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

Cross Questions: A Textra Framegame
The structure of a textra game.

Textra Game
Country Codes
Internet domains.

Read It Once
The perils of multitasking.

Card Game
Finding the most useful advice in a specific context.

Special Offer
Two Sides of Feedback
Discounts on two new card games.

Instructional Puzzle
Textra Games Message
Can you decode this?

Online Course
Coaching for Performance: A Facilitated Online Experience by Matt Richter
We'll improve your coaching performance.

International Workshops
Thiagi Workshops Outside the USA
Workshops in Austria, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Pieces of Advice
Follow @thiagi on Twitter.

From Brian's Brain
Exploring Competition and Cooperation by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Online Survey
Trending: Elearning
Is elearning the answer?

Survey Results
Learning and Performance
A summary of your responses.

Check It Out
Scam School ( )
I bet trainers will find these videos useful.





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

Editorial Roster

Author and Editor : Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor : Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editors: Jean Reese and Tracy Tagliati

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Matthew Richter

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2014 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 © 2014 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

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

Subscription Info

To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( ).

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!


Cross Questions: A Textra Framegame

In the previous issue of TGL we published a game called Textra, Textra. This game is designed by using a framegame called Cross Questions. Here's the structure of this framegame:

Steps in the game What the facilitator does What the participants do
Prepare handouts. Prepare a 2-page handout on the training topic. Reformat the pages so each contains approximately the same amount of information.
Coordinate independent study. Distribute a copy of the handout to each participant. Invite the participants to carefully study the handout. Assign a time limit and start the timer. Study the handout, take notes, underline key points, memorize important information, and get ready to answer questions.
Pair up participants. Ask the participants to find partners. Assign different pages to each partner. Introduce yourself to your partner.
Ask and answer questions. Give instructions and announce time limit. Take turns to ask questions about the content from your page. Answer the questions asked by your partner. Keep track of the number of correct answers.
Conduct the second round. Ask the participants to switch their partners and the pages. Repeat the process of asking and answering questions from the handout pages.
Conclude the activity. Give instructions to the participants. Complete the scorecards and add up your score points. Congratulate the winner.

For an example of a Cross Questions game see Country Code below.

Textra Game

Country Codes

This is a textra game based on Cross Questions framegame.

Each country in the world has a two-letter code that represents the Internet domain assigned to that country. Here is a game that helps the participants memorize these country codes.


To fluently recall the two-letter Internet codes assigned to different countries.


Any number, divided into pairs.


Minimum: 15 minutes
Maximum: 40 minutes
Best: 20 minutes



Distribute the handout to all the participants. Tell the participants that the handout contains Internet domain country codes for 96 countries, 48 on each page. Announce that there will be a quiz contest on these country codes and encourage the participants to study the country codes carefully. Suggest that they memorize unusual codes, such as CH for Switzerland. Announce a 3-minute time limit and start the timer.

Pair up the participants. At the end of the assigned time, blow the whistle. Ask each participant to find a partner and sit (or stand) facing her. If one participant is left over, you become the partner.

Assign pages. Ask each partner to toss a coin. The winner owns the first page of the handout, and the other participant owns the second page. Ask one partner to hold up the handout so that each of the two pages faces the partner who owns the page. Each partner also takes an index card to keep track of the points earned by the other participant.

Begin grilling. Ask partners to take turns naming a country on their page of the handout. The other participant immediately says the two-letter Internet code for that country. If the answer is correct, the questioner makes a mark on the scorecard to award a point to the other player. If the other player names an incorrect country or does not name any country at all, the questioner shows the relevant part of the handout to display the correct country.

Continue playing. Monitor the group as they take turns naming different countries and giving the codes.

Conclude this round. Blow the whistle after 3 minutes. Ask the partners to add up the points awarded to the other player, write the total score on the index card, circle it, initial it, and give it to the other player.

Review the handout again. Explain that the participants will have an opportunity to ask questions from the other page. Suggest that they review the handout to get ready for the second round. Give the participants a 3-minute time limit.

Get set for the second round. Ask the participants to walk around and find a new partner who owned the other page during the previous round. As before, ask the partners to sit or stand facing each other and hold their handouts in such a way that they can see the new page.

Repeat the grilling procedure. Ask the partners to use the same procedure as before for naming different countries, giving the country code, and scoring points. Ask the partners to exchange their scorecards and use the other side for keeping track of the points for this round. At the end of a suitable time period, ask the partners to complete their scorecards.

Determine the winner. Ask the participants to add up their scores from the two rounds. Congratulate the highest scoring individual or individuals.


Read It Once

Here's a control-group jolt in which we compare the performance of three different groups.


Three groups read the same paragraph. One group pays attention to the details, another group mentally counts the number of times doubled letters occurs, and third group performs both tasks. Debriefing after the activity focuses on the limitation of multitasking.


To explore the limitations of trying to do two things at the same time.

Training Topics


Minimum: 3
Maximum: Any number
Best: 12 to 30


3 minutes for the activity
3 minutes for debriefing


Copies of the handout, The Wooden Horse (three different versions) (61k PDF)


Prepare the handouts. Estimate the number of participants. Divide this number by three and run off these many copies of each of the three handouts. Arrange the copies in a single stack, alternating among the three versions.


Brief the participants. Explain that you are going to conduct a reading test that involves a short paragraph.

Distribute the handouts. Give each person a copy of the handout from the common stack. Don't point out that there are three different versions of the handout.

Give instructions to the participants. Explain that their task is specified on top of the handout. Emphasize that they should read the paragraph only once. Ask them to begin reading.

Ask the three questions. After a suitable pause, ask the participants to place their handouts on the table, written side down. Tell them that you are going to ask three comprehension questions and they should write down the answers. Ask these questions:

Check the answers. Give these answers:

Ask the participants to raise their hands if they answered all three questions correctly. Congratulate these participants.

Check the number of doubled letters. Ask the participants to tell you the total number of doubled letters in the paragraph. Announce the correct answer of 13. Congratulate the participants who gave the correct answer (or a close approximation.)


Explain the differences in the reading task. Tell the participants that there were two different tasks (of reading for details and mentally counting the number of doubled letters). One group of participants was asked to perform both tasks.

Discuss the limitations of multitasking. Ask the participants who had to perform both tasks to talk about their experience. They will probably report hesitation and frustration. Explain that this multitasking group performed least effectively on both tasks.

Relate the jolt to real-world experiences. Ask the participants for examples of multitasking activities that they perform. Discuss the conditions under which multitasking could produce effective results.

Learning Points

Card Game


Here's an activity that begins with the participants creating a realistic scenario to which the pieces of advice can be applied. Later, the participants find the most cost-effective piece of advice that is applicable to the situation in their scenario.

About the Cards

This game uses a deck of practical advice cards.

Each card in a deck of 52 practical advice cards contains an actionable guideline related to a specific topic. We have more than 25 different ready-to-use decks of cards for sale in our online store on topics such as building trust, coaching, interviewing, customer service, facilitation, feedback, innovation, leadership, listening, managing globally, motivation, presentation skills, teamwork, and training.

We'd love to sell you the cards, but you don't have to buy them. You can create your own cards by writing different pieces of practical advice on blank index cards. If you want to be more efficient (and effective), you can ask the participants to generate their own cards, mix them up, and conduct the game.


The participants create a realistic scenario to which the pieces of advice from the deck of cards can be applied. The participants review the pieces of advice, compare the relative merits of two cards, and select the better piece of advice. They continue this procedure to identify the best piece of advice for the context in their scenario.


To identify the best piece of advice that can be applied to a given situation.


Minimum: 2
Maximum: Any number, divided into groups of 4 to 7
Best: 10 to 20


15 to 30 minutes



Introduce the topic. Announce the topic associated with the game. Briefly explain the nature of the pieces of advice found in the deck of cards. Read a sample piece of advice.

Create a scenario. Ask the participants to come up with a realistic scenario that can benefit from the pieces of advice on the cards. Emphasize that they should identify the key people in the scenario and the context in which they interact with each other. Also the participants should specify the person who is to receive a suitable piece of advice. Give a sample scenario and announce a 3-minute time limit.

Distribute the cards. Give a deck of cards to the playgroup. Ask them to shuffle the deck and place it, printed side down, in the middle of the table. Explain that you are about to begin the activity that will last for 10 minutes.

Process the top card. Emphasize that this is a collaborative activity. Ask one of the participants to pick up the card from the top of the deck, turn it over, and read the piece of advice on the card. Ask all members of the group to reflect on this piece of advice and jointly decide whether or not it is applicable to the context in the scenario they created. If it is applicable, place the card, printed side up, on the table to start an application pile. If the piece of advice on the card is not applicable, place the card, printed side down, to start a discard pile.

Continue reviewing one card at a time. Ask the group to turn over one card at a time and review the piece of advice on the card. If the advice is not applicable to the context in the scenario, place it in the discard pile. If the advice is applicable, compare it with the top card on the application pile. Decide which one is likely to be the more cost-effective piece of advice. Place the card with this piece of advice on top of the application pile. Place the other card at the bottom of the application pile.

Continue the procedure. Keep turning over one card at a time from the top of the deck and processing the piece of advice on the new card. Place the card with the most cost-effective piece of advice on the top of the application pile.

Conclude the session. At the end of 10 minutes, blow your whistle and announce the end of the activity. Point out that the top card of the discard pile is the most suitable piece of advice for the situation described in the scenario. Other pieces of applicable advice are placed below this card. All unsuitable and irrelevant pieces of advice are found in the discard pile.

Play Example

We recently played Scenario with a deck of cards called Flourishing from Feedback. This deck contained pieces of advice on how to benefit from the feedback that you receive.

This is the scenario that we came up with:

Your client is a top manager in a large corporation. He reacts angrily and defensively to all feedback given to him.

The first card that we turned over contained this piece of practical advice:

When you are getting rated, ranked, scored, or evaluated, find out what criteria and what scales are used.

We decided that this piece of advice was not suitable for the manager in the scenario. So we placed this card aside to start the discard pile.

This is what the next card contained:

Somebody criticized you? Don't whine, counterattack, deny, withdraw, or come up with excuses. Discover useful facts.

We all agreed that this piece of advice was on target to the needs of our manager in the scenario. One member of our playgroup, however, thought this advice was a little bit too strong, but we ignored her. We used this card to start our application pile.

This was the piece of advice on the next card:

When you receive feedback, separate your emotional reaction from logical analysis. Don't let emotion hijack logic.

We all agreed that this was a suitable piece of advice and that it was better than the advice on the previous card. So we placed this card on top of the application pile.

We continued the activity with 11 more cards. We placed four of them in the discard pile (because they were not suitable for our scenario). We added the other seven to the application pile.

When the facilitator announced the end of play time, the card on top of the application pile contained this piece of advice:

Give feedback to yourself on how you handled a piece of feedback from someone else and how much you learned from it.

We all agreed that this would be the best piece of advice to give to the manager in our scenario.


Too many participants? If you have eight or more participants, divide them into playgroups of four to seven people each. Give a separate deck for each group. If you have only one deck, split the deck into equal sized packets and give a packet to each playgroup.

Too few participants? This should not be a problem. You can conduct the activity with just two participants. Actually, you can conduct the activity as a solitaire game with a single participant.

Not enough time? You can reduce the playtime to 5 minutes. You can also supply the participants with ready-made scenario at the beginning of the activity.

Ample time? You can stretch the activity to last for a long period of time. After identifying the most suitable piece of advice, set the card aside. Repeat the activity with the other cards in the application pile.

Special Offer

Two Sides of Feedback

Effective use of feedback requires two sets of skills: giving feedback and receiving feedback.

We have split our earlier Practical Advice Cards deck on Feedback Techniques into two complementary decks: Giving Effective Feedback and Flourishing from Feedback.

Giving Effective Feedback explains how to help your colleagues, team members, and managers to better achieve their goals. Here are some sample pieces of advice from this deck of cards.

Flourishing from Feedback explains how to receive, analyze, and apply the feedback given to you. Here are some sample pieces of advice from this deck of cards:

Practical Advice Card Games

Each of 52 cards presents a piece of practical advice. The advice on each card is self-contained, evidence-based, useful, and usable. While you can read the advice on each card and implement it at work and home, what makes this training tool effective and engaging is the collection of 20 different games. These games can be played by different numbers of people (from 1 to 100) and last for different periods of time (from 10 minutes to 52 weeks). The deck comes with a copy of the game manual. You can also download a PDF version of the manual.

Buy Now and Get a Discount

Each Practical Advice Card deck ordinarily sells for $49.95 (plus $9.50 for shipping in the USA). If you order one of the feedback decks (Giving Effective Feedback or Flourishing from Feedback) in our online store before July 31, 2014 you get a $10 discount: You can purchase either of the feedback PAC games for $39.95 (plus $9.50 for USA shipping). No need to enter a coupon code—as long as you order before July 31, you'll get the discount automatically.

Save Even More!

Want to save more? The PAC2 Feedback Combo includes the decks for Giving Effective Feedback and Flourishing from Feedback, plus one Practical Advice Cards manual. If you bought both decks separately, it would ordinarily cost you $99.90 (plus $19 shipping in the USA). But the PAC2 Feedback Combo sells for $89.95 (plus $10 USA shipping). What's more, if you order before July 31, 2014, you will receive an extra $20 discount. You can purchase the combo for $69.95 (plus $10 USA shipping) in our online store. No need to enter a coupon code—as long as you order before July 31, you'll get the discount automatically.

Instructional Puzzle

Textra Games Message

This month's framegame is a textra game. This month's puzzle is a cryptogram about textra games. Your task is to decode the message.

Cryptograms are highly engaging language puzzles. If you are unfamiliar with cryptograms, we recommend our explanation from the October 2006 issue of TGL.

The puzzle is presented in our interactive cryptogram solver. It requires JavaScript to run, and is specifically designed to work on mobile devices (i.e., iPhones and other smartphones, iPads and other tablets). It also works with modern desktop browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and up-to-date versions of Internet Explorer.

Please try the puzzle out at and tell us what you think by using the comments link below.

A hint for this puzzle

The solution

Online Course

Coaching for Performance: A Facilitated Online Experience
by Matt Richter

Picture this: You are the manager of a product development team for TLA, Inc. You and your team are responsible for launching a new database system in time for E3—the big, big electronics show. You have several team members. Some are ace performers, others… not so much. As you progress through the development process, you have to coach these team members through various situations. You also must deal with difficult peers and a sometimes-overbearing boss. Each of these characters has been acted by a professional actor and captured on video, thus putting a face to the different team members.

And so goes the simulation in Coaching for Performance (CFP), a Thiagi Group online workshop adapting our flexible 4-Door™ ELearning approach.

The launch of the program has gone off smoothly and with great feedback. One participant, Marianne Smith (Global Director for Learning and Development for Paradigm), said, “So far, I am very impressed with the design, materials, and how the feedback works, etc. Definitely keeping me engaged and wondering what is going to happen next!”

Pictures of your 8 team members

How It Works

Participants review the overall context of the simulation. They have access to 3-minute video character profiles. Each profile provides background information about a character and bits of information about the overarching story. Through an asynchronous process, participants perform, receive feedback from the facilitator, and observe other participants' activities.


In the Library, participants have access job aids, tools, and checklists for preparing, delivering, and following-up a coaching conversation. There are over 20 specific practical tools in the library. All tools are provided as downloadable PDFs and many have additional screencast, video, and podcast support to provide deeper understanding.


In the Mission Control, participants are assigned missions where they are given specific scenarios and asked to provide appropriate responses. For example, Bob has consistently misapplied important code-naming conventions. He is oblivious to this fact. The participant will have to identify a strategy for approaching Bob, and then execute parts of that strategy using video responses.

Video responses are an essential component to the program. Participants receive their mission, watch, and review any pertinent data, and then upload a video response using their phone, tablet, or computer. We provide each participant with a Vimeo account that links their device to the course for one-button uploading.

Participants engage in seven missions, each with unique tasks that provide them with opportunities to practice these principles and procedures:


After each participant submits a response to each mission, the Facilitator (Matt Richter, President of the Thiagi Group) provides feedback through video.

Performance Test

At the end of the seven missions, participants step out of the simulation to complete the final performance test (the FINAL MISSION). They go out in the real world and conduct a coaching conversation with a real-life team member. We offer three different formats for this test to accommodate unique situations participants may have.


The course is live. Participants have one month to complete the course and can work at their own pace within that timeframe.

Once registered, participants will receive a special Vimeo account and instructions for linking it to their primary video recording device.

To register, please visit our online store at .

Normally, the course costs $499. As a TGL reader, if you enter the code TGL-CFP when you sign up in our online store, you will get $100 off.

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Richter at 415-385-7248 or .

In the Meantime…

Meet Mary.


Cryptogram hint

The phrase “textra game” appears somewhere near the beginning of the message.


International Workshops

Thiagi Workshops Outside the USA

Thiagi is conducting public workshops outside the USA. Check our online calendar at for details.


Pieces of Advice

Every day, Thiagi tweets ready-to-use pieces of practical advice on HR topics such as coaching, creativity, customer service, feedback, leadership, listening skills, and management.

Here are some pieces of advice tweeted during June that were retweeted frequently:

Be trustworthy by being authentic, selfless, reliable, empowering, and competent. Trust other people and get out of their way.

Be in touch. Keep connected to your followers, your stakeholders, your customers, your industry, and changes and trends.

You are not a lecturer who covers the content. You are a facilitator who helps the participants discover the content.

Make it safe for people to participate in the learning process. Better yet, make it rewarding to participate.

Join the thousands of people who follow @thiagi on Twitter.

From Brian's Brain

Exploring Competition and Cooperation
by Brian Remer

Cooperation is much more than the opposite of competition. Gain a surprising cross-cultural perspective that will change your next collaborative meeting and the way you work in teams.

Power Tip: Add levity to increase cooperation.

Read more in the June 2014 issue of Firefly News Flash: .


Cryptogram Solution

In a textra game, players begin by completing a reading assignment before participating in a game that uses peer support (and peer pressure) to encourage the recall, transfer, and application of what they read.


Online Survey

Trending: Elearning

Although the Serious Elearning Manifesto ( ) warns against assuming that elearning is the answer, most of my clients feel that they can provide faster and cheaper training on the web. Many of my friends in the training field are being downsized in corporations that have jumped on the elearning bandwagon. My clients want me to design elearning instead of instructor-led training.

What is your perception of this trend?

Poll Question

Is elearning going to replace other training techniques?


(The poll opens in a new window.)

Open Question

Many decisions to adopt elearning are based on purely economic grounds: For instance, you can save on your travel budget by shifting to elearning.

What are other valid reasons for adopting elearning?

What are reasons for avoiding elearning?


(The survey opens in a new window.)

You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.

Survey Results

Learning and Performance

Poll Question

In the June 2014 issue of TGL talked about training and performance. We asked this poll question:

Are you sure that your training is the best means of helping people perform better?

As of June 20, 2014, sixteen readers responded. The majority of them (56%) said “No”. Twenty-five percent said “Maybe” and 20% said, “Yes”.

Open Question

As a follow up to the poll, we asked this open question:

Instead of training (or in addition to training) what other interventions can you employ to improve human performance? Which of these interventions have you used on your job?

Here are some of your responses, as of June 20, 2014:

Thanks to everyone who responded.

You Can Still Participate

This survey is still open. Feel free to add your comments by visiting the survey page.

Check It Out

Scam School ( )

First, let me present an intriguing puzzle.

Look at the 10 incomplete equations below.

Your task: Place mathematical symbols on each line to make each equation true. You may place any mathematical symbols before, after, or between the numbers. However, you must not write any numbers (or mathematical symbols that include numbers, such as the cube-root symbol: ∛).

The line of 2s is fairly easy to solve, so you might want to try that first. Next, try the line of 6s.

0  0  0  =  6

1  1  1  =  6

2  2  2  =  6

3  3  3  =  6

4  4  4  =  6

5  5  5  =  6

6  6  6  =  6

7  7  7  =  6

8  8  8  =  6

9  9  9  =  6

Finding the solution

You can learn the solution to the puzzle from the video on this page: . Unfortunately, you'll have to watch a short commercial before the video.

Visit the Scam School

To watch several similar video episodes and learn from them, visit the Scam School website: .

This website features award-winning magician Brian Brushwood who “takes viewers on an inside tour of bar tricks, street cons and scams”. I don't need to learn bar tricks because I don't drink. However, I find the videos on this website of great value as jolts and puzzles that can be incorporated in my training sessions on such topics as problem solving, teamwork, lateral thinking, and coaching.

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