Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games, by Sivasailam, Book, 2006, Pfeiffer & Company, $40.
When I told a colleague that I would be reviewing a book on "training games," she asked if it was "gimmicky like most books on that topic." Having looked through multiple training game books over the years, I am of the same opinion.
I chose to review Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games by Pfeiffer because I had once seen Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan and found him to be highly engaging and creative. Sure enough, the book is true to his reputation. The author has taken every imaginable work issue and created a training game to mirror it. Even the book's introduction is playful. Thiagi admits that his epitaph will say that he never worked a single day in his life.
The book is organized into sections, three of which contain activities for icebreakers, reviewing training content, and closing a session. The remaining sections cover common areas of professional development, e.g., communication, sales and marketing, teamwork, leadership, diversity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Finally, there is a section called "Corporate Training Topics," which has small sub-sections for time management, training, outsourcing, change management, and workplace violence.
Each game in the book begins by briefly stating why the author believes the work issue is worthy of a training activity. For example, he writes that when he searched on Amazon online for "leadership," he found 15,483 items. So he created an activity to tap into the wisdom of the group and their role models. Some activities were created around a simple observation such as the extent that people from different cultures self-disclose, the value in finding humor in everyday events, how people behave when trying to influence someone, and the impact of losing or gaining a new team member in the middle of a project.
Other activities address larger workplace issues like introducing U.S.-type entrepreneurship to people in countries that are newly embracing free-market capitalism.
Some notable aspects about this particular collection of games are:
* Most are simple, with few supplies, gimmicks, or gadgets.
* Many address issues or dynamics not seen in other collections.
* Most are short enough to stand alone or be incorporated into a meeting or larger training program.
* The games are constructed very cleverly.
* Debriefing questions are insightful, nondirective, and designed to draw out both cognitive and affective...