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How to Avoid Bad Training Exercises

How to Avoid Bad Training Exercises
Training Articles, Train the Trainer, Communication Skills, Design

Article Rating:::: 3 Ratings :::: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Many trainers are always in search of the next best exercise for their courses. On this site alone we have hundreds of exercises that you could choose from. You may even decide to design your own; but a primary question is what makes an exercise effective.

Today, you can browse the net to find inspiration for your own design or use exercise “recipes”. New websites seem to be popping up all the time offering ever more corporate training exercises. The problem is that, more often than not, most of these exercises are terrible! Sometimes, you wonder if the author has ever ran the exercise once before offering it to the general public.  

A great way to learn how to choose or design good exercises is to know what makes a bad or ineffective exercise.  

In this article, four exercises are examined where each represents a class of similar poor exercises. Each exercise is then analysed so you can see the problems and how to address them.

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Envy Self-Reflection Exercise

Envy Self-Reflection Exercise
Exercises, Coaching, Motivation, Decision Making, Goal Setting, Emotional Intelligence

Article Rating:::: 9 Ratings :::: Tuesday, August 18, 2020

It is easy to think that a different life would have been easier or better. It is easy to think that somebody else’s life is vastly better than yours and to fantasise being in someone else’s position.

This brings us to envy. Why do we feel envious? Every day we make hundreds of decisions. These decisions have good or bad consequences. No one makes good decisions all the time. This means that at some point in life you feel envious of someone who made better decisions. You may feel envious for those who had a better beginning in life, better opportunities or better luck.

Envy, if unchecked, can be debilitating. Here, we provide a series of self-reflection exercises that will help you examine this important topic. The exercises can be used by you personally or be given to delegates attending your course, followed by coaching and discussions.

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Agile vs. Traditional Task Management Exercise

 Agile vs. Traditional Task Management Exercise
Exercises, Team Building, Productivity, Decision Making, Large Group, Planning, Resource Management

Article Rating:::: 11 Ratings :::: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

This is a useful exercise in demonstrating the difference between Agile and traditional development environments such as waterfall. It can also help explore concepts such as silo mentality, where each department or team focuses only on their own issues and problems.

The exercise helps teams analyse their performance based on two approaches while going through a fun activity. You can use the comparison and lead them with a discussion on the benefits of Agile practices and how it can help them in practice.

In Traditional methods, specific work is assigned to specific workers with a single role and speciality. In Agile methods, the whole team must take care of the whole work. The hallmarks are communication among team members and iteration in respect with quality control and process improvement as the team moves forward with completing the project.

Consider debriefing the delegates on both Traditional and Agile methods before going through this exercise.

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Productivity Exercise: Multitasking Can Undermine Performance

Productivity Exercise: Multitasking Can Undermine Performance
Exercises, Coaching, Productivity, Attention and Focus, Planning

Article Rating:::: 5 Ratings :::: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

These days, we want to multitask everything and all at once. Sometimes, when the work is routine, multitasking improves performance; for example, when you are cooking something you already know. Most often though, it tends to reduce performance.

This exercise elegantly demonstrates how multitasking can be detrimental. It is a simple exercise with two rounds where one round is designed with multitasking where delegates have to switch between different tasks. In the other round, task are approached in sequence. Delegates can then compare their performance across the two rounds.

This exercise is ideal for teams, teaching productivity and time management. It is also useful for project management, agile methods and task management.

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Spot the Fake News Exercise

Spot the Fake News Exercise
Exercises, Team Building, Creativity, Storytelling, Design, Creative Writing

Article Rating:::: 19 Ratings :::: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The advent of “Fake News” means that we are currently going through a major phase in history. Fake news has come to dominate the news, literally. It is sometimes amusing, but most often frightening. Social media is the prime vehicle of distribution and it is very easy to be deceived by a combination of fake news, misleading ads and filter bubbles as you go through your feed.

As such, this topic deserves a lot more attention. Even though through various political earthquakes in recent years, we have been aware of the detrimental effects of this new phenomenon, not a lot has been done to mitigate it. We are still very susceptible to deception. There has been some pressure on technology companies to conform and do something about the prevalence of fake news, which is good, but if we follow the money, we cannot expect much change anytime soon. The other way to approach this is to train ourselves to become more resistant in accepting and believing everything we read online. We must harden ourselves to manipulation.  

The ability to question anything and everything, and develop independent thinking is fundamental in saving us from fake news, fake science, pseudo-science, religious preaching, desire-inducing marketing in things we don’t need, cult hysteria or belief in instantaneous combustion! We need to harden ourselves and our minds against random bits of unconfirmed news, unchecked sources, persuasive rants and unverified claims. This requires training.

This exercise is an opportunity to help us question everything by having an attempt in creating fake news in a controlled environment and see how others react to it.  

You can also use the exercise presented here for creative writing and team building. There is a certain amount of humour involved in everything fake and this exercise can help bring people together through humour. It can also be educational in that people can learn about some really weird stuff they had no idea about, so long as they can be convinced of them with valid references; this is the whole point of the exercise after all—to question everything.

This exercise is also ideal for younger people who are susceptible to manipulation due to lack of knowledge. See the Variations at the end on how to adjust the exercise to suit your specific training needs.

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What Does This Picture Say About Your Company

What Does This Picture Say About Your Company
Leadership, Exercises, Team Building, Coaching, Appraisal, Change Management

Article Rating:::: 18 Ratings :::: Monday, October 14, 2019

This is a powerful exercise that can help managers to understand what their team thinks of the organisation’s structure. Such structures are used by companies in order to communicate their vision with staff on how the company is managed so the whole company can work together as a well-functioning team.

Any such structures may be subject to change. This could be because of market change, new products, new competitors, new vision, new management and so on. It is important to educate the team about the new organisational structure and this is when this exercise comes in handy.

The aim of this exercise is to find out what the team thinks of the company or organisation as a whole. It is simple to execute and if carried out well, it can be quite powerful. It is the kind of exercise that delegates remember for quite some time to come.

This exercise is ideal for change management, team building and understanding how various parts of an organisation communicate and interact with each other. You can customise the exercise to explore how the organisation already works or how it should work.

This exercise is ideal for delegates who work together or are part of the same organisation. Ideally someone from the management team should also be present during this exercise to listen in and take notes on what delegates share.

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When to Run a Course and How to Time It

When to Run a Course and How to Time It
Training Articles, Train the Trainer, Planning, Learning

Article Rating:::: 19 Ratings :::: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

You are a subject expert. You are in the process of designing a face-to-face interactive course and wonder how to offer it to the market. A primary question you may ask yourself is how to decide the timing:

  • How long should be the course?
  • When should you run the course?
  • How should you plan the breaks?
  • When should you start or finish the course?

We know that answering such questions can depend on the domain, the target market and the local customs. In any case, getting to know what the training community thinks about such areas can be thought provoking, at least to know if your intuition about an answer is correct.

To find out what the training community thinks, we sent a survey and collected replies from our subscribers. In this article, we will present the data, followed by analysis of what this data suggests along with our own observations when running courses.

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A Variation of Chinese Whisper Listening Exercise

A Variation of Chinese Whisper Listening Exercise
Exercises, Team Building, Communication Skills, Listening Skills

Article Rating:::: 27 Ratings :::: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

This is an interesting variation of the infamous Chinese Whisper exercise. In this variation, some volunteers leave the room and then be brought back in, rather than just whispering a sentence in the ear of the person next to them. This allows an audience to observe and hear all the intermediate statements so they can see how information exchange deteriorates in each step. You can then use this as an opportunity to teach about listening skills or communication in general.

This listening exercise is ideal for communication skills and teamwork where you can focus on feedback as a critical mechanism to make sure communication is carried out accurately.

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Fortunately - Unfortunately

Fortunately - Unfortunately
Exercises, Communication Skills, Motivation, Decision Making, Storytelling, Creative Writing

Article Rating:::: 13 Ratings :::: Tuesday, July 30, 2019

This classic game was popularised in 80s. It is fun to play and helps to generate a lot of positives and negatives for a given topic. Delegates go through a series of statements that start with ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ while alternating between them.

Use this exercise for creativity, building narrative and storytelling. It is a great exercise to highlight that there is always a flipside to a negative or positive.

This exercise is also useful for analysing the development of a project over time, especially one that is troubled. The beauty of this exercise is that positive and negative statements are always balanced against each other; you can never say too many good things or bad things about a topic and hence it encourages participants to focus on improving it or creating a balanced narrative.

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Converged Words

Converged Words
Exercises, Icebreakers, Large Group, Attention and Focus, Storytelling, Learning, Creative Writing

Article Rating:::: 5 Ratings :::: Tuesday, July 23, 2019

This is a fun exercise focusing on word play where the delegates need to converge on a common word based on previously suggested words. When convergence happens, it is immensely enjoyable. The pair feel as if they read each other’s minds. As such, this is a great exercise to bring people closer together. You can also use this exercise as an icebreaker though make sure you don’t run it for longer than 15 minutes.

Consider using this exercise for team building, enhancing vocabulary, creativity and memory. It is also a fantastic exercise for practicing a foreign language as delegates must constantly think of new words in a systematic way and since they get to work in teams, they can learn from each other too. You can also run this easily explained exercise for a large group as teams work in parallel without much impact on timing.

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