repeatedly use the 30 powerful practical tools in this collection of Thiagi's techniques.
Framegames by Thiagi. This collection of six different framegames, each with several applications and variations, explores Classify, Envelopes, GBG, Group Grope, Matrix Games, and Take Five.
Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training. This book forms the basis of Thiagi's workshop on interactive techniques for instructor-led training. The modules in the book explore openers, interactive lectures, textra games, jolts, debriefing techniques, flexible facilitation, handling disruptive participants, and closers.
Jolts! Activities to Wake Up and Engage Your Participants. Jolts are experiential activities that lull participants into behaving in a comfortable way and then suddenly deliver a powerful wakeup call. Jolts force participants to re-examine their assumptions and habitual behaviors. A typical jolt lasts for less than five minutes but provides enough insights for a lengthy debriefing.
More Jolts! 50 Activities to Wake Up and Engage Your Participants. This collection of well-designed games engage and energize participants, clarify complex ideas, and solidify concepts in participants' minds. These brand-new ready-to-use jolts share new ways to capture participants' attention; smooth transitions; keep participants alert even after a break; tap the wisdom of the group; and spice up lectures with relevant activities.
Simulation Games by Thiagi. This collection of more than 50 simulation games includes Cash Games, Diversity Simulation Games, More Cash Games, Seven More Simulations, SH!, Teamwork Games, and Triangles.
Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games. This is a first-of-its-kind collection that represents game play at its very best. Thiagi offers the “how-to” and the “lowdown” on his all-time favorite games. With this resource, you'll never be stuck for a fun, innovative, and effective activity.
Thiagi's Interactive Lectures. This collection offers 27 field-tested interactive lecture activities capable of turning any stand-up presentation into true two-way communication.
If you bought these nine books separately, it would cost you $407. Our special discounted price for the collection is $299.
Wait, there's more! If you bought these books separately, the shipping would cost you more than $60. The regular US shipping cost for this package is $20. As a TGL reader, you can get free US shipping for this package (or $20 off international shipping). To take advantage of this offer, visit our online store and enter TGL-TCFS as the coupon code when you check out.
We have begun scheduling our workshops for 2014. Here are some details:
WHAT: Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 2-day workshop
FOR WHOM: Trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, performance consultants, and managers
HOW MUCH: Regular registration rate: $1099. As a reader of the Thiagi GameLetter, get $150 off by entering coupon code TGL-WS14 when you register online.
WHEN AND WHERE:
1 Technology Drive
Milpitas, California, 95035
More information: Review the detailed brochure (1.3M PDF)
Cleveland University Circle
2021 Cornell Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
Telephone: (216) 791-5678
More information: Review the detailed brochure (1.3M PDF)
Regency Crystal City
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: (703) 418-1234
More information: Review the detailed brochure (1.3M PDF)
This senior management training workshop incorporates a real-world simulation of decision making, resource allocation, strategic thinking, and business acumen. Participants lead a corporation over a simulated two-year period. They receive appropriate briefing, make decisions, receive immediate multi-variate feedback, and participate in appropriate debriefing discussions. The workshop will be facilitated by Tom Pray, the award-winning business professor who designed the simulation, and Thiagi Group President Matthew Richter. This workshop has been conducted in-house in various corporations for the past twenty-five years. This is the first time in many years it is available as a public workshop.
Come individually, or send three to five people from your organization to participate as an intact team!
FOR WHOM: Managers, business leaders, consultants, and executive coaches
WHEN: April 29-May 1 (three days)
WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco
670 Gateway Blvd
South San Francisco Bay Area, California 94080
Telephone: (650) 872-1515
HOW MUCH: Regular registration rate: $1599.
As a reader of the Thiagi GameLetter, you will be eligible for a $200 discount. More details will follow. Or pre-register by calling (812) 332-1478.
Thiagi is continuing to conduct workshops outside the USA. Check our online calendar at http://thiagi.com/calendar/ for details.
Sometime in December, Thiagi tweeted this piece of advice. It was retweeted several times:
Learn this important facilitation behavior: Keep your mouth shut. Pauses and silence are powerful tools.
Every day, Thiagi tweets three ready-to-use pieces of practical advice on such HR topics as building trust, customer service, management, leadership, feedback, and listening skills.
Join the thousands of people who follow @thiagi on Twitter.
Even though we crave consistency, it's the differences and inequalities that spur us to action and new learning. Increase your impact as a leader or educator by challenging people to question their mental models and develop new theories to explain changes in their work environment.
Power Tip: Scan the environment for hidden clues that may hide a more complete interpretation of events.
Read more in the December 2013 issue of Firefly News Flash: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2013/December%202013.htm .
Did you see the instructional puzzle on training topics earlier in this issue? Did you read it? Did you solve it?
We have published several instructional puzzles in earlier issues of TGL.
How often do you solve instructional puzzles in TGL?
(The poll opens in a new window.)
In our training sessions, we frequently use puzzles to explore different topics and to achieve different objectives. We have used these puzzles as review activities after a lecture presentation, a reading assignment, or a video segment.
We have also published articles on how to incorporate instructional puzzles in your training activities.
What is your opinion of instructional puzzles? What are the potential benefits and possible dangers of using them?
(The survey opens in a new window.)
You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.
In the november 2013 issue of TGL we ranted about objections to training activities. We conducted a poll asking who is most likely to object to training games.
Ninety-eight people responded to the poll. Thirty one of you (32%) pointed to subject-matter experts. Participants received 27 votes (28%). Trainers and clients who hire trainers received 20 votes (20%) each.
As a follow up to the poll, we asked this open question:
What objections do people have toward training activities?
Here are some sample responses:
Thanks to everyone who responded.
This survey is still open. Feel free to add your comments by visiting the survey page.
Back to the puzzle
Are you a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF)?
If you are not, I strongly recommend that you join this professional organization dedicated to growing facilitators and encouraging the use of group process methodologies worldwide.
Even if you are not a member, you can gain a lot by visiting their website, http://iaf-world.org/ . Check out the IAF Resources in their Tools & Resources Section.