June 7, 2012

Ideas from Two Training and Meeting Game Books

When I read a new book that I think will be helpful for fellow trainers, I like to share examples from the book.  Recently I had the opportunity to review to books from The Big Book series that I thought blog readers may be interested in. 

Big Book of Low-Cost
Training Games
First, I looked at
The Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games by Scannell and Cain which contained 51 icebreakers, games, activities, and techniques.  I found some new games to try in future training.  One that was new to me uses the concept of Raccoon Circles, which you can find out more about by visiting Jim Cain’s site at http://www.teamworkandteamplay.com/raccooncircles.html .  The book presented ideas for 9 different icebreakers or energizers using 15 foot) long segment of tubular climbing webbing.  An old faithful math puzzle game (using various geometric shapes to form a square or design an image) that the book presented in 5 different ways for problem solving or diversity awareness was Tangrams.  What I liked about this section is that they provided a list of different materials you could consider using to make your own inexpensive Tangram shapes in various sizes for workshops.  Of course, you can buy Tangrams from toy stores too, if you want smaller shapes to use for table top activities.  In both training workshops and team-building events, I have used Tangrams to reinforce the importance of checking understanding when communicating as we do not all speak the same language, especially when it comes to tech-talk or industry specific words and acronyms.

Big Book of
Brainstorming Gams
Then I checked out
The Big Book of Brainstorming Games by Scannell and Mulvihill, which has 67 activities for before, during, and after the brainstorming session.  I liked their suggested Doodle exercises and use of index cards or sticky-notes for encouraging creative flow.  I also liked their twist on the standard Squares (or Triangles) paper activity as well as their variations of the 9-Dot Challenge. Many people who have been to problem solving training already know the 3-line Z answer and 4-line arrow to 9-Dot, so their 1-line and 5-line options make it a new exercise.   At the end of the book, the authors provide 3 activities for designing a problem statement or purpose statement related to the group’s idea generation meeting and 4 activities to use after brainstorming is done to sort ideas into workable groups or do post-meeting action planning.
This book suggests the following steps to planning a brainstorming session:
1.       Get an impartial facilitator
2.       Start with an icebreaker (to establish lighthearted tone and build trust)
3.       Establish ground rules (Examples:  go for quantity of ideas verses quality, no criticism allowed, wild ideas encouraged, build on each other’s ideas)
4.       Assign a scribe (using flip chart, marker board, computer, or butcher paper to capture ideas)
5.       Prime the pump (in other words make it fun, play music in background, and use high-energy processes)
6.       Always put ideas first

In the past I have reviewed other Big Books (The Big Book of Presentation Games, The Big Book of Team Building Games,  The Big Book of Business Games )for Dallas chapter of  ASTD.  If desired, you can read those short reviews by clicking here. 

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