Project Management

May 29, 2016 | Author: Anand Deo | Category: Types, Business/Law, Technology
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all abut project management award winning script...

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Project management

[email protected]

+91 9795445381

Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

project management, tools, process, plans and project planning tips Here are rules, processes and tools for project planning and project management. While project management skills are obviously important for project managers, interestingly the methods and tools that project managers use can be helpful for everyone. A 'task' does not necessarily have to be called a 'project' in order for project management methods to be very useful in its planning and implementation. Even the smallest task can benefit from the use of a wellchosen project management technique or tool, especially in the planning stage. Any task that requires some preparation to achieve a successful outcome, will probably be done better by using a few project management methods somewhere in the process. Project management methods can help in the planning and managing of all sorts of tasks, especially complex activities. Project management is chiefly associated with planning and managing change in an organization, but a project can also be something unrelated to business - even a domestic situation, such as moving house, or planning a wedding. Project management methods and tools can therefore be useful far more widely than people assume. Project management techniques and project planning tools are useful for any tasks in which different outcomes are possible - where risks of problems and failures exist - and so require planning and assessing options, and organizing activities and resources to deliver a successful result. Projects can be various shapes and sizes, from the small and straightforward to extremely large and highly complex. In organizations and businesses, project management can be concerned with anything, particularly introducing or changing things, in any area or function, for example: •

people, staffing and management



products and services



materials, manufacturing and production



IT and communications



plant, vehicles, equipment

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs



storage, distribution, logistics



buildings and premises



finance, administration, acquisition and divestment



purchasing



sales, selling, marketing



human resources development and training



customer service and relations



quality, health and safety,



legal and professional



technical, scientific, research and development



new business development

and anything else which needs planning and managing within organizations. •

Successful project management, for projects large or small, tends to follow the process outlined below. The same principles, used selectively and appropriately, also apply to smaller tasks. Project management techniques are not just for project managers - they are available for anyone to use.

project management process 1. Agree precise specification for the project - 'Terms of Reference' 2. Plan the project - time, team, activities, resources, financials - using suitable project management tools. 3. Communicate the project plan to your project team - and to any other interested people and groups. 4. Agree and delegate project actions. 5. Manage and motivate - inform, encourage, enable the project team. 6. Check, measure, monitor, review project progress - adjust project plans, and inform the project team and others. 7. Complete project - review and report on project performance; give praise and thanks to the project team. 8. Project follow-up - train, support, measure and report results and benefits.

1 - agree precise specification (terms of reference) for the project Often called the project 'terms of reference', the project specification should be an accurate description of what the project aims to achieve, and the criteria and flexibilities involved, its parameters, scope, range, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

outputs, sources, participants, budgets and timescales (beware - see note below about planning timescales). Usually the project manager must consult with others and then agree the project specification with superiors, or with relevant authorities. The specification may involve several drafts before it is agreed. A project specification is essential in that it creates a measurable accountability for anyone wishing at any time to assess how the project is going, or its success on completion. Project terms of reference also provide an essential discipline and framework to keep the project on track, and concerned with the original agreed aims and parameters. A properly formulated and agreed project specification also protects the project manager from being held to account for issues that are outside the original scope of the project or beyond the project manager's control. This is the stage to agree special conditions or exceptions with those in authority. Once you've published the terms of reference you have created a very firm set of expectations by which you will be judged. So if you have any concerns, or want to renegotiate, now's the time to do it. The largest projects can require several weeks to produce and agree project terms of reference. Most normal business projects however require a few days thinking and consulting to produce a suitable project specification. Establishing and agreeing a project specification is an important process even if your task is simple one. A template for a project specification: 1. Describe purpose, aims and deliverables. 2. State parameters (timescales, budgets, range, scope, territory, authority). 3. State people involved and the way the team will work (frequency of meetings, decision-making process). 4. Establish 'break-points' at which to review and check progress, and how progress and results will be measured. Separately the acronym BOSCARDET provides a useful example structure for Terms of Reference headings/sections: Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates, Timescales. This structure contains no specific heading for costs/budgets these considerations can be included within 'Constraints' or 'Estimates'. Since projects (and other activities requiring Terms of Reference) vary considerably there is no standard universal structure for a Terms of Reference document. The responsibility lies with the project manager or leader to ensure all relevant and necessary issues are included, and this local interpretation tends to imply TOR headings and document structure. Brainstorming can be a helpful process by which all relevant Terms of Reference criteria can be indentified and structured. Organizations may have standard TOR structures, such as the BOSCARDET example, which it is sensible to use where applicable, mindful of risks of omission or over-complication that can arise when following Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

standard practice. See also Terms of Reference in the business dictionary section.

2 - plan the project Plan the various stages and activities of the project. Where possible (and certainly where necessary) involve your team in the planning. A useful tip is to work backwards from the end aim, identifying all the things that need to be put in place and done, in reverse order. Additionally, from the bare beginnings of the project, use brainstorming (noting ideas and points at random - typically with a project team), to help gather points and issues and to explore innovations and ideas. Fishbone diagrams are also useful for brainstorming and identifying causal factors which might otherwise be forgotten. For complex projects, or when you lack experience of the issues, involve others in the brainstorming process. Thereafter it's a question of putting the issues in the right order, and establishing relationships and links between each issue. Complex projects will have a number of activities running in parallel. Some parts of the project will need other parts of the project to be completed before they can begin or progress. Such 'interdependent' parts of a project need particularly careful consideration and planning. Some projects will require a feasibility stage before the completion of a detailed plan. Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams are two commonly used tools for detailed project management planning, enabling scheduling, costing and budgeting and other financials, and project management and reporting.

project timescales and costs Most projects come in late - that's just the way it is - so don't plan a timescale that is over-ambitious. Ideally plan for some slippage. If you have been given an fixed deadline, plan to meet it earlier, and work back from that earlier date. Build some slippage or leeway into each phase of the project. Err on the side of caution where you can. Projects which slip back and are delivered late, or which run over budget or fail to meet other financial requirements often cause significant problems. Many planners are put under pressure to deliver projects sooner and more costeffectively than is realistic. Ambition and aiming high are good attitudes, but planning without proper prudence and responsibility is daft. Investors and executives tend rarely to question an over-ambitious plan, but they will quickly make very ruthless decisions when any overly ambitious project starts to fail. Exercising a little realism at the outset of a project regarding financials and timescales can save an enormous amount of trouble later.

the project team Another important part of the planning stage is picking your team. Take great care, especially if you have team-members imposed on you by the project brief. Selecting and gaining commitment from the best team members - whether directly employed, freelance, contractors, suppliers, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

consultants or other partners - is crucial to the quality of the project, and the ease with which you are able to manage it. Generally try to establish your team as soon as possible. Identifying or appointing one or two people even during the terms of reference stage is possible sometimes. Appointing the team early maximises their ownership and buy-in to the project, and maximises what they can contribute. But be very wary of appointing people before you are sure how good they are, and not until they have committed themselves to the project upon terms that are clearly understood and acceptable. Don't imagine that teams need to be full of paid and official project team members. Some of the most valuable team members are informal advisors, mentors, helpers, who want nothing other than to be involved and a few words of thanks. Project management on a tight budget can be a lonely business - get some help from good people you can trust, whatever the budget. To plan and manage large complex projects with various parallel and dependent activities you will need to put together a 'Critical Path Analysis' and a spreadsheet on MS Excel or equivalent. Critical Path Analysis will show you the order in which tasks must be performed, and the relative importance of tasks. Some tasks can appear small and insignificant when they might actually be hugely influential in enabling much bigger activities to proceed or give best results. A Gantt chart is a useful way of showing blocks of activities over time and at a given cost and for managing the project and its costs along the way. Various project management software is available, much of which is useful, but before trying it you should understand and concentrate on developing the pure project management skills, which are described in this process. The best software in the world will not help you if you can't do the basic things.

project management tools Here are examples and explanations of four commonly used tools in project planning and project management, namely: Brainstorming, Fishbone Diagrams, Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams, and Gantt Charts. Additionally and separately see business process modelling and quality management, which contain related tools and methods aside from the main project management models shown below. The tools here each have their strengths and particular purposes, summarised as a basic guide in the matrix below. Matrix key: B = Brainstorming F = Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams C = Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams G = Gantt Charts

*** - main tool ** - optional/secondary tool * - sometimes useful

B Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

F

C

G 6

Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Project brainstorming and initial concepts, ideas, *** structures, aims, etc

**

Gathering and identifying all elements, especially causal and hidden factors

***

*

Scheduling and timescales Identifying and sequencing parallel and interdependent activities and stages

*

Financials - costings, budgets, revenues, profits, variances, etc

*

Monitoring, forecasting, reporting

**

***

***

*

*

**

***

*

**

***

**

*

*

***

Troubleshooting, problem identification, diagnosis and solutions

**

***

'Snapshot' or 'map' overview - non-sequential, non-scheduled

**

***

Format for communications, presentations, updates, progress reports, etc

**

*

brainstorming Brainstorming is usually the first crucial creative stage of the project management and project planning process. See the brainstorming method in detail and explained separately, because it many other useful applications outside of project management. Unlike most project management skills and methods, the first stages of the brainstorming process is ideally a free-thinking and random technique. Consequently it can be overlooked or under-utilized because it not a natural approach for many people whose mains strengths are in systems and processes. Consequently this stage of the project planning process can benefit from being facilitated by a team member able to manage such a session, specifically to help very organised people to think randomly and creatively.

fishbone diagrams Fishbone diagrams are chiefly used in quality management faultdetection, and in business process improvement, especially in manufacturing and production, but the model is also very useful in project management planning and task management generally. Within project management fishbone diagrams are useful for early planning, notably when gathering and organising factors, for example during brainstorming.

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Fishbone diagrams are very good for identifying hidden factors which can be significant in enabling larger activities, resources areas, or parts of a process. Fishbone diagrams are not good for scheduling or showing interdependent time-critical factors. Fishbone diagrams are also called 'cause and effect diagrams' and Ishikawa diagrams, after Kaoru Ishikawa (1915-89), a Japanese professor specialising in industrial quality management and engineering who devised the technique in the 1960s. Ishikawa's diagram became known as a fishbone diagram, obviously, because it looks like a fishbone: A fishbone diagram has a central spine running left to right, around which is built a map of factors which contribute to the final result (or problem). For each project the main categories of factors are identified and shown as the main 'bones' leading to the spine. Into each category can be drawn 'primary' elements or factors (shown as P in the diagram), and into these can be drawn secondary elements or factors (shown as S). This is done for every category, and can be extended to third or fourth level factors if Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

necessary. The diagram above is a very simple one. Typically fishbone diagrams have six or more main bones feeding into the spine. Other main category factors can include Environment, Management, Systems, Training, Legal, etc. The categories used in a fishbone diagram should be whatever makes sense for the project. Various standard category sets exist for different industrial applications, however it is important that your chosen structure is right for your own situation, rather than taking a standard set of category headings and hoping that it fits. At a simple level the fishbone diagram is a very effective planning model and tool - especially for 'mapping' an entire operation. Where a fishbone diagram is used for project planning of course the 'Effect' is shown as an aim or outcome or result, not a problem. The 'Problem' term is used in fault diagnosis and in quality management problem-solving. Some fishbone diagrams can become very complex indeed, which is common in specialised quality management areas, especially where systems are computerised. This model, and the critical path analysis diagram are similar to the even more complex diagrams used on business process modelling within areas of business planning and and business process improvement.

project critical path analysis (flow diagram or chart) 'Critical Path Analysis' sounds very complicated, but it's a very logical and effective method for planning and managing complex projects. A critical path analysis is normally shown as a flow diagram, whose format is linear (organised in a line), and specifically a time-line. Critical Path Analysis is also called Critical Path Method - it's the same thing - and the terms are commonly abbreviated, to CPA and CPM. A commonly used tool within Critical Path Analysis is PERT (Program/Programme/Project Evaluation and Review Technique) which is a specialised method for identifying related and interdependent activities and events, especially where a big project may contain hundreds or thousands of connected elements. PERT is not normally relevant in simple projects, but any project of considerable size and complexity, particularly when timings and interdependency issues are crucial, can benefit from the detailed analysis enabled by PERT methods. PERT analysis commonly feeds into Critical Path Analysis and to other broader project management systems, such as those mentioned here. Critical Path Analysis flow diagrams are very good for showing interdependent factors whose timings overlap or coincide. They also enable a plan to be scheduled according to a timescale. Critical Path Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Analysis flow diagrams also enable costings and budgeting, although not quite as easily as Gantt charts (below), and they also help planners to identify causal elements, although not quite so easily as fishbone diagrams (below). This is how to create a Critical Path Analysis. As an example, the project is a simple one - making a fried breakfast. First note down all the issues (resources and activities in a rough order), again for example: Assemble crockery and utensils, assemble ingredients, prepare equipment, make toast, fry sausages and eggs, grill bacon and tomatoes, lay table, warm plates, serve. Note that some of these activities must happen in parallel - and crucially they are interdependent. That is to say, if you tried to make a fried breakfast by doing one task at a time, and one after the other, things would go wrong. Certain tasks must be started before others, and certain tasks must be completed in order for others to begin. The plates need to be warming while other activities are going on. The toast needs to be toasting while the sausages are frying, and at the same time the bacon and sausages are under the grill. The eggs need to be fried last. A Critical Path Analysis is a diagrammatical representation of what needs done and when. Timescales and costs can be applied to each activity and resource. Here's the Critical Path Analysis for making a fried breakfast: This Critical Path Analysis example below shows just a few activities over a few minutes. Normal business projects would see the analysis extending several times wider than this example, and the time line would be based on weeks or months. It is possible to use MS Excel or a similar spreadsheet to create a Critical Path Analysis, which allows financial totals and time totals to be planned and tracked. Various specialised project management software enable the same thing. Beware however of spending weeks on the intricacies of computer modelling, when in the early stages especially, a carefully hand drawn diagram - which requires no computer training at all - can put 90% of the thinking and structure in place. (See the details about the most incredible planning and communications tool ever invented, and available for just a tiny fraction of the price of all the alternatives.)

project critical path analysis flow diagram example

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

gantt charts Gantt Charts (commonly wrongly called gant charts) are extremely useful project management tools. The Gantt Chart is named after US engineer and consultant Henry Gantt (1861-1919) who devised the technique in the 1910s. Gantt charts are excellent models for scheduling and for budgeting, and for reporting and presenting and communicating project plans and progress easily and quickly, but as a rule Gantt Charts are not as good as a Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagram for identifying and showing interdependent factors, or for 'mapping' a plan from and/or into all of its detailed causal or contributing elements. You can construct a Gantt Chart using MSExcel or a similar spreadsheet. Every activity has a separate line. Create a time-line for the duration of the project (the breakfast example shows minutes, but normally you would use weeks, or for very big long-term projects, months). You can colour code the time blocks to denote type of activity (for example, intense, watching brief, directly managed, delegated and left-to-run, etc.) You can schedule review and insert break points. At the end of each line you can show as many cost columns for the activities as you need. The breakfast example shows just the capital cost of the consumable items and a revenue cost for labour and fuel. A Gantt chart like this can be used to keep track of progress for each activity and how the costs are running. You can move the time blocks around to report on actuals versus planned, and to re-schedule, and to create new plan updates. Costs columns can show plan and actuals and variances, and calculate whatever totals, averages, ratios, etc., that you need. Gantt Charts are probably the most flexible and useful of all project management tools, but remember they do Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

not very easily or obviously show the importance and inter-dependence of related parallel activities, and they won't obviously show the necessity to complete one task before another can begin, as a Critical Path Analysis will do, so you may need both tools, especially at the planning stage, and almost certainly for large complex projects.

gantt chart example

A wide range of computerised systems/software now exists for project management and planning, and new methods continue to be developed. It is an area of high innovation, with lots of scope for improvement and development. I welcome suggestions of particularly good systems, especially if inexpensive or free. Many organizations develop or specify particular computerised tools, so it's a good idea to seek local relevant advice and examples of best practice before deciding the best computerised project management system(s) for your own situation. Project planning tools naturally become used also for subsequent project reporting, presentations, etc., and you will make life easier for everyone if you use formats that people recognize and find familiar.

project financial planning and reporting For projects involving more than petty cash you'll probably need a spreadsheet to plan and report planned and actual expenditure. Use MSExcel or similar. Financial accounting for small projects can sometimes be managed using the project's Gantt Chart. Large projects are likely to require some sort of require dedicated accounting system, although conceivably Gantt Charts and financial management accounts can easily be administered within a spreadsheet system given sufficient expertise. If you don't know how to put together a basic financial plan, get some help from someone who does, and make sure you bring a good friendly, flexible financial person into your team - it's a key function of project Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

management, and if you can't manage the financial processes your self you need to be able to rely completely on whoever does it for you. The spreadsheet must enable you to plan, administer and report the detailed finances of your project. Create a cost line for main expenditure activity, and break this down into individual elements. Create a system for allocating incoming invoices to the correct activities (your bought-ledger people won't know unless you tell them), and showing when the costs hit the project account. Establish clear payment terms with all suppliers and stick to them. Projects develop problems when team members get dissatisfied; rest assured, non- or late-payment is a primary cause of dissatisfaction. Remember to set some budget aside for 'contingencies' - you will almost certainly need it.

project contingency planning Planning for and anticipating the unforeseen, or the possibility that things may not go as expected, is called 'contingency planning'. Contingency planning is vital in any task when results and outcomes cannot be absolutely guaranteed. Often a contingency budget needs to be planned as there are usually costs associated. Contingency planning is about preparing fall-back actions, and making sure that leeway for time, activity and resource exists to rectify or replace first-choice plans. A simple contingency plan for the fried breakfast would be to plan for the possibility of breaking the yolk of an egg, in which case spare resource (eggs) should be budgeted for and available if needed. Another might be to prepare some hash-browns and mushrooms in the event that any of the diners are vegetarian. It may be difficult to anticipate precisely what contingency to plan for in complex long-term projects, in which case simply a contingency budget is provided, to be allocated later when and if required.

3 - communicate the project plan to your team This serves two purposes: it informs people what's happening, and it obtains essential support, agreement and commitment. If your project is complex and involves a team, then you should involve the team in the planning process to maximise buy-in, ownership, and thereby accountability. Your project will also benefit from input and consultation from relevant people at an early stage. Also consider how best to communicate the aims and approach of your project to others in your organization and wider network. Your project 'team' can extend more widely than you might first imagine. Consider all the possible 'stakeholders' - those who have an interest in your project and the areas it touches and needs to attract support or tolerance. Involvement and communication are vital for cooperation and support. Failing to communicate to people (who might have no great input, but Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

whose cooperation is crucial) is a common reason for arousing suspicion and objections, defensiveness or resistance.

4 - agree and delegate project actions Your plan will have identified those responsible for each activity. Activities need to be very clearly described, including all relevant parameters, timescales, costs, and deliverables. Use the SMART acronym to help you delegate tasks properly. See the delegation tips and processes. Using proper delegation methods is vital for successful project management involving teams. When delegated tasks fail this is typically because they have not been explained clearly, agreed with the other person, or supported and checked while in progress. So publish the full plan to all in the team, and consider carefully how to delegate medium-to-long-term tasks in light of team members' forward-planning capabilities. Long-term complex projects need to be planned in more detail, and great care must be taken in delegating and supporting them. Only delegate tasks which pass the SMART test. Other useful materials to help understand team delegation are the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum, and Tuckman's group forming/performing model. The Johari Window model is also an excellent review framework for quickly checking or reminding about mutual awareness among team members in large complex projects, where there is often a risk of project fragmentation and people 'doing their own thing' in blissful isolation - which seriously undermines even the best planned projects.

5 - manage, motivate, inform, encourage, enable the project team Manage the team and activities in meetings, communicating, supporting, and helping with decisions (but not making them for people who can make them for themselves). 'Praise loudly; blame softly.' (a wonderful maxim attributed to Catherine the Great). One of the big challenges for a project manager is deciding how much freedom to give for each delegated activity. Tight parameters and lots of checking are necessary for inexperienced people who like clear instructions, but this approach is the kiss of death to experienced, entrepreneurial and creative people. They need a wider brief, more freedom, and less checking. Manage these people by the results they get - not how they get them. Look out for differences in personality and working styles in your team. Misunderstanding personal styles can get in the way of team cooperation. Your role here is to enable and translate. Face to face meetings, when you can bring team members together, are generally the best way to avoid issues and relationships becoming personalised and emotional. Communicate progress and successes regularly to everyone. Give the people in your team the plaudits, particularly when someone high up expresses satisfaction - never, never accept plaudits yourself. Conversely - you must take the blame for anything that goes wrong - never 'dump' (your problems or stresses) on anyone in your team. As project manager any problem is always ultimately down to you anyway. Use empathy and Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

conflict handling techniques, and look out for signs of stress and manage it accordingly. A happy positive team with a basic plan will outperform a miserable team with a brilliant plan, every time.

6 - check, measure, and review project performance; adjust project plans; inform project team and others Check the progress of activities against the plan. Review performance regularly and at the stipulated review points, and confirm the validity and relevance of the remainder of the plan. Adjust the plan if necessary in light of performance, changing circumstances, and new information, but remain on track and within the original terms of reference. Be sure to use transparent, pre-agreed measurements when judging performance. (Which shows how essential it is to have these measures in place and clearly agreed before the task begins.) Identify, agree and delegate new actions as appropriate. Inform team members and those in authority about developments, clearly, concisely and in writing. Plan team review meetings. Stick to the monitoring systems you established. Probe the apparent situations to get at the real facts and figures. Analyse causes and learn from mistakes. Identify reliable advisors and experts in the team and use them. Keep talking to people, and make yourself available to all.

7 - complete project; review and report on project; give praise and thanks to the project team At the end of your successful project hold a review with the team. Ensure you understand what happened and why. Reflect on any failures and mistakes positively, objectively, and without allocating personal blame. Reflect on successes gratefully and realistically. Write a review report, and make observations and recommendations about follow up issues and priorities - there will be plenty.

8 - follow up - train, support, measure and report project results and benefits Traditionally this stage would be considered part of the project completion, but increasingly an emphasised additional stage of project follow-up is appropriate. This is particularly so in very political environments, and/or where projects benefits have relatively low visibility and meaning to stakeholders (staff, customers, investors, etc), especially if the project also has very high costs, as ICT projects tend to do. ICT (information and communications technology) projects often are like this - low visibility of benefits but very high costs, and also very high stress and risk levels too. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Project management almost always involves change management too, within which it's very important to consider the effects of the project on people who have to adapt to the change. There is often a training or education need. There will almost certainly be an explanation need, in which for example methods like team briefing have prove very useful. Whatever, when you are focused on project management it is easy to forget or ignore that many people are affected in some way by the results of the project. Change is difficult, even when it is good and for right reasons. Remembering this during and at the end of your project will help you achieve a project that is well received, as well as successful purely in project management terms.

Someone once said "Don't you love it when a plan comes together?" It's true. As project manager, to be at the end of a project and to report that the project plan has been fully met, on time and on budget, is a significant achievement, whatever the project size and complexity. The mix of skills required are such that good project managers can manage anything.

amusing project management analogies To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the project manager, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. A clergyman, a doctor and a project manager were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The project manager exclaimed, "What's with these people? We've been waiting over half and hour! It's a complete disgrace." The doctor agreed, "They're hopeless, I've never seen such a rabble on a golf course." The clergyman spotted the approaching greenkeeper and asked him what was going on, "What's happening with that group ahead of us? They're surely too slow and useless to be playing, aren't they?" The greenkeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime." The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, "Oh dear, that's so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight." The doctor added, rather meekly, "That's a good thought. I'll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there's anything that can be done for them." After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the project manager turned to the greenkeeper and asked, "Why can't they play at night?" And this (thanks G Bee)... A project manager was out walking in the countryside one day when a frog called out to him. He bent down, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog called out again, saying, "If Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

you kiss me I shall turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for a week as your mistress." The project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket. The frog called out once more, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for as long as you wish and do absolutely anything that you want. Again the Project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and put it back. Finally, the frog demanded, "What's the matter? You can turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for ever and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" to which the project manager replied, "Understand, I'm a project manager. I simply don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog .... that's cool."

business process modelling business process modelling explanation diagrams, definitions, examples Business Process Modelling (BPM) is a modern term and methodology which has evolved through different stages and names, beginning during the 'division of labour' of the late 1700s, when manufacturing first moved into factories from cottage industry. More explanation is in the historical development of Business Process Modelling below. Broadly the term 'business' in Business Process Model/Modelling/modeling is interchangeable with 'organisation'. Business Process Modelling is not only carried out in conventional businesses; the methodology is increasingly applicable to all sorts of other organisations, for example government agencies and departments, charities, mutuals and cooperatives, etc. Confusingly, the acronym BPM can mean different things, some closely related to Business Process Modelling; others less so. 'Business Process Management' is an example of a different and related meaning. More details are in the glossary below. Business Process Modelling is a method for improving organisational efficiency and quality. Its beginnings were in capital/profit-led business, but the methodology is applicable to any organised activity. The increasing transparency and accountability of all organisations , including public service and government, together with the modern complexity, penetration and importance of ITC (information and communications technology), for even very small organisations nowadays, has tended to heighten demand for process improvement everywhere. This means that Business Process Modelling is arguably more widely relevant than say Time and Motion Study or Total Quality Management (to name two earlier 'efficiency methodologies') were in times gone by. Put simply Business Process Modelling aims to improve business performance by optimising the efficiency of connecting activities in the provision of a product or service. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Business Process Modelling techniques are concerned with 'mapping' and 'workflow' to enable understanding, analysis and positive change. Diagrams - essentially 'flow diagrams' - are a central feature of the methodology. The diagrammatical representation of Business Process Modelling is commonly called 'notation'. Many and various proprietary software (offthe-shelf computer programs) exist to enable this, but the basic principles of Business Process Modelling can also be applied using a pen and a tablenapkin or a flip-chart or a bunch of sticky notes, and in some cases these are still effective aids for creating and communicating fundamental ideas. Computers sometimes get in the way, over-complicate simple things, and exclude groups. So choose your devices wisely. Business Process Modelling generally needs support from people to work in practice. While Business Process Modelling relates to many aspects of management (business, organisation, profit, change, projects, etc) its detailed technical nature and process-emphasis link it closely with quality management and the analytical approaches and responsibilities arising in the improvement of quality. Business Process Modelling is a quality management tool, like for example Six Sigma, and is useful especially in change management. SWOT Analysis, Balanced Scorecard and Project Management methods provide further examples of change management tools, and Business Process Modelling can be regarded as working alongside these methods. The term Business Process Model (also abbreviated to BPM) is the noun form of Business Process Modelling, and refers to a structural representation, description or diagram, which defines a specified flow of activities in a particular business or organisational unit.

(N.B. US-English spelling is 'organization'. 'Organisation' spelling is UKEnglish, and used in this article, including some other ise/ize and our/or words like labour and colour. Modelling is UK-English spelling. Modeling is US-English. )

business process modelling index definition and purpose a note about sequence background and history modelling a business process - how to - overview creating a new business process model - how to example business process model Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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glossary of main BPM terms

business process modelling definition A Business Process Model (BPM) is commonly a diagram representing a sequence of activities. It typically shows events, actions and links or connection points, in the sequence from end to end. Sequence is significant and essential to most aspects of business process modelling, but there are exceptions to this especially at the higher level of organizational operations (see the note about sequence). Typically but not necessarily, a Business Process Model includes both IT processes and people processes. Business Process Modelling by implication focuses on processes, actions and activities, etc. Resources feature within BPM in terms of how they are processed. People (teams, departments, etc) feature in BPM in terms of what they do, to what, and usually when and for what reasons, especially when different possibilities or options exist, as in a flow diagram. Business Process Modelling is cross-functional, usually combining the work and documentation of more than one department in the organisation. In more complicated situations, Business Process Modelling may also include activities of external organisations' processes and systems that feed into the primary process. In large organisations operations Business Process Models tend to be analysed and represented in more detail than in small organisations, due to scale and complexity. Business Process Modelling is to an extent also defined by the various computerized tools or software which are used in applying its methods. These methods and the standard features within them continue to evolve, which means that we should keep an open and curious mind as to how BPM can be used, and what people actually mean when they refer to it.

purpose of business process modelling A Business Process Model diagram is a tool - a means to an end, not a performance outcome in its own right. The final output is improvement in the way that the business process works. The focus of the improvements is on 'value added' actions that make the customer service and experience better, and on reducing wasted time and effort. There are two main different types of Business Process Models: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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the 'as is' or baseline model (the current situation)



and the 'to be' model (the intended new situation)

which are used to analyse, test, implement and improve the process. The aim of modelling is to illustrate a complete process, enabling managers, consultants and staff to improve the flow and streamline the process. The outcomes of a business process modelling project are essentially: •

value for the customer, and



reduced costs for the company,

leading to increased profits. Other secondary consequences arising from successful Business Process Modelling can be increased competitive advantage, market growth, and better staff morale and retention. There are no absolute rules for the scope or extent of a Business Process Model in terms of departments and activities covered. Before committing lots of resources to Business Process Modelling proper consideration should be given to the usefulness and focus of the exercise ask the questions: Does the modelling have the potential to produce gains that will justify the time and effort? •

Will the modelling be structured so that people will understand the outputs (not too big and complex as to be self-defeating)? •

Do people understand why we are doing it, and "what's in it for them"? •

As with other management tools, there is no point producing a fantastically complex model that no-one can understand or use, just as it is a bit daft to spend hundreds of hours analysing anything which is of relatively minor significance. Business Process Modelling is a powerful methodology when directed towards operations which can benefit from improvement, and when people involved are on-board and supportive.

adding value for the customer Adding value for customers, whether internal or external customers, is at the centre of a Business Process Model. It starts with a customer need and ends with the satisfaction of that need. Unlike a workflow diagram, which is generally focused on departmental activities, a BPM spans departments and the whole organisation. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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This point about customers being internal as well as external is crucial: Staff are among the internal customers of modern right-minded organisations. If you approach Business Process Modelling purely from a systems and 'things' viewpoint with a fixation on costs and profitability, and squeezing every activity to its theoretical optimum, then people (notably staff) tend to get squeezed too. Organisations work well when people enjoy and support the processes that they are required to perform, and you will only add sustainable value for your customers, when you also add value for your staff too. Successful BPM added value for customers is self-sustaining because for staff it contains the magical WIIFM element - (What's In It For Me).

example - BPM added value An example could be the actions involved in processing a customer order from an internet-based mail order company. •

Starting with a customer placing an order (the customer need)



send IT-based information to the warehouse



stock picking



packing and recording



sending the appropriate IT-based information to the distribution hub



sending IT-based information to the accounts department



generation of an invoice



allocation and organisation of shipment for the vehicle drivers



delivery of the item and invoicing (the customer need fulfilled).

This is a simple 'high-level' example. In practice each part or sub-process (for example, stock-picking) may require a 'low-level' BPM of its own. Please note that: Added value for internal customers, notably staff, does not have to be financial, as is commonly imagined by many top business executives. Consider Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor, and Adams and what these concepts teach about motivation and reward, and attrition. Business Process Modelling has enormous potential to address many of the critical demotivators among staff (e.g., poor working relationships, confused structure, failure, etc) and also many strong motivators (e.g., the quality of work itself, recognition, advancement, new responsibilities, etc). But it needs thinking about or it won't happen Think beyond merely adding value for external customers, and optimising efficiency and profit - make a special effort to look for added value Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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for staff too, and then the BPM methodology will work on a much more effective level.

sequence - significance in business process modelling Sequence can have a pivotal influence on business process activities, but sequence is not always pivotal, and indeed certain situations are best analysed from a non-sequential viewpoint. As a general guide, sequence is usually vital for elemental processes, but sequence tends to become less significant - and require more 'cause and effect' flexibility - when elements such as already sequenced processes and resources are brought together in a bigger picture of organizational operations. This Business Process Modelling summary necessarily concentrates on modelling systems which can be defined using sequence based techniques, since at an elemental level sequence is crucial to quality and related factors of process, quality, monitoring, management, and change, etc. Also, at an elemental level, i.e., when a big activity is broken down into its constituent parts, sequence can have a vital effect upon the effectiveness of each of the individual processes. However a wider consideration is that many large scale systems commonly contain related processes and resources for which a fixed related sequence is not a specific or crucial or predictable aspect, and for which consequently it is not always possible or easy (or in many cases necessary) to define the exact sequential relationship of processes on a big systemic scale. An example could be the bringing together of separate sub-assemblies, or the buying in of stock, or the recruitment of subcontract staff. This is especially so where demand is unpredictable. Importantly for these sorts of related process, a bigger priority is to focus on understanding and creating the necessary flexible connections between cause and effect relationships (see and make use of other project management tools for analysing and improving non-sequential elements), rather than try to force a fixed sequence into the analysis or modelling approach. As with many other tools and methodologies, be mindful of the need for flexibility; use tools and methods as far as they are helpful, but do not blindly force a tool to fit your purposes if it is inappropriate or could distort common sense, or be too constraining, whether for planning, analysis, communications or implementation. Sequence is always an important consideration, especially when troubleshooting. Sometimes - at any level - it can be the key to finding dramatic improvements, but sequence is not a mandatory feature, and there is no need to search for and apply sequential conditions within any stage of process modelling or other type of project or change management, if doing so is unhelpful.

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business process modelling - background and history The quest for standardisation and efficiency in business processes is a long one. Its history is characterised by surges of enthusiasm followed by disillusionment, when the fashionable idea of the moment tends to be dumped for a while before the next generation of process efficiency methodology makes the subject more exciting again. Well, as exciting as business processes can be. CEOs, consultants and change managers get all fired up about an improvement push (mainly about profits and change and fees). And there lies the central problem: the people who actually put process improvements into practice have never been that excited by the concept. The explicit agenda is about the employer and organisation while the benefit for ordinary employees is not immediately obvious, if at all. For most staff, a new efficiency initiative looks like change, hard work and discomfort, and feels like a threat. Instead workers ideally need to be engaged, involved and included from the start. Like other top-down initiatives and trends over the years, the most common reason for the failure of business process improvement is generally poor internal marketing, poor implementation and poor follow-through. A theoretical model for success devised among senior managers, rarely looks like the same thing further down the organisation.

origins of business process modelling The origins of BPM principles can be traced back as far as Adam Smith's idea of the division of labour in manufacturing (in 'An Inquiry into the Nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations', 1776). Originally, one person would make one item from beginning to end in a cottage industry situation. When factories became the norm, employing many people who all made items from beginning to end proved time-consuming and inefficient.

specialisation - 'division of labour' - 1776 Using the example of a pin maker, Adam Smith argued that breaking up the whole process and creating specialised tasks (or peculiar tasks, as he called them) would simplify and speed up the whole process. He showed that if the different stages of the manufacture were completed by different people in a chain of activities, the result would be very much more efficient. The business process was born.

analysis of specialised tasks - 'time and motion' - early 1900s Over a century later, Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) the US engineer and business efficiency theorist moved thinking forward, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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merging his 'time study' with the 'motion study' work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (early US theorists on productivity and workplace science), resulting in new scientific management methods (1911) and the infamous 'time and motion' studies. These studies documented and analysed work processes with the aim of reducing the time taken and the number of actions involved in each process, improving both productivity and workers' efficiency. This was enthusiastically embraced by employers and viewed with scepticism and animosity by workers. The term 'Taylorism' still generally refers to a highly scientific and dehumanised approach to efficient operation in business, organisations, economies, etc.

work process flow - 'the one best way' early to mid-1900s Meanwhile, Frank Gilbreth was busy developing the first method for documenting process flow. He presented his paper 'Process charts - First Steps to Finding the One Best Way' to the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1921. By 1947, the ASME Standard for Process Charts was universally adopted, using Gilbreth's original notation.

disenchantment with the assembly line 1930s In the first decade of the 20th century, 'time and motion' was a familiar concept, in tune with the modern 'scientific' age. However, by 1936, disenchantment had set in, reflected in Charlie Chaplin's film Modern Times. The film satirised mass production and the assembly line, echoing cultural disillusionment with the dreary treadmill of industry during the great depression. It is perhaps no coincidence that theories for optimising productivity, and those who profit most from them, are more strongly questioned or criticised when the economic cycle moves into recession.

workflow - mid 1970s Research and development of office automation flourished between 1975 and 1985. Specialist workflow technologies and the term 'workflow' were established. While BPM has its historical origins in workflow, there are two key differences: Document-based processes performed by people are the focus of workflow systems, while BPM focuses on both people and system processes. •

Workflow is concerned with processes within a department while BPM addresses processes spanning the whole organisation. •

the quality era - 1980s Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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In the 1980s, Quality or Total Quality Management (TQM) was the fashionable management and business process theory, championed by Deming and Juran. Used initially in engineering and manufacturing, it is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. The aim was to achieve incremental improvements to processes of cost, quality, service and speed. Key aspects of Total Quality Management have now become mainstream and successfully adapted to suit the businesses of the 2000s. Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing are the best-known of these methodologies.

business process re-engineering (BPR) 1990s In the early 1990s, Business Process Re-engineering made its appearance and started to gain momentum in the business community. While TQM (at this point facing a decline in popularity) aimed to improve business processes incrementally, BPR demanded radical change to business processes and performance. In 1993, Michael Hammer (US professor of computer science) and James Champy (a successful corporate CEO, consultant and author) developed the concept in their book 'Re-engineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution' (1993). Hammer and Champy stated that the process was revolutionary, fast-track and drastic rather than evolutionary and incremental. It was a huge success and organisations and consultants embraced it with fervour. The re-engineering industry grew and triumphed before it began to wane. By the end of the 1990s, BPR as a whole-organisation approach had fallen dramatically out of favour. It proved to be too long-winded for most organisations, was therefore poorly executed and has consequently been sidelined as a whole-organisation approach. Critics of this completely 'new broom' methodology would say that it is impossible to start from a clean slate in an already established organisation. Other criticisms were that it was dehumanising and mechanistic, focusing on actions rather than people - Taylorism by another name. Crucially, it is associated with the terms 'delayering', 'restructuring' and 'downsizing' of organisations, all lumped together as euphemisms for layoffs. Not what Hammer and Champy had envisaged..

business process modelling - 2000s The best principles of this approach still survive in BPM, on a less drastic, less brutal and more manageable scale. Lessons have been learnt. Business Process Modelling can and does work, but it must be treated with caution. The key is in the implementation. When it is conducted and implemented sensitively and inclusively, it can be good for the company, and its staff too. For a workforce drowning in administration, much of it repeated or reentered into multiple databases, BPM can be a great thing. It can free up Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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time to focus on the 'value added' tasks that are empowering and rewarding: talking and listening to customers, making decisions or doing what they are good at rather than dealing with dull and meaningless duties. BPM is effective like any other tool can be. In the hands of an idiot BPM can suffocate and hinder an organisation and its people. The tool doesn't produce the results - what matters is how you use it.

modelling a business process - an overview A Business Process Model is central to a host of other related activities, briefly outlined below. Redesigning a process and implementing it is not a speedy enterprise. It can take months and occasionally years, depending on the extent of the process and sub-processes, how many people and systems are involved and how much of it needs to be redesigned. As the project develops, the business will change and new requirements will surface, so the approach must be flexible and frequently reviewed and re-prioritised. It is advisable to stage the process in a succession of 'builds', each one completed within a business quarter, so that it can be reviewed and measured for return on investment. It is essential that the people involved in the process, at all levels, are engaged, all the way through. Not only because their input is vital, but also because they need to be fully 'on board.' Senior management buy-in is important to ensure that the resources are available to involve managers and staff members and overcome any resistance to the change. Without this, the redesign cannot work. Focus groups, formal and informal discussions and workshops are useful at each stage and 'build'.

stages in the development of the modelling project Developing the models in practice follows the sequence: •

Identify the process and produce an 'as is' or baseline model.



Review, analyse and update the 'as is' process model.



Design the 'to be' model.



Test and implement the 'to be'.



Continuously update and improve the new model.

creating a business process model Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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This section provides a guide to creating an initial, 'as is' or baseline model, in other words - the current situation.

component parts of a BPM An 'as is' or baseline model gives an overall picture of how the process works, now. Any structural, organisational and technological weak points and bottlenecks can then be identified, along with possible improvements at the next stage. You will need the following information before you start to construct your model: •

The desired outcome of the process.

The start and end points (customer need and customer need fulfilment). • •

The activities that are performed.



The order of activities.



The people who perform the activities.

The documents and forms used and exchanged between functions and from customers and suppliers. •

first draft The first draft of the model will involve a lot of positioning and repositioning of events and activities, so make sure you use a method that is flexible and easily changed. Use a flipchart, pens and some sticky notes or a whiteboard and a rubber. If you're working with a group of users, everyone needs to be able to see it.

second draft Once you have established an agreed sequence of events, you can create it as a flowchart on generic software or on specialised proprietary software. At this stage, you will need to check your model with the users by carrying out 'live' observations of the sequence in practice. People in focus groups or meetings invariably either forget their exact actions or say what should be happening rather than what does happen!

symbols and notation The diagrammatical representation of Business Process Modelling is commonly 'notation'. If you are using generic software, decide on the visual symbols you will use for the different activities. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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There is no definitive system for Business Process Modelling notation (note the small 'n'), although efforts persist to standardise one. The Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) system (note the uppercase 'N', since this is like a brand name), is an example of an attempt to establish a standard BPM notation system. The BPMN system is maintained the OMG consortium (Object Management Group) which comprises a few hundred computer-related corporations). Organisations may develop their own notation systems or use the notation of their chosen proprietary software. Importantly - whatever notation system/software you use - its symbols must be understood within your own group or organisation. The example below uses four symbols that are widely understood: IT-based activity documentation, sending or requesting information, for example)

Decision point or Gateway - where a decision has to be made and the flow can go more than one way.

Action - to be carried out by a person in the organisation.

Event - an action or IT-based activity from an external source or carried out by the customer.

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In the example model diagram below the customer service desk, accounts and shipping departments are shown as icons and text. There are many other symbols used in BPM notation. Below is just a simple example to illustrate the technique.

example of a business process model diagram This example of a Business Process Model diagram is based on an online order-through-to-delivery process. It's a flowchart, which makes it very easy to see the process and the key elements within it. Here is a better quality picture of the same Business Process Model diagram example in PDF format. Note that while most Business Process Modelling diagrams necessarily include a strong sequencing dimension, there are circumstances where sequence is not so crucial and more of a 'mapping' perspective is appropriate. Refer to the note about sequence, and see other project management tools for examples of analysis methods which enable nonsequential activity 'mapping'.

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business process model glossary - a few selected terms and acronyms Different organisations refer to the elements related to Business Process Modelling in different ways. This is complicated by the fact that acronyms can stand for more than one thing, and are often used interchangeably. For example, BPR stands for Business Process Re-engineering as well as Business Process Redesign. BPM itself stands for Business Process Modelling/Modeling, Business Process Model, and Business Process Management. In the healthcare sector incidentally BPM would more readily be interpreted to mean Beats Per Minute, relating to pulse rate, which emphasises the need to explain acronyms when you use them. Organisations develop their own ways of referring to the different elements. They know what they mean, but someone from another organisation could become very confused! This glossary may help anyone feeling lost. Broadly the term 'business' below is interchangeable with 'organisation'. Business Process Modelling is not only carried out in conventional businesses; the methodology is increasingly applicable to all sorts of other organisations, for example government agencies and departments, charities, mutuals and cooperatives, etc. 'As is' and 'To be' models - The common two perspectives of a modelling exercise - Where are we now?, and Where do we want to be? The 'as is' or baseline model is an accurate depiction of what actually happens now. Once the model is developed, it is used to analyse and improve the process. •

The 'to be' model is a proposed diagram of how the future process could look, incorporating improvements. This is used to demonstrate, model and test the new process and then to implement it. •

Brainstorming - Not usually part of BPM technical language, but actually a very useful initial stage in mapping or attempting to represent/understand/agree/scope a BPM project given little or no information to begin with. Also a useful way to achieve essential involvement, input, support, etc., from people affected by the modelling exercise. See Brainstorming. Business Architecture - A vague and widely used term basically referring to the structure of a business. Business Model - A vague term used to refer to how a business aims to operate and make money in a given market. This term is not directly related to Business Process Modelling. A detailed business model might typically contain descriptions of basic business processes implied or necessary for the the model to operate, but a business model is mainly concerned with strategy and external market relationships, rather than the internal processes which feature in BPM. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Business Process - A structured series of work activities, IT interventions and events that generate one complete service or product for an organisation's customers. Business Process Model - A representation - usually computergenerated and diagrammatic, but can be a low-tech whiteboard or flipchart and marker pens and sticky notes - of a process within a business. Two models are usually produced: an 'as is' and a 'to be'. The process(es) featured in a Business Process Model can be very simple or highly complex, and will typically involve different departments working (hopefully) together while the provision or creation of a product or service flows through different stages and decision-points in an organisation on its way to the customer. A Business Process Model for a large process can be comprised of other smaller modelled processes which contribute to the whole. In theory an entire huge business can be modelled, although for the modelling to be useful and meaningful to people it is normally built in sections, each representing a self-contained process alongside potentially scores, hundreds or even thousands of others, all inter-relating, hopefully smoothly, efficiently and enjoyably. (The 'enjoyable' part is not a technical necessity, but is actually important for any model to translate from theory into sustainable practice.) Business Process Modelling/Business Process Modeling - The term which refers to the methodology and techniques of producing a Business Process Model, or several Business Process Models, in the course of business improvement/development or quality management or change management, etc. (Modelling is UK-English; Modeling is US-English.) Business Process Change Cycle - An overall term for the life cycle of business processes, including the external environment in which the organisation operates. This external environment drives change in the business processes and the organisation responds to it by adjusting its strategy and goals. As the external environment keeps changing, the cycle also changes, prompting continuous change and improvement to business processes. Business Reference Model - A (usually computerised and diagrammatic) key to understanding and using a Business Architecture Model. It presents certain core structural elements as fixed, thereby encouraging and enabling others using or developing the model to understand and adhere to essential aspects of structural policy and foundation. In this respect a Business Reference model may be relevant to Business Process Modelling BPR - Business Process Re-engineering (also known as BPI Business Process Innovation) - A radical approach to restructuring an organisation in every area, starting with what the organisation is trying to achieve, rethinking its core processes and redesigning every one. It is a way of reassessing and restructuring the whole organisation, all at once, starting from scratch. BPI - Business Process Improvement - This refers to improving existing processes, continuously and incrementally, reducing waste and Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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driving efficiency. Six Sigma is currently one of the most popular of many BPI approaches in use today. BPM - Business Process Management - Used in two different ways by two different groups within the business processing community: Firstly, it is used by the people and process management group to describe the overall management of business process improvement, aligning processes with an organisation's strategic goals: designing, implementing and measuring them and educating managers to use them effectively. •

Secondly, it is used by IT people to describe the systems, software and applications that provide the process framework. •

BPM - Business Process Mapping - Often used interchangeably with Business Process Modelling, Business Process Mapping is also used to mean documenting all the processes in the business, showing the relationships between them. This provides a comprehensive visual overview of the processes in an organisation. BPM - Business Process Model/Business Process Modelling - See Business Process Model/Modelling above. BPMN - Business Process Modeling Notation - A 'branded' Business Process Modelling notation system of the OMG Consortium, representing several hundred primarily US computer-related corporations. (UK-English 'Modelling'.) BPR - Business Process Redesign - Rethinking, redesigning and implementing one complete process using Business Process Modelling tools. Enterprise Architecture - Basically the same as Business Architecture. Enterprise is a relatively modern term for a business organisation or company than 'business', probably because business has quite specific associations with profit and shareholders, whereas the word enterprise can more loosely encompass all sorts of business-like activities which might be constituted according to mutual or cooperative rather than traditional capitalistic aims. Enterprise is also a popular way to refer to business development and entrepreneurial creativity. The relevance of all this to BPM is merely the use of the word enterprise in BPM terminology, where previously the word 'business' would have been used. Gateway - A stage in a Business Process Model diagram or notation at which decision or choice is made because more than one main option or outcome exists. Notation - The technical term for a Business Process Model diagram or computer-generated map or flowchart. OBASHI - A methodology, and related aspect of BPM, for mapping and developing how IT systems relate to organisational operations (OBASHI stands for Ownership, Business Processes, Applications, Systems, Hardware, and Infrastructure). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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UML - Unified Modeling Language - a visual representation/design system for software-led modelling, overseen by the OMG Consortium (as with BPMN). What if? (scenario) - A popular term given to discussion or modelling of possible shapes, structures, resourcing and any other options that are available to people considering change in businesses and organisations. The 'What if?' principle extends far beyond Business Processes, but is a useful technique in team-working and attempting to make BPM methods more consultative and involving. This is especially important given that the nature of BPM (the computer systems, terminology, highly detailed aspects) often tend to position the methods as a lone job away from people and groups affected by its implications and opportunities. BPM works best when people are involved - considering questions like 'What if?' - and often fails when it guarded and developed secretively by technocrat minority. Value-added/Added-value - The principle of increasing the usefulness, attractiveness and benefits of a product or service, which in the context of BPM, ideally improves progressively with each modelling exercise. Addedvalue is commonly represented as benefiting customers and shareholders (via reduced costs, and increased efficiencies and profits) but should also benefit staff/employees too. Zachman Framework - In this list mainly because an interesting listing under the letter Z is irresistible. This is a computerised diagrammatical notation system for representing an enterprise (or business or other organisation) - notably its 'enterprise architecture'. It was devised by John Zachman, a US ex-naval officer computer scientist, while working for IBM in the 1980s.

goal planner goal planning template for personal and organizational aims To achieve a goal or a vision you must plan how to make it happen. You cannot 'do' a goal or a vision. Instead you must do the things that enable it usually several things, in several steps.

goal planner template tool (pdf) goal planner template tool (doc working file)

A goal without a plan remains just a goal many people have visions, intentions, ideas, dreams which never happen, because they are not planned. A plan makes things happen. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Goal planning can be especially helpful in advancing your career and job hunting, or staring your own business, or becoming self-employed or freelance. A good plan identifies causes and effects in achievable stages. These need not necessarily be very detailed or time-bound unless the aim requires it. Having a clear aim begins to define the plan. For example: a large-scale short-term aim requires a plan with detail and strict timescales, whereas a goal to achieve a personal life change within five-to-ten years requires much less detail and scheduling, provided the crucial causes and effects stages are identified. Plans can also be structured in different ways according to individual preference and the various planning tools and methods which exist. Detailed people prefer detailed plans. Intuitive people prefer broader more flexible plans. The section on project management explains some of the common more complex planning methods. Also see for example the SMART planning model, which provides an excellent simple basis for outline planning. The delegation tips also refer to SMART, and these pointers are helpful for setting objectives for yourself, aside from other people. Personal goal planning for yourself is rather like delegating a responsibility to yourself, hence the relevance of the principles of delegation. Choose a planning format that you are comfortable using - and adapt and develop it as you need. There is no point in adopting a complex spreadsheet if you'll not enjoy using it. Conversely, if you want to analyse lots of details, then choose a format which will accommodate this. Whatever planing format you prefer, all plans begin as a simple outline, like the planning template provided here. Beyond this you can add more detail and structure to suit your aims and preferences, but you must begin with a clear goal, and an outline of what will make your goal happen. Whatever the aim, all good plans tend to include: 1. A clearly defined aim. 2. Linked steps or stages or elements - resources, actions, knowledge, etc - the factors of cause and effect. 3. Relevant and achievable proportions and timings (for steps, stages, elements) Note that the overall aim or vision does not have to be limited or constrained. Where aims and visions are concerned virtually anything is possible - for an individual person or an organization - provided the above goal planning criteria are used. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Here is a simple outline goal planning template and process, which can be used as the full planning method for certain personal aims, or as an initial outline planning tool for the most complex organizational vision. It is structured in stages. You can add more stages and elements (in other words the factors which cause things to happen) as necessary. If any element is too big to imagine realistically achieving in one go, then break it down into further elements. Even the most ambitious goals and plans are achievable when broken down and given time. A plan to achieve a goal or vision is normally best developed by working backwards from the aim. Ask yourself at each stage of the plan: "What must happen before this?" And then plan to achieve each element, working back in realistic bitesized elements, to where you are today.

goal planning template the aim - level one Define your aim - clearly and measurably. My aim/vision/goal:

Measures:

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Timescale:

1. Write down your aim or vision. Describe it. Clearly define it so that a stranger could understand it and know what it means. 2. Attach some measures or parameters or standards (scale, values, comparative references, etc) to prove that it is achieved. 3. Commit to a timescale even if it is five or ten years away. 36

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4. Then ask yourself and identify: What factors would directly cause the aim to be achieved? Insert these below.

direct cause factors - level two Identify - clearly and measurably - the factors which would directly cause the aim to be be achieved. Factors which will cause Measures: the aim to be achieved: 1

2

3

4

5

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Timescale:

1. Consider realistically and identify the factors which would cause the aim to be achieved. 2. If necessary research this you will only be kidding yourself if you guess or ignore an unavoidable aspect. 3. Write these factors down and clearly define them, again so that even a stranger could understand them. 4. If necessary add more rows. 5. Attach measures or parameters or standards as necessary (scale, values, comparative references, etc). 37

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6. Attach timings. 7. Then ask yourself and identify: What enabling factors must exist or be achieved for these level two causal factors to happen? Insert them below.

enabling factors - level three Identify the factors - clearly and measurably - which will directly enable the directly causal factors to happen or exist. It is natural for causal factors to depend on a number of enabling factors. The plan therefore develops like the roots of a tree, or the tributaries of a river. The numbering is merely a suggestion. Your own plan will be different. Some plans may contain lots more factors and levels some plans will contain far fewer. Factors enabling the Measures: level-two causal factors: 1.1 1.2 1.3 2.1 2.2 2.3 3.1 3.2 3.3 Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

Timescale:

1. Consider realistically and identify the factors necessary to enable the causal factors. 2. If necessary again research this. 3. Write these factors down and clearly define them, again so that even a stranger could understand them. 4. If necessary add more rows. 5. You can improve the linkage of the factors through the levels by colour or number referencing. 6. Attach measures or parameters or 38

Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

4.1 4.2 4.3 5.1 5.2 5.3

standards as necessary (scale, values, comparative references, etc). 7. Attach timings. 8. Then ask yourself and identify any earlier enabling factors which need to happen before level three. If so, add a fourth level and complete the enabling factors accordingly. 9. When you have completed your plan, you can then start to work through the levels - from the bottom to the top. 10. Adapt your plan as required especially add new factors as you discover them, and plan how each can be achieved by incorporating them into this model. 11. A natural way to develop this outline planning method is to use project management

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tools, such as Critical Path Analysis, or a Gantt Chart, or the various computerised project tools now available. See the project management section.

This is a sample template not a fixed structure - adapt and develop the model to suit your own situation. Add more or remove factors and levels as you need. You should add a fourth level if any third level enabling factors are not already possessed and cannot easily be achieved. Create your plan from top to bottom. Implement your plan from bottom to top.

goal planning - in summary Start with a clear aim. Define it and understand what will cause it to be achieved. Break down these causal factors and identify what will enable these to happen. Ensure every listed item can be tracked back to achievable enabling factors - achievable in terms of size and time. Remember that causal and enabling factors come in all shapes and sizes. If necessary research what they are for your own aim. Success is mostly based on understanding what is required for it, before setting out to achieve it. For example, enabling factors can include: •

resources



tools



knowledge



experience



qualifications

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reputation



contacts



style



skills



decisions and commitments



re-direction, re-allocation and prioritization



attitude and outlook



encouragement and support



time and space



maturity and wisdom



energy and enthusiasm



determination and persistence



money and other assets

mistakes and disasters - yes, mistakes and disasters can be very useful enablers, so it helps to see them in this way •

Where you already possess an identified enabling factor, then re-direct and prioritize it 'upwards' towards your aim and the next relevant causal factor(s) in your plan. This can even apply for factors like money and time, where such enablers are often possessed but are currently misdirected or wasted. The decision and commitment to re-direct and prioritize become the enabling factor. Conversely (and perhaps more commonly) if you do not possess a factor and cannot attain it easily then identify what will cause it to happen, and extend your plan to a prior level. Apply the logic of the planning method identify the prior enabling factors, and extend the plan to a prior level. Behind every factor lies a cause. When you approach any aim in this way it becomes achievable. This is a simple yet powerful approach. Be careful what you wish for - if you follow this method you will get it.

assertiveness and selfconfidence how to help build, boost, and develop selfconfidence and assertiveness Building self-confidence and assertiveness is probably a lot easier than you think. 'Non-assertive' people (in other words 'normal people') do not generally want to transform into being excessively dominant people. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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When most people talk about wanting to be more assertive, what they usually really mean is: 'How can I become more able to resist the pressure and dominance of excessively dominant people?' • •

'How can I stand up to bullies (or one bully in particular)?'

And also, 'How can I exert a little more control in situations that are important to me?' •

Pure assertiveness - dominance for the sake of being dominant - is not a natural behaviour for most people. Most people are not naturally assertive. Most people tend to be passive by nature. The assertive behaviour of highly dominant people tends to be driven by their personality (and often some insecurity). It is not something that has been 'trained'. For anyone seeking to increase their own assertiveness it is helpful to understand the typical personality and motivation of excessively dominant people, who incidentally cause the most worry to non-assertive people. It's helpful also at this point to explain the difference between leadership with dominance: Good leadership is inclusive, developmental, and a force for what is right. Good leadership does not 'dominate' non-assertive people, it includes them and involves them. Dominance as a management style is not good in any circumstances. It is based on short-term rewards and results, mostly for the benefit of the dominant, and it fails completely to make effective use of team-members' abilities and potential. The fact is that most excessively dominant people are usually bullies. Bullies are deep-down very insecure people. They dominate because they are too insecure to allow other people to have responsibility and influence, and this behaviour is generally conditioned from childhood for one reason or another. The dominant bullying behaviour is effectively reinforced by the response given by 'secure' and 'non-assertive' people to bullying. The bully gets his or her own way. The bullying dominant behaviour is rewarded, and so it persists. Dominant, bullying people, usually from a very young age, become positively conditioned to bullying behaviour, because in their own terms it works. Their own terms are generally concerned with satisfying their ego and selfish drives to get their own way, to control, to achieve status (often implanted by insecure ambitious parents), to manipulate, make decisions, build empires, to collect material signs of achievement, monetary wealth, and particularly to establish protective mechanisms, such as 'yes-men' followers ('body-guards'), immunity from challenge and interference, scrutiny, judgement, etc. Early childhood experiences play an important part in creating bullies. Bullies are victims as well as aggressors. And although it's a tough challenge for anyone on the receiving end of their behaviour they actually deserve sympathy. N.B. Sympathy is not proposed here to be a sole or significant tactic in countering bullying. Rather, sympathy is advocated as a Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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more constructive, stronger, alternative feeling to being fearful or intimidated. Non-assertive people do not normally actually aspire to being excessively dominant people, and they certainly don't normally want to become bullies. When most people talk about wanting to be more assertive, what they really mean is 'I'd like to be more able to resist the pressure and dominance of excessively dominant people.' Doing this is not really so hard, and using simple techniques it can even be quite enjoyable and fulfilling. Importantly, the non-assertive person should understand where they really are - a true starting point: non-assertive behaviour is a sign of strength usually, not weakness, and often it is the most appropriate behaviour for most situations - don't be fooled into thinking that you always have to be more assertive. Understand where you want to be: what level of assertiveness do you want? Probably to defend yourself, and to control your own choices and destiny (which are relatively easy using the techniques below), not to control others. For people who are not naturally assertive, it is possible to achieve a perfectly suitable level of assertiveness through certain simple methods and techniques, rather than trying to adopt a generally more assertive personal style (which could be counter-productive and stressful, because it would not be natural). People seeking to be more assertive can dramatically increase their effective influence and strength by using just one or two of these four behaviours prior to, or when confronted by a more dominant character or influence, or prior to and when dealing with a situation in which they would like to exert more control. Here are some simple techniques and methods for developing self-confidence and more assertive behaviour.

assertiveness and self-confidence methods and techniques 1. Know the facts relating to the situation and have the details to hand. 2. Be ready for - anticipate - other people's behaviour and prepare your responses. 3. Prepare and use good open questions. 4. Re-condition and practice your own new reactions to aggression (posters can help you think and become how you want to be display positive writings where you will read them often - it's a proven successful technique). 5. Have faith that your own abilities and style will ultimately work if you let them. 6. Feel sympathy for bullies - they actually need it. 7. Read inspirational things that reinforce your faith in proper values and all the good things in your own natural style and self, for example, Ruiz's The Four Agreements, Kipling's If, Desiderata, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Cherie Carter-Scott's 'rules of life', Wimbrow's The Guy In The Glass, etc.

know the facts and have them to hand Ensure you know all the facts in advance - do some research, and have it on hand ready to produce (and give out copies if necessary). Bullies usually fail to prepare their facts; they dominate through bluster, force and reputation. If you know and can produce facts to support or defend your position it is unlikely that the aggressor will have anything prepared in response. When you know that a situation is going to arise, over which you'd like to have some influence, prepare your facts, do your research, do the sums, get the facts and figures, solicit opinion and views, be able to quote sources; then you will be able to make a firm case, and also dramatically improve your reputation for being someone who is organised and firm.

anticipate other people's behaviour and prepare your responses Anticipate other people's behaviour and prepare your own responses. Role-play in your mind how things are likely to happen. Prepare your responses according to the different scenarios that you think could unfold. Prepare other people to support and defend you. Being well prepared will increase your self-confidence and enable you to be assertive about what's important to you.

prepare and use good open questions Prepare and use good questions to expose flaws in other people's arguments. Asking good questions is the most reliable way of gaining the initiative, and taking the wind out of someone's sails, in any situation. Questions that bullies dislike most are deep, constructive, incisive and probing, especially if the question exposes a lack of thought, preparation, consideration, consultation on their part. For example: •

'What is your evidence (for what you have said or claimed)?'



'Who have you consulted about this?'



'How did you go about looking for alternative solutions?'



'How have you measured (whatever you say is a problem)?'

'How will you measure the true effectiveness of your solution if you implement it?' •

'What can you say about different solutions that have worked in other situations?' •

And don't be fobbed off. Stick to your guns. If the question is avoided or ignored return to it, or re-phrase it (which you can prepare as well). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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re-condition and practice your own new reactions to aggression Re-conditioning your own reaction to dominant people, particularly building your own 'triggered reactions', giving yourself 'thinking time' to prevent yourself being bulldozed, and 'making like a brick wall' in the face of someone else's attempt to dominate you without justification. Try visualising yourself behaving in a firmer manner, saying firmer things, asking firm clear, probing questions, and presenting well-prepared facts and evidence. Practice in your mind saying 'Hold on a minute - I need to consider what you have just said.' Also practice saying 'I'm not sure about that. It's too important to make a snap decision now.' Also 'I can't agree to that at such short notice. Tell me when you really need to know, and I'll get back to you.' There are other ways to help resist bulldozing and bullying. Practice and condition new reactions in yourself to resist, rather than cave in, for fear that someone might shout at you or have a tantrum. If you are worried about your response to being shouted at then practice being shouted at until you realise it really doesn't hurt - it just makes the person doing the shouting look daft. Practice with your most scary friend shouting right in your face for you to 'do as you are told', time after time, and in between each time say calmly (and believe it because it's true) 'You don't frighten me.' Practice it until you can control your response to being shouted at.

have faith that your own abilities will ultimately work if you use them Non-assertive people have different styles and methods compared to dominant, aggressive people and bullies. Non-assertive people are often extremely strong in areas of process, detail, dependability, reliability, finishing things (that others have started), checking, monitoring, communicating, interpreting and understanding, and working cooperatively with others. These capabilities all have the potential to undo a bully who has no proper justification. Find out what your strengths and style are and use them to defend and support your position. The biggest tantrum is no match for a well organised defence.

feel sympathy rather than fear towards bullies Re-discover the belief that non-assertive behaviour is actually okay - it's the bullies who are the ones with the problems. Feeling sympathy for someone who threatens you - thereby resisting succumbing to fearful or intimidated feelings - can help to move you psychologically into the ascendancy, or at least to a position where you can see weaknesses in the bully. Aggressors and bullies were commonly children who were not loved, or children forced to live out the aspirations of their parents. In many ways Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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all bullies are still children, and as far as your situation permits, seeing them as children can help you find greater strength and resistance. Transactional Analysis theory, and especially the modern TA concepts, are helpful for some people in understanding how this sort of childhood emotional damage affects people, and how specific communications can be planned and used in response to excessive dominance, bullying, temper tantrums, and other threatening behaviours. N.B. The point above about feeling sympathy for bullies should not be seen as approval or justification for bullying. Neither is sympathy proposed here to be a sole or significant tactic in countering bullying. Rather, sympathy is advocated as a more constructive, stronger, alternative feeling to being fearful or intimidated. People responsible for bullying are the bullies, not the victims. So if you are a bully: get some feedback, get some help, and grow up. Several tactics are explained above to tackle bullying head-on, as is often very necessary. Additionally in most western world countries, and many others besides, there are now serious laws and processes to protect people from bullying, and these protections should be invoked whenever bullying becomes a problem.

brainstorming process brainstorming technique for problemsolving, team-building and creative process Brainstorming with a group of people is a powerful technique. Brainstorming creates new ideas, solves problems, motivates and develops teams. Brainstorming motivates because it involves members of a team in bigger management issues, and it gets a team working together. However, brainstorming is not simply a random activity. Brainstorming needs to be structured and it follows brainstorming rules. The brainstorming process is described below, for which you will need a flip-chart or alternative. This is crucial as Brainstorming needs to involve the team, which means that everyone must be able to see what's happening. Brainstorming places a significant burden on the facilitator to manage the process, people's involvement and sensitivities, and then to manage the follow up actions. Use Brainstorming well and you will see excellent results in improving the organization, performance, and developing the team. N.B. There has been some discussion in recent years - much of it plainly daft - that the term 'brainstorming' might be 'political incorrect' by virtue of possible perceived reference to brain-related health issues. It was suggested by some that the alternative, but less than catchy 'thoughtshowers' should be used instead, which presumably was not considered to be offensive to raindrops (this is serious…). Happily recent research Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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among relevant groups has dispelled this non-pc notion, and we can continue to use the brainstorming expression without fear of ending up in the law courts…

brainstorming process 1. Define and agree the objective. 2. Brainstorm ideas and suggestions having agreed a time 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

limit. Categorise/condense/combine/refine. Assess/analyse effects or results. Prioritise options/rank list as appropriate. Agree action and timescale. Control and monitor follow-up.

In other words:

plan and agree the brainstorming aim Ensure everyone participating in the brainstorm session understands and agrees the aim of the session (eg, to formulate a new job description for a customer services clerk; to formulate a series of new promotional activities for the next trading year; to suggest ways of improving cooperation between the sales and service departments; to identify costs saving opportunities that will not reduce performance or morale, etc). Keep the brainstorming objective simple. Allocate a time limit. This will enable you to keep the random brainstorming activity under control and on track.

manage the actual brainstorming activity Brainstorming enables people to suggest ideas at random. Your job as facilitator is to encourage everyone to participate, to dismiss nothing, and to prevent others from pouring scorn on the wilder suggestions (some of the best ideas are initially the daftest ones - added to which people won't participate if their suggestions are criticised). During the random collection of ideas the facilitator must record every suggestion on the flipchart. Use Blu-Tack or sticky tape to hang the sheets around the walls. At the end of the time limit or when ideas have been exhausted, use different coloured pens to categorise, group, connect and link the random ideas. Condense and refine the ideas by making new headings or lists. You can diplomatically combine or include the weaker ideas within other themes to avoid dismissing or rejecting contributions (remember brainstorming is about team building and motivation too - you don't want it to have the reverse effect on some people). With the group, assess, evaluate and analyse the effects and validity of the ideas or the list. Develop and prioritise the ideas into a more finished list or set of actions or options. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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implement the actions agreed from the brainstorming Agree what the next actions will be. Agree a timescale, who's responsible. After the session circulate notes, monitor and give feedback. It's crucial to develop a clear and positive outcome, so that people feel their effort and contribution was worthwhile. When people see that their efforts have resulted in action and change, they will be motivated and keen to help again.

personal brainstorming for creativity, planning, presentations, decision-making, and organizing your ideas Personal brainstorming - just by yourself - is very useful for the start of any new project, especially if you can be prone to put things off until tomorrow. Planning a new venture, a presentation, or any new initiative, is generally much easier if you begin simply by thinking of ideas - in no particular order or structure - and jotting them down on a sheet of paper or in a notebook. Basically this is personal brainstorming, and it can follow the same process as described above for groups, except that it's just you doing it. Sometimes it's very difficult to begin planning something new - because you don't know where and how to start. Brainstoming is a great way to begin. The method also generates lots of possibilities which you might otherwise miss by getting into detailed structured planning too early. A really useful tool for personal brainstorming - and note-taking generally - is the wonderful Bic 4-colour ballpen. The pen enables you quickly to switch colours between red, blue, black and green, without having to walk around with a pocket-full of biros. Using different colours in your creative jottings and written records helps you to make your notes and diagrams clearer, and dramatically increases the ways in which you can develop and refine your ideas and notes on paper. To prove the point, review some previous notes in black or blue ink using a red pen - see how you can organize/connect the content, still keeping it all clear and legible. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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This simple pen is therefore a brilliant tool for organizing your thoughts on paper much more clearly and creatively than by being limited to a single colour - especially if you think in visual terms and find diagrams helpful. For example, using different colours enables you to identify and link common items within a random list, or to show patterns and categories, or to overwrite notes without making a confusing mess, and generally to generate far more value from your thoughts and ideas. Keeping connected notes and ideas on a single sheet of paper greatly helps the brain to absorb and develop them. Try it - you'll be surprised how much more useful your notes become. The principle is the same as using different colours of marker pens on a flip-chart. Other manufacturers produce similar pens, but the Bic is reliable, widely available, and very inexpensive. The usefulness of different colours in written notes is further illustrated (please correct me or expand on this if you know more) in a wider organizational sense in the UK health industry. Apparently, black is the standard colour; green is used by pharmacy services, red is used after death and for allergies, and blue tends to be avoided due to poorer reprographic qualities (thanks M Belcher). As I say, correct me if this is wrong, and in any event please let me know any other examples of different coloured inks being used to organize or otherwise clarify written communications within corporations, institutions or industries. Additionally I am informed (thanks T Kalota, Oct 2008) of a useful brainstorming/organizing technique using coloured pens when reviewing a written specification, or potentially any set of notes for a design or plan. Underline or circle the words according to the following: nouns/people/things

black (entities)

verbs ('doing'/functional words)

red

(relationships)

adjectives/adverbs (describing words)

blue

(attributes)

This technique was apparently used for clarifying written specifications or notes for a database design, and was termed 'extended relational architecture', advocated by a company of the same name, at one time. (I've been unable to find any further details about the company or this application. If you know more please tell me.)

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This method of colour-coding notes (using underlines or circles or boxes) to help clarification/prioritization/organization/etc can itself naturally be extended and adapted, for example: nouns/people/things

black

(entities)

verbs ('doing'/functional words)

red

(relationships)

adjectives (describing a noun/thing/etc)

blue

(attributes)

adverbs (describing a verb/function)

green

(degrees/range/etc)

timings/costs/quantities

yellow

(measures)

The colours and categories are not a fixed industry standard. It's an entirely flexible technique. You can use any colours you want, and devise your own coding structures to suit the situation.

In relation to the group brainstorming process above, see also the guidelines for running workshops. Workshops provide good situations for group brainstorming, and brainstorming helps to make workshops more productive, motivational and successful. To create more structured brainstorming activities which illustrate or address particular themes, methods, media, etc., there is a helpful set of reference points on the team building games section. Unless you have special reasons for omitting control factors, ensure you retain the the essence of the rules above, especially defining the task, stating clear timings, organising participants and materials, and managing the review and follow-up.

see also The following tools and models can be used within the brainstorming process to build and create a context for brainstorming, and a framework for brainstorming actions. When using any of these tools or models within the brainstorming process, select models appropriate to the group, and the desired development and outcomes for the brainstorming session: SWOT analysis - for assessing the strength of a company, department, proposition or idea. •

PEST analysis - for measuring the attractiveness and potential of a market. • •

The McKinsey Seven-S's - criteria for a successful company



Adizes corporate life-cycle model - phases of company development

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Delegation model - successful task delegation and staff development through delegation •

Tuckman's group development model - forming, storming, norming, performing •

Kolb's learning styles - for training the trainers, coaching the coaches, and management development • •

Leadership attributes - for developing leadership among managers

Negotiation process - for sales and commercial staff and optimising on profitable outcomes and customer relationships •

Cherie Carter-Scott's rules of life - behaviour and attitude development and soft skills development •

The Four Agreements - behaviour and attitude development and soft skills development • •

Advanced 'Kaleidoscope Brainstorming'© technique

business plans and marketing strategy free business planning and marketing tips, samples, examples and tools - how to write a business plan, techniques for writing a marketing strategy, strategic business plans and sales plans Writing business plans and marketing strategy can be simple. See the free business plan and marketing plan sample/template. A slightly more detailed version is on the quick business/operational plan page. Business planning might appear very complex but in essence it's common sense, and begins with some very simple business start-up principles. To explore personal direction and change (for example for early planning of self-employment or new business start-up) see the passion-to-profit exercise and template on the teambuilding exercises page. Planning a new business or business project must at some stage address a few financial details, and challenges and opportunities relating to modern technology, the internet, websites, etc. However the techniques of how to write strategic business plans (or a strategic marketing plan) remain basically straight-forward. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Business planning and marketing strategy are mostly common-sense and logic, based on cause and effect. Here are tips, examples, techniques, tools and a process for writing a marketing strategy, business and sales plans, to produce effective results. This free online guide explains how to put together a marketing strategy, basic business plan, and a sales plan, including free templates and examples, such as the Ansoff and Boston matrix tools. New pages are being added soon on advertising, sales promotion, PR (public relations) and press releases, sales enquiry lead generation, advertising copywriting, internet and website marketing, in the meanwhile see the marketing tips page for free marketing and advertising techniques and advice. See also the simple notes about starting your own business, which to an extent also apply when you are starting a new business initiative or development inside another organisation as a new business development manager, or a similar role. Here's a free profit and loss account spreadsheet template tool (xls) for incorporating these factors and financials into a more formal phased business trading plan, which also serves as a business forecasting and reporting tool too. Adapt it to suit your purposes. This plan example is also available as a PDF, see the Profit and Loss Account (P&L) Small Enterprise Business Plan Example (PDF). The numbers could be anything: ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same. Towards the end of this article there is also a simple template/framework for a feasibility study or justification report, such as might be required to win funding, authorisation or approval for starting a project, or the continuation of a project or group, in a commercial or voluntary situation. If you are starting a new business you might also find the tips and information about buying a franchise business to be helpful, since they cover many basic points about choice of business activity and early planning.

(Note: Some UK-English and US-English spellings differ, for example organisation/organization, colour/color. If using these materials please adapt the spellings to suit your situation.)

how to write strategic marketing plans, business plans and sales plans People use various terms referring to the business planning process business plans, business strategy, marketing strategy, strategic business planning, sales planning - they all cover the same basic principles. When faced with business planning or strategy development task it's important Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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to clarify exactly what is required: clarify what needs to be done rather than assume the aim from the description given to it - terms are confused and mean different things to different people. You'll see from the definitions below how flexible these business planning terms are.

business planning definitions a plan - a statement of intent - a calculated intention to organize effort and resource to achieve an outcome - in this context a plan is in written form, comprising explanation, justification and relevant numerical and financial statistical data. In a business context a plan's numerical data costs and revenues - are normally scheduled over at least one trading year, broken down weekly, monthly quarterly and cumulatively. a business - an activity or entity, irrespective of size and autonomy, which is engaged in an activity, normally the provision of products and/or services, to produce commercial gain, extending to non-commercial organizations whose aim may or may not be profit (hence why public service sector schools and hospitals are in this context referred to as 'businesses'). business plan - this is now rightly a very general and flexible term, applicable to the planned activities and aims of any entity, individual group or organization where effort is being converted into results, for example: a small company; a large company; a corner shop; a local window-cleaning business; a regional business; a multimillion pound multi-national corporation; a charity; a school; a hospital; a local council; a government agency or department; a joint-venture; a project within a business or department; a business unit, division, or department within another organization or company, a profit centre or cost centre within an an organization or business; the responsibility of a team or group or an individual. The business entity could also be a proposed start-up, a new business development within an existing organization, a new joint-venture, or any new organizational or business project which aims to convert action into results. The extent to which a business plan includes costs and overheads activities and resources (eg., production, research and development, warehouse, storage, transport, distribution, wastage, shrinkage, head office, training, bad debts, etc) depends on the needs of the business and the purpose of the plan. Large 'executive-level' business plans therefore look rather like a 'predictive profit and loss account', fully itemised down to the 'bottom line'. Business plans written at business unit or departmental level do not generally include financial data outside the department concerned. Most business plans are in effect sales plans or marketing plans or departmental plans, which form the main bias of this guide. strategy - originally a military term, in a business planning context strategy/strategic means/pertains to why and how the plan will work, in relation to all factors of influence upon the business entity and activity, particularly including competitors (thus the use of a military combative term), customers and demographics, technology and communications. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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marketing - believed by many to mean the same as advertising or sales promotion, marketing actually means and covers everything from company culture and positioning, through market research, new business/product development, advertising and promotion, PR (public/press relations), and arguably all of the sales functions as well. Marketing is the process by which a business decides what it will sell, to whom, when and how, and then does it. marketing plan - logically a plan which details what a business will sell, to whom, when and how, implicitly including the business/marketing strategy. The extent to which financial and commercial numerical data is included depends on the needs of the business. The extent to which this details the sales plan also depends on the needs of the business. sales - the transactions between the business and its customers whereby services and/or products are provided in return for payment. Sales (sales department/sales team) also describes the activities and resources that enable this process, and sales also describes the revenues that the business derives from the sales activities. sales plan - a plan describing, quantifying and phased over time, how the the sales will be made and to whom. Some organizations interpret this to be the same as a business plan or a marketing plan. business strategy - see 'strategy' - it's the same. marketing strategy - see 'strategy' - it's the same. service contract - a formal document usually drawn up by the supplier by which the trading arrangement is agreed with the customer. See the section on service contracts and trading agreements. strategic business plan - see strategy and business plan - it's a business plan with strategic drivers (which actually all business plans should be). strategic business planning - developing and writing a strategic business plan. philosophy, values, ethics, vision - these are the fundamentals of business planning, and determine the spirit and integrity of the business or organisation - see the guide to how philosophical and ethical factors fit into the planning process, and also the principles and materials relating to corporate responsibility and ethical leadership. You can see that many of these terms are interchangeable, so it's important to clarify what needs to be planned for rather than assuming or inferring a meaning from the name given to the task. That said, the principles explained here can be applied to business plans of all sorts. Business plans are often called different names - especially by senior managers and directors delegating a planning exercise that they do not understand well enough to explain. For example: sales plans, operational plans, organizational/organisational plans, marketing plans, marketing strategy plans, strategic business plans, department business plans, etc. Typically these names reflect the department doing the planning, despite Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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which, the planning process and content required in the document is broadly similar. Other useful and relevant business planning definitions are in the business dictionary; the sales and selling glossary; some are also in the financial terms glossary, and more - especially for training - are in the business and training acronyms listing, which also provides amusing light relief if this business planning gets a little dry (be warned, the acronyms listings contain some adult content).

when writing a business or operating plan, remember... A useful first rule of business planning is to decide what you are actually trying to achieve and always keep this in mind. Write your aim large as a constant reminder to yourself, and to anyone else involved. Keeping your central aim visible will help you minimise the distractions and distortions which frequently arise during the planning process. An increasingly vital and perhaps second rule of business planning is to establish a strong ethical philosophy at the outset of your planning. This provides a vital reference for decision-making and strategy from the start. A strong clear ethical code communicates your values to staff, customers, suppliers, and creates a simple consistent basis for operations which conventional financials, processes, systems and even people, do not address. It is very difficult to introduce ethical principles later into an enterprise, especially when planning shifts into implementation, and more so if problems arise relating to integrity, honesty, corporate responsibility, trust, governance, etc., any of which can have massive impact on relationships and reputation. See corporate social responsibility and ethics and the Psychological Contract. It is easy to address issues of ethics and corporate responsibility when you are the owner of a new enterprise. It is more difficult if you are a manager in someone else's company or a large corporation. Nevertheless ethics and corporate responsibility are highly significant in planning, and strong justification for their proper consideration can now be made. There are now plenty of recent examples of corporations - indeed entire national economies and governments - which have failed because of poor regard to ethical considerations. The world is changing and learning, slowly, but it is, and anyone ignoring ethics in planning today does so at their own peril. A third crucial requirement for business plans is return on investment, or for public services and non-profit organisations: effective use of investment and resources, which is beyond simple 'cost control'. For the vast majority of organisations, whether companies, public services, not-for-profit trusts and charities, all organisations need to be financially effective in what they do, otherwise they will cease to function. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Ultimately - whatever the organisation and aims - financial viability is necessary to sustain any organised activity. While it's essential to manage ethical and socially responsible aspects of organisational aims, these must allow for adequate return on investment (or in less traditional and 'non-profit' enterprises, must allow for the effective use of investment and resources, according to the financial requirements of the particular organisation). Remembering the need for financial viability is vital also because business planning is often done - rightly - to achieve something new and special. This tends to focus thinking on creativity, innovation, ambition, quality, excellence, perhaps even social good, etc., which can easily distract planning away from the basic need to be financially viable - and crucially not to make a loss. By treating return on investment as a vital requirement of planning we increase the likelihood that plans will be viable and therefore sustainable. Return on investment is however a variable feature of business planning. It is flexible according to the type of enterprise, its main purpose and philosophy. In a conventional profit-driven corporation return on investment (at an optimal rate) is typically a strong strategic driver for local planning and decisions, and by implication also a basic requirement of the enterprise as a whole. On the other hand, in a business or organization less focused on shareholder reward, such as a public services trust or charity, or a social enterprise or cooperative, return on investment (at a relatively lower rate), may be a requirement simply to sustain viable operations, according to the aims of the enterprise. In the first example, return on investment is the aim; in the second example, return on investment enables some other higher aim to be achieved. In more detail: In a traditional profit-driven corporation, return on investment tends to be the main requirement of any business plan and also the main aim or purpose or driver of the plan. In most traditional corporations return on investment tends to be at the heart of all activities, since typically the corporation exists to maximize the yield (profit and growth effectively) of shareholder funds invested in the business. Planning in traditional corporations at times forgets this basic obligation, especially when a junior manager is asked to 'write a business plan' for the first time. In traditional profit-driven corporations, when a new manager starts to write a business plan or operational plan for the first time (and for some experienced managers also, for the umpteenth time), the manager wonders: What is the aim? What am I trying to achieve? Often when they ask their own manager, the manager has the same doubts. The central aim is usually return on investment. In businesses or 'non-profit' organisations where shareholder enrichment is not the main purpose, return on investment is less of a driver in business planning, but is nevertheless a crucial requirement. Such enterprises are becoming more popular, and will continue to become so, since the collapse of the western economies in 2008, and increasing Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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disillusionment with old-style business thinking. Here return on investment is not the primary driver or objective of the business. Instead the main driver of enterprise may be some other purpose. An example of 'some other purpose' might be the activities of a social enterprise or cooperative, or maybe an employee ownership company, or perhaps a trust or charity, whose main aim is (rather than the traditional profit generation for external/institutional shareholders) perhaps to benefit its members/staff, and/or to sustain local jobs, and/or to benefit the local community, or maybe to advance science or learning or health, etc. Here, while return on investment may seem less crucial or appropriate to planning and operations, the enterprise must nevertheless remain financially viable, or it ceases to be able to operate at all. In such examples, return on investment in business planning is not usually maximized, but must still be treated as an underpinning requirement to planning, and flexed according to the fundamental aims and financial requirements of the enterprise. Before planning, therefore, it is helpful to understand clearly: 1. What are we actually aiming to achieve? 2. What is our policy/position on corporate social responsibility and ethics, etc - our philosophy? 3. And what return on investment (or alternative financial performance) does our activity/enterprise require - is this a strategic driver in itself, or simply the means by which we maintain our activities in support of our (point 1) aims?

planning - cause and effect.. The basic methodology of business planning is identifying causes and effects, according to your relevant business requirements (financials and ethics) and strategic drivers (what we are actually aiming to achieve). Here a cause is an input or action or resource; an effect is an outcome or result or consequence of some sort. We want to achieve xyz effect (for example a given return on investment, or a certain sales level or market share, whatever) - so what should we plan to cause this to happen? Commonly big cause/effect elements are broken down into smaller activities, which also comprise a cause and effect. (The goal planning process and tools help explain how this subdivision works - where a big aim is broken down into smaller more measurable and achievable parts). Junior managers have responsibility for plans and activities which feed into larger departmental plans and activities of senior managers. The plans and activities of senior managers feed into the divisional plans of executives and directors. There is a hierarchy or tree structure of cause and effects, all hopefully contributing to the overall organizational aim. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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In many good businesses a substantial business planning responsibility extends now to front line customer-facing staff, and the trend is increasing. In this context, the business plan could be called also be called a marketing plan, or a sales plan - all departmental plans are basically types of business planning: "What you are going to sell to whom, when and how you are going to sell it, how much contribution (gross profit) the sales will produce, what the marketing and/or selling cost will be, and what will be the return on investment." Where a department is a 'cost centre' not a 'profit-centre' - providing products or services internally to other departments rather than externally to customers - then the language and planning elements may alter, but the principles remain the same. Also, these principles and methods apply to very large complex multinational organizations, which tend to entail more and different costs, fixed overheads, revenues, and consequently larger planning formats; more and bigger spreadsheets, more lines and columns on each, more attention and people working on the numbers, more accountants, and typically - especially at middle-management level and above - more emphasis on cashflow and the balance sheet, alongside basic 'profit and loss' planning.

carry out your market research, including understanding your competitor activity 'The market' varies according to the business or organisation concerned, but every organised activity has a market. Knowing the market enables you to assess and value and plan how to engage with it. A common failing of business planning or operational planning outside of the 'business' world, is to plan in isolation, looking inward, when ideas can seem very positive and reliable because there's no context and nothing to compare. Hence research is critical. And this applies to any type of organisation not just to businesses. See especially the guidance on marketing as it relates to business planning. Planning very much concerns processes. The principles of marketing will explain additionally how to put meaning and values into what you plan. Your market research should focus on the information you need, to help you to formulate strategy and make business decisions. Market research should be pragmatic and purposeful - a means to an end, and not a means in itself. Market information potentially covers a vast range of data, from global macro-trends and statistics, to very specific and detailed local or technical information, so it's important to decide what is actually relevant and necessary to know. Market information about market and industry trends, values, main corporations, market structure, etc, is important to know for large corporations operating on a national or international basis. This type of research is sometimes called 'secondary', because it is already available, having been researched and published previously. This sort of information is available from the internet, libraries, research Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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companies, trade and national press and publications, professional associations and institutes. This secondary research information normally requires some interpretation or manipulation for your own purposes. However there's no point spending days researching global statistical economic and demographic data if you are developing a strategy for a relatively small or local business. Far more useful would be to carry out your own 'primary' research (i.e. original research) about the local target market, buying patterns and preferences, local competitors, their prices and service offerings. A lot of useful primary market research can be performed using customer feed-back, surveys, questionnaires and focus groups (obtaining indicators and views through discussion among a few representative people in a controlled discussion situation). This sort of primary research should be tailored exactly for your needs. Primary research requires less manipulation than secondary research, but all types of research need a certain amount of analysis. Be careful when extrapolating or projecting figures to avoid magnifying initial mistakes or wrong assumptions. If the starting point is inaccurate the resulting analysis will not be reliable. For businesses of any size; small, local, global and everything in between, the main elements you need to understand and quantify are: •

customer (and potential customer) numbers, profile and mix

customer perceptions, needs, preferences, buying patterns, and trends, by sub-sector if necessary • •

products and services, mix, values and trends

demographic issues and trends (especially if dependent on consumer markets) • •

future regulatory and legal effects



prices and values, and customer perceptions in these areas



distribution and routes to market

competitor activities, strengths, weaknesses, products, services, prices, sales methods, etc •

Primary research is recommended for local and niche services. Keep the subjects simple and the range narrow. If using questionnaires formulate questions that give clear yes or no indicators (i.e. avoid three and five options in multi-choices which produce lots of uncertain answers) always understand how you will analyse and measure the data produced. Try to convert data to numerical format and manipulate on a spreadsheet. Use focus groups for more detailed work. For large research projects consider using a market research organization because they'll probably do it better than you, even though this is likely to be more costly. If you use any sort of marketing agency ensure you issue a clear brief, and that your aims are clearly understood. Useful frameworks for research are PEST analysis and SWOT analysis.

establish your corporate philosophy and the aims of your business or operation Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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First establish or confirm the aims of the business, and if you are concerned with a part of a business, establish and validate the aims of your part of the business. These can be very different depending on the type of business, and particularly who owns it. Refer to and consider issues of ethics and philosophy, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, etc - these are the foundations on which values and missions are built. Look at the reasons ethics and corporate responsibility are so important. And see also the fundamental organisational planning stages. Consider the Psychological Contract and the benefits of establishing a natural balance and fairness between all interests (notably staff, customers, the organization). Traditional business models are not necessarily the best ones. The world is constantly changing, and establishing a new business is a good time to challenge preconceptions of fundamental business structure and purpose. A business based on a narrow aim of enriching a few investors while relegating the needs and involvement of everyone else may contain conflicts and tensions at a deep level. There are other innovative business structures which can inherently provide a more natural, cooperative and self-fuelling relationship - especially between employees and the organization, and potentially between customers and the organization too. When you have established or confirmed your philosophical and ethical position, state the objectives of the business unit you are planning to develop - your short, medium and long term aims - (typically 'short, medium and long' equate to 1 year, 2-3 years and 3 years plus). In other words, what is the business aiming to do over the next one, three and five years? Bear in mind that you must reliably ensure the success and viability of the business in the short term or the long term is merely an academic issue. Grand visions need solid foundations. All objectives and aims must be prioritised and as far as possible quantified. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

define your 'mission statement' All businesses need a ‘mission statement'. It announces clearly and succinctly to your staff, shareholders and customers what you are in business to do. Your mission statement may build upon a general ‘service charter' relevant to your industry. You can involve staff in defining and refining the business's mission statement, which helps develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. Producing and announcing the mission statement is also an excellent process for focusing attention on the business's priorities, and particularly the emphasis on customer service. Whole businesses need a mission statement - departments and smaller business units within a bigger business need them too.

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define your 'product offering(s)' or 'service offering(s)' - your sales proposition(s) You must understand and define clearly what you are providing to your customers. This description should normally go beyond your products or services, and critically must include the way you do business, and what business benefits your customers derive from your products and services, and from doing business with you. Develop offerings or propositions for each main area of your business activity - sometimes referred to as 'revenue streams', or 'business streams' - and/or for the sector(s) that you serve. Under normal circumstances competitive advantage is increased the more you can offer things that your competitors cannot. Good research will tell you where the opportunities are to increase your competitive advantage in areas that are of prime interest to your target markets. Develop your service offering to emphasise your strengths, which should normally relate to your business objectives, in turn being influenced by corporate aims and market research. The important process in developing a proposition is translating your view of these services into an offer that means something to your customer. The definition of your service offer must make sense to your customer in terms that are advantageous and beneficial to the customer, not what is technically good, or scientifically sound to you. Think about what your service, and the manner by which you deliver it, means to your customer. Traditionally, in sales and marketing, this perspective is referred to as translating features into benefits. The easiest way to translate a feature into a benefit is to add the prompt ‘which means that...'. For example, if a strong feature of a business is that it has 24-hour opening, this feature would translate into something like: "We're open 24 hours (the feature) which means that you can get what you need when you need it - day or night." (the benefit). Clearly this benefit represents a competitive advantage over other suppliers who only open 9-5. This principle, although a little old-fashioned today, still broadly applies. The important thing is to understand your services and proposition in terms that your customer will recognise as being relevant and beneficial to them. Most businesses have a very poor understanding of what their customers value most in the relationship, so ensure you discover this in the research stage, and reflect it in your stated product or service proposition(s). Customers invariably value these benefits higher than all others: •

Making money



Saving money



Saving time

If your proposition(s) cannot be seen as leading to any of the above then customers will not be very interested in you. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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A service-offer or proposition should be an encapsulation of what you do best, that you do better than your competitors (or that they don't do at all); something that fits with your business objectives, stated in terms that will make your customers think ‘Yes, that means something to me and I think it could be good for my business (and therefore good for me also as a buyer or sponsor).' This is the first 'brick in the wall' in the process of business planning, sales planning, marketing planning, and thereafter, direct marketing, and particularly sales lead generation.

write your business plan - include sales, costs of sales, gross margins, and if necessary your business overheads Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. Pragmatism is essential. Ensure your plan shows what your business needs it to show. Essentially your plan is a spreadsheet of numbers with supporting narrative, explaining how the numbers are to be achieved. A plan should show all the activities and resources in terms of revenues and costs, which together hopefully produce a profit at the end of the trading year. The level of detail and complexity depends on the size and part of the business that the plan concerns. Your business plan, which deals with all aspects of the resource and management of the business (or your part of the business), will include many decisions and factors fed in from the marketing process. It will state sales and profitability targets by activity. In a marketing plan there may also be references to image and reputation, and to public relations. All of these issues require thought and planning if they are to result in improvement, and particularly increasing numbers of customers and revenue growth. You would normally describe and provide financial justification for the means of achieving these things, together with customer satisfaction improvement. Above all a plan needs to be based on actions - cost-effective and profitable cause and effect; inputs required to achieved required outputs, analysed, identified and quantified separately wherever necessary to be able to manage and measure the relevant activities and resources.

quantify the business you seek from each of your market sectors, segments, products and customer groupings, and allocate investment, resources and activities accordingly These principles apply to a small local business, a department within a business, or a vast whole business. Before attending to the detail of how to achieve your marketing aims you need to quantify clearly what they are. What growth targets does the business have? What customer losses Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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are you projecting? How many new customers do you need, by size and type, by product and service? What sales volumes, revenues and contributions values do you need for each business or revenue stream from each sector? What is your product mix, in terms of customer type, size, sector, volumes, values, contribution, and distribution channel or route to market? What are your projected selling costs and net contributions per service, product, sector? What trends and percentage increase in revenues and contributions, and volumes compared to last year are you projecting? How is your market share per business stream and sector changing, and how does this compare with your overall business aims? What are your fast-growth high-margin opportunities, and what are your mature and low-margin services; how are you treating these different opportunities, and anything else in between? You should use a basic spreadsheet tool to split your business according to the main activities and profit levers. See the simple sales/business planning tool example below.

ansoff product-market growth matrix strategic tool A useful planning tool in respect of markets and products is the matrix developed by Igor Ansoff (H Igor Ansoff, 1918-2002), who is regarded by some as the 'Father of Strategic Management'. Fully titled the Ansoff Product-Market Growth Matrix, the tool was first published in Harvard Business Review, 1957, in Ansoff's paper Strategies for Diversification. The Ansoff product-market matrix helps to understand and assess marketing or business development strategy. Any business, or part of a business can choose which strategy to employ, or which mix of strategic options to use. This is a fundamentally simple and effective way of looking at strategic development options. existing products

new products

existing markets

market penetration

product development

new markets

market development

diversification

Each of these strategic options holds different opportunities and downsides for different organizations, so what is right for one business won't necessarily be right for another. Think about what option offers the best potential for your own business and market. Think about the strengths of your business and what type of growth strategy your strengths will enable most naturally. Generally beware of diversification Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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this is, by its nature, unknown territory, and carries the highest risk of failure. Here are the Ansoff strategies in summary: market penetration - Developing your sales of existing products to your existing market(s). This is fine if there is plenty of market share to be had at the expense of your competitors, or if the market is growing fast and large enough for the growth you need. If you already have large market share you need to consider whether investing for further growth in this area would produce diminishing returns from your development activity. It could be that you will increase the profit from this activity more by reducing costs than by actively seeking more market share. Strong market share suggests there are likely to be better returns from extending the range of products/services that you can offer to the market, as in the next option. product development - Developing or finding new products to take to your existing market(s). This is an attractive strategy if you have strong market share in a particular market. Such a strategy can be a suitable reason for acquiring another company or product/service capability provided it is relevant to your market and your distribution route. Developing new products does not mean that you have to do this yourself (which is normally very expensive and frequently results in simply reinventing someone else's wheel) - often there are potential manufacturing partners out there who are looking for their own distribution partner with the sort of market presence that you already have. However if you already have good market share across a wide range of products for your market, this option may be one that produces diminishing returns on your growth investment and activities, and instead you may do better to seek to develop new markets, as in the next strategic option. market development - Developing new markets for your existing products. New markets can also mean new sub-sectors within your market - it helps to stay reasonably close to the markets you know and which know you. Moving into completely different markets, even if the product/service fit looks good, holds risks because this will be unknown territory for you, and almost certainly will involve working through new distribution channels, routes or partners. If you have good market share and good product/service range then moving into associated markets or segments is likely to be an attractive strategy. diversification - taking new products into new markets. This is high risk not only do you not know the products, but neither do you know the new market(s), and again this strategic option is likely to entail working through new distribution channels and routes to market. This sort of activity should generally be regarded as additional and supplementary to the core business activity, and should be rolled out carefully through rigorous testing and piloting. Consider also your existing products and services themselves in terms of their market development opportunity and profit potential. Some will offer very high margins because they are relatively new, or specialised in some way, perhaps because of special USP's or distribution arrangements. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Other products and services may be more mature, with little or no competitive advantage, in which case they will produce lower margins. The Boston Matrix is a useful way to understand and assess your different existing product and service opportunities:

boston matrix model - product/service develeopment The Boston Matrix model is a tool for assessing existing and development products in terms of their market potential, and thereby implying strategic action for products and services in each category. low market share

high market share

growing market

problem child

(rising) star

mature market

dog

cash cow

cash cow - The rather crude metaphor is based on the idea of 'milking' the returns from previous investments which established good distribution and market share for the product. Products in this quadrant need maintenance and protection activity, together with good cost management, not growth effort, because there is little or no additional growth available. dog - This is any product or service of yours which has low market presence in a mature or stagnant market. There is no point in developing products or services in this quadrant. Many organizations discontinue products/services that they consider fall into this category, in which case consider potential impact on overhead cost recovery. Businesses that have been starved or denied development find themselves with a high or entire proportion of their products or services in this quadrant, which is obviously not very funny at all, except to the competitors. problem child - These are products which have a big and growing market potential, but existing low market share, normally because they are new products, or the application has not been spotted and acted upon yet. New business development and project management principles are required here to ensure that these products' potential can be realised and disasters avoided. This is likely to be an area of business that is quite competitive, where the pioneers take the risks in the hope of securing good early distribution arrangements, image, reputation and market share. Gross profit margins are likely to be high, but overheads, in the form of costs of research, development, advertising, market education, and low economies of scale, are normally high, and can cause initial business development in this area to be loss-making until the product moves into the rising star category, which is by no means assured - many problem children products remain as such.

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rising star - Or 'star' products, are those which have good market share in a strong and growing market. As a product moves into this category it is commonly known as a 'rising star'. When a market is strong and still growing, competition is not yet fully established. Demand is strong; saturation or over-supply do not exists, and so pricing is relatively unhindered. This all means that these products produce very good returns and profitability. The market is receptive and educated, which optimises selling efficiencies and margins. Production and manufacturing overheads are established and costs minimised due to high volumes and good economies of scale. These are great products and worthy of continuing investment provided good growth potential continues to exist. When it does not these products are likely to move down to cash cow status, and the company needs to have the next rising stars developing from its problem children. After considering your business in terms of the Ansoff matrix and Boston matrix (which are thinking aids as much as anything else, not a magic solution in themselves), on a more detailed level, and for many businesses just as significant as the Ansoff-type-options, what is the significance of your major accounts - do they offer better opportunity for growth and development than your ordinary business? Do you have a high quality, specialised offering that delivers better business benefit on a large scale as opposed to small scale? Are your selling costs and investment similar for large and small contracts? If so you might do better concentrating on developing large major accounts business, rather than taking a sophisticated product or service solution to smaller companies which do not appreciate or require it, and cost you just as much to sell to as a large organization.

customer matrix This customer matrix model is used by many companies to understand and determine strategies according to customer types. good products

not so good products

good customers

develop and find more customers like these allocate your best resources to these existing customers and to prospective customers matching this profile

educate and convert these customers to good products if beneficial to them, failing which, maintain customers via account management

not so good customers

invest cautiously to develop and improve relationship, failing which, maintain customers via account management

assess feasibility of moving these customers left or up, failing which, withdraw from supplying sensitively

Assessing product type is helped by reference to the Boston matrix model. There is a lot of flexibility as to what constitutes 'good' and 'not so good Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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customers' - use your own criteria. A good way to do this is to devise your own grading system using criteria that mean something to your own situation. Typical criteria are: size, location, relationship, credit-rating and payment terms, is the customer growing (or not), the security of the supply contract, the service and support overhead required, etc. This kind of customer profiling tool and exercise is often overlooked, but it is a critical aspect of marketing and sales development, and of optimising sales effectiveness and business development performance and profitability. Each quadrant requires a different sales approach. The type of customer also implies the type of sales person who should be responsible for managing the relationship. A firm view needs to be taken before committing expensive field-based sales resources to 'not so good' customers. Focus prospect development (identifying and contacting new prospective customers) on the profile which appears in the top left quadrant. Identify prospective new customers who fit this profile, and allocate your business development resources (people and advertising) to this audience. Consider also What are your competitor weaknesses in terms of sectors, geographical territory and products or services, and how might these factors affect your options? Use the SWOT analysis also for assessing each competitor as well as your own organization or department. Many organizations issue a marketing budget from the top down (a budget issued by the Centre/HQ/Finance Director), so to speak, in which case, what is your marketing budget and how can you use it to produce the best return on investment, and to help the company best to meet its overall business aims? Use the models described here to assess your best likely returns on marketing investment. The best way to begin to model and plan your marketing is to have a record of your historical (say last year's) sales results (including selling and advertising costs if appropriate and available) on a spreadsheet. The level of detail is up to you; modern spreadsheets can organize massive amounts of data and make very complex analysis quick easy. Data is vital and will enable you to do most of the analysis you need for marketing planning. In simple terms you can use last year's results as a basis for planning and modelling the next year's sales, and the marketing expenditure and activities required to achieve them.

simple business plan or sales plan tools examples These templates examples help the planning process. Split and analyse your business or sales according to your main products/services (or revenue streams) according to the profit drivers or 'levers' (variables that you can change which affect profit), eg., quantity or volume, average sales value or price, % gross margin or profit. Add different columns which reflect your own business profit drivers or levers, and to provide the most relevant measures. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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total sales value

quantit y

average value

% gross margin

total sales or gross margin

product 1 product 2 product 3 product 4 totals Do the same for each important aspect of your business, for example, split by market sector (or segment): quantit y

total sales value

average value

% gross margin

total sales or gross margin

sector 1 sector 2 sector 3 sector 4 totals And, for example, split by distributor (or route to market): quantit y

total sales value

average value

% gross margin

total sales or gross margin

distributo r1 distributo r2 distributo r3 distributo Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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r4 totals These simple split analysis tools are an extremely effective way to plan your sales and business. Construct a working spreadsheet so that the bottom-right cell shows the total sales or gross margin, or profit, whatever you need to measure, and by changing the figures within the split (altering the mix, average prices, quantities, etc) you can carry out 'what if?' analysis to develop the best plans. If you are a competent working with spreadsheets it is normally possible to assemble all of this data onto a single spreadsheet and then show different analyses by sorting and graphing according to different fields. When you are happy with the overall totals for the year, convert this into a phased monthly plan, with as many lines and columns as you need and are appropriate for the business. Develop this spreadsheet by showing inputs as well as sales outputs - the quantifiable activity (for example, the numbers of enquiries necessary to produce the planned sales levels) required to produce the planned performance. Large businesses need extensive and multiple page spreadsheets. A business plan needs costs as well as sales, and will show profit as well as revenue and gross margin, but the principle is the same: plan the detailed numbers and values of what the business performance will be, and what inputs are required to achieve it. Here's a free MSExcel profit and loss account template tool for incorporating these factors and financials into a more formal phased business trading plan, which also serves as a business forecasting and reporting tool too. Adapt it to suit your purposes. This plan example is also available as a PDF, see the Profit and Loss Account (P&L) Small Enterprise Business Plan Example (PDF). The numbers could be anything: ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same. Consider also indirect activities that affect sales and business levels, such as customer service. Identify key performance indicators here too, such as customer complaints response and resolution levels and timescales. Internal lead referral schemes, strategic partnership activity; the performance of other direct sales activities such as sales agencies, distributorships, export activities, licensing, etc. These performance factors won't normally appear on a business plan spreadsheet, but a separate plan should be made for them, otherwise they won't happen.

write your marketing plan or business plan Your marketing plan is actually a statement, supported by relevant financial data, of how you are going to develop your business. Plans should be based on actions, not masses of historical data. The historical and market information should be sufficient just to explain and justify the opportunities, direction, strategy, and most importantly, the marketing Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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actions, methods and measures - not to tell the story of the past 20 years of your particular industry. "What you are going to sell to whom, when and how you are going to sell it, how much contribution (gross profit) the sales produce, what the marketing cost will be, and what will be the return on investment." As stated above it is easiest and best to assemble all of this data onto a spreadsheet, which then allows data to be manipulated through the planning process, and then changed and re-projected when the trading year is under way. The spreadsheet then becomes the basis of your sales and marketing forecasting and results reporting tool. As well as sales and marketing data, in most types of businesses it is also useful to include measurable aims concerning customer service and satisfaction. The marketing plan will have costs that relate to a marketing budget in the overall business plan. The marketing plan will also have revenue and gross margin/profitability targets that relate to the turnover and profitability in the overall business plan. This data is essentially numerical, and so needs also some supporting narrative as to how the numbers will be achieved - the actions - but keep the narrative concise; if it extends to more than a half-dozen sheets make sure you put a succinct executive summary on the front. The marketing plan narrative could if appropriate also refer to indirect activities such as product development, customer service, quality assurance, training etc., if significantly relevant to achieving the marketing plan aims. Be pragmatic - marketing plans vary enormously depending on the type, size and maturity of business. Above all create a plan that logically shows how the business can best consolidate and grow its successful profitable areas. The marketing plan should be a working and truly useful tool - if it is, then it's probably a good one.

sample business plan, marketing plan or sales plan sample structure and example format/template Keep the written part of the business plan as concise and brief as possible - most situations and high-ranking executives do not need to see plans that are an inch thick. If you can make your case on a half dozen pages then do so. Particularly if your plan is more than 5-6 pages long, produce an executive summary (easiest to do when you have completed the plan) and insert it at the beginning of the document. If you need to include lots of reference material, examples, charts, evidence, etc, show these as appendices at the back of the document and make sure they are numbered and referenced during the main body of the plan. Each new section should start at the top of a new page. Number the pages. Important plans should be suitably bound. All business plans should be professionally and neatly presented, with no grammar and spelling errors, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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clearly laid out in an easy to read format (avoid lots of upper-case or fancy fonts or italics as these are all difficult to read). Your business plan contents and structure should be as follows:

business plans structure Title page: Title or heading of the plan and brief description if required, author, date, company/organization if applicable, details of circulation and confidentiality. •

Contents page: A list of contents (basically the sections listed here, starting with the Introduction page) showing page numbers, plus a list of appendices or addendums (added reference material at the back of the document) allowing the reader to find what they need and navigate the document easily, and to refer others to particular items and page numbers when reviewing or querying. •

Introduction page: Introduction and purpose of the plan, terms of reference if applicable (usually for formal and large plans or projects). •

Executive summary page: Optional and usually beneficial, this should normally be no more than a page long (or it's not an executive summary) - the key points of the whole plan including conclusions, recommendations, actions, financial returns on investment, etc., clearly readable in a few minutes. •

Main body of plan: sections and headings as required, see template below. •

Acknowledgments and bibliography/reference sources: if relevant (only required normally for very large formal plans) •

Appendices: appendices or addendums - additional detailed reference material, examples, statistics, spreadsheets, etc., for reference and not central to the main presentation of your plan. •

business plans - main body sections examples template This sample template is typical for a sales/marketing/new business development business plan. (A business plan for a more complex project such as an international joint-venture, or the formation of a new company including manufacturing plant or other overhead activities would need to include relevant information and financials about the overheads and resources concerned, and the financials would need to show costs and profits more like a fully developed profit and loss account, with cashflow projections, balance sheet, etc.) Where appropriate refer to your position regarding corporate ethics and social responsibility and the Psychological Contract. While these aspects are not mechanisms within the plan, they are crucial reference points. 1. Define your market - sector(s) and segment(s) definitions

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2. Quantify your market (overview only) - size, segmentation, relevant statistics, values, numbers (locations, people/users, etc) - make this relevant to you business 3. Explain your market(s) - sector trends, eg., growth, legislation, seasonality, PEST factors where relevant, refer to Ansoff matrix, show the strategic business drivers within sector and segments, purchasing mechanisms, processes, restrictions - what are the factors that determine customers' priorities and needs - this is a logical place to refer to ethics and CSR (corporate social responsibility 4. Explain your existing business - your current business according to sector, products/services, quantities, values, distributor, etc. 5. Analyse your existing customer spread by customer type, values and products/services including major accounts (the 'Pareto Principle' or the '80:20 rule' often applies here, eg., 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers) 6. Explain your products and services - refer to Boston matrix and especially your strategic propositions (what these propositions will do for your customers) including your USP's and UPB's (see sales training section and acronyms) 7. Explain you routes to market, gatekeepers, influencers and strategic partners - the other organizations/individuals you will work with to develop your market, including 'what's in it for them', commissions, endorsements, accreditations, approvals, licenses, etc. 8. Case studies and track record - the credibility, evidence and proof that your propositions and strategic partnerships work 9. Competitor analysis, eg., SWOT analysis of your own business compared to SWOT analysis of each competitor 10. Sales/marketing/business plan (1 year min) showing sales and margins by product/service stream, mix, values, segment, 'distributor', etc, whatever is relevant, phased monthly, in as much detail as you need. This should be on a spreadsheet, with as many different sheets as necessary to quantify relevant inputs and outputs. 11. List your strategic actions (marketing campaigns, sales activities, advertising, etc) that will deliver the above, with costs and returns. This should be supported with a spreadsheet, showing cost and return on investment for each activity. Tip: If the business plan concerns an existing activity, use the previous year's sales/business analysis as the basis for the next year's sales/business plan. Adapt as necessary according to your new strategic plans.

other business planning and marketing issues staffing and training implications Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Your people are unlikely to have all the skills they need to help you implement a marketing plan. You may not have all the people that you need so you have to consider justifying and obtaining extra. Customer service is acutely sensitive to staffing and training. Are all of your people aware of the aims of the business, its mission statement and your sales propositions? Do they know what their responsibilities are? How will you measure their performance? Many of these issues feed back into the business plan under human resources and training, where budgets need to be available to support the investment in these areas.

customer service charter You should formulate a customer service charter, extending both your mission statement and your service offer, so as to inform staff and customers what your standards are. These standards can cover quite detailed aspects of your service, such as how many times the telephone will be permitted to ring until the caller is gets an answer. Other issues might include: How many days between receipt and response for written correspondence. • •

Complaints procedure and timescales for each stage.

This charter sets customer expectations, so be sure you can meet them. Customers get disappointed particularly when their expectations are not met, and when so many standards can be set at arbitrary levels, think of each one as a promise that you should keep. Business-to-business customers would expect to agree these standards with their suppliers and have them recorded as part of their contracts, or as SLA's (service level agreements). Increasingly, large customers demand SLA's to be tailored to their own specific needs, and the process of developing these understandings and agreements is absolutely crucial to the maintenance and development of large contracts. Remember an important rule about customer service: It's not so much the failure to meet standards that causes major dissatisfaction among customers - everyone can make a mistake - the biggest cause of upset is the failure of suppliers to inform customers and keep them updated when problems arise. Not being told in advance, not receiving any apology, not getting any explanation why, and not hearing what's going to be done to put things right, are key areas of customer dissatisfaction, and therefore easy areas for suppliers to focus their efforts to achieve and communicate improvements. A special point of note for businesses that require a strong technical profile among their service staff: these people are often reactive by nature and so not good at taking initiative to identify and anticipate problem areas in customer service. It's therefore helpful to establish suitable mechanisms and responsibility to pick up problems and deal with them - a kind of trouble-shooting capability - which can be separately managed and monitored at a strategic level. Do not assume that technically-oriented staff will be capable of proactively developing Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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customer service solutions and revisions to SLA's - they generally need help in doing so from staff with high creativity, empathy, communications and initiative capabilities.

establish systems to measure customer service and staff performance These standards and the SLA's established for large customers need to be visible, agreed with customers, absolutely measurable. You must keep measuring your performance against them, and preferably publishing the results, internally and externally. Customer complaints handling is a key element: Measuring customer complaints is crucial because individual complaints are crucial areas to resolve, and also as a whole, complaints serve as a barometer for the quality and performance of the business. You need to have a scheme which encourages, not discourages, customers to complain, to open the channels as wide as possible. Most businesses are too defensive where complaints are concerned, preferring to minimise their importance, or to seek to justify and excuse them. Wrong. Complaints are the opportunities to turn ordinary service into unbeatable service. Moreover, time and again surveys suggest that anything up to nine out of ten people do not complain to the provider when they feel dissatisfied they just keep their dissatisfaction to themselves and the provider never finds out there's a problem, even when the customer chooses to go elsewhere. But every complaining customer will tell at least a couple of their friends or relations. Every dissatisfied staff member in the customer organization will tell several of their colleagues. Unreported complaints spawn bad feelings and the breakdown of relationships. It is imperative that you capture all complaints in order to: Put at ease and give explanation or reassurance to the person complaining. • •

Reduce the chances of them complaining to someone else.

Monitor exactly how many dissatisfied customers you have and what the causes are, and that's even more important if you're failing to deliver your mission statement or service offer! •



Take appropriate corrective action to prevent a re-occurrence.

If appropriate (ie for large customers) review SLA's and take the opportunity to agree new SLA's with the customer. •

implications for IT, premises, and reporting systems Also relating to your business plan are the issues of: Information Technology - are your computers and communications systems capable of giving you the information and analysis you need? Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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How do you use email - is it helping or hindering your business and the quality of service you give to your customers? What internet presence and processes do you need? How should your voice and data systems work together? What systems need to be available to mobile staff? What customer relationship management (CRM) systems should you have? How should you consider all these issues to see the needs and opportunities? IT and communications systems increasingly offer marketing and competitive advantage to businesses in all sectors - make sure you know hat IT can do for you and for your customers. Premises - Review your premises and sites in light of your customer service, distribution, and customer relationship requirements. Pay particular attention anywhere in your organization that your customers visit - the impression and service you give here is critical. Reporting systems - If you can't measure it you can't manage it, and where finance and business performance is concerned this is certainly true. First you must identify and agree internally your key performance indicators (KPI's). Identify every aspect of your service or performance that is important - then you need to be able to measure it and report on it, and where people are involved in performing to certain standards then the standards and the reporting needs to be transparent to them also. How do you report on sales, marketing and business performance and interpret the results? Who needs to know? Who needs to capture the data?

communications and ongoing customer feedback are essential Having an open dialogue with your customers is vital. There's a double benefit to your business in ensuring this happens: You nip problems in the bud and stay aware of how you're performing. •

Your customers feel better about the service you provide as a result of the communications, or from the fact that the channel is open even if they don't use it - it's human nature. •

Try to devise a standard feedback form. It can double as a promotional tool as well if it's made available on a wider scale. The form can carry details of your mission statement, service offer and your customer service charter. Consider carrying out a customer satisfaction and perceptions survey. There are many ways to do this on a small or large scale, and valuable feedback is always obtained from customer survey exercises.

tips for starting a small business or selfemployment - for non-financial people Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Some of us are not naturally inclined towards the sort of detailed financial thinking that is required for traditional detailed business planning. If this is you, you'll possess other valuable capabilities that will be useful in your own enterprise, and you'll maybe find it helpful to use this alternative approach to planning a new enterprise or self-employment. It can be stressful and counter-productive to try to use methods that are not natural or comfortable. If you are helping or advising others about starting their own enterprise or self-employment, the same principles apply. Not everyone is naturally good at business planning, but everyone who dreams of being selfemployed or who wants to start and run their own independent enterprise is capable of doing so, provided they work to their strengths, capabilities and passions. People running successful enterprises come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds, all ages, with skills, passions, and capabilities in any field you can imagine. Anyone can run their own business or be successful in self-employment given the simple determination to do so. Business and enterprise is not just for stereotypical 'business-types'; the benefits and advantages of being your own boss are available to us all. Here are some pointers for people considering starting their own new enterprise, or for helping others to do the same. First, and especially if you are not clear of your own real strengths, or what direction to pursue, focus on using tools to understanding your own personality style and strengths. Then use this knowledge to imagine and realise how your natural capabilities can be used to best effect in defining and providing your own services or running your own enterprise. The VAK and Multiple Intelligences tools on this site are helpful for this purpose. They assess people's strengths completely differently to traditional IQ or academic evaluations, which are extremely narrow and generally not relevant at all for people who want to be their own boss. Understanding personality is also useful since personality-type greatly influences the way that a person approaches self-employment or running an enterprise, and what sort of service or business to offer. The Personality Styles page provides a lot of explanation about this. Many people are conditioned by schools and over-cautious parents to under-estimate their own potential and capabilities, which is a big reason to take a fresh look at what you are good at, and to re-think and understand better the ways that your personality type tends to be successful in life and business. There are many ways to be successful and independent in life aside from building and running a conventional business and adhering to conventional financial planning methods. The basic economics of becoming successfully independent in any sort of venture are actually extremely simple, and focusing on the following simple fundamentals (a process really) can help many folk turn your dream or an idea into a successful enterprise or self-employment reality. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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It's usually easiest to think first of these factors in terms of daily, weekly or monthly numbers and values, and then to extend the figures to give totals for a whole year: 1. What's your product or service? (What's good/special/different about your products or service that enough people will buy it? And importantly is this something that you have a real passion for? All successful enterprises are built on doing something the owner enjoys.) 2. What does it cost to make/buy in/provide the product or service? (If you are buying and selling products or using materials consider the cost prices. If the main resource is your own time then attach a cost to your labour that reflects your available time for the work and the wage you need to draw. Divide your required annual wage by the number of work hours available to you, and this is your notional hourly labour cost.) 3. What price will the product/service sell for? (Ideally small businesses need a healthy profit margin or mark-up - doubling the cost is good if the market will accept it. A mark-up of less than 50% is cause for concern unless you are selling products in relatively high volumes or values. Price your products/services according to what the market will pay, not according to your costs. Take into account your competitors and what they charge and their relative quality. Service businesses that use only the person's time are often very attractive and profitable because there is no added complication of buying and holding stock - hence why window-cleaning, sign-writing, repairs, gardening, decorating, tutoring, writing, therapy, training, coaching and consultancy, etc., are such good businesses for people who prefer a simple approach to self-employment and enterprise. Consider the effect of VAT especially for 'consumer' businesses - ie., selling to the general public - assuming your business is or must be VAT registered. Private consumers of course are more sensitive to VAT than business customers who can generally reclaim VAT should you have to add it to your prices.) 4. Who will buy the product/service? (Identify your customers and market. Do you know this for sure? Test your assumptions: this is a critical part of the proposition and generally benefits from more thought and research to confirm that a big enough market exists for your idea. Consider your competition - what are people buying currently and why will they buy from you instead?) 5. How much/many do you need to sell in a year? And how many customers do you need? (This is a vital part of the proposition to confirm that the gross profit (the difference between costs of bought in products/labour and sales revenues) covers your/their financial needs (including a living wage and other fixed costs of running the enterprise. Again remember the affect of VAT on your selling prices if applicable.) 6. How will people know about the service/product? (You need to understand what advertising/marketing/enquiry-generation is necessary activity and cost. There is usually a cost for generating new customers, especially in the early stages of a new enterprise. Once the business is established, say after six months to a year, 'word-of-mouth' referrals are Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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for some businesses all that is required to produce new customers especially those based in a local community, but virtually any new enterprise requires marketing at its launch. See the articles on marketing and selling.) 7. Does all this add up, and better still provide a cash surplus at the end of a year? - if so then it's probably a good business model. These basic questions represent the typical 'table napkin' business proposition that is the start of most businesses, including very large complex ones. People who dislike and are not fluent in detailed business calculations might find the above process a useful starting point when thinking about how to begin a new enterprise or a venture in selfemployment. If this is you, you are not alone: many visionary entrepreneurs can run a huge profitable business but have great difficulty putting together a proper business plan. Hence many highly successful business leaders rely heavily on their financial directors to take care of the financial details, leaving them free to get on with the business activity that makes best use of their natural skill, be it creativity, selling, service-provision, peopleskills, technical skills, or whatever. Incidentally the above factors are the essential components which make up a basic Profit and Loss Account, which is the primary management tool for a business of any scale and complexity. Here's a free MSExcel profit and loss account template tool for extending these factors and financials into a more formal phased plan, which also serves as a business forecasting and reporting tool too. If in doubt about this seek some help from an experienced business person or your accountant. Adapt it to suit your purposes. The example P&L trading plan is also available as a pdf. The numbers could be anything - ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same.

company types and financial set up - quick guide When you have confirmed and refined the basic viability of your business idea you can then begin getting to grips with the more detailed aspects of forming the business itself. This necessarily includes deciding your type of business constitution - the legal format of your company - or 'company type' as it is often described. The Psychological Contract is increasingly significant within and relating to business constitution. Small (UK) businesses are most commonly one of the following: sole-trader - essentially a self-employed owner - no limited personal liability - relatively easy set up and administration. •

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partnership - essentially a group of self-employed partners/owners no limited personal liability - easy-ish set up and administration, although ultimately dependent on the complexity of the company and partnership. •

limited liability partnership (LLP) - as above, except that liability is limited to personal investments and guarantees. •

limited company (abbreviated to Ltd after the company name) liability is limited to the assets of the company - registered with Companies House and legally obliged to publish accounts. •

There are less common variations of limited companies, and other business structures and constitutions, for example: social enterprise - various structures including , trusts, associations and especially cooperatives - these are not common typical or traditional business structures, but social enterprises are growing in popularity, and will be explained in more detail on this website in due course. Meanwhile here is useful information about cooperatives. •



public limited company (plc) - not appropriate for small companies.

Sole-trader and partnership companies are very easy to set up and administer, but the owner/partners are personally liable for all business debts and potential claims, so good insurance cover (including professional indemnity and public liability) is essential especially if business liabilities are potentially serious. A limited liability partnership offers protection to partners in terms of personal liabilities, in that liabilities are limited to the extent of personal investment and any other guarantees. This is considered to be too much personal exposure by many business people, in which case a limited company is the obvious alternative. A limited company exists in its own right - a tricky concept to understand for many people - basically meaning that financial liabilities belong to the company (its shareholders, to the value of their shares in other words) rather than the directors and executives of the business, as would apply in a partnership. Limited companies ultimately offer more flexibility for large complex businesses but can be over-complicated and administratively heavy if all you want to do is run a local shop or landscape gardening business or modest training or coaching business. Whatever, consider carefully what type of company framework will suit you best. Once established it can be quite difficult to unravel and change if you get it wrong - not impossible, but a nuisance if you could have got it right first time with a bit of extra thought at the planning stage. A good accountant will help you decide what is best for your situation from a legal and financial standpoint, although before this you should think for yourself what sort of business structure best fits your wider business situation, and especially your business aims and philosophy. Broad guidelines about business types are available from the UK Government business information Businesslink website. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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You'll need a business bank account. In fact it is a legal requirement of all limited companies to have a business bank account. Shop around. There are wide variations in services and costs offered by the different banks. You must also understand and organize the tax implications for your type of business. Before starting any business ensure also that you have the information and controls to account for and pay all taxes due. Helpfully to learn more about this in the UK, most tax affairs are within the responsibilities of HM Revenue and Customs - until they too change their name to something very silly. That said, the relevance today of HM (Her Majesty's) is a bit puzzling when you stop to think about it and surely due for updating to the modern age. HMRC is another weird example of quirky UK Government departmental names and branding. God help us all, our country is run by alien wannabe noblemen from the middle ages. VAT (Value Added Tax or your national equivalent) is an issue warranting serious thought if your business is small enough to have a choice in the matter. Beyond a certain turnover (£68,000 as at 2010) any UK business must register for VAT. Check the HMRC website for the current position. Being VAT registered means you must charge VAT on all VAT-rated supplies, which means also that the VAT you receive on payments from your customers must be paid to HM Revenue and Customs. (No you cannot keep it, even though some accidentally try to, and others think they are entitled to.) Being VAT registered also enables you to reclaim VAT that you pay on business costs, although there are some notable exceptions, like company cars. Retail and consumer businesses are especially affected by VAT. Private consumers cannot claim back VAT, so the effect of VAT on pricing and margins needs careful thought in planning any consumer business. Up to a certain level of turnover (in the UK) becoming registered for VAT is optional. If your business turnover is likely to be below the threshold for mandatory VAT registration, you must decide for yourself if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The main advantages of VAT registration are: your business will be perceived by certain people - especially other businesses - to be larger and more credible (not being registered for VAT indicates immediately that your turnover is below the VAT threshold) •

you will be able to reclaim VAT that you are charged on legitimate allowable business costs •

The main disadvantages of being VAT registered are: the administrative burden in keeping VAT records and submitting VAT returns (although this has been enormously simplified in recent years so that for small simple businesses it is really not a problem at all) •

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risks of getting onto cashflow difficulties if you fail to set funds aside to pay your VAT bills (see the tax tips below) •

Information about VAT (and all other tax issues) is at the UK Government HM Revenue and Customs website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk VAT is not the only tax. Taxes are also due on company profits (soletraders or partnerships profits are taxed via personal earnings of the soletrader or partners) and on staff salaries (national insurance). A sole-trader or partnership can employ staff, in which case national insurance tax is due on salaries paid to employees, which is different to the tax that employees pay themselves. Failing to retain funds in a company to pay taxes is a serious problem that's easily avoided with good early planning. Contact your tax office. Inform them of your plans and seek their help. Tax offices are generally extremely helpful, so ask. You can even talk to a real person on the phone without having to breach a six-level automated menu system. Ideally find a decent accountant too. Preferably one who comes recommended to you. With all the greatest respect to accountants everywhere, accountants are quite commonly very intense people, like solicitors and scientists, very much focused on process, accuracy, rules, etc., which in terms of personality fit can be a little at odds with the style of many entrepreneurs. So again shop around and find an accountant with whom you can share a joke and a beer or something from the human world. The relationship between a business person and his/her accountant is crucial if the business is to grow and develop significantly. Accountants might seem at times to be from another planet, but I can assure you the good ones are bloody magicians when it comes to business development, especially when the figures get really interesting. The statement that one stroke of an accountant's pen is mightier than the world's most successful sales team, is actually true. For many entrepreneurs, the ideal scenario is to grow your business large enough to support the cost of a really excellent finance director, who can take care of all the detailed legal and financial matters for you, and leave you completely free to concentrate on growing the business concentrating your efforts and ideas and strategy externally towards markets and customers, and internally towards optimizing innovation and your staff. See the quick tax tips below, especially for small businesses which might not easily be able to achieve immediate and accurate control of their tax liabilities, which is one of the major early risks for a new successful small business.

tax tips - understanding and accounting for taxes from the start Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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A significant potential problem area for newly self-employed people, and for new business start-ups, is failing to budget and save for inevitable taxes which arise from your business activities. N.B. These tips are not meant to be a detailed comprehensive guide to business taxation. This section merely addresses a particular vulnerability of new start-up businesses in failing to set aside sufficient reserves to meet tax liabilities, especially small businesses, and even more especially sole-traders and partnerships and small limited companies, which lack expertise in accounting and consequently might benefit from these simple warnings and tips related to tax liabilities. In general these issues would normally be managed via a cashflow forecast, together with suitable financial processes to allocate and make payments for all costs and liabilities arising in the course of trading. I recognise however that many small business start-ups do not begin with such attention to financial processes, and it's primarily for those situations that these particular notes are provided. These notes in no way suggest that this is the normal fully controlled approach to planning and organizing tax liabilities and other cashflow issues within any business of significant scale. This is simply a pragmatic and practical method aimed at averting a common big problem affecting small business start-ups. While your type of company and business determines precisely which taxes apply to you, broadly taxes are due on sales (for VAT registered businesses in the UK, or your VAT equivalent if outside the UK), and on the profits of your business and your earnings. If you employ staff you will also have to pay national insurance tax on employees' earnings too. Generally sole-traders and partnerships have simpler tax arrangements for example, profits are typically taxed as personal earnings - as compared with the more complex taxes applicable to limited companies, which also pay taxes on company profits and staff salaries. Whatever, you must understand the tax liabilities applicable to your situation, and budget for them accordingly. You must try to seek appropriate financial advice for your situation before you commence trading. Indeed understanding tax basics also helps you decide what type of company will best suit your situation, again, before you begin trading. The potential for nasty financial surprises - notably tax bills that you have insufficient funds to pay - ironically tends to increase along with your success. This is because bigger sales and profits and earnings inevitably produce bigger tax bills (percentage of tax increases too in the early growth of a business), all of which becomes a very big problem if you've no funds to pay taxes when due. The risks of getting into difficulties can be greater for the self-employed and small partnerships which perhaps do not have great financial knowledge and experience, than for larger Limited Company start-ups which tend to have more systems and support in financial areas. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Start-ups are especially prone to tax surprises because the first set of tax bills can commonly be delayed, and if you fail to account properly for all taxes due then obviously you increase the chances of spending more than you should do, resulting in not having adequate funds to cover the payments when they are due. Risks are increased further if you are new to self-employment, previously having been employed and accustomed to receiving a regular salary on which all taxes have already been deducted, in other words 'net' of tax. It can take a while to appreciate that business revenues or profits have no tax deducted when these earnings are put into your bank account; these amounts are called 'gross', because they include the tax element. Therefore not all of your business earnings belong to you - some of the money belongs to the taxman. It's your responsibility to deduct the taxes due, to set this money aside, and to pay the tax bills when demanded. Additionally, if you are a person who is in the habit of spending everything that you earn, you must be even more careful, since this tendency will increase the risks of your being unable to pay your taxes. Failing to get on top of the reality of taxes from the very beginning can lead to serious debt and cashflow problems, which is a miserable way to run a business. So you must anticipate and set aside funds necessary to meet your tax liabilities from the very start of your business, even if you do not initially have a very accurate idea of what taxes will be due, or you lack effective systems to calculate them - many small start-ups are in this position. Nevertheless it is too late to start thinking about tax when the first demands fall due. If when starting your business you do not have information and systems to identify and account accurately for your tax liabilities, here are two simple quick tax tips to avoid problems with the taxman: 1. You must estimate your tax liabilities and ensure that you set aside funds to cover these liabilities while you are banking your payments received into the business. The easiest way to do this is to identify the taxes applicable to your business, for example VAT and your own personal income tax and national insurance. Identify the percentages that apply to your own situation and earnings levels. You can do this approximately. It does not need to be very precise. Add these percentages together, and then set aside this percentage of all your earnings that you receive into your business. Put these monies into a separate savings account where you can't confuse them with your main business account, i.e., your 'working capital' typically held in a current account. 2. Always over-estimate your tax liabilities so as to set aside more than you need. Having a surplus is not a problem. Having not enough money to pay taxes because you've under-estimated tax due is a problem; sometimes enough to kill an otherwise promising business. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Here's an example to show how quickly and easily you can plan and set aside a contingency to pay your tax bills, even if you've no experience or systems to calculate them precisely. This example is based on a selfemployed consultancy-type business, like a training or coaching business, in which there are no significant costs of sales (products or services bought in) or overheads, i.e., revenues are effectively the profits too, since there are minimal costs to offset against profits:

example of estimating and setting aside money to pay taxes 1. In the UK VAT on most products and services is 17.5%. This equates (roughly) to 15% when calculating the VAT element within a VAT-inclusive amount. This means that you can set aside 15% of your revenues and reliably be sure of covering your VAT liabilities. 2. In the UK personal income tax and national insurance combined is roughly 30% of earnings up to about £30,000 (a little over in fact), rising to 49% - call it 50% - of earnings above £30k - roughly. N.B. Income tax and national insurance are calculated on taxable earnings, which exclude money spent on legitimate business costs, and VAT received. These figures in the above example are approximate I emphasise again, which is all you need for this purpose, moreover the approximations are on the high side of what the precise liabilities actually are. Accountants call this sort of thinking 'prudent'. It's a pessimistic approach to forecasting liabilities rather than optimistic, which is fundamental to good financial planning and management: if the pessimism is wrong then you end up with a surplus (which is good), but if you are wrong in making optimistic forecasts and estimates (over-ambitious sales, and lower-thanactual costs and liabilities), then you run out of money (which is bad). Back to the percentages.. Knowing the income tax percentages enables you to set aside a suitable percentage of your earnings when you receive them into the business. Roughly speaking, for earnings up to £30k you need to set aside 30% to cover income tax and national insurance. For earnings over £30k you need to set aside 50% to cover your income tax and national insurance. (Earnings below £30k remain taxable at 30%). Remember you can arrive at these figures based on the VAT exclusive revenues, but to keep matters simpler it is easier to use an adjusted total percentage figure to apply to the total gross earnings. If it's kept very simple and quick you'll be more likely to do it - and/or to communicate the method effectively to your partner if they are responsible for handling the financials, as often happens. Given this example, if in your first year your gross revenues (banked payments received) are say £50,000, assuming you are VAT registered, then your tax liabilities will be (roughly): 17.5% VAT liabilities

£7.5k (again we are assuming no

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equates to 15% of gross sales revenues

significant costs to offset these figures)

30% Income tax/NI on first £30k earnings

total net earnings are say £42.5k, being £50k less £7.5k VAT, again £9.0k we are assuming negligible costs to offset against earnings

50% Income tax/NI on remaining £12.5k earnings

£12.5k of the net £43.5k earnings £6.25 is taxed at the higher rate, again k assuming negligible costs offset against earnings

total tax liabilities = 45.5%, or to be extra prudent call it 50%...

£22.75 (£22.75k total tax ÷ £50k gross k revenues = 45.5%)

From this example you can see that setting aside 45.5% of earnings (yes it's a lot isn't it - which is why you need to anticipate it and set the money aside) would comfortably cover VAT and income tax liabilities. To be extra safe and simpler in this example you could round it up to 50%. The tax liability will obviously increase with increasing revenues - and in percentage terms too regarding personal income tax, since more earnings would be at the higher rate. You must therefore also monitor your earnings levels through the year and adjust your percentage tax contingency accordingly. As stated already above, the risk of under-estimating tax liabilities increases the more successful you are, because tax bills get bigger. In truth you will have some costs to offset against the earnings figures above, but again for the purposes of establishing a very quick principle of saving a fixed percentage as a tax reserve until you know and can control these liabilities more accurately, the above is a very useful simple easy method of initially staying solvent and on top of your tax affairs, which are for many people the most serious source of nasty financial surprises in successful start-up businesses. The above example is very simple, and is provided mainly for small startup businesses which might otherwise neglect to provide for tax liabilities. The figures and percentages are not appropriate (but the broad principle of forecasting and providing funds for tax liabilities is) to apply to retail businesses for example, or businesses in which staff are employed, since these businesses carry significant costs of sales and overheads, which should be deducted from revenues before calculating profits and taxes liabilities. Neither does the example take account of the various ways to reduce tax liabilities by reinvesting profits in the business, writing off stock, putting money into pensions, charitable donations, etc. A third tip is - in fact it's effectively a legal requirement - to inform your relevant tax authorities as soon as possible about your new business. Preferably do this a few weeks before you actually begin trading. That way you can be fully informed of the tax situation - and your best methods of Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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dealing with tax, because there are usually different ways, and sometimes the differences can be worth quite a lot of money. I do not go into more detail about tax here because it's a very complex subject with wide variations depending on your own situation, for which you should seek relevant information and advice from a qualified accountant and/or the relevant tax authorities.

template and structure for a feasibility study or project justification report First, and importantly, you need to clarify/confirm the criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to justify starting or continuing the project or group, in other words, what do the decision-makers need to see in order to approve the project or its continuation? Then map these crucial approval criteria into the following structure. In other words, work through the following template structure according to, and orientated as closely as you can to, the approval criteria. (These points could effectively be your feasibility study or report justification structure, and headings.) past, present and particularly future ('customer') need (for the outputs/results produced by group or project) •

benefits and outcomes achieved to date for what cost/investment • •

benefits and outcomes to be produced in the future

resources, costs, investment, etc., required to produce future required outcomes and benefits (identify capital vs revenue costs, i.e., acquisition of major assets and ongoing overheads) •

alternative methods or ways of satisfying needs, with relative cost/return (return on investment) comparisons (ie., what other ways might there be for satisfying the need if the group or project doesn't happen or ceases?) •

outline strategy and financial plan, including people, aims, philosophy, etc (ideally tuned to meet the authorising power's fulfilment criteria) for proposed start or continuation of project (assuming you have a case, and assuming there is no better alternative) •

Keep it simple. Keep to the facts and figures. Provide evidence. Be clear and concise. Refer to the tips about effective writing. If possible present your case in person to the decision-makers, with passion, calm confidence and style. Look at the tips on presentations, and assertiveness.

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tips on finding and working with business planning advisors and consultants If you need help putting together a business plan, and if you want to get the best from the engagement, it's important to find the right person to work with, and to establish and maintain a good working relationship with them. If you are great big organisation you'll probably not need to work with outsiders, and if you do then you'll probably opt for a great big supplier, however there are significant benefits from working with much smaller suppliers - even single operators - and if you are a small business yourself, then this is probably the best choice anyway: to seek a good single operator, or small partnership of experts. Here are some ideas of what to look for. You'll be best finding someone who meets as much of this criteria as possible: lives close-by you so you can work face-to-face with them and get to know each other properly, and so that their time is efficiently used, instead of being in traffic on their way to and from your place •



is high integrity and very discreet

is grown-up and got no baggage or emotional triggers - wise and mature - and it needn't be an age thing •

can help you see and decide where and how you want to take the business, rather than tell you where he/she thinks you need to go - a mentor not an instructor •

understands or can immediately relate to your industry sector and type of work •

is experienced working with small family companies, but is also a big picture strategist and visionary (advisors who've only ever worked with big corporations can sometimes be a bit free and easy with relatively small amounts of money - you need someone with a very very practical approach to managing cash-flow, and real business realities, who've worked in situations without the protection of vast corporate bureaucracy and the lack of transparency that this often brings) •

is triple-brained or whole-brained - mostly front-brained - (see the stuff on Benziger) - intuitive-creative, thinking, but also able to be personable and grounded, subject to the point below •

complements your own strengths and fills the gaps and weaknesses in your collective abilities (again see the stuff on Benziger and Jung etc) - ie., if collectively you need hard facts and figures and logic then seek people with these strengths - conversely if you are strong on all this, then seek the creative humanist ethical strengths - he/she must work with you in a balanced team - so that the team has no blind spots, and no subjective biases in style or emphasis •

has two or three referees you can talk to and see evidence of past work (although if you check most of the above it will be a formality) • •

doesn't smoke or drink too much

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isn't desperate for the work

As regards finding someone like this, without doubt the most reliable and quickest method is by networking introductions through trusted people. The person you seek might be three or more links away, but if it's a friend or associate of someone trusted, by someone who's trusted, by someone you trust, then probably they'll be right for you. Start by talking to people you know and asking if they know anyone, or if they know anyone who might know anyone - and take it from there. The chances of finding the right person in the local business listings or directory, out of the blue and from cold, are pretty remote. Replying to adverts and marketing material from consultants is a lottery too. You'll find someone eventually but you'll need to kiss a lot of frogs first, which takes ages and is not the cleverest way to spend your valuable time. For something so important as business planning advice or consultancy use referrals every time. Referrals work not only because you get to find someone trusted, but the person you find has a reasonable assurance that you can be trusted too, you see: good suppliers are just as choosy as good clients. It works both ways. Be prepared to reward the person in whatever way is appropriate and fair (I'm thinking percentage share of incremental success beyond expectations - perhaps even equity share if the person is really good and you'd value their on-going contribution and help). Often the best people won't ask for much money up front at all, but from your point of view you will attract a lot more commitment and work beyond the call of normal duty from them if you reward higher than they ask or need. Good suppliers are immensely motivated by good clients and lots of appreciation, even if they don't want the financial reward. Good suppliers have usually seen too many ungrateful greedy people taking them for granted and penny pinching, and will tend to sack clients like these without even telling them why, and move on to more deserving enjoyable work with people who are fair and appreciative, which is how you'll be I'm sure. Finally, when you've found the right person, always continually agree expectations and invite feedback about how the relationship is working, not just how the work is going.

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These are the simple rules for planning and starting your own business. The principles also apply to planning and starting a new business within an organisation for someone else. In amongst the distractions and details of new business planning, it is important to keep sight of the basic rules of new business success: Your successful new business must offer something unique that people want. Uniqueness is vital because otherwise there is no reason for customers to buy from you. Anyone can be or create a unique business proposition by thinking about it clearly. Uniqueness comes in all shapes and sizes - it's chiefly being especially good and different in a particular area, or field or sector. Uniqueness can be in a product or service, or in a trading method, or in you yourself, or any other aspect of your business which makes what you are offering special and appealing to people. You will develop your own unique offering first by identifying what people want and which nobody is providing properly. Second you must ensure that your chosen unique offering is also an extension of your own passion or particular expertise or strength something you will love and enjoy being the best at - whatever it is. Every successful business is built on someone's passion.

new business start-ups by older people If you already have a career behind you, and you wonder if you've got it in you to compete and succeed in the modern world, consider this. First - you have definitely got it in you to succeed. Experience and wisdom are fundamental building blocks of success, and will be for you from the moment you start looking at yourself in this way. The reassuring wisdom that older people generally possess is extremely helpful in forming trusting relationships - with customers, suppliers, partners, colleagues, etc - which are essential for good business. Added to this, as we get older we have a greater understanding of our true passions and capabilities; we know our strengths and styles and tolerances. This gives older people a very special potency in business. Older people know what they are good at. They play to their strengths. They know which battles they can win, and which to avoid. Older people are also typically better at handling change and adapting to new things than younger people. This is because older people have had more experience doing just this. Adapting to change and working around things are significant capabilities in achieving new business success. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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If you are an older person considering starting a new business, think about the things you can do better than most other people - think about your strengths and use them.

business start-ups for younger people Younger people can be very successful starting new businesses just as much as older people can be. The essential principle of playing to your strengths applies, although the implications are different for younger people compared to older people. Younger people are likely to have lots of fresh ideas. This is an advantage, so avoid people pour cold water on them. Test your ideas on potential customers, rather than to take advice from those people who are ready with their buckets of water. Next, get the help you need. It's difficult for young people to know all the answers. You'll have the ideas and the energy to make things happen, but consider the gaps in your experience, and the things you don't enjoy doing, and seek good quality reliable help for these things. Getting good help at what you can't do or don't want to do will enable you to put all your energy into what you are good at and what you want to spend your time doing. Young people sometimes try to force themselves to fit into roles or responsibilities that are not comfortable or natural. This is de-stabilising and stressful. Learn what you love and excel at, and focus on building success from this. Which brings us back to playing to your strengths. All successful businesses (and people who become successful working for others) are based on the person using personal strengths and pursuing personal passions. Success in business is always based on doing something you love and enjoy, which is fundamentally related to your natural strengths and unique personal potential, whatever that is. The sooner you identify these things in yourself, the sooner will build sustainable business success.

planning business success - in summary Spreadsheets, mission statements, planning templates and other process elements of new business creation and development are tools. They enable the business to be properly structured, started and run. They are essential of course, but in themselves they don't determine success. Business success is determined by deeper factors. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Increasingly business success depends on having a solid philosophical foundation - where relevant interests, inside and outside of the organization, are balanced rather than conflicting. The bigger the business, the more widely it must consider how it relates to external interests and responsibilities - to society and the world at large. A business with this sort of harmony and balance built into its shape and principles at the outset has a huge advantage over a business which contains tensions and competing pressures. Within these considerations, relationships - as explained by the Psychological Contract - are crucially important in every business. Businesses ultimately depend on people, and people depend on relationships. Aside from this - and without diminishing the significance of other vital business components such as reliability, value, quality, etc., which are necessary merely to survive at a basic level - uniqueness and passion are the remaining special ingredients for success: Uniqueness (just one word, with so many implications) - so that people will want what you offer, and •

Passion, so that you will enjoy being and offering your best - and so that this belief and commitment conveys to others. •

swot analysis SWOT analysis method and examples, with free SWOT template The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business and organizations. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Information about the origins and inventors of SWOT analysis is below. The SWOT analysis headings provide a good framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of a company or business proposition, or any other idea. Completing a SWOT analysis is very simple, and is a good subject for workshop sessions. SWOT analysis also works well in brainstorming meetings. Use SWOT analysis for business planning, strategic planning, competitor evaluation, marketing, business and product development and research reports. You can also use SWOT analysis exercises for team building games. See also PEST analysis, which measures a business's market and potential according to external factors; Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It is often helpful to complete a PEST analysis prior to a SWOT analysis. See also Porter's Five Forces model, which is used to analyse competitive position. Here is a free SWOT analysis template worksheet (in MSWord). And the same free SWOT analysis tool in pdf format. If you have difficulty opening the above doc file here are two other formats: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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SWOT Analysis Template doc file using table format instead of textboxes (portrait layout) • •

SWOT Analysis Template doc for Apple Mac (thanks U Weissbach)

A SWOT analysis measures a business unit, a proposition or idea; a PEST analysis measures a market. A SWOT analysis is a subjective assessment of data which is organized by the SWOT format into a logical order that helps understanding, presentation, discussion and decision-making. The four dimensions are a useful extension of a basic two heading list of pro's and con's (free pro's and con's template here). SWOT analysis can be used for all sorts of decision-making, and the SWOT template enables proactive thinking, rather than relying on habitual or instinctive reactions. The SWOT analysis template is normally presented as a grid, comprising four sections, one for each of the SWOT headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The free SWOT template below includes sample questions, whose answers are inserted into the relevant section of the SWOT grid. The questions are examples, or discussion points, and obviously can be altered depending on the subject of the SWOT analysis. Note that many of the SWOT questions are also talking points for other headings - use them as you find most helpful, and make up your own to suit the issue being analysed. It is important to clearly identify the subject of a SWOT analysis, because a SWOT analysis is a perspective of one thing, be it a company, a product, a proposition, and idea, a method, or option, etc. Here are some examples of what a SWOT analysis can be used to assess: •

a company (its position in the market, commercial viability, etc)



a method of sales distribution



a product or brand



a business idea

a strategic option, such as entering a new market or launching a new product • •

a opportunity to make an acquisition



a potential partnership



changing a supplier



outsourcing a service, activity or resource



an investment opportunity

Be sure to describe the subject for the SWOT analysis clearly so that people contributing to the analysis, and those seeing the finished SWOT analysis, properly understand the purpose of the SWOT assessment and implications. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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SWOT analysis template Subject of SWOT analysis: (define the subject of the analysis here) strengths •

Advantages of proposition?



Capabilities?



Competitive advantages?



USP's (unique selling points)?



Resources, Assets, People?



Experience, knowledge, data?

Financial reserves, likely returns? •

Marketing - reach, distribution, awareness? • •

Innovative aspects?



Location and geographical?



Price, value, quality?

weaknesses •

Disadvantages of proposition?



Gaps in capabilities?



Lack of competitive strength?

Reputation, presence and reach? • •

Financials?



Own known vulnerabilities?

Timescales, deadlines and pressures? • •

Cashflow, start-up cash-drain?

Continuity, supply chain robustness? •

Effects on core activities, distraction? •



Accreditations, qualifications, certifications?





Processes, systems, IT, communications?



Cultural, attitudinal, behavioural?



Accreditations, etc?



Processes and systems, etc?



Management cover, succession? •

opportunities

Reliability of data, plan predictability? Morale, commitment, leadership?

Management cover, succession? •

threats



Market developments?



Political effects?



Competitors' vulnerabilities?



Legislative effects?



Industry or lifestyle trends?



Environmental effects?

Technology development and innovation?



IT developments?

• •

Global influences?



New markets, vertical,

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Competitor intentions various? • •

Market demand? 93

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horizontal? •

Niche target markets?



Geographical, export, import?



New USP's?

New technologies, services, ideas? • •

Vital contracts and partners?



Tactics - surprise, major contracts, etc?



Business and product development?



Obstacles faced?



Insurmountable weaknesses?



Loss of key staff?



Sustainable financial backing?



Economy - home, abroad?



Seasonality, weather effects?

• •

Information and research?

Partnerships, agencies, distribution? •

Volumes, production, economies? •

Sustaining internal capabilities?

Seasonal, weather, fashion influences? •

free SWOT analysis template worksheet version in MSWord swot analysis example This SWOT analysis example is based on an imaginary situation. The scenario is based on a business-to-business manufacturing company, who historically rely on distributors to take their products to the end user market. The opportunity, and therefore the subject for the SWOT analysis, is for the manufacturer to create a new company of its own to distribute its products direct to certain end-user sectors, which are not being covered or developed by its normal distributors.

Subject of SWOT analysis example: the creation of own distributor company to access new end-user sectors not currently being developed. strengths End-user sales control and direction. •

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weaknesses •

Customer lists not tested.



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Right products, quality and reliability. •

Superior product performance vs competitors. •

Better product life and durability. • •

Spare manufacturing capacity.

Some staff have experience of end-user sector. • •

Have customer lists.



Direct delivery capability.



Product innovations ongoing.



Can serve from existing sites.

Products have required accreditations. • •

Processes and IT should cope.

Management is committed and confident. •

opportunities •

Could develop new products.

Local competitors have poor products. • •

Profit margins will be good.

End-users respond to new ideas. • •

Could extend to overseas.



New specialist applications.



Can surprise competitors.

Support core business economies. •

Could seek better supplier deals. •

sectors. •

We would be a small player.

No direct marketing experience. •

We cannot supply end-users abroad. • •

Need more sales people.



Limited budget.



No pilot or trial done yet.



Don't have a detailed plan yet.



Delivery-staff need training.

Customer service staff need training. • •

Processes and systems, etc

Management cover insufficient. •

threats •

Legislation could impact.

Environmental effects would favour larger competitors. •

Existing core business distribution risk. • •

Market demand very seasonal.



Retention of key staff critical.

Could distract from core business. • •

Possible negative publicity.

Vulnerable to reactive attack by major competitors. •

See also the free PEST analysis template and method, which measures a business according to external factors; Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It is often helpful to complete a PEST analysis prior to competing a SWOT analysis. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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See also Porter's Five Forces model.

more on the difference and relationship between PEST and SWOT PEST is useful before SWOT - not generally vice-versa - PEST definitely helps to identify SWOT factors. There is overlap between PEST and SWOT, in that similar factors would appear in each. That said, PEST and SWOT are certainly two different perspectives: PEST assesses a market, including competitors, from the standpoint of a particular proposition or a business. SWOT is an assessment of a business or a proposition, whether your own or a competitor's. Strategic planning is not a precise science - no tool is mandatory - it's a matter of pragmatic choice as to what helps best to identify and explain the issues. PEST becomes more useful and relevant the larger and more complex the business or proposition, but even for a very small local businesses a PEST analysis can still throw up one or two very significant issues that might otherwise be missed. The four quadrants in PEST vary in significance depending on the type of business, eg., social factors are more obviously relevant to consumer businesses or a B2B business close to the consumer-end of the supply chain, whereas political factors are more obviously relevant to a global munitions supplier or aerosol propellant manufacturer. All businesses benefit from a SWOT analysis, and all businesses benefit from completing a SWOT analysis of their main competitors, which interestingly can then provide some feed back into the economic aspects of the PEST analysis.

the origins of the SWOT analysis model This remarkable piece of history as to the origins of SWOT analysis was provided by Albert S Humphrey, one of the founding fathers of what we know today as SWOT analysis. I am indebted to him for sharing this fascinating contribution. Albert Humphrey died on 31 October 2005. He was one of the good guys. SWOT analysis came from the research conducted at Stanford Research Institute from 1960-1970. The background to SWOT stemmed from the need to find out why corporate planning failed. The research was funded by the fortune 500 companies to find out what could be done about this Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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failure. The Research Team were Marion Dosher, Dr Otis Benepe, Albert Humphrey, Robert Stewart, Birger Lie. It all began with the corporate planning trend, which seemed to appear first at Du Pont in 1949. By 1960 every Fortune 500 company had a 'corporate planning manager' (or equivalent) and 'associations of long range corporate planners' had sprung up in both the USA and the UK. However a unanimous opinion developed in all of these companies that corporate planning in the shape of long range planning was not working, did not pay off, and was an expensive investment in futility. It was widely held that managing change and setting realistic objectives which carry the conviction of those responsible was difficult and often resulted in questionable compromises. The fact remained, despite the corporate and long range planners, that the one and only missing link was how to get the management team agreed and committed to a comprehensive set of action programmes. To create this link, starting in 1960, Robert F Stewart at SRI in Menlo Park California lead a research team to discover what was going wrong with corporate planning, and then to find some sort of solution, or to create a system for enabling management teams agreed and committed to development work, which today we call 'managing change'. The research carried on from 1960 through 1969. 1100 companies and organizations were interviewed and a 250-item questionnaire was designed and completed by over 5,000 executives. Seven key findings lead to the conclusion that in corporations chief executive should be the chief planner and that his immediate functional directors should be the planning team. Dr Otis Benepe defined the 'Chain of Logic' which became the core of system designed to fix the link for obtaining agreement and commitment. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Values Appraise Motivation Search Select Programme Act Monitor and repeat steps 1 2 and 3

We discovered that we could not change the values of the team nor set the objectives for the team so we started as the first step by asking the appraisal question ie what's good and bad about the operation. We began the system by asking what is good and bad about the present and the future. What is good in the present is Satisfactory, good in the future is an Opportunity; bad in the present is a Fault and bad in the future is a Threat. This was called the SOFT analysis.

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When this was presented to Urick and Orr in 1964 at the Seminar in Long Range Planning at the Dolder Grand in Zurich Switzerland they changed the F to a W and called it SWOT Analysis. SWOT was then promoted in Britain by Urick and Orr as an exercise in and of itself. As such it has no benefit. What was necessary was the sorting of the issues into the programme planning categories of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Product (what are we selling?) Process (how are we selling it?) Customer (to whom are we selling it?) Distribution (how does it reach them?) Finance (what are the prices, costs and investments?) Administration (and how do we manage all this?)

The second step then becomes 'what shall the team do' about the issues in each of these categories. The planning process was then designed through trial and error and resulted finally in a 17 step process beginning with SOFT/SWOT with each issue recorded separately on a single page called a planning issue. The first prototype was tested and published in 1966 based on the work done at 'Erie Technological Corp' in Erie Pa. In 1970 the prototype was brought to the UK, under the sponsorship of W H Smith & Sons plc, and completed by 1973. The operational programme was used to merge the CWS milling and baking operations with those of J W French Ltd. The process has been used successfully ever since. By 2004, now, this system has been fully developed, and proven to cope with today's problems of setting and agreeing realistic annual objectives without depending on outside consultants or expensive staff resources.

the seven key research findings The key findings were never published because it was felt they were too controversial. This is what was found: 1) A business was divided into two parts. The base business plus the development business. This was re-discovered by Dr Peter Senge at MIT in 1998 and published in his book the Fifth Discipline (not '5th Dimension' as previously stated here - thanks J Hoffman for this correction, 28 Jan 2011). The amount of development business which become operational is equal to or greater than that business on the books within a period of 5 to 7 years. This was a major surprise and urged the need for discovering a better method for planning and managing change. 2) Dr Hal Eyring published his findings on 'Distributive Justice' and pointed out that all people measure what they get from their work and divide it by what they give to the work and this ratio is compared to others. If it is not equal then the person first re-perceives and secondly slows down if added demands are not met. (See for interest Adams Equity Theory and the Equity Theory Diagram pdf) Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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3) The introduction of a corporate planner upset the sense of fair play at senior level, making the job of the corporate planner impossible. 4) The gap between what could be done by the organisation and what was actually done was about 35%. 5) The senior man will over-supervise the area he comes from. FinanceFinance, Engineering-Engineering etc. 6) There are 3 factors which separate excellence from mediocrity: a. Overt attention to purchasing b. Short-term written down departmental plans for improvement c. Continued education of the Senior Executive 7) Some form of formal documentation is required to obtain approval for development work. In short we could not solve the problem by stopping planning.

in conclusion By sorting the SWOT issues into the 6 planning categories one can obtain a system which presents a practical way of assimilating the internal and external information about the business unit, delineating short and long term priorities, and allowing an easy way to build the management team which can achieve the objectives of profit growth. This approach captures the collective agreement and commitment of those who will ultimately have to do the work of meeting or exceeding the objectives finally set. It permits the team leader to define and develop coordinated, goal-directed actions, which underpin the overall agreed objectives between levels of the business hierarchy. Albert S Humphrey August 2004

translating SWOT issues into actions under the six categories Albert Humphrey advocated that the six categories: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Product (what are we selling?) Process (how are we selling it?) Customer (to whom are we selling it?) Distribution (how does it reach them?) Finance (what are the prices, costs and investments?) Administration (and how do we manage all this?)

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provide a framework by which SWOT issues can be developed into actions and managed using teams. This can be something of a 'leap', and so the stage warrants further explanation. Translating the SWOT issues into actions, are best sorted into (or if necessary broken down into) the six categories, because in the context of the way that business and organizations work, this makes them more quantifiable and measurable, responsible teams more accountable, and therefore the activities more manageable. The other pivotal part in the process is of course achieving the commitment from the team(s) involved, which is partly explained in the item summarising Humphrey's TAM® model and process. As far as identifying actions from SWOT issues is concerned, it all very much depends on your reasons and aims for using SWOT, and also your authority/ability to manage others, whom by implication of SWOT's breadth and depth, are likely to be involved in the agreement and delivery of actions. Depending on pretext and situation, a SWOT analysis can produce issues which very readily translate into (one of the six) category actions, or a SWOT analysis can produce issues which overlay a number of categories. Or a mixture. Whatever, SWOT essentially tells you what is good and bad about a business or a particular proposition. If it's a business, and the aim is to improve it, then work on translating: strengths (maintain, build and leverage), opportunities (prioritise and optimise), weaknesses (remedy or exit), threats (counter) into actions (each within one of the six categories) that can be agreed and owned by a team or number of teams. If the SWOT analysis is being used to assess a proposition, then it could be that the analysis shows that the proposition is too weak (especially if compared with other SWOT's for alternative propositions) to warrant further investment, in which case further action planning, other than exit, is not required. If the proposition is clearly strong (presumably you will have indicated this using other methods as well), then proceed as for a business, and translate issues into category actions with suitable ownership by team(s). This is my understanding of Albert Humphrey's theory relating to developing SWOT issues into organizational change actions and accountabilities. (I'm pleased to say that Albert kindly confirmed that this is indeed correct.) There are other ways of applying SWOT of course, depending on your circumstances and aims, for instance if concentrating on a department rather than a whole business, then it could make sense to revise the six categories to reflect the functional parts of the department, or whatever will enable the issues to be translatable into manageable, accountable and owned aims. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Here is a summary of Albert Humphrey's impressive TAM® (Team Action Management) model, developed and used to speed up the process of initiating and controlling organizational change.

free team building activities ideas (2) (1) free ideas for team exercises and activities - for team-building, training, employee motivation, learning and development, recruitment, and other group activities If you don't need the introduction - go straight to the games and activities. Here are lots of free and team building games, activities and exercises ideas for team development, employee motivation, personal devepment, ice-breakers, energisers, learning and fun. These activities extend the first section of team building games and activities on this website, which also serves as a full listing for all exercises on the other pages. The way you run group activities is crucial for their effectiveness. So please read the tips for planning and running team building activities. Also helpful are the tips on planning and running workshops. Use and adapt these group games and exercises ideas to suit your situation. These free team building activities, games and exercises are great ice breakers for training sessions, recruitment group selections, meetings, workshops, seminars, conferences, organisational development, teaching and lecturing for young people and students. Team building games and activities are useful also in serious business project meetings, where games and activities help delegates to see things differently and use different thinking styles. Games and exercises help with stimulating the brain, improving retention of ideas, and increasing fun and enjoyment. Many activities and games can be used or adapted for children's development and education, or even for kids party games. We cannot accept responsibility for any liability which arises from the use of any of these free team building exercises ideas or games - please see the disclaimer notice below. Always ensure that you have proper insurance in place for all team building games activities, and take extra Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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care when working with younger people, children and if organising children's party games. See the team building games and activities page 1, which is a full listing of the activities on both pages.

team building games - are the exercises or games appropriate? Before you decide to use any team building games with a group of people, think about whether the activities are appropriate for the team members and the situation. See the notes on checking that games or team activities are appropriate for your situation. The subjects on this website increasingly feature ideas for developing the whole person. Think beyond providing traditional work skills development. Explore everything, and show your people that you have a broader view about development - they'll have lots of ideas of their own if you let them see it's okay to think that way. Team building games are just a part of a very wide mix of learning and and development experiences that you can explore and facilitate for your people - try anything. If it helps your people to feel good and be good, then it will help your organisation be good too. See the guidelines and tips for planning and running team building activities and the free tips on running team building workshops. Ensure that team-building activities comply with equality policy and law in respect of gender, race, disability, age, etc. Notably, (because the legislation is relatively new) team-building facilitators should be familiar with the Employment Equality Age Regulations, effective 1st October 2006, (UK and Europe). For example, a demanding physical activity might be great fun for fit young men, but if one of the team members is old enough to be a grandfather then think again, because it wouldn't be fair, and it might even be unlawful. The same applies to any activities that discriminate against people on grounds of gender, race, disability, etc. Team-building games and activities have to agreeable and acceptable to team members, and the exercises have to be fair.

free team building games (2) (1) free team building games - warm-ups, quick games and exercises, ice-breakers, exercises and activities These free team building games and exercises generally last less than one hour, and can be adjusted to create longer team building activities, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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depending on the sort of team building, ice-breakers, training development activities required. Review and discussion are often useful and helpful after exercises which have raised relationship issues, or changed people's perceptions. Plan and practise all unknown aspects of the activities before using them. Logistics, facilitation and especially how you split the group into the numbers of team members per team are factors which have a big effect on how the exercises work and the experience for all. See the team building activities guidelines for tips and techniques. See also the activities and exercises on the team building ideas page 1 on this website, and the quizballs quizzes, especially the management and business quiz for aspiring managers and trainers, and anyone interested in managing people and organizations.

free games, exercises and activities (2) (1) day colours/colors exercise (individual perspectives, emotional triggers, empathy, johari window, respecting personal differences) This is a very simple quick and fascinating exercise to illustrate how people often have different views of the same thing, which is central to understanding empathy and many related concepts. The activity may be used as an icebreaker or larger discussion exercise, for groups of any size and age/seniority, subject to appropriate facilitation for your situation. Example explanation and instruction to a group: Emotions and feelings within each of us are 'triggered' in different ways. We think differently and therefore see things differently. We often do not imagine that other people may see something quite differently to how we see the 'same' thing. Management and relationships, in work and outside of work too, depend heavily on our being able to understand the other person's view, and what causes it to be different to our own. To illustrate this, and to explore how mental associations can 'colour' (USEnglish 'color') our worlds differently: 1. Close your eyes and imagine the days of the week 2. What colour is each day? 3. Write down the colour of each day

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Review and compare people's different colour associations, and - where people consciously know and are willing to share their reasons/associations - review these differences too. Note: If anyone sees all the days as the same color, or sees no colour association at all, or perhaps sees or senses a more powerful alternative association, then this is another equally worthy personal viewpoint and difference. The days of the week are a simple fixed pattern. Yet we see them in different ways. It is easy to imagine the potential for far greater differences in the way we see more complex situations - like our work, our responsibilities and our relationships, etc. Human beings will never see things in exactly the same way - this is not the aim or work or life - instead the aim should be to understand each other's views far better, so that we can minimise conflict and maximise cooperation. Useful reference materials: Johari Window Empathy Transactional Analysis The Psychological Contract NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Erikson's Life Stage Theory Generational Differences Personality Theories and Models

psychological contract 'iceberg' exercises (the psychological contract, work/life alignment, organizational development, motivational understanding, employer/employee relationships, leadership) The Psychological Contract is increasingly significant in organizational management and development. The Psychological Contract 'Iceberg' model diagram assists explanation and exploration of the subject. Ask group members to create their own version of the Psychological Contract 'Iceberg' diagram - individually, in pairs or teams, and review/discuss as appropriate for your situation.

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Versions of the 'Iceberg' may be mapped according to different perspectives, for example - how people see it currently; how they'd prefer it to be; from a personal, departmental or workforce standpoints. The exercise can be used as a basis for all sorts of learning and development activities, for example relating to: •

motivation and attitude



work/life balance and wellbeing



organizational structure and purpose



alignment of people with organizational aims



work/management/leadership relationships with employees

mutual awareness (employee/employer) and organizational transparency - and especially in identifying hidden or confused perceptions which may be obstacles to improving employee/employer relationships •

Refer to the Psychological Contract theory and within it whatever related learning concepts might be helpful to your situation. Johari Window is particularly relevant.

lifestyle acronyms game (social demographics, creativity and invention, lifestyle types and choices, compact communications, generational theory) A simple exercise to encourage thinking about demographics, generational ideas, language, and communications. For groups of any size. Split into pairs, threes, or work teams and review as appropriate, or run the activity as a quick ice-breaker. Instruction to the group: Acronyms are powerful in communicating a lot of information very succinctly, and also in illustrating this principle, which relates to generational issues in management and life. We have probably all heard of amusing lifestyle aconyms such as DINKY (Double Income, No Kids Yet); GOFER (Genial Old Farts Enjoying Retirement); ORCHID (One Recent Child, Heavily In Debt); and the more formal term NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). What acronym can you devise (or suggest one you know already) that is particularly appropriate for modern times? Where groups devise their own acronyms you may optionally award a point for each letter in the acronym and bonus points for: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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true acronyms (which either seem like a word or make a real word, using the first letter from each word in the full expression) •

a meaningful 'bacronym' (in which the word spelled by the acronym relates cleverly to the expression) •

You can alternatively/additionally ask the group to devise new portmanteau words, which by itself would enable a quicker activity. Review/discuss results as appropriate for your situation. Optional equipment - dictionary and thesaurus.

guessing game (ice-breaker, assumptions, multiple intelligences, hidden abilities, risks in judgment ) This is a simple and adaptable exercise which can be used to explore various themes. You could run a version on a table-top, or use it to get people moving around quite a lot. As facilitator you need just a tape measure and a pad of small sticky notes. You can change the scale targets (in scale or metric/imperial) according to your situation. You can treat the activities as a competition by awarding scores, and/or run the activity for teams, which adds an interesting extra perspective. Here is the basis of the exercise. Adapt it and use different exercises to suit your own situations. Instruction to group: This is an experiment to explore the brain's capability to estimate scale. Your guesses will be measured and results given. The exercises involve simple guessing, but provide a basis for understanding more about how reliably (or unreliably) our brains can estimate scale, etc., without measuring tools or precise references. This relates to risks of making assumptions, and the merits/risks/surprises associated with guessing, short-cuts, working from habit/instinct, etc. Sometimes guessing and instinctive assumptions are effective; often they are not. (Additionally/separately the activity prompts appreciation and exploration of multiple intelligences theory - specifically how some people are naturally better at some of these tasks than others.) Using sticky notes (to be personalised for identification) mark the following: •

a distance of ten feet on the floor



a height of three feet on a wall



a distance of one metre on a table

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Note: As facilitator it will take you a while to measure and note scores for lots of guesses, so think how best to do this. If using the exercise as a quick icebreaker, or if time is tight, especially if group is large, think carefully about how many measuring exercises to include. Just one is fine for an icebreaker. With big groups and treams issue people with tape measures and have them score each other. Or see the examples for simplifying the activities below. Review the activities as appropriate for your purposes, points for example: •

What surprises did we find?



What clues are there to people's different abilities?



What differences are there in guessing different types of scale?



What creative methods were used in 'measuring'.



How does the brain guess something?

In work/life how do we decide when to guess and when to measure, and are these the best criteria? • •

How can we make our guessing more reliable?

(If exercises are performed in teams) are team guesses more reliable than individual guesses? •

What merit is there in the 'Wisdom of Crowds' in guessing and making intuitive judgments? •

Depending on time and how you want to use the activities, other materials and measuring devices can be used for different exercises, for example: an angle of 30 degrees (ask people to draw two straight lines on a sheet of paper, like two sides of a triangle - facilitator needs a protractor for measuring) •

a square sheet of paper equal to one square metre (newspaper and sticky tape - a square metre is for some people a surprisingly large area - each side must measure one metre) •

or, for more adventure, which might appeal to children, explore volume and weight with water and sand, etc, for which basically you only need the water, sand, some plastic foodbags or balloons, and a measuring jug (and some cleaning-up cloths...) •

For a smaller table-top activity you can give target distances in centimetres and/or inches rather than feet and metres, and use a ruler of greater precision, (and be prepared for some innuendo among certain groups). To simplify and speed up the activities, and to reduce preparations and measuring, have people guess weight/volume/height/distance/etc of a pre-prepared example (for each exercise), rather than have each person produce their own, for example:

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Show the group a loosely coiled length of string, on a table or the floor, and invite estimates as to the length of the string. •

For an exercise requiring people to guess a large quantity of units, you can show a bucket of marbles, or simply cut or tear a sheet of paper into lots of pieces (unseen to the group members, too many to count at a glance) and scatter them on a table. •

Show the group a page of printed words and invite guesses as to how many words. •

Show the group a pile of coins and ask them to estimate the total value. •

Team guessing enables additional exploration, for example linkage to ideas about the 'Wisdom of Crowds', and also benefits/disadvantages of working in isolation versus working in cooperation, especially where intuitive or subjective judgment is required. Adapt the exercises depending on how active and logistically involved you wish the activities to be. Reference materials, for example: Multiple Intelligences and MI test - correlations between natural strengths and task expertise VAK learning styles test - a simple three-way view of learning/thinking style Kolb learning styles theory - different thinking styles suit different tasks Conscious Competence learning model - how well do we know and trust our own judgment Johari Window - specifically knowing our own and others strengths/weaknesses

early bird/second mouse exercise (icebreaker, creative thinking, presentation skills, debating, analysis, teamworking, group decision dynamics) This is a simple exercise for groups between 8 and 30 people, and involves many different learning elements: understanding strategies, teamwork, presentations, argument, debate, analysis and group decisionmaking. The activity is based on the funny one-liner (often attributed to comedian Stephen Wright), which is deeper than first seems: "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Split the group into two teams. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Nominate one team to be 'early bird' and the other team to be 'second mouse' (or allow the group to decide this themselves, which can be an interesting mini-exercise in its own right). Give the teams 5-10 minutes, each to develop a 60-second presentation (or longer for bigger groups and more learning depth) as to why their strategy ('early bird' or 'second mouse') is best for business (or work or life, depending on your situation). Encourage the teams to make use of the knowledge and abilities and views of all team members in creating their presentations. After the two presentations chair a 5-10 minute debate between the teams of the question: "Early bird or second mouse: Which is the most effective strategy for business (or work or life)?" (Optionally, ask the teams if in light of the presentations they would prefer to frame the question in a different way. People might now see a more constructive approach to the question. Again this can be a useful miniexercise in its own right.) After the debate hold a 'free' vote to see what the combined group now believes about the question. Allow but do not encourage abstentions ('don't knows'). Encourage group members to vote as individuals, putting their team loyalty to one side. There are many possible learning areas to review after this exercise, depending on your situation and development purposes, for example: different strategies for different situations - adaptability versus consistency •

different strategies for different types of people and personalities or organizational cultures •

assembling an argument/case/presentation in a team against a tight deadline • •

presenting a concise and convincing argument/presentation

constructive debate and discussion - using evidence, examples, structure, passion, etc •

(with regard to the optional re-framing of the debate question) the significance of question wording when a group is asked a question, and the potential to distort unhelpfully or focus helpfully on the main issue •



how groups consider and decide

responsibility of those in authority to assist and enable clear understanding, debate and decision-making •

dilemma of personal views versus 'team' views ('real life' examples: parliamentary voting - keeping to the party-line, or personal convictions/local constituency; also management dilemma in implementing corporate policy with which a manager may personally •

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disagree - what are the important reference points in making these judgements? •

and other aspects applicable or arising.

Some reference materials: Problem-solving and decision-making Presentations Selling Marketing Personality Clean Language - an interesting type of neutral enabling questioning, used in therapy

touchy feely exercises (sensory perception, self-awareness, non-verbal communications, body language, relationships in teamwork and personal support) Here are some ideas and exercises to explore human physical contact and touching; the types, benefits, risks, associated feelings and reactions, in relation to self others. Touching people is understandably a neglected aspect of relationships and communications, especially in management and education relating to sexual harassment and child protection. Nevertheless touch is a highly significant part of body language, and crucial to human interaction. We therefore benefit by improving our understanding of touch and using it appropriately, rather than avoiding it altogether. A 2010 New York Times article by Benedict Carey reported some interesting findings on human touching: Research suggests that we may be able to detect at least eight different emotions using only a simple touching contact from person to person (M Hertenstein, DePauw University, Indiana US). •

Separate studies found touch and physical contact among teams to be linked to success in sport (Kraus, Huang and Keltner, Berkeley US). •

And the amount of physical contact between romantic or married couples when simply sitting side by side has found to correlate with relationship satisfaction (C Oveis, Harvard US), which while not hugely surprising, is perhaps often overlooked or forgotten with the passing of years. •

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Many and various other studies have reported the positive powers of human touch. For example see Leo Buscaglia on hugging and love. As with physical exercise, human touch triggers the release of chemicals in the brain. These are basic primitive human responses, not easily understood, and even now only beginning to be researched and analysed in reliable scientific terms. In time we will know what it all means and how it all works. Meanwhile a little practical experimentation can be helpful and enlightening. Here are some ideas: Based on the Hertenstien research referenced above, ask people to work in pairs or threes and with eyes closed, to experiment in giving their reactions to different types of touches - to the hand, by another person's hand or fingers. Be careful and seek the entire group's agreement before encouraging/allowing any more adventurous touching than this. Hand touching (including handshakes) alone should be ample to demonstrate emotions such as confidence, aggression, timidity, reassurance, curiosity, etc., and any other reactions generated. A third person can act as a toucher and also to observe facial expressions and give external reaction. •

Hugging: Subject to the group's agreement, get people hugging each other and noting their reactions and feelings. As Buscaglia discovered, and many since then, hugging is potentially powerful medicine. Explore implications and issues. •

Group-hug: Try it and see how it makes people feel. As a variation split the group into two teams. Ask one team to group-hug. Then give both teams an identical task, competing against each other (for example sorting a pack of cards, or making ten big newspaper balls and throwing them into a bin at the other end of the room). Ask the second team if they want a group-hug before starting. Maybe ask the first team if they want another group-hug. Maybe allow group-hugging at will (if the group likes it go with it..) After the task, discuss relevance of hugging and physical contact to teamworking and bonding, enthusiasm, etc. Were the biggest huggers the most motivated? Is a hugging team generally a winning team? •

Discuss with the group: what are people's own views and feelings about what sorts of touching are acceptable, unacceptable, positive, reassuring, supportive, etc., according to different situations. Is a gentle pat on the back always okay? What cultural differences exist? What are the real practical no-go areas? Shoulders? Arms? Hands? What's the difference between a light touch and a caress? Different rules for different genders? How do observers (other team members, customers, etc) view touching when they see it? How do we improve our use of this sort of body-language at work, mindful of the risks? Etc., etc. •



See also the Silent Touch exercise on Teambuilding Games page 1.

Reference materials, for example: Body language Johari Window Love and compassion at work Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Maslow - (basic needs - love, belongingness, etc) Stress management Tuckman's theory - (from a team-bonding view) And your own policy material on harassment and child protection as appropriate.

the outdoors tea-break exercise (different perspectives, context, relativity, perception vs 'reality', and how most things change according to situation) The nature of anything - especially feelings, relationships and communications - changes according to situation and context. This is vitally important in understanding ourselves, others, and the way that human systems operate, in which subjective views are commonly more dominant than objective facts, figures and evidence. Perceptions among people, especially given group effects, has a huge effect on systemic and organizational behaviour. Here is a simple and pleasing demonstration of how something can change when experienced in a new context, particularly when the warmer spring season approaches (in the northern hemisphere): When next facilitating or teaching a group, take your tea/coffee break outside, and ask people if their tea/coffee tastes different, compared to how it normally tastes indoors. The demonstration is clearest if first people pour the drink and take a few sips indoors, and then walk outside, so as to compare the indoor and outdoor taste. Strangely the taste is quite different, sometimes remarkably different. This is probably due to the fresh air being smelled and tasted along with the drink. I am open to better explanations. The effect also works with cold drinks. And picnic lunches, if you've time. In some situations the exercise will work better by not warning people of the reason for going outside, other than to get some fresh air and a legstretch, both of which are good for groups anyway. Taste is not the only characteristic altered, for example, in cold weather the drink cools far quicker. Small and insignificant though it is, the drink experience and memory is altered by the different outside environment. The indoor cup of tea or coffee is perceived to be different because of the outdoor context and situation. Everything in life - especially concerning human attitude - alters according to context. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The analogy can be used in many subjects which benefit from interpreting differences and implications within relative positions, for example: •

Self-awareness and mutual awareness - see Johari Window



Group dynamics - see Tuckman's group theory



Different learning and thinking styles - see VAK and Kolb

Levels of competence and personal development - see Conscious Competence and Kirkpatrick • •

Age and generational issues - see Erikson's Life-Stage Theory



Systems of people and organizations - see Cybernetics



Personality - see personality styles models

Therapy and counselling - see Emergent Knowledge and Clean Language •

Management and motivation - see Maslow and Adams Equity Theory and Action Centred Leadership •

Very many theories and models for learning, management, development, etc., contain some sort of relative framework. Understanding relativity is not merely for theoretical explanation - it's a real practical tool for interpreting and acting with more appropriate meaning - rather than a 'one size fits all' mentality - especially concerning the widely different perceptions among people in different situations.

newspaper story interpretation exercise (understanding and applying motivational theories, or other principles and models of management) For groups of any size, subject to splitting into working teams and managing the review of the team work. The exercise will take 5-10 minutes plus whatever review your think is appropriate for your situation. Equipment: Some daily national or local newspapers. Enough for every person to have at least 2-3 sheets. Issue the newspapers to the group or team(s). Instruction to team(s): Each person must find a news story in the newspaper to which he/she can apply a motivational theory, by way of interpreting the story and being able to explain the story in terms of the chosen theory. Example theories, which can be illustrated in news stories: •

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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McGregor's XY Theory



Erikson's Life Stage Theory



Mehrabian's communications theory



Johari Window model of mutual awareness



Conscious Competence learning model



Herzberg's Motivators and Hygiene Factors



Ethics and Social Responsibility



Cybernetics

You may of course direct group members to any management/motivational theories or models that fit your purposes. You may nominate specific models, or seek examples of models from the group, then write these on pieces of paper, fold, and have people pick them 'blind'. To focus people's attention on key points in their analysis, and to ensure that reviews are kept compact and fast-moving, you can instruct people to present their interpretations in a very concise verbal summary, optionally using a flip chart or white-board, of no more than 30 seconds. Allow discussion and debate of matters arising as appropriate, according to the needs and timings of your session. To save review time - ask people to work in pairs, or in teams - requiring each pair or team to present an interpretation of only one story, being the most powerful example that the pair or team can find in the time allowed. If the group has access to computers, internet and group display this enables the use of online news websites rather than newspapers.

the three describers exercise (introductions, icebreaker, johari mutual awareness, team dynamics, team development) This is a long explanation for actually a very simple activity. The game is for groups of up to twenty people, or more provided they know each other. Equipment and set up: •

Split the group into equal teams of three or four people.

Teams of five or six are okay although will require firm time control. Teams of seven or more are not recommended. •

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Issue each person a pen/pencil and four note-sized pieces of paper, or four sticky-notes - 3-5 inches wide. •

Each team should be sat around their own table, or around ends/corners of a big table, or alternatively on the floor, or around a wall-space if using sticky notes. •

Instruction to both teams (to each person): Write your own name on one of the notes (in plain handwriting which cannot be identified to you - or ask someone else to do this if you have a distinctive writing style). •

Write clearly three words - one on each note - which strongly describe or represent you. Do this hidden from others, and again in a plain style of handwriting which will not identify you as the writer. •

Move all describer notes and name notes to the centre of your team's table (or wall-space) and mix them up. •

(Optionally before this, turn/fold the notes face down. There is benefit where people do not reveal their descriptions to their own team, so that discovery and surprise as to who 'owns' the describers is experienced by everyone and not just the guessing team.) •

Ask the teams to move to the/an other team's table/wall-space so that they are working with another team's describers. •

The task for each team is to re-arrange the describers in sets of three beneath the appropriate name note, correctly allocating the describers to the 'owners'. •

The winning team is the one which achieves the most correctly allocated describers. •

N.B. Where more than two teams play the game, the initial review stage (when correct answers are given) becomes complex logistically and so teams should be instructed to show the correct answers on a separate sheet of paper when returning to their tables/walls, rather than disturbing the original suggested answers. This enables everyone in the group, (if warranted - notably for groups which work together), to review all the guesses and the correct answers - which works best using sticky notes and wall-space. •

Additional guidance notes: Where groups do not already know each other ask them to make brief personal introductions to the group before the exercise. Do not give warning of the exercise to come - but do ask for people to introduce themselves with a little more information than merely name and job. •

When explaining the exercise - describing words ('describers') can be personality characteristics, such as determined, diplomatic, reserved, confident, friendly, etc., and/or more symbolic words such as music, football, mountain, adventure, family, etc., which represent a very significant personal characteristic. •

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Some people will relate readily to the idea of using symbolic words; others will prefer to use only words which conventionally describe a personality. •

Emphasise that people should try to use words which genuinely and honestly represent themselves. •

The facilitator reserves the right to deduct points from any team where a word is considered to be too obscure and not strongly representative of the person, and to award bonus points where a particularly difficult describing word is correctly allocated. •

Where several teams play the game, the initial review of correct/incorrect answers - as teams move from one table to another needs to be planned and controlled appropriately. Ensure teams are instructed not to move the describers arranged by the guessing team, instead to show the correct answers on a separate sheet of paper, which can be used to manage the awarding of points. •

Where it is not possible to form equal team sizes (for example with groups of 7, 11, 13, 17, etc) the facilitator is advised to to rule beforehand (that either): team totals will be adjusted pro-rate to take account of the imbalance; or that since there is both advantage and disadvantage in having a larger/smaller team, no points adjustment is warranted. The important thing is to decide beforehand rather than be caught out mid-exercise without a firm rule. •

It is perfectly possible to play this game using ordinary pens/pencils and paper (rather than thicker marker pens), although visibility is reduced and so is less effective, especially for larger groups. •

Review and reference materials: The Johari Window Model is central to mutual awareness. Explore what alternative words people would use to describe each other? What words surprised us and why? What can we say about the differences between: how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we imagine others see us? What obstacles tend to exist when we don't know each other? (And when other aspects of mutual awareness are not good?) Why is it that lack of mutual awareness tends to cause difficulties, whereas good mutual awareness tends to produce benefits? How does good mutual awareness in a team enable greater delegation of responsibility, and generally better and easier performance? Relate these issues to team development models, such as Tannenbaum and Schmidt and Tuckman's Forming Storming model. Consider awareness of team strengths in the context of models such as VAK and Multiple Intelligence. Discuss mutual awareness from a team leadership view, for example Adair's Action-Centred Leadership model. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Many other views of personality and differences in people can be explored via Personality Models and Theory. N. B. Where the exercise is used as more of an ice-breaker for a group which has only recently been introduced to each other, a separate learning illustration is how much (or little) we seek, observe and absorb about new people we meet, and whether we can be more attentive at such times, since this reflects on perceived levels of empathy, and can influence people's self-esteem and confidence, and readiness to cooperate, etc.

quick plan exercise (new year planning, aims, planning, change) A quick icebreaker and kick-start activity with a helpful underlying purpose. For groups of any size. Introduction/scene-setting: The beginning of a new year prompts many of us to consider new aims and plans, or to renew a commitment towards a change or improvement of some sort. Commitments tend to succeed where there is a plan, especially for aims which contain steps leading towards the final result. Without a plan, little can change. This process can help: 1. Think of a commitment or change you want to make. 2. (Write it down) - describe it as a clear, realistic and measurable outcome. 3. Work backwards, identifying the steps necessary for achieving it, back to the starting point: i.e., now. 4. Attach timescales and resources as necessary. You now have a simple plan. Take it away and refine it as necessary. Useful reference materials: goal planner process and templates project management/planning tools and process multiple intelligences theory and learning/thinking styles - including free self-assessment tests SMART principles within task delegation - the rules apply to 'delegating' a task to yourself just as to delegating to another person. Agree review/feedback expectations with the group before the activity, as appropriate for your situation. Note that review/feedback are not always necessary, especially if the activity seeks to help people to think about personal priorities and plans which they may prefer to keep private. In this situation it is particularly helpful to clarify that people do not need Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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to reveal or discuss their aims with the group unless they want to, since for some people this enables more relaxed and creative thinking.

party games bundle (party games for grown-ups and kids) Here is a selection of quick easy fun party games, including some already on these team games webpages. The Map Game - simple fun game for pairs or teams of threes to draw a map of the world from memory. Very funny. Who Am I? Game - simple and easy to make party game. The Smartie Hunt Game - teams make animal noises to direct their leader to collect hidden sweets. PIT - it's easy to make your own cards for this noisy trading game. Helium Stick Game - very strange effect game - play it in teams for parties. Charades - easy, amusing, popular party game. Baking Foil Animals - quick, funny, easy - all you need is a roll of baking foil. You will find other ideas on these pages which can be adapted for party games. Other quick party game ideas (for parties, not for work situations): The After Eight Game - (as featured on a TV advert) the winner is the first person who can move an After Eight mint chocolate from forehead into mouth using only head/face movements. Key-String Game - split the group into teams of at least five people in each and arrange boy-girl-boy-girl-etc. Issue each with a heavy key or spanner similar cold metal tool, tied to about fifty feet of string. The winning team is the first to thread the string through the whole team, passing underneath each team-member's clothing from top to bottom. Orange Game - split the team into teams of at least five people in each and arrange boy-girl-boy-girl-etc. Issue each with an orange (or potato or other similar sized fruit or vegetable). The winning team is the first to pass the orange from person to person and back to the beginning by holding the orange between chin and chest (no hands). Dropping the orange incurs a two-person-stage penalty (move it back two people in the chain). Egg Game - for outside (or indoors if you live in a mansion with a banqueting hall at least fifty feet long). Play in pairs. Give each pair a raw egg (still unbroken in its shell). Pairs face each other in two lines, five paces apart. The egg must be thrown and caught twice between each pair. Move the lines three paces further apart. Again, throw and catch Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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twice. Etc, etc. The winners are the last with their egg intact. (If you are disturbed by the wastefulness of this game don't play it.) Upside-down Drinking Game - not recommended after a heavy meal or drinking session. Can be played in teams of three - one upside-down (standing on head) being supported by a team-mate, being fed a half-pint of a suitable drink from a suitable receptacle. Drinking straws are optional at the discretion of the party games organiser. The winning team is the first to consume the drink. For additional challenge make the drink a pint and require each team member to take a turn in each of the three positions - holding, feeding and drinking. Be careful when planning games to ensure that they are appropriate for your situation. I accept no liability for any untoward issues arising.

breakfast project planning exercise (project planning, task planning, preparation, structure and organisation, scheduling, budgeting) The activity is a simple introduction to project planning, and helps develop awareness of structure, scheduling, etc., and the basic process of organising and coordinating time, activities and resources, and optionally finances. For groups of any size and any age. Split the group into pairs or teams appropriate for your situation. The task is to produce a simple project plan for making a cooked breakfast. Issue pens, rulers and paper, or arrange other presentation media as you wish. As the facilitator you may substitute or offer alternative tasks. Cooking a breakfast is merely an example; see other examples below. Specify a task/tasks which the group will find interesting, amusing, enjoyable, etc. For variation you can issue each pair/team with a different task. You can optionally allow pairs/teams to choose a different task of their own liking, provided it is workable for the activity (i.e., it's reasonably simple, requires a schedule, and contains various inter-dependent activities and resources). Using simple non-work-related tasks such as cooking a breakfast enables good focus on the project management method, and an enjoyable quick activity, rather than using real work issues, which can become overly detailed, distracting and/or tedious. Introduce the group to a project management tool(s) as appropriate, for example a Gantt chart, critical path analysis flow chart, or a 'fishbone' diagram. Examples are on the project management page.

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To extend the activity you can add the requirement that teams must indicate where training or preparation needs are most likely required for any of the process elements. Similar instruction can be given to indicate or comment on obvious needs for knowledge, experience, skills, which can be related to VAK learning styles and/or Bloom's Taxonomy perspectives. Additionally you can introduce a financial element, so that plans must show a breakdown of costs, and a structure to monitor the budget for the project by each separate item. Note that this financial aspect can be a big extra challenge for some learners and is best excluded if the main development need is to learn the basic structure and process of building a project plan. Examples of other tasks you can use for this activity: •

Cook a roast dinner.



Change the wheel on a car.



Host a children's birthday party.



Teach someone to swim.



Grow tomatoes.



Set up a fish aquarium.



Create a personal page on a social networking website.

You can use any task that group members basically understand and relate to, and importantly which breaks down into a sequence of inter-dependent activities and/or parts whose timing and coordination are necessary to produce a successful result. Project plans can be presented, discussed and reviewed according to your own situation and timings. See project management for lots of supporting materials. Brainstorming is a useful way to begin any planning task. Delegation is a useful reference area because in many real work-based projects involve delegating responsibilities to others, for which clarity and effectiveness of plans are vital. Other potentially useful reference materials, depending on the expertise and interests of the group are: Business process modelling/improvement Quality management Six Sigma Balanced Scorecard

sheet of paper step-through game (icebreaker, teambuilding, problemProject Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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solving, togetherness, kids' scissorskills) A novel paper-cutting icebreaker exercise, played in pairs, or threes, or as a group. The activity can be used as a bigger group problem-solving and team-working task. Equipment: Scissors and sheets of paper, A4 size or similar. Instruction to group: You have five minutes to devise a way of cutting the sheet of paper so that it creates a ring - without any breaks or joins - large enough to fit over both people, and then to step through the ring (in your pair/three/as a group). A cutting solution and diagram are below, and also explained in smaller scale in the business card trick. Depending on your purposes, situation and group, you can change this exercise in various ways, for example: Issue the cutting diagram to all participants. This should ensure that the activity produces at least one successful demonstration of the task. •

Do not issue the cutting diagram, but instead demonstrate the solution, and instruct the participants to remember it. This tests people's concentration and retention. •

Issue the cutting diagram half-way through the exercise when (as is likely) participants fail to discover a cutting solution - which highlights the importance of having instructions and knowledge for challenging tasks which might initially seem quite easy. •

Ask people to do the exercise in teams of three rather than pairs, which increases the brain-power available, but also the potential for confusion, and also the size of the paper ring necessary to fit over three people rather than two. •

Issue sticky tape, allow joins to be made, and add a two-minute time penalty for each join in the ring. •

Change the task so that the group creates a paper ring large enough to fit over the entire group - allowing for only one stickytape join per pair of delegates. This opens the possibility for many different cutting solutions, because each pair is effectively then required merely to convert their sheet into a long length of paper rather than an unbroken ring. •

Activity notes: As facilitator it is recommended you practice the suggested cutting solution so that if necessary you can demonstrate it (before or afterwards, depending on your adaptation) to the group. Beware of using this activity in any situation that could cause embarrassment to overweight people or where delegates would be uncomfortable with the inter-personal proximity required. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The qualification of putting the ring of paper over a given number of people is that while standing (necessarily very close) together they are able to pass the paper ring over their heads and down to the floor, enabling them to step over and thereby through the ring without breaking it. Here is the cutting diagram, assuming that the sheet of paper is first folded. This is one solution to the exercise. If you know another please send it. Fold the sheet of paper in half, and cut it through both sides of the paper, as shown in the diagram, in the following sequence: Cut 8-12 slits (8 are adequate - the diagram shows 12), from the folded edge up to about 1-2cm of the open edge, each slit being about 1.5-2cm apart. Cut a slit between each of the above slits, from the open edge to about 1-2cm of the folded edge. Cut along the folded edge, but not the ends marked with blue circles. You should then be able to open the paper into a ring which comfortably fits over two people. Cutting more slits increases the size of the ring, as would using a larger sheet of paper. Slit dimensions can be increased for larger sheets. A further adaptation of the exercise is to issue one large sheet of paper (for example from a broadsheet newspaper) to a group of people (up to ten or even twenty people) and task them to work out how to cut (or tear, for added difficulty) the paper into a seamless ring which will fit over the entire group. This creates lots of problem-solving activity in the planning stage, and much physicality and togetherness when the ring is being passed over the group. You can avoid inactivity for group members during Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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the cutting/tearing by instructing that all group members must take a turn at cutting/tearing. Team members can also plan the step-through strategy and other logistical aspects of the exercise. You will be surprised how large a ring can be created. An A4 sheet easily makes a ring circumference of 3m. A big newspaper sheet easily produces a ring circumference of 7m.

truth and lies introductions game (icebreaker, johari mutual awareness, interaction, amusement and fun) Inspired by a sketch on Armstrong and Miller's TV comedy show in October 2009, this is an amusing variation of the usual around-the-table introductions at the start of courses and other gatherings. Instruction to group: Introduce yourself in turn by stating your name (and role if relevant) plus: •

one true statement about yourself, and



one false statement about yourself

so as to make it difficult for the group to determine which is the true fact and which is the lie. You have 30 seconds to think of your statements, after which (according to the order decided by the facilitator) each person makes their statements, pausing after each truth and lie for the group to decide which is which. While producing some amusement, the exercise can reveal surprising and impressive information about people (hidden talents and claims to fame, etc). The activity can therefore be useful for team-building from a Johari awareness viewpoint, and it also stimulates creative thinking and group interaction. The exercise also requires group analysis and decision-making in deciding which are the true statements and which are the lies. Gardner's Multiple Intelligences model is a useful reference if using the exercise to illustrate the nature of individual natural or hidden capabilities. (This exercise is adapted from the Armstrong and Miller comedy sketch. Adapt it further to suit your own purposes.)

egg balance game (concentration, positive thinking, discovery, breaking down barriers, wonderment and fascination)

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For groups of any size. Each person must have an egg and a table-top surface. According to myth, due to planetary gravitational effects or similar nonsense, it is possible to stand an egg on its end during the vernal (Spring) equinox, which is on or close to 21 March, when night and day are equal. In fact it is possible with a little patience and a steady hand to balance an egg on its end on a flat level surface, any time. The big end is much easier. Here's one on my kitchen table. This interesting feat of manual dexterity and myth-busting provides the basis for an enjoyable and fascinating group exercise. The temptation to pun is almost irresistible. A raw egg is perhaps easier to balance than a hard-boiled egg because the weight sinks to the bottom and creates a sort of 'googly-man' effect. The science is not especially clear about this and if there are any professors of egg balancing out there I'd welcome your input. You can use this activity in various ways, to demonstrate or emphasise patience, discovery, positive thinking, questioning assumptions, breaking barriers, stress avoidance; and for team contests. Incidentally you can tell the difference between a hard-boiled egg and a raw egg by spinning the egg. A raw egg spins slowly and speeds up, and continues spinning after you stop it; a hard egg spins faster and stays stopped. These differences are due to the independent motion of the liquid in the raw egg, whereas a hard egg behaves as a single mass. An additional point of interest is that a few grains of salt enables a very quick balancing 'trick', which is of course cheating. Facilitators are recommended to practice the task before asking others to try it. The balancing is easier on slightly textured surfaces and a lot more difficult on very smooth surfaces. Eggs with slightly pimply shells are much easier to balance than eggs with very smooth shells. Some eggs are easier to balance than others so have a few spare for any that simply will not balance. A mop and bucket is recommended if using this exercise with children. (Thanks to N Mehdi for the suggestion.)

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fancy dress exercise (ice-breaker, selfexpression, mutual awareness) A very quick and easy ice-breaker, requiring no equipment or preparation. The game can be used to make introductions a little more interesting than usual, or as a separate ice-breaker activity. For groups of any size. Split large groups into teams small enough to review answers among themselves. Instruction to group: You are invited to a fancy dress party which requires that your costume says something about you. • •

What costume would you wear and why?



Take two minutes to think of your answer.

Review: Simply by asking people to explain their answers briefly to the group/team. The exercise can be varied and expanded for groups in which people know each other: Ask people to write their answers on a slip of paper (in handwriting that cannot easily be identified), and to fold the slips and put them in the middle of the table. •

In turn group members must each pick a slip of paper from the pile and read the answer aloud. •

On hearing all the answers, group members must then try to match the answers to the people present. •

drawing game (teamworking, change, communications, creativity, icebreakers) A quick flexible exercise for groups of all sizes and ages. It's based on a simple drawing game we have all played as children. Equipment required: Pens/pencils and paper. Split the group into teams of three. Instruction to group: One person in each team starts by drawing a shape or outline. The drawing is then passed to the next team member who must add to the drawing. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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And so on. Time spent by each person in turn on the drawing is limited to 5 seconds. (The facilitator can shout 'change' when appropriate.) No discussion is permitted during the drawing, nor any agreement before the drawing of what the team will draw. The drawing must be completed in one minute. Optional review (short version of exercise), for example: •

Did the team draw anything recognizable?



How easy was the understanding between team members?



How did team members work differently on this task?



What was the effect of time pressure?

Was there a natural tendency to draw supportively and harmoniously, or were there more conflicting ideas? •

Continue without the above review for a longer activity, involving scoring and a winning team: After one minute of drawing each team must agree privately a description (maximum three words) of what they have drawn, and pass this to the facilitator, to be referred to later. Teams must identify their drawing with a team name. The drawings are then passed around the group for each team to guess and write on the reverse of other team's drawings what they believe the drawing is or represents. Teams are not permitted to look at the reverse of the drawings (at other descriptions guessed) until they have decided on a description. Drawings are awarded two points for each exact correct description achieved, or a point for a partly correct description. Teams are awarded two points for each correct description guessed, or a point for a partly correct description guessed. (Drawings/teams can be scored by the teams themselves, which is much quicker than the facilitator doing the scoring.) If you score the exercise, ensure teams are instructed to put their team name on their drawing, and alongside their guessed descriptions on the reverse of all other drawings. Final review, examples: •

What factors enabled teams to produce recognizable drawings?



What factors led to drawings being unrecognizable?

Are 'drawing' skills especially helpful in this exercise, or are other capabilities more significant? •

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What does this exercise demonstrate about mutual understanding and how to achieve it? •

What obstacles to understanding and teamwork does this activity illustrate? •

Variations: Teams can be told to agree what they are to draw at the beginning of the exercise. Deduct ten points for teams drawing any of the following 'obvious' subjects: cat, house, car, man, woman, spacecraft, etc. Award bonus points for teams drawing anything highly obscure and yet recognizable, especially if resulting from no prior discussion. When the facilitator calls out 'team change', one person and the drawing must move to a different team, (which can be likened to certain changes that happen in real organizational work teams). It produces complete chaos of course.

group connections activity (icebreaker, mutual awareness, introductions, networking, team-building) Split groups into teams of between three and six people. No equipment or preparation is required. Instruction to group/teams: You have five minutes to discover an interesting, surprising and separate connection you share with each person in your team. (A different connection with each person, not a single connection that every team member shares.) 'Interesting and surprising' does not include working for the same company, living in the same town or country or having the same colour hair. Try to find a connection or something in common that surprises both of you. The purpose of the exercise is to ensure that each person of the team ask some questions and gives some answers about themselves and all other team members, and so gets to know each other better. Discussions can be in pairs or threes. The team can decide how best to enable each person to speak to every other team member in the time allowed. This requires more care in larger teams. Review: No review is necessary if the purpose is merely to enable quick introductions. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Group review of individual connections is unnecessary although particularly interesting connections can be volunteered and highlighted as examples if people are keen to do so. More general review aspects include for example, (optional depending on your own situation and wider aims for the group): •

What sort of questions helped discover most information?

How does mutual awareness (knowing each other better) help teamwork, cooperation, communications, etc? •

What normally prevents people from getting to know each other better? •

You will think of many other review points depending on the situation. Larger teams need more time to ensure everyone learns something new and ideally establishes an interesting connection with each other team member. Examples of questions people can ask each other, if they need prompting: •

What is your passion in life?



Where would you most like to visit/travel?



What would you change if you could?



What music/food/weather do you most enjoy?



What do you like best: words, numbers, pictures or sounds?



What is your most under-used strength?

Younger people might be happier with questions about less deep subjects, which is fine. Guide the group as you consider appropriate. Some related reference materials: Johari Window Multiple Intelligences Personality types and models

paper bowls game (icebreaker, competition, energizer, teamwork, tactics) For groups of six to thirty people. Play as a team game in pairs, threes, fours or fives, which keeps everyone involved all the time, and introduces teamwork and tactics. The game is essentially team bowls (played like beach bowls or green bowls) using balls of newspaper.

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Scoring is one point for each ball closest to the 'jack' ball. If a team gets say three or four of its balls closer than the balls of any other team then three or four points would be scored accordingly. The potential to score high - notably for big groups split into big teams - means a winning team can emerge surprisingly late, which sustains full involvement of all players. Equipment: •

A floor or corridor giving at least 5'x15' playing area.



A sheet of newspaper for each player.

A different coloured roll of electricians insulating tape for each team (to differentiate their balls from other teams). • •

Tape measure for the facilitator.

The larger the floor area then the more energetic the game will tend to be. The game can also be played outside provided there is no strong wind. (For a more messy game outside for kids, supply a bucket of water and instruct that the balls should be wet..) Instruction: The winner is the player/team who rolls or throws their ball(s) to stop nearest the 'jack' (a smaller ball, suitably different, rolled by the facilitator or a contestant to the far end of the playing area). Decide order of play, which should be a player from each team in turn. Variations/rules: Play a specified number of 'ends' (rounds), totalling the points to produce the eventual overall winning team. •

Or play 'ends' until a team reaches say five points. Or more points for a longer game. (Decide a points target mindful of total maximum score per round per team - for example teams of five can potentially score five points in one round.) •

A player may roll or throw his/her ball at another player's/team's ball to dislodge it or achieve a position nearer the jack. •

You'll need a clearly understood rule in the event of the jack being hit out of the playing area, if this can happen. (For example replace the jack to its starting position, which should therefore be marked by the facilitator; or mark the position at which the jack left the playing area as the target.) •

If you are running this as a reasonably big activity, offer a trial game first for players to practise, develop tactics, and to clarify rules. •

In any event, you can offer players the chance to practise rolling their balls a few times before the start of the game (they'll probably do this anyway..). •

The game is very adaptable. Consider and decide your own rules and scoring for your own situation.

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If playing the game with individuals (for example in a small group of five), allow players two balls each. This makes the game more interesting for individuals, in which the order of throwing can be reversed for the second ball, making it fairer for all, assuming playing only one 'end'. Or play big 'marbles' instead - best on a square playing area - in which players eliminate other players by rolling their ball to hit another player's balls. Players take turns to roll their balls. The winner is the last player remaining whose ball has not been hit by another ball. Players have to decide how close to risk leaving their balls to other balls, so it becomes quite a tactical exercise. Simplest rule here is to eliminate only the first ball hit with each roll, not rebounds. See also the bin toss game, and newspaper towers, for other newspaper games ideas. Review points, optional, chiefly for team play, for example: Would you use different tactics, knowing now how the game is played? • •

Was the teamwork good or could it have been better, if so how?

Did the construction (of the balls) affect the quality of play/performance? • •

How competitive did the exercise feel? Why?



What advantages arise from playing in a team?



How would you change/develop the game to improve it?

life highlights game (ice-breaker, introductions, life priorities, selfawareness, johari awareness, motivation and personality) This is a quick adaptable exercise for small groups, or for large groups if split into self-facilitating teams, or alternatively pairs. It's also a longer discussion game for pubs, dinner-parties, etc., especially in couples.. No equipment is required. Instruction to group: Take a minute to consider - What thirty seconds of your life would you most want to re-live, if you only had thirty seconds left? For the purposes of the exercise participants can choose several different life experiences, provided the total time is no more than thirty seconds. Review (various options depending on your situation): Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Ask people to keep their thoughts private - and then consider the review points below. •

Or ask people to explain to the group briefly their chosen thirty seconds and why. •

Or - if review time is limited or if it suits your purposes better - ask people to review/discuss in pairs •

Or if working with a large group arrange the group into small selfleading/facilitating teams. •

Review points (examples): What do our chosen highlights tell us about the type of person we are - what we love most in life, and what sort of things we should pursue to be happy and fulfilled? •

How does your current life and likely outcomes compare with your chosen past life highlights? •

Are you working towards or away from what really makes you happy and fulfilled? If away from, how might you regain and redirect your focus? •

Do your chosen highlights provide clues for passions and talents which you are currently under-utilizing or neglecting? • •

Did your highlights come by planning or accident?



How significant is money in enabling life's best times?

What do our best moments tell us about making the most of what time we have? •

Variations: Exclude sex from highlights if there is a risk that it will unhelpfully distract, embarrass or be too dominant. Shorten and concentrate the exercise by reducing the highlights time period from thirty to ten seconds, or lengthen and deepen the exercise by increasing the time period to ten minutes or an hour. Note: To make the exercise more dynamic and forward-looking you can encourage people to consider especially life highlights which can be repeated or extended in some way. (Childbirth is for many people a highlight which is not likely to be repeatable, although this can of course prompt thoughts and discussions about the importance of family compared to other life issues.) Useful reference models: Johari Window (self/mutual awareness) Maslow (motivation and Hierarchy of Needs) Herzberg, Adams, and Personality Theory Passion to Profit (career/new business start-up process/template) Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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This website accepts no liability for any marital or romantic strife arising if you play this game socially in couples, especially under the influence of drink or other inhibition-reducing substance. (Thanks H)

coin logo ice-breaker (ice-breaker, creativity, self-expression, johari awareness) Here's a really quick exercise, ideal for ice-breakers - 5-10 minutes - for groups any age or size. Equipment: Lots of coins, in case participants need extra. (At last a use for all the shrapnel in your piggy bank..) Instruction to group: Take all the coins out of your pockets/purses and put them on the table in front of you. (Lend coins to participants who have none or very few.) You have one minute to make a personal logo - representing yourself from the coins. Variations: Large groups can be spilt into teams (of 3-6 people). Combine team coins. Produce a single team logo, themed according to the situation. Optionally ask teams to guess the meaning of other teams logos, before the explanations. Allow other pocket/purse/handbag items to be included in the logos, for example pens, phones, diaries, etc. Ask the whole group to combine all coins and produce a logo for the organization/group/department, etc. Split the group into two. Half leave the room while remaining half make their personal coin logos. Half return to room and try to match logos to people. Repeat the process enabling the guessers to make, and the makers to guess. Review: Ask participants to explain their logos to the group, or if pressed for time and for large groups - split the group and have the logos explained among teams of threes. If running the exercise in teams - review the discussions and feelings leading to the design of the logo, and the team theme if appropriate. To enlarge the exercise and offer material about self-and mutual awareness see the Johari Window model. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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See the other coin exercises on this page, for example: take-away game tactical team shove-ha'penny moneygram activity See the money slang and history page for lots of interesting facts about coins and money.

coded team communications game (nonverbal communications, communications systems, body language, team understanding, creativity) This game can be played by one group, or between two or more teams competitively. The activity is more dynamic if played in competitive teams, minimum three players per team, ideally 5-10 per team. This game can be played by very large groups, in teams, for example at conferences. The exercise involves devising and using a simple coded non-verbal (unspoken) communications system. The game may be played just once as a quick activity or ice-breaker, or in several rounds, optionally enabling the group/teams to review and refine their coding systems, at the discretion of the facilitator. This is a very flexible game concept, and can be adapted in many ways to suit your situation and purposes. These instructions are for competitive teams playing the game. Adapt it accordingly for a single group. Equipment: A pen/pencil and paper for each team member. Instruction to teams: Devise a secret coded (non-spoken, non-written) communication system for your team which enables a very simple piece of information a single digit number between 0-9 - to be passed throughout the whole group/team - person to person ideally - so that everyone knows the number. •

The winning team is the first to successfully convey the number to all team members. (If playing as a single group then the task is simply to successfully communicate the number throughout the group.) •

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The number must be conveyed using non-verbal and secret signals it cannot be spoken, mouthed, written, signalled by holding up a number of fingers, or 'tapped' using fingers or feet, etc. •

Facial expressions and eye contact are likely to be significant in non-verbal code systems developed, although teams will devise other methods, which is part of the fun. •

Whether to allow or mention touching - for example secret handsqueezing, which teams might think to try - is at the discretion of the facilitator. •

The secret code aspect is important if the game is played competitively and teams are given the same number to convey, or awarded bonus points for identifying an opposing an team's number. •

When receiving the number each player must privately record the number on a piece of paper, as proof of successful communication. Alternatively to avoid risk of cheating or accidentally revealing numbers, instruct people to write down the number after all teams have completed the round. •

The team leader must raise his/her hand to signal to the facilitator when group/team members have received the number correctly. This potentially requires another team coded signal - to confirm successful understanding - which is a matter for the teams to decide. •



No speaking is allowed while the game is in progress.

Teams can be given between 5-10 minutes to devise and test their codes. Large teams may require longer. •

The facilitator begins each round of the game by showing the number (a single digit between 0-9) to the team leaders. •

The team leaders then take their seats or starting positions and await the facilitator's signal to start the game, at which the number must be communicated to all team members - using the non-verbal secret code - and ideally person to person (which introduces greater risk of errors and is a sterner test of the code system devised, and also of teamworking). •

(At facilitator's discretion) teams may stand, sit around the same table, or on separate tables, although separate tables makes cheating less easy to detect. •

Standing and mingling makes the activity more dynamic and energising, and increases the need for competing teams to devise a clever code to avoid it being 'cracked' or interpreted by members of competing teams. •

Variations to the game: A way to enforce the conveying of the instruction person-to-person is to have the teams stand in a line, so that each person sees the conveyed signal individually, then turns about-face to convey it down the line to the next person. Such an arrangement increases the need for teams to consider having a signal for confirming to the leader that all members have correctly received the number. •

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(At facilitator's discretion) teams may or may not make written notes of their coding system (so that each person has a code key). The facilitator can decide whether using a code key, or working purely from memory, will be most enjoyable/beneficial. Allowing written code keys enables more complex codes to be developed, which is appropriate for bigger exercises, whereas not allowing written code keys encourages quicker simpler codes and is more appropriate for a quick game or icebreaker. Alternatively the facilitator may choose not to mention the possibility of teams making written code keys, and leave it open for teams to use the option or not. •

Where the game is played between competing teams, the facilitator can choose to give a different number to each team (rather than require teams to communicate the same number). This offers the option to award bonus points for a team which manages to identify the number of an opposing team. •

Review points: Isn't it amazing how many signals can be conveyed without spoken or written words?.. •

The section on body language provides useful background theory about non-verbal communications. •

It's one thing to devise a communications system or set of communications rules - it's quite another challenge to ensure everyone understands it and uses it properly. •

Vital parts of communications systems/rules work best when people can remember them, without having to refer to complicated instructions. •

Complex communications systems/rules are often very good in theory, but difficult to apply in practice because they entail an additional dimension - represented in this game by the code key equating to a reference or instruction manual, which in real work situations people often fail to use, understand, keep updated, etc. •

Written instructions and reference guides are obviously important for quality management and training, etc., and for the operation of all complex/vital functions, but the fundamental rules of communications (and other critical organisational activities) are best kept as simple, intuitive and memorable as possible, so that core performance is not hindered or made unnecessarily complicated. •

In terms of this exercise, conveying the communication is only half the communications process - the other half is checking the communication has been received and correctly understood. •

In terms of wider organisational communications other subsequent steps are required, notably ensuring that the communication is agreed and acted upon, which involves management areas such as: motivation (within which models such as Adams' Equity Theory, and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are helpful); delegation, especially follow up; and project management, within which reporting and monitoring are vital. •

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tubes strings balls game (teamwork, planning, creativity, icebreaker) For groups of four people or more, best with six people or more. Teams of more than ten become chaotic (which is okay if that's what you are seeking to demonstrate). Equipment:

Solution example: This exercise is subject to a lot of variation, including the solutions that people devise. If you are a facilitator trying to imagine how it works, this might help..



At least three strings need to be connected to the top (open end) or near the top of the transporter tube, which keeps the tube upright and hanging from the connected strings being pulled tight by team members, and enables the tube potentially to be suspended and moved anywhere by and between the stringholders. Given that people cannot move their positions once the ball is loaded into the transporter tube, the method of 'playing out' string, as well as pulling it, is crucial. Strings that are too short become a problem. At least one team member needs a string connected to the bottom of the tube to enable the tipping. If just one string is connected to the bottom of the tube then the tube can be tipped from just one direction, which means the team needs to have good control over the positioning of the tube. Having more than one string connected to the bottom of the tube (from more than one position) increases the options for the direction of the tipping, but the downside is that (beyond a certain point, depending on the coordination capability of the team) the difficulty tends to increase with more people having more strings connected. Any bottom-connected string that crosses with a topconnected string will encounter a problem when it comes to tipping, because logically the bottomconnected string must get higher than the top-connected strings, hence the example solution which follows.



At its simplest, imagine the receptor tube (the target into which the ball must be tipped) being in the centre of a clock face.



A ball of string or very thin rope.



Scissors.

Two empty cardboard tubes of Pringles, or similar cardboard tubes (for example postal tubes for rolled papers). •

Some marbles or golf-balls or other small balls which fit into the tubes. (The exercise works fine with one ball; more and different balls increase the interest.) •

The group must work together to achieve the task: Place one tube in the centre of the room or table, open-end upwards. This is the 'receptor' tube. •

Optionally (facilitator decision) secure the receptor tube to the table or floor using sticky putty (e.g., BluTack) - don't put sticky putty on carpet.. •

Using the string and the other cardboard tube (one end open, other end closed - called the 'transporter' tube), transport a specified number of balls - one at a time - into the receptor tube standing at the centre of room/table. •

Each group member must hold at least one length of string connected to the transporter tube. •

No group member may handle a ball within six feet (two metres) of the receptor tube. No group member may move from

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their position once a ball has been placed into the transporter tube and the transporting commenced. (Strings need to be tied to the transporter tube not only to move the tube, but also to tip it, in order to deposit the ball into the receptor. The facilitator does not need to tell the team(s) this unless failing to realise this becomes counter-productive.) •

Variations and preparation ideas: Large groups can be split into competing teams - each with their own equipment and floor-space/table. •

Optionally give groups planning/preparation time. •

Introduce penalties for dropped balls, dislodging/upsetting the receptor tube, team members moving illegally, etc. •

Introduce more awkward items for transporting, e.g., coins, pens, chocolate snack bars, etc. •

At its simplest the game is to transport just one ball. Increase balls and complexity as you wish. •

Given the variation and interesting dynamics within this exercise you are especially recommended to test it first with a group so you can understand how it works and the sort of controls and guidance or freedoms that you would like to apply for your own situation. It's a very flexible concept; adapt it to suit your needs.

Three team members are positioned at, say, 12, 4 and 8 o'clock, each of whom has a string connected to the top of the transporter tube, and a fourth team member, say, at 6 o'clock, has a string connected to the bottom of the transporter tube to enable the tipping. The ball is placed in the transporter tube, say by the team member at 12 o'clock. At this time no one can move from their position. The people at 4 and 8 take up the slack while 12 string is kept tight enabling the tube to be lifted. While 4 and 8 pull the tube towards the clockface centre, 12 plays out, keeping a tight string. When the tube is in the correct position for tipping, 6 can pull, while the other three strings stay tight to keep the tube's position, or adjust as necessary. As you can perhaps now imagine, putting six people into a team, compared to four, tends to increase the difficulty because of the risks of top/bottom strings crossing, the complexity of gauging who needs to pull and who needs to play out or slacken off, and the general confusion resulting from a bigger team making more inputs. You will see various creative solutions, often by bigger teams, involving for example: • the construction of a sort of cable-car solution, in which the tube can be pulled, suspended from strings acting as 'cables' threaded through the top of the tube • teams which discover that they can pass strings/control from one team member to another (which you may choose to allow or disallow disallowing makes the task more difficult)

paper and straws game variation A quicker simpler version of this game can be played using drinking straws, a ball of rolled-up paper and a (very thin) dinner-table place mat: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Team members sit around the table.

Put the place-mat in the centre of the table. Alternatively stick a suitably sized/shaped piece of paper flat to the table to act as the target area. Alternatively mark a circular target on the table surface optionally with concentric scoring rings - using chalk or coloured sticky tape (e.g., electrician's insulating tape). •

The task is for team members to use the drinking straws (one each) to blow the ball of paper onto the place-mat, and optionally (facilitator decision) additional paper balls afterwards (very difficult without dislodging any balls already in place). •

Facilitator decides how many paper balls are involved in the game, and where the balls are placed to begin (not crucial, provided some way from target). More balls = more complexity/difficulty/time. •

No team member may be within one yard (one metre) of the paper ball. (You might need to reduce this distance for weak blowers and big balls..) •

Split large groups into competing teams with their own equipment and table. •

Optionally require all team members to remain in their seated positions once the blowing commences (this makes the task more difficult than enabling team members to move around the table). •

A very flat target is required so that 'overblow' happens, which tends then to involve all team members in the blowing, especially if static around the table. (If the target mat is too thick it will stop the ball rolling over it). •

Warning: Blowing can cause dizziness. Ensure all players are advised not to blow to the point of hyper-ventilation and collapse; it's just a game. •

Review points (especially for string/tubes game version): •

Did we work as a team?



Leadership - did it happen, what was the style and the reactions?



Planning - did it happen? Was it required?



Did the activity energise us? How and why?

(If competing teams were involved) What were the competitive effects? •

Lots more review points will arise, and you will think of your own depending on your own situation and purposes. • •

the one question ice-breaker exercise (questioning skills, empathy, selfProject Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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awareness, needs analysis, cooperation and partnerships) A quick simple ice-breaker or bigger exercise related to questioning, and working together, here is the instruction, for groups of any size and any ages: If you could ask just one question to discover a person's/provider's suitability for .......X....... (insert situation, see examples below), what would your question be? Examples of situations to use for the activity and insert in the instruction: •

supplying you a vital component/service



baby-sitting or child-minding



marriage to you



running a business together



arranging your charity bungee jump/parachute leap/sky-dive



being your personal assistant/bodyguard



being your boss/employer/leader



being the leader of your country/company

You can devise your own situations besides these to suit your purposes. There are countless other possible situations. Issue one situation for the whole group, or allocate a different situation to each team member or pair/team to work on. (Increasing the variety of situations allocated will tend to increase the time of the activity and especially its review). Ask people to work individually or in small teams to devise their questions. Ask people to work in pairs or threes to test and reflect and refine (and maybe role-play) the questions. Give a time limit for questions preparation, and a separate time limit for testing/role-playing. There are no absolute 'right' or best questions - there are many effective questions, depending on the situation and people's needs, but there are certainly questions which do not work well and which should be avoided. Review informally via discussion: Are there advantages in preparing important questions, rather than relying on instinct or invention at the time? •

What else happens while we ask questions, aside from the words between us? (Explore body language and non-verbal communications.) •

What sort of questions are least effective and should be avoided? (Try to identify characteristics of ineffective questions.) •

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What sort of questions are most effective? (Try to identify characteristics of effective questions.) • •

How do we feel when being asked effective/ineffective questions?

To what extent and how should questions be tailored for the particular listener, and for the questioner's needs? •

What crucial questions do we ask (at work/in life) which we could prepare more carefully? •

Refer to relevant topics, for example: •

Body Language



Empathy



NLP



Questioning - (widely relevant after initial selling emphasis)



Listening



Clean Language

Buying Facilitation - (widely relevant aside from obvious selling application) •

N.B. This exercise does not suggest that we can or should use merely one question to identify solutions for anything, especially crucial partnerships. The purpose of the exercise is to focus attention on quality, relevance, style and preparation of questioning, according to the situation and people involved. Questioning is powerful and helpful when prepared well, but wastes everyone's time and creates problems when it is not. The activity can of course be expanded by allowing/instructing people to devise more than one question, or potentially to devise an entire questioning strategy for a given situation. Whatever you do in the review, ensure people understand the nature and purposes of open and closed questions, which is explained in the Questioning section of the sales training page.

classification game - (ice-breaker, introductions, discrimination, mutual perspectives) This is a simple exercise requiring no equipment or materials preparation, for groups of any size and age. Split large groups into teams of six to ten people.

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The activity is quickest when teams are smallest. Minimum team size is four. Instruction to group/teams: We all tend to classify and stereotype each other - 'pigeon-holing' is a common expression for this. Usually this sort of classification is subjective, unhelpfully judgemental, and sometimes of course it's unfair to the point of being illegal discrimination. Discuss/introduce yourselves in your team(s). Discover a way to divide or classify yourselves evenly into two/three/four subgroups within your team(s) by using criteria (ways of classifiying/describing people) which contain no negative or prejudicial or good/bad discriminatory judgements. Optional briefing: Examples of criteria to evenly divide/classify the team according to •

late-night people and early-morning people, or



what sort of weather we like, or



what sort of food we like, or



what we like to do for fun, or



our fears, or



what we would change in the world..

If as a facilitator you use these examples feel free to instruct the group to think of their own ideas, and not merely to use one of the examples. More complexity and/or specific focus on a subject can be suggested, for example: •

what we know/imagine our personality profiles to be, or



our own body language, or



our strongest capability or learning style

The purpose of the exercise is to encourage people to get to know each other better, to collectively consider the nature of all individuals within the team, and to think of each other in ways that are quite different to how people tend usually to classify others. Review: Share and discuss the team'(s') decisions, making notes where helpful on a flipchart (or equivalent hi-tech system). •

How easy was it to find out and think about each other in different ways? •

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How does this thinking differ from potentially negative or subjective judgements? • •

What sort of classifications can be negative?

What makes a classification positive/helpful rather than negative/prejudicial? •

As a facilitator/teacher, you can approach the exercise as a quick icebreaker, or a more complex longer-lasting learning activity. You can stipulate how many subgroups should be classified within the team(s), and how many different classifications are required (one 50:50 split using a single classification is simplest and quickest), or you can offer wider more open flexibility, and see what the teams develop for themselves. The Johari Window is a useful reference model, as is (up to a point) employment background on discrimination, minorities, bullying, etc. Approach the activity with a broader view than reminding people about employment law and discrimination: The way we understand and regard each other is a big subject, offering far more helpful outcomes than merely applying a legal code.

face game (body language, non-verbal communications, ice-breakers) For groups of four to ten people. Split larger groups into teams with leaders who can facilitate the exercise. Equipment required: paper and pens/pencils. Time: 5-20 minutes depending on group size and review discussion. Introduction: Facial expressions are an important part of communications. There are many different emotions and corresponding facial expressions. Some are easier to interpret than others. This exercise helps illustrate different expressions and how some are more obvious and easy to 'read' than others. Task: Each team member must think of one emotion (or two or three emotions, for a longer exercise), which they should then write separately on a slip of paper. Fold the slips of paper and put it into a cup or glass in the centre of the table, to enable 'blind' selection. Each person must then in turn take one of the folded slips and show the emotion on their face to the team, who must guess the emotion. Review points, for example: •

How significant are facial expressions in conveying feelings?

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In what situations are facial expressions especially crucial to communications and understanding? • •

What emotions are easiest to 'read' and why?



What emotions are less easy to interpret?



What facial expressions are easiest to misread or fake?



What effect do facial expressions have on us?



What emotions are probably universal across all cultures?



To what extent are we aware of our own facial expressions?

To what extent do we 'read' facial expressions and respond to them unconsciously? •

And importantly - how can we manage our communications methods given the significance facial expressions in certain types of communications? •

See Body Language and Mehrabian's communications theory for background.

picture pieces game (teamwork, departmental/individual inputs towards a common goal) This exercise is a simple team-working idea, adaptable for any group size, and any ages. Duration is half an hour, or longer if you increase the complexity for big groups, and/or increase the size of the work. Choose a well known picture (or diagram or cartoon) - ideally one wellknown and full of detail. Cut the picture (retaining a copy) into as many pieces - ideally equal squares or oblongs - as as there are participants for the exercise. Issue each person a piece of the picture. (The exercise is more challenging and fascinating if the group does not see the whole original picture until the end of the activity, although this question is entirely a matter for local judgement.) Instruct people to create a copy of their piece of the picture exactly (for example) ten times bigger, according to length and width dimension. Size increase (ten-times, five-times, twenty-times, etc) is up to you - the more then the longer the activity takes, and the bigger the final result. You should clarify what 'ten-times bigger, according to length and width dimension' actually means, or different interpretations of this could spoil the result (which is a lesson in itself about consistency of planning and communications, etc). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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(Multiplying width and length dimensions by ten produces an area which is actually a hundred-times bigger in area. This seems a lot, but it's very reasonable if seeking to produce a good sized result to stick onto a wall. For example, if individual pieces are say 2 inches square, i.e., 2 x 2 = 4 square inches, the instruction of ten-times width and length would produce individual pieces of 20 x 20 = 400 square inches, which when all assembled can produce quite a big wall-display. Technically 'ten times bigger' refers to area, but this isn't very easy to imagine - it's easier to plan and explain the exercise in terms of width and length dimensions.) Issue pencils/drawing/colouring equipment and paper (big enough sheets) and make rulers available for measuring. Give a time limit (5-20 minutes depending on complexity of the work and the magnification level you specify). When all the enlargements are completed ask people to assemble them into a giant copy of the original picture - on the table, or onto a wall using sticky putty, (be careful not to use a wall whose surface could be damaged when removing the sticky putty..). Review points: How would the group have responded to and met the task if the task leader simply asked the whole group to 'Create a copy of the picture ten-times original size'? •

If the assembled big version is not right in any area, where did the task fail and for what reasons? •

If anyone has embellished their particular piece (which almost certainly will happen) how does this augment or threaten the final result, and what does this teach us about local interpretation and freedom? Does it depend on the task and the aims (and customer needs) as to whether the result is improved or weakened? (Probably) •

The activity demonstrates divisionalized 'departmental' working each person (represents a team or department) working on their own part (representing specialisms), all of which contribute to an overall group aim and result. What are the main factors determining success for working like this? •

Does each individual person (which represents a team or department) necessarily need to know what other people are doing, in order for the overall task to be achieved? (Probably not in detail.) •

Does each individual person (which represents a team or department) necessarily need to know what the end aim is in order to achieve the overall task? (Not necessarily, but arguably it's helpful if they do - it depends very much on how well the individual activities are managed and how accurately they represent the part of the whole.) The review of this point can reflect on whether the original whole picture was shown at the start of the activity or not. (Often in work situations communicating the overall aim or vision is difficult or not viable, especially in large complex projects - so how should we approach this challenge and what are its implications, especially if a vision or aim changes half-way through a project?) •

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What level of mutual understanding and checking (while the task is in progress) is useful for this sort of 'departmental' or divisionalized working? Is there a fixed rule for checking in progress, or more likely, does it depend on the task and the performance of it? •

Here are some suggestions of well-known pictures to use for this exercise: Sunflowers (Van Gogh) Venus and Mars (Botticelli) The Hay Wain (Constable) Bathers at Asnières (Seurat) London Underground Tube Map The Bayeux Tapestry (lots of work there..) These are just examples - choose a picture (or diagram or map, etc) that appeals to your group, and which when cut into pieces gives sufficient detail to work on. Other ideas for pictures: geographical maps and weather maps, biological diagrams, well-known posters and cartoons. You can adapt the exercise by altering the 'ten-times widthand length dimensions' enlargement factor, for instance five-times would make the task easier and quicker; twenty or a hundred-times would make it more difficult and longer, (and also more impactful, if you have time and space, and enough paper drawing materials...) The task can be made more complex for large groups by: splitting the group into teams, so that teams work on individual pieces (of suitably large size), •

either clearly instructing, or enabling the opportunity for, each team to cut its piece of the picture into smaller pieces, giving one smaller piece to each team member •

The resulting assembled whole picture will indicate how well each team communicated and managed its own divisionalization of the task.

the takeaway game (planning, analysis, number skills, ice-breaker, energiser for the brain) Based on an old numbers game this activity can be adapted in many different ways for groups and teams of all sizes. It takes a minute to explain and set up, and as little as a minute to play. You can easily expand the game, add complexity, and turn it into a much longer planning and tactics exercise. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The basic game (for two teams, or people in pairs, playing each other): Put fifteen coins (or cards, or keys, or anything) between the contestants. Explain the rules: 1. Toss a coin to decide who goes first. 2. Each side may remove one or two or three coins in turn. 3. The winner is the person/team removing the last coin(s). More complex game variations: •

Start with a greater number of coins.



Allow more than three coins to be removed.

Allow coins to be put back (with a limit because otherwise the game might never end). •

Play the game between three or more teams or individuals/pairs (for example playing a number of rounds with several pairs/threes against each other will lead to tactical collaboration between teams, so as to prevent a strong leader emerging, which can be fascinating). •

Play the game according to coin values, stating maximum value that can be removed/put back each turn. •

Play the game with playing cards, using the values of the cards (pictures counting as 10, or Jack=11, Queen=12, King=13, and Ace =1), and stating a number of points which can be removed at each turn. Again, additional challenge can be added by allowing a limited number of cards/points to be put back. •

With increased complexity the activity becomes increasingly suitable for teams and allowing a strategic planning stage. Mathematically-minded people will realise soon that the simpler versions of the takeaway game can be planned and controlled quite easily by the team/person playing first. Complex versions of the game are far less easy to plan and control. Increase the fun element fun by playing the game with (readily identifiable and returnable) items from the pockets/handbags/cases of the players (for example keys, pens, phones, etc). Different items can be given different values, for example, key=1, pen=2, phone=3. The game obviously allows mathematically-minded people (who are often quiet and understated in the background) to demonstrate their value to the group, which can be an additional benefit of the exercise. Points to review, for example: What is the method to ensure victory when playing the basic 15 coin game? (Leave your opponent with four coins, achieved by leaving them with eight at the previous turn, and twelve at the previous turn, meaning that the player starting must first remove three coins.) •

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What does this teach us about achieving successful results?

What does this teach us about the importance of planning and strategy? •

How could the method be adapted for greater numbers of coins (to start with, and the maximum removable each time)? •

What does this teach us about being able to transfer/adapt a winning formula from one situation to the next? •

At what point does a task become too complex to predict a guaranteed result? (This is illustrated in the game by adding complexities such as more participants, different item values, and option to put back as well as removal.) •

What can we do to maximise our chances of achieving a successful result in complex unpredictable circumstances? (In the game and in work/business/life generally?) •

the obvious team building game for snowy weather (teambuilding, exercise, fun) Obviously, given snowy weather, take everyone outside and build a snowman. Or several of them. Or snowperson/snowpeople if you work in a particularly politically correct organisation. Have the team brainstorm the rules and aims of the exercise, mindful of group size, teams, and proximity of the activity to the managing director's office window. N.B. Throwing snowballs can be harmful to your teammates' health and to the managing director's office windows. You have been warned. If the MD or other senior executive sees what is happening and asks you to explain the purpose of the activity, here are some suggested answers (delete as appropriate): 1. Given all the training budget cut-backs it would have been daft not to make use of so much free material. 2. It was a positive thinking exercise and motivational analogy to illustrate how even in seemingly negative circumstances (credit crunch, recession, snow, etc) it's perfectly possible to innovate new things and to be constructive in some way. 3. Having fun and building things is very good for the soul, and great for team morale. We are all now thoroughly energised and will never again see the snow as a problem, only an opportunity to be special and different compared to everyone else who sits on their backsides complaining. 3. Being out in the cold for so long meant that we could turn down the heating when we all came back in to save further costs. 4. It was an experiment in stress management, and it worked for us. Go try it yourself. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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5. It was cultural conditioning exercise in preparation for a forthcoming sales visit to Moscow. 6. When we find out who built the ten foot snow-willy the culprit will be given a serious ticking off (that's not a sexual pun in case you are wondering).

WARNING: SNOW IS COLD, FREEZING IN FACT, AND CAN BE WET TOO. PARTICIPANTS ARE THEREFORE AT RISK OF BECOMING COLD AND WET. FOR THIS REASON PARTICIPANTS SHOULD BE SENSIBLY EQUIPPED FOR THIS ACTIVITY, FOR EXAMPLE, COATS, HATS, SCARVES, GLOVES AND BOOTS ARE A GOOD IDEA. THE BUILDING OF SNOWMEN/OTHER SNOW STRUCTURES IN DRIFTING SNOW OF A DEPTH EXCEEDING THE HEIGHT OF THE SHORTEST PARTICIPANT IS NOT RECOMMENDED. Businessballs accepts no liability for damages arising from inappropriate use of this activity. If in doubt, make some newspaper towers instead. Indoors.

project team exercise (graduate recruitment assessment and selection, internal promotion assessment centres, business development and project teams) This exercise can be used for any/all of the following: •

graduate recruitment assessment days



internal promotion assessment centres



development of business and commercial management skills



identifying and developing new business initiatives

Activities and exercises for group selection days and assessment centres can be designed to stretch the participants more if the task is issued several days before the day of the assessment. This allows more preparation and team-working among the candidates, which in turn enables a fuller deeper test and demonstration of people's capabilities. The exercise can be used if issued on the day of the assessment, but obviously due allowance must be made for the resulting time pressure in meeting such a big challenge. Accordingly the exercise is suited to training courses lasting two days or more when delegates can work evenings in their team on the activities. Here broadly is the exercise, adapt it to suit your situation: Teamwork Project

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The project team must research, identify, develop and present a proposition for a new product/service/business to fit into the employer's organisation. To include: 1. Research the market, brainstorm options, and decide on a new product/service/business. 2. Conceptualise new product/service/business. 3. Design and specify key attributes of new business: •

description and executive summary



philosophy/ethos



specification and scale



financials



team/people



marketing/positioning/branding/advertising/selling



production/distribution



quality/safety/legislative/environmental



SWOT and/or PEST analysis, or similar

4. Create presentation (to sell proposition to the 'board of directors' or an investor - a part which can be played by the recruitment team). 5. Deliver presentation (to include activities and experiences of the project group). 6. An additional angle would be to enable/encourage teamworking on the project between team members prior to the assessment day, via a facebook group (or suitable VLE - virtual learning environment - or employer intranet forum). N.B. If using the exercise for external recruitment and teamworking among candidates prior to the assessment day you would need to ensure data-protection/permission is satisfied regarding the releasing of candidates' names and contact details to each other.

stress exercise (stress demonstration, icebreaker, teambuilding) This is a helpful and non-threatening way to show the effects of stress and confusion, especially in teams, and by implication the effects of stress on productivity, organisational performance and healthy working. Ideally for teams of eight to ten people. Split larger groups into teams of 8-10 and establish facilitation and review as appropriate, appointing and briefing facilitators since each team requires facilitation.

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You will need for each team about five balls of various sizes, compositions, weights, shapes, etc., depending on team size and the team's ballhandling skills. Five balls is probably adequate for most teams of eight people. Using very different balls makes the exercise work better (for example a tennis ball, a beach ball, a rugby ball, a ping-pong ball, etc - use your imagination). Form each team into a circle. The aim is to throw and catch the ball (each ball represents a work task/objective) between team members - any order or direction. The ball must be kept moving (the facilitator can equate this to the processing of a task within the work situation). Allow the team to develop their own methods/pattern for throwing the ball between members if they find this helpful. A dropped ball equates to a failed task (which the facilitator can equate to a specific relevant objective). A held ball equates to a delayed task. When the team can satisfactorily manage the first ball, the facilitator should then introduce a second ball to be thrown and caught while the first ball remains in circulation. Equate the second ball to an additional task, or a typical work complication, like a holiday, or an extra customer requirement. Continue to introduce more balls one by one - not too fast - each time equating them to work situations and complications. Obviously before not too long the team is unable to manage all the balls, and chaos ensues. Avoid creating chaos too early by introducing too many balls too soon. Allow the sense of increasing stress and confusion to build, according to the ball-handling capability of the team. Introducing balls too quickly will not allow the stress to build. Points for review: Relate the experiences of the game to the work situation, especially effective team working and communications. • •

What does too much pressure and failure feel like?



Are these feelings the same for everyone?

Do we know how others are feeling and can best deal with stress and confusion, unless we ask? •

How can we anticipate, manage and avoid these effects at work? (Not easy, especially if the pressure is from above, which often it will be - nevertheless understanding the causes and effects of stressful confusion is the first step to resolving them). •

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What helps us handle these pressures and what makes things worse? •

Relate this learning to work situations, and then to possible improvements and changes. •

Use relevant reference materials if helpful, for example: Stress theory and stress management Johari Window model (mutual and self-awareness) Assertiveness (especially for junior people managing stress caused from above) (Thanks to Karen Wright of wrightminded.com for the contribution of this excellent exercise.)

learning and thinking styles exercise (learning styles, brain type preferences, self-awareness, johari awareness) This is a quick simple activity for groups of any size. For large groups spilt into teams of about six people and organise the appointment of team leaders for self-facilitation and review. Questions form the basis of this exercise: If you could have only one sense (sight, touch, hearing, taste, etc), what would you want it to be? • •

If you had to lose one sense, what would it be?



Rank your senses, in order of importance to you.

You will perhaps think of other questions on similar lines. Use one or a number of questions to prompt discussion and thereafter a review of the issues. The purpose of the game is to encourage people to think about how they use their brains and their thinking/working/learning style preferences and strengths. Most people (unsurprisingly) tend to favour their sense of sight. You will find plenty of variation aside from this however, and generally the activity and discussion provides a quick and interesting way to explore personal strengths and preferences without the aid of a testing instrument. The 'five senses' are typically regarded as: •

sight



hearing



touch



taste

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smell

Intuition is a way of explaining the 'sixth sense'. Touch, smell and taste are all closely connected with the 'touchy-feely' (Kinesthetic in VAK) aspect within the VAK model, the other two aspects being sight (Visual in VAK) and hearing (Audio in VAK). Your group might have additional ideas about other 'senses' which you can include in the considerations, for example speech, movement, etc. If so then the exercise relates more strongly to Multiple Intelligences theory. Review angles: What does this teach us about the different ways we prefer to work/learn/communicate/think/solve problems/conduct relationships/etc? •



What surprises you about other people's preferences?



What surprises you about your own preferences?

If you augment the exercise with the VAK test and/or MI test (see VAK and Multiple Intelligence below) do the test results confirm or conflict with your sense preferences? •

Reference models and information: •

VAK learning styles - and VAK test



Kolb's theory

Multiple Intelligence theory - and various versions of MI test, including young people's version • •

Personality theory



Benziger brain-type theory



Johari Window model



Wikipedia senses page

alternative christmas and new year exercise (new year ice-breaker, creative thinking, social values and true life priorities) An exercise for any group size. Arrange appropriate timings and presentation or discussion of the ideas arising. Here's the question. You can adapt various exercises from it to suit your situation and aims: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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"Imagine you are leader of the western world. Everyone would prefer Christmas and New Year celebrations to more suitably address the needs and issues of the modern age. What changes would you make?" You can add a context if you wish, for example, changes for business, changes for society, changes for kids, changes for the planet, changes for global cooperation, etc. Email me suggestions and I'll publish the best ones on this page.

mobile phone/cellphone game (time management, use tools rather than allow tools to use you, manage your environment, communications, addictions to technology and gadgets) This is a simple and funny activity/warm-up/icebreaker for large groups. The exercise especially demonstrates the influencial power of mobile phones (and by inference other communications methods such as emails) to disrupt effective working, time management and organisational efficiency. Normally groups at conferences and training sessions are asked to switch off their mobile phones/cellphones. Try a different twist: Ask all delegates to switch on their phones (or blackberries - or is it blackberrys?..) Say that this is a demonstration of the disruptive and negative effects of technology controlling people rather than vice-versa. You can of course introduce and position the activity to suit other purposes which fit. Ask delegates to select the loudest most annoying message alert tone. Ask everyone to text a friend (or two or several friends each) whom they know to be keen in responding to text messages. Then continue with the training or conference session, and wait for the chaotic interruptions to begin. The chaos is a very audible demonstration of what typically happens in organisations where people are not managing their incoming communications (which according to most research is the vast majority of folk). When your point is made you can (you'll need to) ask everyone to switch off their phones again. Other points of interest: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Compulsive checking of emails and being continuously available to incoming text messages, etc., is considered by some experts to be driven by the same impulses that are experienced by gamblers, i.e., following the principle of unpredictable occasional reward, and similar descriptions of such behaviour. •

Surveys regularly find vast amounts of wasted time spent by workers dealing with emails and email interruptions. A 2008 report in the Guardian newspaper staggeringly calculated that a worker who checks/responds to email interruptions every five minutes wastes 8.5 hours a week, given the recovery time required after each interruption. •

Inappropriate use of emails prevents people communicating and resolving issues by phone. •

Inappropriate use of phones/texting prevents people communicating and resolving issues face to face. •

You'll think of many more points arising from this subject. The Mehrabian research is a useful reference area.

seasonal suggestions bundle (christmas activities and ideas for teams and office year-end fun and learning) Some seasonal ideas from this website: Quizballs Big 2008 Year Quiz - 100 general knowledge quiz questions from 2008 and answers Quizballs 48 Xmas quiz questions and answers. Quizballs 29 Xmas quiz questions and answers. See the 'Smile' words and Chaplin story for inspiring positive outlook and triumph through adversity. Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day 1977. Seasonal acronyms: BLACPU - Back Later After Christmas P***-up. Seasonal acronym for when work and customers must necessarily fit in around the festivities and holidays. DUTCHIE - Defer Until The Christmas Holiday Is Ended. Seasonal acronym explaining why most business comes to a grinding stop for two whole weeks at the end of the year. LUCID - Leave Until Christmas Is Done. Yuletide acronym, when procrastinators everywhere are joined by most of the western world in deferring anything other than a life-threatening emergency until the Christmas blow-out is properly organized and maximum enjoyment extracted.

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SHOT IT - Should Have Ordered This In Time. Customer services and despatch expression, especially appropriate approaching department close-down for weekends, holidays, Christmas, etc., and a personal reminder not to leave things until the last moment. NACTAC - Not A Chance Til After Christmas. Understandable response from overworked despatch departments and customer services staff when attempting to explain quite reasonably that it's not possible to process urgent last-minute orders received at lunchtime on the day before holiday shut-down. Variations include NACTAE (Easter), NACTAT (Thanksgiving), etc. Expression origin - "Boxing day" - the day after Christmas - from the custom in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of servants receiving gratuities from their masters, collected in boxes in Christmas day, sometimes in churches, and distributed the day after. Real Family Fortunes answer: Something that Father Christmas does when he comes to your house: "Feeds your pets.." (More funnies) Team games ideal for year-end fun: Spaghetti and Marshmallow Towers Helium Stick Baking Foil Models Animal Perceptions Exercise Businessballs Quickies Many more activities on this page below can be used or adapted to give a seasonal twist. For pure laughs try the funny Weakest Link answers and Letters to the Council (which serve as illustrations of communications breakdowns, if you need a context or excuse for sharing them..) Fantisticat is an interesting way to look at fresh starts and the New Year, especially for young people or those facing or desiring change. Lots of quizzes - see the Quizballs index page. Have fun.

the CRITWATNF game (warm-ups, icebreakers, and for demonstrating that things are rarely as crucial as they seem) See the acronym CRITWATNF (Currently Residing In The Where Are They Now File). Explain it to the group. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Ask the group to think of an example - any example, from their own personal life (not too personal) or from work or the world of media, politics, economy, anything. Discuss the examples. Discuss how and why things can seem crucial one day, yet often can soon become completely insignificant, given a little time. Discuss the influences of emotions, peer pressure, zietgeist, the media, daft unquestioning management, personal mood, etc., on relationships, strategy, decisions, work, life, etc. Would life/work/society be better if we could all be more objective and critical, and less led by our emotions and by others?

passion to profit exercise (life change, selfemployment, business start-up and development, outplacement and redundancy support, career change, selfdetermination and independence) See the Career/New Business Planner page for the full process and detailed template. This is a creative planning process and template for individuals and for groups facing or desiring career change, especially a move into selfemployment or starting up their own new business. It can be helpful for people facing decisions about new work or business direction, especially to encourage thinking outside of habits and conditioning, at any stage of a person's working life. This process/template - and the exercises and discussion and thinking enabled by them - seek to: Suggest a more satisfying idea of what work is and can be - for employment, self-employment, business start-up, career change, parttime work - any sort of work. •

Reduce or eliminate dependence upon an employer for work and financial security. •

Offer a path - in achievable stages - away from unsatisfying employment, especially if required due to redundancy or an unacceptable work situation (stress, travel, life-balance, or the simple need to be happier, etc). •

Encourage and enable self-determination, self-reliance, and independence. •

It's a simple formula. The numbers are linked to the full template sections on the Career/New Business Planner page. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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1

2

3

your + your + some passion strength researc or s and h passion your s preferre d working style

4

5

6

+ shape it + time to = your new all into grow career or somethin and business, g that develo your people p independenc want e and security

In group situations the process and template can be used in many different ways. For example, subject to time available, encourage people to think through the stages of the process: •

consider the meaning of the model for themselves



think about their passions (1)



consider their strengths (2)

imagine the possibilities of combining these things into a job or service or business • •

consider how to check their thinking (3 - research)

consider how these things could be planned into a real job or business activity (4) •

The Career/New Business Planner page contains guidance notes within a template tool.

quick paper tower icebreaker (warm-up, creative thinking, and/or teamwork, skills and process analysis) A quick table-top exercise for individuals or teams, and a quick version of the bigger newspaper tower activity. Issue a single sheet of paper (A4 or international equivalent) to each group member (or one sheet per team if the exercise is to be played as a team game). Instruction: Using the sheet of paper only - no other materials - construct the tallest free-standing structure - in 5 minutes. Points to review: •

Planning and timing - who planned and who ran out of time?

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Pressure - what were the effects on people and performance from the pressure of time? • •

Innovation - what innovative ideas were devised?

Risk - what observations could be made about high-risk and low-risk methods/approaches? •

Learning - would each team/individual be able to improve their result at a second attempt? (Almost certainly.) Discuss how and why, and the value of experience. •

Best practice - if the whole group were to be given the task to build a single tower what ideas would be combined, and what does this tell us about the power of collective ideas? •

Skills - what skills were found to be crucial for best performance of the task, and could you have guessed what these vital skills would be before the exercise, or did they only become apparent after actually attempting the task? And what does this tell us about the identification of skills (to be developed/taught) for a given task? •

(If played as a team game) what were the opportunities and challenges in enabling the team to perform the task effectively? Consider and suggest a process which would enable an effective team approach to the task: What elements and principles from this are transferable to normal operations and team-working? •

Process improvement - what single tool or additional material (no larger than the width of the paper sheet) would achieve the greatest improvement to the result? •

Incidentally the best technical approach to this task almost certainly requires the construction and use of connectable tubular rolled or triangular telescopic sections, made from lengthways strips of the sheet. Using this technique it is possible to make a tower at least three times higher than the length of the sheet. If you know better and/or have pictorial evidence of a better solution please send it to share with others on this webpage. The exercise can be adapted to suit your situation, for example giving group members 15 minutes for the task and issuing an extra practice sheet of paper will increase the depth and complexity of the task and the review.

tree swing games (awareness and cooperation between teams, departments, divisions, corporations, nations, planets, etc) In conjunction with the new collection of Businessballs tree swing cartoons, ask your people to draw tree swings to illustrate their own particular departmental culture/issues/challenges/priorities/relationships. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Or focus the exercise on illustrating the culture/style of competitors, suppliers, and any other significant internal or external group. Focus especially on the differences in expectations between mutually depending groups. Ask people - what does each tree swing look like? What does their own tree swing look like, and what tree swing do they expect of others? What sort of tree swing is expected of your team/department? And what can you best provide? When you understand the differences it's easier to work on bridging them, so the differences have to be considered and shared first, or the gaps persist indefinitely. Drawing - especially given an unusual perspective like the tree swing - is good for creativity and for exploring and sharing feelings and opinions especially about gaps and matching expectations - which otherwise might not surface in normal discussions. Rather like the poetry activities below, artistic tasks get people thinking in new ways. Split the group into relevant teams - threes usually work well, although the exercise is adaptable for any numbers provided the team split reflects the development aims, and the exercises are facilitated to keep everyone involved. Prompt ideas by showing the treeswing pictures, and then asking questions like: •

What would your department's tree swing look like?



What would the (xyz) department's tree swing look like?



What do our own customers want their tree swings to look like?



What does head office expect your tree swing to look like?

What would your own personal tree swing look like if you could make it any way you want (for the market, or for any other perspective that's relevant to the group - subject to guidance from the facilitator)? •

What does the boss's/teacher's tree swing look like? And what does your own tree swing look like? •

The exercise does not aim to produce brilliant artwork - instead it aims to produce fresh thinking and simple visual ideas about the issues which cause outcomes to differ from expectations. Successful work, business and organizations largely depend on matching needs and delivery in one way or another. The tree swing provides a simple way to consider the differences between what's asked for, and what's provided, and then to explore which qualities in each are actually fair and valid, with a view to bridging the understanding and expectations gaps. The activity is adaptable for young people in schools, as well as for grownups in any sort of work situation. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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For everyone of course, there is also the opportunity to work with different media - even if it's just a few boxes of cheap coloured pencils from the pound shop. As with so many of these self/mutual awareness activities, Johari Window is an excellent reference model.

poetry activities (poems exercises, creativity, icebreakers, johari awareness, thinking outside of the box, fresh perspectives) Thursday 9 October is National Poetry Day in the UK, although you can be anywhere in the world to enjoy poetry. Helpfully in 2008 the theme of National Poetry Day is WORK. Poetry is great for creativity, fresh perspectives, and improving self/mutual awareness - (refer to Johari model). Here are some ideas for bringing poetry into your workplace or school, whether for development activities or for the pure fun of it: Icebreaker ideas/group discussion questions •

Define the word 'poem'.



Why is poetry appealing to us? It's just words, isn't it?...

What is your favourite poem/extract/line and why? (Everybody can think of at least a line from a song..) • •

Are all song lyrics poetry? Is rapping poetry?

Could Desiderata be adapted to be a corporate/societal values statement? If so, how? •

Does Rudyard Kipling's poem If serve as a modern set of personal values? If not how would you change it? •

Can you suggest how the bereavement poem Do not Stand at My Grave and Weep has become so hugely popular around the world, and relate this popularity to the way society behaves? •

Is Philip Larkin's poem 'This Be The Verse' a valid perspective on society? And how do these notions relate to the responsibilities of developing others, to parenting, teaching, especially of young people? (Warning - the poem contains language that could offend - which gives rise to another discussion question about how the context of words and language determine the actual meaning and sense, far beyond the words themselves). •

Other group ideas -

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Create a short poem for the purpose of promoting a product/service/department/initiative/educating/informing/memorising something/your team. •

Write a limerick about yourself/the organisation (agree the structure/rules of a limerick first). •

Write a haiku verse for a lesson/value/significant point in life or work (agree structure/rules of a haiku verse first). •

Issue a page of a newspaper to people working in pairs - ask them to re-structure any chosen paragraph of news into poetry, with or without changing the words. •

Same as above - changing the words into the style of Shakespeare/Chaucer/Byron, etc. •

Individual ideas •

Put a poem on your notice board or intranet, and see what happens.

Send me a poem you've written about any aspect of work or personal development, etc., and I'll publish it on this website. •

Send me a poem about charisma - and enter the charisma definition competition. •

Next time you meet someone for the first time, ask them what they think about poetry, and see where the discussion takes you. •

You will think of many more ideas for using poetry to add fresh perspective to work and play. Send your own ideas, and I'll add them here. Incidentally the word poem is derived ultimately from the Greek word 'poema' (precisely 'póēma'), meaning 'thing made or created'. The word poet comes from Greek - poētēs - meaning 'maker'.

the 'what did you learn yesterday' exercise (icebreaker, self-development, life attitude, self-awareness, discussions about what learning and development means) This is a powerful activity. Simple idea, and so potent. Ask any group (to consider individually): What did you learn yesterday? Review answers through discussion, brief statements, or presentations. Optionally you can first establish what sort of learning qualifies to be mentioned, or leave that aspect open because it's obviously an interesting debate in itself which tends naturally to arise from the discussions prompted by the question. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Review angles: If you can't think of anything you learned yesterday, how far back do you need to go to find something? •

Was it learning for work, or life, or both - and what's the difference anyway? • •

How did you learn it?



How could you measure/quantify/apply it?



How might you transfer it/teach it to someone else?



What will change now you've learned it?



What further learning does it prompt or enable?



Can you analyse the learning in terms of the Kirkpatrick model?



Can you analyse the learning in terms of Johari Window model?

Can you analyse the learning in terms of Multiple Intelligences and/or VAK learning/thinking styles? • •

What level of Maslow's theory does it impact?



What aspect of Erikson's theory does it impact?



What value would you put on it?



What would you have paid to have learned it some while ago?

What could you do to maximise the learning that naturally comes to you every day, for free? •

You will think of lots more angles, and plenty more suggestions will arise in discussions. Variations: What is the most useful thing you learned in the last week/month/year/previous life? •

What did you learn at the watercooler/pub after work/party at the weekend/on holiday? •

What did you learn on your social networking website when you should have been 'working'? •

What's the most valuable learning you've obtained in the past month/year and how did you get it? •

What's the most you've learned for the least cost/effort and the least you've learned from the most cost/effort? •

List an example of your own recent learning for each of the categories: skill, attitude, knowledge, experience. (See Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains for useful reference relating to this aspect, and the exercise as a whole.) •

Larger groups can be split into smaller work teams to explore what teams have learned and the extent to which learning is shared and assimilated and applied. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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(This exercise was inspired by a story which featured a reasonably famous autobiography about a father who always asked his children at the end of each day, "What did you learn today?", and this habit was said to have been very significant in forming the young person's positive approach to life and lifelong learning. If you know the book - I can't remember it please tell me.)

tactical team shove ha'penny (icebreakers, teamworking, tactics, strategy, problemsolving, assessing and countering competitor threats) Equipment: a table (at least four feet diameter) with a smooth surface, some coins, and (optionally) blu-tack, paper, colouring pens and scissors. The activity also adapts as a larger-scale ball game on ground-level, explained at the end of this item. Split the group to make at least two teams - maximum three people per team. Five teams of three per team is fine, so is four pairs or other similar splits. Size of teams, number of teams, and number of coins can all be adjusted to suit the situation. Increase the number of coins to increase the complexity and duration of the game, and to enable more players per team. Issue each team at least six coins - ideally different sorts of coins, and ensure each team has the same number of similar coins. Different size coins create more tactical options. Then, (optionally) instruct the team to create a team logo or emblem and to cut out and colour the shape and fix to their coins using the blu-tack, like a little sail. This is to make it easy to tell the difference between the teams when the coins are in play. Otherwise, ensure that (when the coins are placed flat on the table) each team somehow differentiates their coins from the other teams. (For example if two teams are playing, one team can be heads and the other tails. Or you can issue coloured sticky spots or stars, etc.) The object of the game is to shove the coins, one coin at a time, from the table edge, to create the closest grouping of coins on the table compared to the efforts of the other team(s). Each coin should be moved once only by pushing it 'shove ha'penny'style, using the pad of the hand at the base of the thumb: Place the coin (about a third of it) off the table edge, and strike it from the side against the edge of the table, using the pad of the hand. The facilitator must be able to demonstrate this, and allow some practice for the teams to get used to the method and speed of the table, and for the teams to decide who in the team will do the shoving. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Rules: 1. The winning team is the team to achieve the most (of their own) coins grouped into a specified area, which can be designated and measured by the facilitator before play commences by cutting or tearing a hole in the middle of a sheet of paper, to use as a template. The smaller the area, the more difficult the game is made. Around 12 inches diameter is a reasonable target area. (Do not put the paper on the table; use the paper to measure how many coins are in the groupings at the end of the game. Groupings can be anywhere on the table provided no coin is closer than 12 inches from the table edge.) 2. Coin groupings must be at least 12 inches (30 cms) from the edge of the table (i.e., any coin closer to the edge of the table than 12 inches does not count towards the grouping). 3. Each coin can be shoved once only. 4. Coins may be shoved so as to move coins of own team, or teams may shove their coins to disrupt the groupings of other teams (which makes the game very tactical, and is reason for each team having similar coins since big heavy coins are generally advantageous and easier to use than small coins). 5. Teams take turns to shove and only one team may shove a coin at a time (although for icebreakers and big quick games a time limit can be given instead within which teams can shove their coins freely, which creates different tactical implications). 6. Toss a coin or draw lots to decide the order of play (which can be offered as a tactical option in its own right). 7. State a time limit for tactical discussions between shoves. Review points: •

Choice between disrupting competitor and building own position.



Strategy at beginning, and how it changed during the game.



Different approach next time in light of experience?



Strategic advantage in order of play?

Were the types of coins used at the best times? (Larger coins can be more disruptive, which is useful at the end of the game, but they also help in the early stages to crate stopping points and positions of strength at the early parts of the game.) •

Effectiveness of team in considering strategic options and making decisions. • •

Extent to which other teams' strategy was observed or anticipated.



Fairness of result - element of luck versus skill.

Name the 3-5 key capabilities that a winning team would need to perform consistently well at this game. •

Relative importance of strategy, tactical adjustment, decisionmaking, and skill - any other major factors? •

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If you were the national coach for this game how would you coach a winning team? •

N.B. Before the game the facilitator should consider especially the timing of this game. It can take a long time if you have lots of teams and lots of coins. To speed up the game and/or create a quick icebreaker exercise, split the group into pairs, issue three coins per person, and change the rules so that all coins must be shoved in no order (a free-for-all basically) and the game completed within 30 seconds. This format has different tactical implications. Bigger groups, more teams, and more coins, all require a bigger table. Bigger scale indoor or outdoor versions of this game are possible using coloured tennis balls on a playground or a suitably marked floor or grass area, in which case a hula-hoop serves as an ideal measuring template.

ageing society exercise (icebreaker, creative analytical thinking, trends, forecasting, ageism, demographics) The aim of the exercise is to get people thinking creatively and analytically. The subject is how the increasing proportion of older people in society will change the world, but actually the subject can be about any large-scale trend. The activity will prompt the use of visioning and imagination, and the consideration of big system changes, consequences, causes and effects. In the case of an ageing society these changes are already upon us, so it's not a hypothetical exercise. The activity obviously also encourages people to think about ageism and age equality issues. Specifically ask group members to consider and decide what they believe will be the single greatest effect in the next 1/2/3/5 years of the ageing population on their area of activity/responsibility/market-place - or on society generally - (years and area of impact decided by the facilitator, depending on the interests/responsibilities of the group). The views of the group members can be discussed or presented or debated depending on the facilitator's aims and constraints of the session. Review points can include: •

collective group decision as to the most perceptive suggestion



what suggestions are the most visionary and forward-seeing



how different suggestions might impact on each other

the extent to which group members suggestions and views differ according to age of the group members •

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early evidence or indicators of the reliability of each/any of the predictions • •

what information is lacking for more reliable predictions



where information might be found if required

what differs about this type of thinking compared to day-to-day decisions (proactive deeper thinking compared to reactive shallow) •

whether drawing diagrams and/or discussing and/or any other methods assist this sort of thinking (for example, is this sort of deeper complex proactive thinking easier when more senses are stimulated, or when more people consider and share ideas?) •

does this exercise teach us anything about the power of thought as a way to anticipate and develop solutions/responses to situations rather than simply waiting for things to happen? •

do the collective views of the group seem to support (or not) the notion of 'the wisdom of crowds'. •

is effective forecasting and predicting of far-reaching effects chiefly based on creative imagination or analytical logic, or equally both? •

to what or particularly relevant or local trends could we usefully apply the same thinking? •

Exercise variables at the discretion of the facilitator: thinking/preparation time (icebreaker requires 2-3 mins - bigger exercises could extent to 30 mins or more preparation time) •

group members to work individually, in pairs or threes, or as two debating teams •

people could be asked to suggest two or three effects, not just a single effect •

method of presenting suggestions - discussion, presentation, debate, diagrams, role-play?... anything else? use your imagination •

the main subject can be varied to focus on any other significant trend - for example: increasing world population, increasing power of new economies (China, India, Brazil, etc), advancing technology (in any market), energy costs and demand, gender or ethnic trends, etc. •

political qualification game (job skills, training, competence - and many other issues relating to competence and suitability) Appreciating fundamental issues of competence and job profiling necessary for determining suitability, training and qualifications is quite a dry subject. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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It can be brought to life by applying the thinking to a different situation different from normal work. Here's the exercise (in pairs or threes, or a discussion group): Imagine you are responsible establishing a professional qualification or NVQ for a politician. A parliamentary MP, or a government minister, or perhaps the prime minister. Agree/nominate parliamentary role(s) as appropriate for the exercise. •

What competencies would the job require?

If helpful structure your answer in terms of skills, knowledge, attitude/behaviour/personality style, experience. •

How might these be defined, measured and tested?

How might a professional qualification be structured and accredited? •

And a couple of bigger questions of a more philosophical nature if you have time for them: Why in actual fact does the job of a politician escape all normal requirements of professional accreditation? •

And might this explain why politicians are arguably so incompetent compared to their counterparts in industry? •

The facilitator can adapt this basic idea for group size, timings, and the precise training aspects of job profiling and candidate selection, development, qualification, etc., as will fit the group's needs and interests. (Incidentally if anyone comes up with constructive and enlightened answers to the last two questions I'd love to see them..)

positive behaviour exercise (understanding positive behaviour/behavior concepts, karma, law of attraction, etc) This exercise seeks to enable clearer understanding of positive behaviour and positive thinking, extending to the notion that positive behaviour produces positive effect or reward for the person (or group) acting positively. Instead of trying to unravel the secrets of the karmic universe or the meaning of religious and spiritual life, we can perhaps understand Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

Concepts of positive behaviour are difficult to define and explain. Vague terminology such as karma and religious or spiritual associations create further obstacles to exploring the subject. 167

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better the effects of our own positive behaviour (or that of a group or entire corporation) by considering how we personally respond to the positive behaviour of others.

Positive behaviour concepts are confused by lots of vague and emotive terminology and theories, e.g:

Ask group members to consider how they personally feel and respond towards someone who behaves in the following ways:



1. smiles a lot and is generally happy



2. gives to others and wants nothing in return

'what goes round comes around' •

the law of cause and effect universal cause and effect •

religious and spiritual linkage •

4. helps others



5. listens to others without judging



7. gives others credit for successes 8. absorbs negative behaviour from others with tolerance and understanding Points to review: Extend some of the examples above to imagine long-term relationships and issues of trust, reputation, recommendation, willingness to do business with such a person, etc. Extend the examples to the responses of many thousands of customers, to many positive behaviours of a corporation, (and then consider the opposite effects: i.e., responses of thousands of customers, and the knock-on consequences, arising from many negative behaviours of a corporation). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

the law of attraction



3. thanks others

6. takes the blame or responsibility for faults

karma

'do as you would be done by' cosmic ordering

commercial packaging •

'positician' (one who acts positively, apparently..) •

other mumbojumbo •

This exercise offers a way to explore the essential meaning and benefits of positive behaviour, without reference or need to buy in to any of the above. Intangible concepts like positive behaviour can often be better explored from a personal viewpoint, instead of using fixed definitions or rules. Deep complex concepts like positive behaviour are a matter of personal interpretation. 168

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Positive behaviour of one person is sometimes immediately rewarded or acknowledged by others, but often the effects are not immediate.

N.B. In US-English the word is 'behavior'. In UKEnglish it is 'behaviour'.

Cause and effect can be separated by many years, and can be connected by many links in different chains of events. However, positive behaviour in an organisation of many employees and actions inevitably multiplies and accelerates all these effects. The cause and effect cycle - good or bad - is dramatically shortened because there are so many interactions. Positive behaviour is sometimes described using the analogy of ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond - the effects radiate far and wide, and one day reflect back helpfully in ways that are difficult to predict beforehand, or to measure afterwards. Positive behaviour in an organisation could be compared to hundreds of pebbles in a pond every day. Consider your own organisation are they good ripples or bad ripples? The term 'pseudo-scientific' rightly applies to most concepts linked with positive behaviour, because they cannot be measured and substantiated in conventional scientific ways. Yet millions of people believe strongly that goodness and positivity are more likely to be rewarded in life than selfishness and negativity. And almost without exception successful happy people seem to exhibit and aspire to positive behaviours. The exercise should confirm how positively we each respond to positive behaviour (and negatively to negative behaviour). It's far simpler than karma. Rather than try to find vast universal explanations for the way positive behaviour works, the cause/effect of positive behaviour is perhaps more easily explained by the general tendency for positive/giving behaviour simply and inevitably to attract and to generate positive responses, somehow, somewhere, sometime.

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'moneygram' activity/icebreaker (expressing and sharing perceptions about organizations, structures, systems, etc - and creativity sessions and teamworking) This flexible activity is based on using coins to create a 'picture' or diagram of an organizational system or structure which is relevant to the group's work or learning. The subject(s) chosen for the 'moneygrams' (coin pictures) are at the facilitator's discretion, and/or can be suggested by groups, depending on the situation. For example, a subject could be a team, department, division, or an entire corporation, or a market including suppliers, customers, competitors, etc. Or a school, college, a community or an industry sector, or even a region or country, or view of the world. If the main aim is to express/share perceptions of a work or business structure, then the choice of structure is obviously is significant, and the facilitator should ensure a suitable choice. If the main aim is instead to get people working creatively together (for instance young people in school, or a creative workshop session) then the choice of structure is not significant, aside from something that the group will find interesting, and the facilitator can allow the group to choose a structure for their 'moneygram'. The room layout must enable people to make a display on a table or floor and for others to see the display clearly, or for the whole group to work around on a single large display on a table. Coins are of course various values, sizes, colours, years and designs - both sides - and can be stacked, and some stood on their edges. As such coins are potentially a really interesting medium for creating pictures/patterns/diagrams which express ideas and themes of all sorts. The exercise provides a completely different way (unlike normal words, discussion, diagrams, etc) for people to interpret and present their own view of a particular situation. This enables a tactile, fresh, liberating and more objective way for people to express and share their perceptions. The facilitator obviously needs to consider and decide the best way to equip the group with sufficient 'materials' (coins) for the activities. For example a mature adult group could be asked to use the coins from their own pockets and purses. A less mature group should ideally have the coins provided by the facilitator. Complex themes and big require lots of coins. Happily 1p and 2p copper coins very inexpensive materials - in fact probably cheaper than plastic counters and play-money nowadays - and it's useful to have a plentiful supply of coppers, or whatever is your currency equivalent. Foreign coins add international interest and diversity if you have some. If the situation Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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allows, you can ask group members to bring in their piggy banks. The creative use of banknotes, cheques and credit cards is not recommended for obvious reasons. Messing around with loose change carries few risks; bigger values are not appropriate for play materials. If you have any doubts about using real money in the exercise then playing cards can be used instead, which offers another perspective and different interpretations. Be mindful of the time available for the activity and limit the complexity of the subjects accordingly. You cannot expect anyone to map out the global commodities market or the future of the world wide web in a five minute icebreaker with a pocketful of change. See also the organizational modelling activity (teambuilding games page 1), and the baking foil modelling games (this page below) which take slightly different approaches to the same idea. The Johari Window is a useful reference model by which to explain and review the benefits and issues surrounding mutual awareness and perceptions. The money slang and history page offers some entertaining facts and trivia on the subject. As with any exercise much of the value comes from reviewing and discussing the issues arising from the learning experience, and where relevant encouraging people to determine their own preferred reactions. See the notes on experiential learning for additional guidance in this regard. An activity of this nature will tend to highlight various opportunities for future clarification and follow-up actions, especially for work-team leaders.

new world exercise (ice-breaker, or bigger exercise for leadership/team roles, multiple intelligences, life skills, analysis and reaction) This is a flexible and fascinating scenario-based activity for groups up to 12 people and all ages. Split larger groups into teams and adapt presentations and reviews accordingly. Schools could potentially develop various extensions to this activity. Ask the delegates to discuss in a group and answer the following question: Scenario: Imagine the world suffered a catastrophic event like a meteor strike, plague or nuclear war, which destroyed most human life and all of the developments of the past century. A mixed group (age, gender, ethnicity, religion) of a few hundred lucky people has survived (it's helpful to agree where - anywhere - because location will influence some aspects of the approach to the question). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Question: If this group is to thrive and develop, what initial leadership structure would you suggest, stating 6-12 key roles? (Optionally and ideally ask delegates to justify their suggestions.) Agree timings and presentation/review in whatever ways are useful to the delegates. The number of roles can be the same as the number of delegates, especially if you choose to extend the activity. The exercise can be extended by adding any of the following supplementary questions, which can (optionally) be approached as if the delegates are the survivors leadership team, allocated the key roles identified. Roles can be allocated via volunteering or some other group process, at the facilitator's discretion. Optional supplementary questions: •

What basic laws would you introduce for the group of survivors?

As the leadership team, what would be your ten immediate main aims? •

What 3-5 main difficulties would you expect in leading the group and how would you try to handle these challenges? •

What lessons from the modern world would you find most valuable in rebuilding the new world? • •

What would be your five main medium-long term aims?

You - and/or the delegates - will be able to devise further questions relevant to your own training/learning situation. There are potentially thousands of useful reference sources which can be incorporated within an exercise like this, really anything you are currently seeking to bring to life and provide context for application. Here are a few examples: •

Tuckman's team/group development model



Multiple Intelligences theory



Erikson's life stages model



Fisher's change model



Kubler-Ross's grief/bereavement model



Delegation



Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs



SWOT analysis

The activity is very flexible. It can be shortened to a two-minute icebreaker, simply to agree the 6-10 roles, or expanded to incorporate all sorts of issues and reference models and tools, depending on the development aims and needs of the delegates.

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To shorten the exercise into a quick icebreaker simply state the scenario and ask delegates to take 1-2 minutes to think of 3-6 leadership roles. Then quickly gather and count the suggestions on a flip chart or wipeboard, and close with a quick review of the most popularly suggested team roles. Relate to Multiple Intelligence theory or Belbin's team roles theory or another suitably relevant team roles/skills reference model.

helium stick games (team building, assumptions, organising tasks, problemsolving) This is a classic teambuilding game, and an amusing exercise around which to design icebreakers. For teams of three upwards, subject to the type and length of 'stick' used in the activity. This explanation includes games variations, and very easily improvised ideas for the stick equipment - as the facilitator you do not need to buy anything. The basic exercise requires all team members to: •

support a long stick or tube - each person using one finger



lower the stick to the ground



with no fingers losing contact with the tube.

The tendency is for the stick to rise, hence the name of the exercise, because the collective force used to keep fingers in contact with the stick is greater than the gravitational force (weight) of the stick. For this reason use a stick for the exercise that is light enough for this effect to occur, given the number of people in the team. For example a broomstick is too heavy for a team of three people, but would be fine for a team of ten. See the suggestions for stick types per team size below. Other rules and guidelines: The stick (or any alternative item being lifted) must be rigid and not too heavy to outweigh the initial 'lift' tendency of the team size. If it's not rigid it makes it easy for team members to maintain finger-contact. •



Start with the stick at about chest height.

Team members can be positioned either on one or both sides of the stick - depending on stick length and team numbers. •

The team must return the stick to the starting position if any finger loses contact with the stick. •

The stick must rest on fingers - the stick cannot be grasped or pinched or held in any way. •

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Typically teams are instructed to rest the stick on the outside (nailside or 'backs') of fingers, however specifying a side of the finger is not critical to the activity. •

Optionally you can instruct that a finger from each hand is used, which increases the lifting effect and the difficulty of the task. The length of the stick and the number of team members are also factors in this, i.e., two fingers per person requires a longer stick. •

Clarify the point at which the stick is considered 'lowered to the ground' - underside of fingers or hands touching the ground is easier to monitor than actually depositing the stick onto the ground, which depending on the ground surface can be very tricky. •

There are many ways of improvising sticks. Some people use interconnecting tent-poles, but these are too heavy for very small teams (the gravitational force is greater than the collective lift, which makes the task too easy). Use your imagination - any rigid lightweight stick or tube will do, and if you can't improvise a stick then other materials and shapes can be used instead, as described below. •

Team size of just three people is not ideal - the activity works best with six to a dozen per team, or even more subject to having a stick long enough. Teams of three would be used mainly for splitting a group of six or nine when a competitive element is required. •

The bigger the team, the longer the activity will take to complete successfully. This is an important point - for example given a limited time you'd be better splitting a group of twenty into two or three teams rather than run the risk of failing to complete the task, which is not great for teambuilding or for creating a successful mood. •

Two fingers per person (one finger each hand) creates more lifting effect and challenge but requires a longer stick than one finger per team member. •

Positioning team members on both sides of the stick enables bigger teams, but can make it more difficult for the facilitator to monitor finger-contact. •

Games variations: Split large groups into teams, each team with their own stick, and have a race between the teams for the first to lower the stick to the ground. Watch for cheating. If appropriate appoint and rotate observers for say three rounds or a knockout contest. •

Use a suitably sized square or other shape of cardboard instead of a stick. This achieves a closer team grouping for large teams and adds a different element to the activity if team members already know the stick activity. Cut a big hole in the shape ideally so you can monitor finger-contact. •

Use a hoopla hoop instead of a stick - a hoop also offers better visibility than a sheet of cardboard. •

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Start with the stick (or whatever else is used) at ground height, raise it to shoulder height and lower it back to the ground. The challenge is stopping it rising beyond shoulder height when it gets there. •

Issue two sticks per team - one finger for each stick - very challenging. •

Mix up the teams for different rounds to explore the dynamics of working in a new team even after all members understand the challenge and the solution. •

Just before starting the exercise ask team members to press down hard with their outstretched fingers onto the edge of a table for 30 or 60 seconds. This confuses the brain still further and increases the tendency for the stick to rise. •

Ideas for sticks and team sizes (rough guides): •

joined-together drinking straws (3-6 people)



houseplant sticks (3-6)



kite struts (3-6)



rolled sheet(s) of newspaper (3-10)



straightened-out wire coat-hangers (6-10)



wooden dowel rods (6-12 - cheap from most hardware stores)



bamboo poles (5-20 people)



telescopic or interconnecting fishing rods (6-20 people or more)



inter-connecting tent poles or gazebo poles (6-20 people or more)



drain clearer/chimney-sweeping rods (10-30 people)

Review points examples: •

Why did the stick rise when we wanted it to go down?



Did we anticipate the problem?



How did we fix the problem?

Having achieved the task with this team was it/would it be easier/as difficult with a different team? • •

How did we feel when fingers lost contact?



What are the effects of time pressures and competition?



How might we coach or prepare others to do this task?

And countless other possibilities, many of which you'll see while running the exercises. •

As a facilitator use your imagination. The 'helium stick' exercise is amusing and effective its basic format, and can be adapted in many ways to support many different themes related to team-working and problemsolving. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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david davis resignation speech The remarkable 12 June 2008 David Davis resignation speech provides a wonderful unfolding case study for all sorts of teaching and training areas. See the discussion examples, tips and clip on the training clips page.

secrets of success exercises (ice-breakers, demonstration and discussion of what enables business success) This activity takes about three minutes in its basic form and requires just a flip chart or equivalent. Ask the group to take a few seconds to think (silently and individually) of someone they know who is successful in business. Tell the group that they do not need to name the person they are thinking of. Then ask the group to think (again silently and individually) : "What is it about that person that enables them to be successful?" After ten or twenty seconds, ask the group to call out the words they are thinking of. Write the words on the flip chart. When you have about eight or more words on the flip chart, ask the group for their comments and observations about the words. Specifically: "What type of characteristics are (most of) these words?" The answer every time is that the words will mostly or entirely describe attitudinal characteristics. Not skills, not knowledge, and not experience. The words will always largely represent attitudinal factors. Develop the discussion in whatever way suits your purposes and session. With positive attitude we can do anything. Attitude also governs how we develop skills, knowledge and experience. Attitude - in whatever way works best for each of us, because we are all different - is the singlemost important factor for success in anything. The exercise most obviously relates to demonstrating the enabling factors for business success, but the factors and exercise can be applied to any other success in life too. This basic activity is a simple quick controlled exercise led by a facilitator using a flip chart, but the idea can be developed in many ways to add extra interest, group interaction, and depth, for example: For large groups split into teams of three. Ask each person to identify three success factors. Ask each team of three to produce a list •

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of the top three factors identified within their team. Display and compare the top three results across all teams. Ask half of the group to think of a successful man, and the other half to think of a successful woman. Compare the identified characteristics for men and women. Link the findings to style and personal strengths and effectiveness, and potentially to discussion about gender and equality. •

Take similar approach to illustrate and compare characteristics of successful people in different age brackets. This can be linked to discussions and issues concerning ageism and age discrimination. •

Take a similar approach for illustrating characteristics of successful people according to any other relevant way of categorising people (to your situation or session aims). •

Apply the exercise to identify success characteristics of teams or companies. •

Useful reference models and materials are Blooms Taxonomy (to appreciate the difference between different types of personal development), Erikson's Life Stages Theory and Personality Models (to help understand what influences our attitudes). Also NLP and Transactional Analysis are useful models to help understand how it is possible to change our attitudes.

change exercises (illustrating and experiencing dealing with change) Here are some simple quick ideas to help demonstrate the brain's reaction to change. They are based on having to accomplish a simple everyday task in a different way: do left-handed a simple task normally done right-handed (or viceversa) • •

blindfolded or with eyes shut (be mindful of safety issues)

outside (instead of indoors - maybe even in the rain/wind - which tends to create radically different circumstances) •

in pairs (when normally the task is one person's - like using a pair of scissors - which highlights pressures resulting from team changes) •

by someone other than oneself, to oneself (which highlights fears around personal control and trust) •

upside-down against a wall being supported by a colleague (task and trust pressures) •

turn the task upside-down (for example a keyboard - strangeness, unfamiliarity and re-learning pressures) •

Examples of simple tasks to which the above alternative methods might be applied (where safety and practicability allows): Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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cutting paper shapes with scissors



tossing a ball of paper into a bin



typing on a keyboard



cracking an egg into a bowl



making a cup of tea or coffee or a sandwich



writing or drawing



using mobile phone



putting a wristwatch onto the opposite arm



applying make-up or tying a neck-tie

tasks involving counting, sorting or building things (playing cards are ideal for all of these) •

Not all tasks can be matched with all methods, for example making a cup of tea blindfolded is not very safe. Using a keyboard outside in the rain is neither safe nor practicable. Use your imagination and common sense to devise interesting and memorable combinations. Different methods (types of change) create different pressures - on different parts of the brain - and these effects vary according to the individual. It does not matter that the methods are mostly ridiculous - the point is to demonstrate and experience the different pressures of different types of change. Observe and review how different people react in different ways to different methods. We do not react to change in the same ways. Empathy for other people's feelings is therefore crucial in managing change affecting other people. Motivational and attitudinal models such as those developed by Maslow and Erikson help explain why people react differently to change. One person might feel terribly threatened by a certain change which another person can take in their stride. Personality has a big affect too, for example, steady dependable people can find change more challenging than spontaneous intuitive people. Change of any sort is difficult ultimately when: change requires the brain to overcome fear (of failure and selfdoubt, etc) and uncertainty of the change itself (which can be extreme for certain people/personalities), and •

change requires the brain (and often the body too) to learn something new, or to re-learn or accept something in a different way. •

Change can be especially frustrating if it involves re-learning something which under a previous method or system was achievable competently (see conscious competence model) - because the brain can imagine and remember being competent, which can cause a sense of loss or failure relative to past experience. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The tasks and different methods above a just a few examples. You will think of many others more suitable to your own situation. There are many more activities on this website which address change from more of a mental perspective instead of the physical examples above. Johari Window activities address a particularly useful aspect of change, i.e., self-awareness and exposure to other people's impressions of self.

charades icebreaker (session warm-ups, icebreakers, creativity, alternative sources of ideas and inspiration) This icebreaker or exercise combines the traditional charades party game with thinking about work/management (or any other) principles, the central themes and meanings within them, and the value of using nonverbal themes ('vehicles') in conveying an idea, concept, etc. The activity is relevant for any group with roles or interests in training, teaching, team-leading, coaching, presenting, advertising, marketing, design, and communications generally. Basically the exercise is for group members individually to think of and then silently 'act out' a song, a film, a book or a play, etc., which illustrates a particular aspect of work, business or management, or any other key message relevant to the group. The exercise teaches and practises the method of using a vehicle (in this case a book/play/song/film - or other categories if you wish) to convey (and illustrate and emphasize) a message (or a concept or any other important communication). It's for young people as well as grown-ups, and encompasses many of the 'multiple intelligences' - potentially connecting bodily/artistic/musical with logical/language/interpersonal capabilities. The task concentrates people's minds on the central message and meaning within their chosen principle, and also prompts thought and discussion about using themes and different media and senses to reinforce or deliver an important message, as distinct from using words alone, which are often not the most powerful or memorable way to convey an important point. The sequence of the activity is: 1. Think of a simple message or rule or principle of management/business/or other relevant function. 2. Now think of a book or a play or a film or a song which represents this principle - the 'vehicle' which carries the message. 3. Next think how you can act this book/play/song/film silently to the group, using only gestures (as in the party game charades). Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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4. Finally each member is given a minute to perform their charade to the group in turn, while the group has to guess the book/play/song/film, and (not so easy) the principle that the 'vehicle' represents. The task also demonstrates the value of using simple clear themes and communications - especially non-verbal signals - that an audience (staff, customers, or any other target audience) can readily relate to and recognize, without the need for lots of explanation and description. If necessary brainstorm and agree the rules for charades, or prepare a rules sheet and issue it, so that everyone has an equal chance for the charades stage of the activity. Here is wikipedia's charades rules. You can use a much shorter set of rules to speed up the exercise, since the point of the activity is to think about themes and messages rather than become experts at charades. You can also award points to group members and to performers for correct guesses of book/play/song/film, and for close and correct guesses of the principles represented. The activity can be run as a much quicker icebreaker by removing the charades element, and simply asking group members for their suggested themes and vehicles rather than acting them out.

seasonal icebreaker (session warm-up, icebreaker, discussion-starter for virtually any work-related subject) For groups of between four and twenty people - minimum eight ideally. Duration of activity is between five and fifteen minutes, although the exercise can be extended if further discussion is warranted, for example if exploring implications of issues arising. Split the group into four teams. Draw lots to allocate a season to each team: Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall), Winter. The task for each team to identify as many seasonal factors related to and influential upon work/business/sales/customerservice/HR/recruitment/training (or any other function relevant to the group, at the discretion of the facilitator) for their allocated season. Give a time limit for the task - anything between a minute and five minutes will be okay. Of course you can give longer if you want to make the exercise more challenging and strategic, rather than seeking quick headline points as would apply for a speedy icebreaker. Organise/facilitate presentations and discussion accordingly.

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This extremely flexible exercise encourages and enables thinking and subsequent discussion about how situations, demands, needs, priorities, etc., change according to circumstances (predictable events, trends, etc). Discussion can be extended to the implications of the identified effects and how to deal with them. The principle - using seasonal perspectives - obviously focuses on seasonal factors, but can be used to emphasise the need for awareness and adaptability in management, planning, self-motivation and awareness, etc., in relation to all types of changes in causal and influential factors. The more we think about what is likely to happen, then the easier we can plan, and the fewer surprises we have.

dice exercise (sales planning, marketing, sales strategy, selling effectiveness, time management, maximising your productivity) This is a quick simple activity for a meeting or training session. The activity illustrates some important lessons. Approach a salesperson (or person with similar responsibilities) with a handful of dice. Hold out the dice, handing just one to the person. Avoid encouraging them to take the other dice. Then ask them to throw six 'sixes' in thirty seconds to achieve success or win a small prize, while you (as the facilitator) continue holding the remaining dice in your open hand. Expect the thrower to build up to frenzied activity as you count down the seconds aloud. Some succeed, some don't. The lessons of the exercise are in the review. The learning points are: The chances of hitting sixes increase with the number of throws - a big part of selling is a numbers game, in which percentages and ratios are significant. So why not throw quickly from the start to increase your chances? Why wait for the deadline to increase energy levels? •

The thrower could have asked for more dice. (As the facilitator explain in the review that you would have given them more if asked.) Obviously the more dice being thrown, the more sixes are likely to appear. We can expand our range or opportunities by simply thinking how to maximise our effectiveness at the outset of a task. We can ask ourselves (and others) when we approach a new project - What other ways and potential exist? For example, working together in a business to look for cross sales for other departments. And looking for additional •

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distribution methods and market sectors, which can also dramatically increase potential. Also, (prior to the exercise) the facilitator can doctor some of the dice to have an extra six. The facilitator keeps the doctored dice among those retained in the hand. Use correction fluid to make extra dots fours and twos easily convert to sixes. These doctored dice represent the availability and neglect of methods which offer better returns than the initial assumption, or 'received wisdom'. This demonstrates the value of research, and perhaps testing, of methods and targets which produce a better rate of success. •

You will uncover more examples related to your own situation which will arise from this powerful yet simple little exercise. Chiefly the exercise is for sales people, but can be used for anyone with responsibility to plan how to use their time, and especially how best to direct their efforts in order to maximise results and rewards. Anyone with average skills can easily out-perform the most skilful operator if they target their effort more strongly and effectively. Success does not only depend on what you do. Success depends mostly on where and how determinedly you do it. Note: Technically 'die' is the singular for dice, and dice is the plural, as in the famous expression 'The die is cast', which is an interesting item of trivia, not least because it is also connected to the expression 'crossing the Rubicon', if people are likely to be interested. Thanks to R Chapman (no relation), for the contribution of this excellent exercise. Incidentally die is singular for dice not plural, as I ridiculously stated when I first posted this item, (thanks M Burgess).

shoe-wear and foot wear (icebreaker exercise, discussion about selfawareness, different people-types, johari-type development) Mind and body are connected. Here are some simple quick questions to prompt thought and discussion about that notion. The activity is useful as an icebreaker especially because it is active and usually humorous. Look at the backs of the heels of your shoes. Do you wear your heels down on the inside or the outside, or in the middle? Is the wear the same for each foot? To what extent is there a relationship between our personality and the way we walk? And additionally (or alternatively), how does our footwear reflect us as individuals? Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Discuss with other people your and their reactions to these questions. The facilitator can organize the groups, feedback, discussion, etc., to suit the situation. The Johari Window model is helpful in explaining the value of self- and mutual-awareness. Discussion can be developed in various ways. 'Nature versus Nurture' (genes v upbringing) is often an interesting perspective when considering what makes us the way that we are. Also, the subject of our feet has several strong emotional and cultural connections, which can raise interesting questions about human behaviour and feelings from various angles. Other ways to develop ideas about mind-body connections, for selfawareness and awareness of other people; types, personalities, styles, attitudes, needs, etc: graphology (handwriting analysis) - including self-assessment instrument •

multiple intelligence theory and learning styles - also including selfassessment instruments •

personality theories - within which the four temperaments is a great introduction which everyone can relate to •

self-hypnosis/visualisation exercise - adapt the format to suit your purposes • •

stress management - many mind-body aspects



and for young people especially - fantasticat

N.B. Given the nature of this subject, the facilitator should consider any potential discrimination implications.

how many 'f's?... (icebreakers, assumptions, checking details, the mind plays tricks, seeing is not always a basis for believing) A quick puzzle with various uses. See "How Many Fs?" on the puzzles page.

'a senseable friend' cards activities (icebreakers, problem-solving, creative thinking, hidden issues, johari, etc) I rarely pick out a product on these pages but this one warrants inclusion because it's so Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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different and appealing. Developed by Peter Middleton, 'A SenseAble Friend' is a pack of 81 triangular cards, each carrying words or phrases designed to provoke and enable reactions, thoughts or discussion. The cards can be used alone, or by a facilitator with a group, and as with other activities teams of three work well. The cards can be used in a quick free-flowing and spontaneous way for activities such as: •

icebreakers



problem-solving



brainstorming



uncovering hidden issues

johari window-type development, e.g., developing mutual awareness among teams •

exploring needs and priorities not revealed in normal discussion •

a basis for observation of people - for facilitator, team-leader, or among teammembers •



exploring and developing relationships

personal reflection, thinking outside of the box, breaking free, etc. •

The approach, explained via simple and flexible instructions, is highly intuitive, and yet is effective with process-oriented folk as well as with intuitive types. From personal experience I can vouch for the strange power of the cards, which definitely seem to tap into the unconscious in ways that conventional development systems and methods do not.

Why 81 cards?... The design evolved from study of scientific, psychological, theosophical and spiritual teachings. In our lives, contrast, or 'natural paradox' is always present. The opposites in us exist comfortably at the same time. They do not need 'fixing'; they exist to provide clarity. Some relate this to 'duality'. Jung's theory, for example, offers some explanation, among other ideas like yin and yang. To give meaning to these opposites and decide who we, we need a third element: consciousness. Aside from this three sided model, our lives can also be represented in terms of four perspectives: physical, psychological, spiritual and divine.

The 81 cards evolved to reflect this structure of three to the power of The product would be an excellent addition to a four (3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 81). facilitator's toolkit, or simply keep a set on your There is more to the desk. Trust your unconscious - ideas will echo design, but this and return in ways you might not expect. essentially explains why See Peter Middleton's A SenseAble Friend. there are 81 cards. (My thanks to Soleira Green for drawing my attention to Peter and his concept.)

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'sell a region' diversity game (diversity awareness, teambuilding, presentations, research, understanding other cultures) For group sizes of nine and upwards ideally. A group of eight split into four pairs is probably the minimum. Whatever, split the group into the teams you'd like to work together. Team sizes can be between two and five people. Teams of three generally work well. For larger events bigger teams will work well, subject to finding roles for everyone. Consider the total presentation time available and the total group size to arrive at optimum size of teams. For example - three teams of three would be fine for a small group event, or ten groups of five would be okay for a conference. For groups of more than 50 you can devise supporting roles (coordinator, props, equipment, MC, scheduler, creative, etc) within teams to enable bigger team sizes. This activity requires that people are given time before the event to research and prepare. It is possible to run the exercise in a 'lite' version by offering research facilities at the event, but the benefits of the activity are much increased if people and teams have the opportunity to discover information. The exercise can also be adapted for individuals to work alone, and could potentially be used in a group selection recruitment event, in which case group members people should be given time for research and preparation before the presentation day. A smaller group size, say four or five people, is viable for the exercise if based on individual presentations. Having determined the teams, allocate a part of the world to each team (logically relating to the regions/countries that chiefly feature in your diversity issues) - or invite the the teams to choose their own countries/regions, subject to your guidelines and situation. Each team's task is to prepare and then deliver a team presentation 'selling' their region to the group or conference, imagining the audience to be seeking a holiday home or the holiday of a lifetime. Team members are responsible for researching and preparing the following aspects for their presentation. The number of aspects is variable and at the facilitator's discretion, and should ensure there is sufficient for each team member to be involved: •

leisure and sport



entertainment



history and culture



food and drink



places to visit



language and custom



industry and commerce

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transport and travel



people and places



connections with other parts of the world



amazing facts you never knew about (the region/country)

During the presentations, for which you should issue appropriate timescales, the members of the conference or group vote on the best presentations according to pre-announced criteria (examples below), and as an additional incentive you can ask each team to buy a prize (representing their region up to a stipulated value, depending on your budget. The winners of each category can choose their prize from the pool. Awards categories examples: •

overall Wow! factor



presentation style and quality



star presenter

specialist categories according to above presentation criteria, e.g., best historical item, best entertainment item, best amazing fact, etc. •

The activity offers lots of flexibility for adaptation to suit your particular circumstances and development aims. It challenges people to discover new positive things about other parts of the world, to work in teams, and then to share their discoveries with the group. A neat addition to the exercise, if the situation allows, is to appoint some team members as roving 'cultural advisors' to other teams if among the group you have people with background or knowledge in the allocated regions, and if you are very clever you could actually select and allocate the regions with this in mind. To achieve a competitive balance each team should be able both to offer an adviser and to benefit from the help of an advisor from another team. This exercise can also be adapted to provide a more modern and meaningful interpretation of the desert island or plane crash stranded survival exercise, which essentially encourages group members to identify resources and to formulate a plan of action. To do this, adapt the presentation instructions thus: Purpose of the presentation: to identify a plan for surviving and thriving on a personal or business level (in your allocated region/country). This obviously does not carry the aspect of desperation present in the traditional 'stranded' exercise - instead it gets people focusing on real issues of diversity and personal challenge in a more useful sense.

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animal perceptions exercise (selfawareness, team discussions and mutual awareness, johari-type development) This is a simple, enjoyable and thought-provoking activity for workshops and team-building. This exercise should be positioned as mostly fun and to prompt reflection, discussion, etc. It is not to be presented or used as a scientific assessment of personality or attitude, and certainly not as an assessment of good or poor skills or temperament. I am grateful for its contribution by Shwetha Singh, a post-graduate in psychology, Punjab University, India. Ideally start the activity with some discussion about how other people affect one's own self-perceptions - for example: "How do significant people in our lives affect the way we perceive ourselves?" This discussion should prompt people to think about their own selfperceptions. Next, ask group members individually to rank the animals below in order of their personal preference.

Lion Dog Parrot Elephant

Rank these animals 1, 2, 3, 4 in order of your preference or liking for them. Write down the order. You can keep your list private if you wish to. There are no right or wrong answers.

Group members do not need to reveal their chosen order, but may do so if happy to in the subsequent discussion. When group members have decided and written their list of the four animals in order of preference, you can then reveal the key for interpreting the results. You must emphasise that this is mostly for fun and to stimulate reflection and discussion. People may keep their preferences and interpretations private if they wish. Key to Order and Animals 1 How you want others (significant people in your life) to perceive you today. 2 How you believe you are actually perceived today by

Dog

Lion

Elephant

friendly, faithful, loyal, supportive , protective, dependabl

dominant, fearsome, independe nt, decisive, proactive, isolated,

tolerant, passive, cooperativ e, respected, big, strong,

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others. 3 How you'd like to be perceived by others in the future. 4 How you actually truly want to be without influence of what other significant people in your life feel and think about you.

e, reliable, trustful, trusting, solid, keen, hardworking, loving

aloof, leading, critical, objective, detached, focused, fearless

controlled, calm, indomitabl e, revered, wise

cheerful, passionate, spontaneou s

Some discussion points: To what extent do we shape our self-image and aims according to the influence and opinions of other people? •

To what extent do we understand how we are actually regarded by others? • •

To what extent does what other people think of us matter?

Should the influence of other people today affect what we seek to be in the future? •

If you could list different animals - or substitute people/role-models instead - what would the list be and what might it tell you about yourself? •

Whether the exercise produces accurate results is not the point the point is to encourage thinking about who we are and who we want to be, in more depth than we normally consider these things. •

The Johari Window model is a useful reference for this exercise and surrounding discussions. •

Underpinning theory and further reading if desired: Carl Rogers' ideas about Ideal Self and Real Self, and Sigmund Freud's theories, notably relating to animal personalization and influences of significant others (people in our lives). I am grateful to Shwetha Singh for the contribution of this exercise and assistance with its adaptation. This exercise is not presented as a validated or scientific instrument. Please use it carefully.

christmas quizzes Free Christmas quizzes - Quizballs 48 (30 questions and answers) - and last year's Quizballs 29 (20 questions and answers)

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listening games (listening, interpretation, understanding, speaking, creativity) Exercise 1. First here is a quick self-contained ready-made listening exercise (ack Claire Leach) which focuses on listening only. Exercise 2. The activity which follows is different to the ready-made game above - it enables a group to devise their own exercises and therefore includes aspects of creativity and team working in addition to listening. This second exercise is an activity idea chiefly for demonstrating and developing listening, understanding and interpretation abilities, but also for general communications and creative and competitive team working. Split the group into two or more teams of up to five people per team. Split larger groups into more teams and adapt the exercise accordingly - it's very flexible. Each team member (or a given number of people per team) must read out a passage from a newspaper or other suitably detailed text to the opposing team or teams. Rotate the reading around the teams in turn rather than have each team perform all its readings one after the other. Teams must listen to the readings so as to answer questions later, posed by the team asking the questions. Taking written notes while listening is optional at the discretion of the facilitator. If useful and relevant to the skills required then include this aspect. When all the passages have been read, each team must then devise and ask the other team 5/10/20 questions in turn about the passages they've read. Optionally the questions can be devised before the readings, which makes the listening challenge easier since there is no interruption or distraction between the readings and the questions. The winning team is the one to answer most answers correctly. The facilitator can award bonus points for answers which demonstrate particularly good interpretation of the subject matter included in the readings. Adjust the many variables of this activity to suit your situation, notably: structure teams number and size, number of readers, length of passages, number of questions, etc., according to time and group size, and level of difficulty required. Here's an example: •

group of 10



two teams of 5 people



3 readers per team (self-appointed by teams)

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passages to be max 100 words or 30 seconds

5 mins allowed for teams to decide passages (newspapers contain ideal content) • •

3 mins total time for reading the six passages



5 mins for teams to construct 5 questions based on their passages

5 mins to ask and answer 10 questions, 5 questions each team, asked/answered alternately one from each team •

winning team is team with most correct answers/points including bonuses •

total time including set up, excluding review and discussion, about 30 mins •

The activity format can be varied too, for example breaking the questioning and answering into two different sections, so that teams have a chance to work on their answers, which adds the extra difficulty of noting or remembering the questions properly too. Introduce more fun or additional technical aspects by issuing amusing or obscure or very specific reading material.

money exercise (ice-breaker, talking point, focus on observation, taking things for granted, noticing things right in front of us) This is a quick and very easy ice-breaker or scene-setter. Everyone uses money - notes and coins - most days of their lives. Coins and banknotes are a part of our lives, and yet like other vital and everpresent aspects of our lives, their familiarity and constant presence cause us to ignore their details. The same can be said of our friends, our families, colleagues, our own bodies, the world around us. We go through life taking it all for granted, and only miss something when it is gone. To illustrate the point ask people (individually to write down) how many designs they are aware of on a pound coin. In countries other than the UK choose a suitable equivalent coin or banknote which has many variations. Then ask people to look in their pockets and purses (manbags?... the world is changing, another story..), and show and tell as a group how many actual different pound coin designs exist. You will be surprised.

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Arguably no harm comes from failing to appreciate the detail, variety and subtlety and purpose of all the designs of our coins or banknotes, but could we pay (pun intended) more attention to the detail, variety and subtlety that exists in other aspects of our world - people especially? The world opens to us when we become more open ourselves to what and who are in it - then we see more clearly the opportunities and bigger priorities we might have been ignoring. Ask the person next to you: "Tell me something important about you that I don't know." Again you will be surprised. With a little effort we can see and enable more to happen, or we merely continue (quite understandably) to focus on our own very narrow priorities and view of the world, which when we take a wider view often don't seem to be so important after all. The picture shows nine of the pound coin designs. How many others can you find? What do they denote? There are fourteen in circulation (as at Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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2007). See the Royal Mint pound coin page for full details. For more supporting trivia and information about (mainly British) money see the money history and slang page.

conkers and acorns activities (various themes for discussions and exploration) A seasonal activity if ever there was one. These ideas are more for young people than for grown-up work environments, although for some there will be connections with work issues. Usefulness and effectiveness will partly depend on openness to intuitive learning and exploration. Various exercises and opportunities arise from these fascinating fruits, for example: Take the group outside to the local park and have them collect conkers and/or acorns. Fresh air and a nostalgic revisiting of simple childhood fun is good for the soul. Be careful if the (big) boys want to throw big sticks up into the trees. •

Trees are very spiritual and symbolic of many modern issues and challenges, and can be used to prompt all sorts of discussions and ideas. Time, maturity, age, seasons, growth and rest, converting energy and fuel (sun, rain, soil minerals) into life and beauty, design, balance, quality, etc. •

Ask people to close their eyes, think and then explain their associations and feelings triggered by (physically holding, handling) conkers or acorns. The real thing is far more sensory and emotive than a picture. This illustrates the power of the subconcious and unconcious mind, which is very relevant to our behaviour, as featured in personality, NLP, and Transactional Analysis, for example. For many grown-ups it demonstrates the deep-rooted feelings anchored in our childhood. •

A good old-fashioned conkers competition. You need a drill and string. Goggles and health & safety disclaimer as appropriate. Have the group design the structure of the competition so that all stay involved from start to end. •

Explore/develop the selection and preparation of the most competitive conkers. Old conkers are the best. Drilling produces a stronger hole than forcing through a nail or an awl, which creates weaknesses liable to split. Does vinegar really work? Apparently softening with moisturiser works better.. •

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Write the rules of playing conkers so that an eight-year-old would understand them. •

The pros and cons of regulations in proper competitions which forbid the use of personal conkers. How do rules affect the nature of the competition and the appeal to potential contestants and audiences, in turn affecting the 'market' development? •

Cultural/diversity discussion - Conkers and acorns have strong British associations. What are the equivalents in other regions/cultures? •

Acorns symbolise growth and potential: "Parvis e glandibus quercus" - Tall oaks from little acorns grow, is the old anonymous Latin saying. What other imagery and analogies are associated with trees? •

What are the origins of the words? - chestnut (from Greek 'kastanon' - not the modern English words chest or nut), conker (probably from conch, meaning shell, because apparently early versions of the game were played using snail shells, and/or associated with the word conquer) and acorn (Old English different spelling 'aecern' evolving into modern form by combination of 'ac' meaning oak and 'corn' meaning kernel as in nut - sources Chambers and Cassells). •

The design of the conker and its prickly casing are a marvel of evolution. Why is it like it is? Why is the acorn like it is? How did that funny little cup arrangement evolve? When we think about the function of fruits we can imagine how they evolved their amazing designs. What can we learn from nature's evolution and design that might be transferable to organizations and society? To what extent should we encourage and enable design and evolution of organizations and policies and systems via external influences (customers especially) rather than internal arrogance and guesswork? •

Conkers (horse chestnuts) are not to be eaten by people, yet they are safe for certain animals, including horses. The North American Indians used a lot of acorns in their diet, yet acorns are poisonous to horses. How did that happen? •

Extend the exploration to sweet chestnuts, which of course are very tasty roasted or toasted under a grill and rather easier to prepare than acorns. •

Or find the best propellors from the sycamore/maple trees. You'll discover a lot more in the park. Maybe combine with a visit to the swings. (See the quickies below). Or just go feed the ducks and the squirrels. Beats spending your lunch-break at your desk any day. •

world conker championships wikipedia conkers North American Indian acorn recipes how to whistle an acorn

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competitor-partner exercise (competitor intelligence, competitor research, different perspectives, seeking and finding positives and opportunities instead of difficulties and threats choice over instinct - collaboration rather than conflict) The assumption is normally that a 'competing' organization or person can only ever be a competitor and a threat, to be attacked, defended, undercut, or beaten or fended off in some way. Such tendencies commonly stem from instincts which give rise to basic human survival behaviours like: tit-for-tat, retaliate before being attacked, to see threats rather than opportunities, and to defend rather than expose our own vulnerabilities, etc. There are good reasons however for taking a more modern rounded collaborative view of people and organizations that operate in our personal or business space or field or market. The first law of cybernetics explains a crucial benefit resulting from considering and choosing our responses rather than defaulting to instinct (or worse still defaulting to the assumed or inherited instinct of others, or convention, tradition, status quo, expectation, etc). Much energy is wasted developing and implementing competitive strategies, which often can either be avoided altogether (because the threat is vastly lower than believed) and/or which can better be channelled into collaborative partnership strategies (which can produce far better outcomes for all concerned). This exercise (which can be simplified or extended) encourages a more sophisticated approach when responding to organizations in markets (or people within work teams) normally viewed as competitors or threats. Split the group into teams or pairs or individuals as appropriate for your situation. Allocate or ask the participants to identify an organization (or group, but can be a trend or a development) that they consider to be a competitor or threat. In certain situations choices can be kept private, for example where the exercise deals with people and relationships. Validate the selections (in light of the remainder of this exercise, so that the subjects are relevant and helpful). Obviously this is more appropriate for commercial competitor situations. Where the exercise is used for private personal relationships just ask people to double-check themselves that they have chosen a suitable subject. Ask people to think carefully about their chosen person/organization, according to the factors in the appropriate grid below (the grids are Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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different for organizations and people), and particularly to cast aside all assumptions and historical beliefs and practices. The factors can be adapted according to the circumstances, and for more complex situations (notably commercial competitor and market analysis) can entail quite detailed research (separate from the session, or part of the session, depending on the time available and local situation). Essentially the exercise weighs the pros and cons of each factor from the perspective of competitor and partner. Emphasise to participants when making the assessment to look continually for a fit between the other organization and their own situation and capabilities and needs. You will often be surprised that there are far more reasons to collaborate than to persist with habitual aggressive or defensive competition strategies and responses. This is the age of collaboration. We can all benefit by checking old assumptions.

market competitor/partner grid as competitor? factor

pros

cons

as partner? pros

cons

offering (products, services, added values, people, strategic, philosophy, ethics, culture, range, USP's, price, quality, approvals, licences, reputation, gaps and needs, innovation, brands others..) territory (markets, countries, cultures, demographics, penetration, share, Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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coverage, franchise, geography, area, dominance, trends others..) connections (distribution, routes to market, communication s, comms technology, ITC, inbound and outbound, advertising and promotions, PR, lobbying, export import, partners, suppliers, regulatory, international, scale and size (resources, expanding, declining, size strengths and weaknesses, growth aims, ownership and funding, debts and gearing, cash and liquidity, acquisitive, divesting, adaptability, speed - others..) totals/summar y or overview - various ways to score/summaris e - for example a point for each significant issue noted, or simply Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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assess the weight and amount of comments in each column Tips: 1. Using colour can make the exercise more intuitive and the results easier to see, for example use green for pros and red for cons. 2. If developing strategy in relation to a single major 'competitor' you can have the whole group work on one big grid, using post-it notes or similarly ingenious display method - in which case allocate parts of the grid to teams or pairs to work on. Or have two teams - one work on the pros and the other the cons; or four teams or pairs, each working on one of the four factors.

people and team relationships grid The competitor-partner grid can also be adapted to help people or a group explore team and group relationships and ways to work together rather than to compete and conflict. Again the emphasis should be on finding a fit between oneself and the other person - in terms of strengths and weaknesses, personality and styles, mutually supporting aims, experience and aspiration, etc. If running an open shared exercise ensure anyone subject to the analysis is present and agreeable, and ideally participating constructing their own grid featuring another member of the team. The tool can of course also be used as a private personal reflective instrument, in which case the findings are to be kept private and personal. It is not appropriate for a group to discuss and analyse a person who is not present and agreeable to the exercise. you factor

pros

me cons

pros

cons

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connections other totals/summar y Add other lines as appropriate. Allow and encourage people to adapt and develop the format to suit their situations. The aim is to find points of mutual support and compensation. Everyone is good at some things and not so good at other things. We do best in life when we help people where they are not strong, and this enables them where possible to help us where we are not strong.

Other relevant concepts: prisoner's dilemma (related to collaboration v aggression, game theory and win-win strategies) cybernetics personality perceptions relationships matrix (based on the Four Temperaments/DISC model) personality types multiple intelligences and learning styles © competitor-partner grid concept alan chapman 2007

questioning games (to demonstrate, teach and practise the difference between open and closed questions) Many people habitually ask closed questions when they want to gather information and encourage the other person to talk, instead of using open questions. Here are some scenarios to use with groups in demonstrating the effectiveness of open questions, and the ineffectiveness of closed questions, for gathering information efficiently. Use your own alternative scenarios if more appropriate to your situation. In each case state the scenario to the group, and then role-play or ask for closed questions by which the group must gather all the facts or solve the puzzle. This is neither easy nor efficient of course. Then ask for suggestions of open questions which will reveal the information or answer most efficiently. Scenarios (numbers 2 and 3 are lateral thinking puzzles suitable for questioning exercises): Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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1. You are seeking to rent a holiday cottage in a particular area (say Cornwall, or whatever). The newspaper has one advert in the Cornwall section, stating merely: 'Holiday Cottage For Rent' and a phone number. Role-play your phone call to discover if the cottage is what you want, using closed questions only. (If helpful, brainstorm a long list of typical requirements beforehand.) Similar exercises are possible using other sale/hire/services scenarios, e.g., cars, houses, party/wedding venues, coaching, clubs, etc. 2. A class of twenty-five children is invited by their teacher to share a bag of exactly twenty-five sweets. After the share-out all the children have a sweet but one sweet remains in the bag. How is this? Instruct the group to ask closed questions to solve the puzzle. (The answer is that last sweet was taken away in the bag.) 3. Two electric trains were mistakenly routed onto the same track in opposite directions into a tunnel. One travelling at 200 mph, the other at 220 mph. Each train passed successfully through the tunnel and was able to continue its journey without stopping or colliding. How so? Instruct the group to ask closed questions to solve the puzzle. (The answer is that the second train entered the tunnel several minutes after the first one had left it.) Use or adapt your own puzzles and scenarios as appropriate for the audience. You can also vary the way that the group asks questions - in turn, one-toone with observers, in pairs, etc. Here is some explanation of the use of questioning in a sales training context, as typically found in a traditional selling process. Questioning of course features importantly within coaching, counselling, interviewing, investigating, and many other disciplines, so adapt the explanation to suit your needs. Use the poster of Rudyard Kipling's 'six serving men' verse to help explain and reinforce the best way to ask open questions. You can also extend this activity to develop the way that questions are structured and asked (style, emotion, tone, body language, use of words, etc), in which the Mehrabian theory is a helpful reference. For help with enabling powerful facilitative questioning see Sharon Drew Morgen's Facilitative Methodology. (My thanks to Sarah Phillips for this activity idea.)

diversity quiz game (for diverse groups, mutual understanding, empathy, diversity training) Here is an easy exercise which makes use of the quiz format to teach and improve people's response to diversity issues. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The activity is for diverse groups (mixed age, race, gender, religion, and/or other types of people), but the exercise will be useful for groups of apparently less diverse nature too. Diversity is not just about race and religion - diversity entails all aspects of what makes people different, which can be found in any group of people, even if initially the group seems not very diverse at all. The exercise is basically for the group members to create a diversity quiz by contributing questions individually (or working in pairs or threes depending on overall group size), and then for the group as a whole to take the quiz (or in the same teams). This process enables discovery of real practical local diversity issues, instead of assuming and announcing what they might be. If appropriate first brainstorm and/or discuss and agree/explain what diversity means. Here is a suggested description. Adapt it or use your own explanation to suit the situation. "In a social or work context diversity means difference and variation among people. This difference and variation can be characterised by race, gender, age, religion, physical shape and ability, social class and background, personality and ability: any, some, or all of these. Organizations which make the most of the natural diversity in their staff, customers, suppliers and other partners, have a huge advantage over organizations which fail to do so. Making the most of diversity in staff and other people - often called inclusiveness - increases the depth and range of behaviours and capabilities (also skills, knowledge and styles) that the organization can call upon in meeting the needs of the increasingly diverse market place. Recognising diversity in the market place effectively increases the size of the market. Failing to acknowledge diversity within and outside the organization reduces capabilities, causing the organization to be less appealing, and to fewer people, and in some cases creates organizational liabilities for litigation under discrimination laws. Failure to recognise and respond to diversity often equates to discrimination and is regarded by fair-minded people as unethical." Here is the instruction to group members to create the quiz: 1. You have five (or 10 or 15) minutes to formulate one (or two or three) quiz question(s) and answer(s) for a diversity quiz. You must do this individually/in pairs/in threes. N.B. Timings, numbers of questions and team size depends on the size of the group, for example: work as individuals for group sizes up to 9 people; in pairs for groups of 8-24 people; or in threes for groups of 15 and above. Very large groups should be spilt into sub-groups with appointed facilitators. Consider time available and number of questions needed when deciding your parameters for the activity. 2. Tell the group: when formulating your questions and answers think about subjects that are significant in reflecting or influencing how you, and people like you act, think, behave, decide, etc. Questions can be Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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about anything - history, lifestyle, culture, media, travel, geography, finance, food and drink, language, politics, leisure and entertainment. 3. For the effective running of the quiz, questions must be clear and easy to understand, and have clear short answers - facts, figures, etc., not subjective personal opinions that might be subject to wide interpretation. 4. One of the ironies of diversity is that we all tend to assume that people who are different to us understand how and why we think and behave the way we do. We take for granted the way we are, and expect others to sympathise with us, and to see things from our viewpoint. This starts with the simplest aspects of our lives. Therefore in formulating helpful diversity quiz questions and answers, do not strive for complex concepts. Keep it simple, and you will be surprised how revealing and helpful this can be. 5. Hand the formulated questions and answers to the facilitator, who can then run the quiz for the whole group using all questions. The quiz can be run for people competing as individuals or in the same pairs or threes which formulated the questions. A useful reference model for this activity is the Johari Window. The diversity quiz exercise seeks to enable people to increase what others know about each other, which is at the root of inclusiveness and making the most of diversity. The Multiple Intelligence model is also a useful reference model for considering people's different strengths (to avoid assuming that there is only one type of intellectual capability), and the Erikson life stages model is also helpful in considering age and upbringing issues.

questions examples, and adapting exercise into survey The questions and answers should be simple - everyday things that we all take for granted, except when it comes to other people, which is the point. Most obvious examples relate to geographical/cultural facts relevant to people's own native/place of birth/parents' country. For example: •

national holidays



money/currency



capital city



language(s)



airport(s)/airlines/roads/transport/ports



ruling party/government/leaders/opposition parties



religion(s)



national sports/hobbies/pastimes/music/dance



newspapers/TV/media



beautiful regions/scenery weather/seasons/climate

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tourism



monuments/buildings/bridges/rivers/lakes



wild animals/birds/trees/plants



national flag design/national anthem/national history/independence.

Other diversity issues questions/areas to explore: •

disabilities and personal physical/mental differences



age/generational factors and lifestyle/behaviours/preferences



gender/sexuality differences

multiple intelligence issues (see Gardner model and test for useful context) - respecting each other's strengths and weaknesses, preferences and aversions, fears, etc •

home life attitudes and received/conditioned/inherited views/attitudes - exploring cultural aspects of parental influences. •

Developing quiz questions need not be the most important aspect - it's the discussion and exploration on the way that also holds great potential for mutual understanding, especially in a diverse group. The outcome or ostensible 'aim' of the activity can therefore be altered accordingly - maybe not a quiz - maybe 'ten amazing things I never knew about my group', or 'ten amazing things my team partner(s) and I never knew about each other'.. The concept can also be adapted into/started with a survey - when the group goes out into a busy public area to ask people: "Could you tell me a simple fact about your culture/country that could make a good question and answer for a diversity quiz? (Explain if required: Diversity is understanding and appreciating the differences between people)..." If you run the exercise and produce some questions do let me have them to share on the website.

Please send me quizzes created using the above exercise to share with others, or post them onto the Businessballs free publishing Space.

causes and solutions exercises (discussion or illustration of problem-solving, dispute resolution, crisis management and avoidance, solutions-focused thinking) Quick and easy to set up, and very adaptable for all sorts of training and development purposes, this exercise is based on the following simple principle: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Ask individuals or pairs or threes (or a larger team with guidance as to team for leadership) to identify an example in a newspaper of some sort of dispute or conflict, and then to analyse the causes and solutions. Ask people to adopt the view of a mediator. Suggest or brainstorm some pointers to help people approach the task, for example: What helpful facilitative questions could be asked of the parties involved to work towards a solution? •

What might be changed in the methods or attitudes or structures of the situations in order to prevent a recurrence of the problems? •

How does each side feel and what are their main complaints, feelings, needs and motivators? •

To what extent could the problem have been averted or predicted, and if so how? • •

How can others learn from the situation?

Discussion and presentation format and timings are flexible and at the discretion of the facilitator. Save time if needs be by highlighting suggested articles in the newspapers. Refer delegates to relevant management or behavioural theories and models, and/or ask that delegates do this when they present/discuss their views/analysis.

quiz public survey game (research, communications skills, appreciating the knowledge other people possess, human engagement, fun) This is a simple twist to bring any quiz or question to life, and add a wonderful dimension for developing and demonstrating the power of successfully communicating and engaging with other people. Split the group to suit you (teams, pairs, or threes probably best). Decide rules, timing, presentation, discussion, review, etc., to fit your situation. All this is flexible. Take any quiz or series of questions, or one big difficult question. Issue it to the teams (or pairs, or individuals, etc). The task is to go out and engage with the general public to find the answers. Introduce variations to suit your situation. For example if working with competing teams you can arrange that each team has a 'shadow' or observer from another team to ensure no cheating, and also to give observer feedback in any reviews that happen Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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afterwards. (If appropriate brainstorm the review points prior to the exercise with the group - it's easier and better than you doing this by yourself.) You can also define certain areas or places for the teams to go (shopping centre, pubs, library, old folks home for example), although take care to ensure no nuisance is caused. State clear rules for the use of phones. Purists might argue that they are not allowed at all, which is fine, but there is no problem allowing an element of phone research if it fits the group roles/preferences and development situation. There are lots of quizzes in the quizballs section, including many with interesting varied content that would suit this exercise. Or make up your own questions or subjects for the teams to research among the general public, for example: •

List the last 20 prime ministers/presidents in correct order.



List all the county towns/state capitals.



Name all the Big Brother winners in order.



What's the history of the local town?



Who are the most famous people born locally?

What are the five most liked corporations, and what are the five least liked corporations? • •

Who would win an election if one were called now?

You'll think of lots more ideas.

bin toss game (warm-up, tea-break activity, competitive exercise, exploring competitiveness and motivation) Adapt this simple idea any way you want. There are lots of potential variations. A horse-shoe table layout (U-shape) or a ring of tables or a square with a gap in the centre are well-suited to this idea. 'Cabaret'-style layout will also work provided the position of the waste bin target(s) is arranged fairly. You can probably guess already... Position a waste bin or basket on the floor or on a table centrally between the delegates. The winner or winning team is the one to throw the most balls of paper (or any other suitable objects that the facilitator decides) into the bin. Obviously specify a method of identifying who threw what. Variations on the theme are for example: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Design a personalised or team brand or logo for each sheet rolled and tossed. • •

Different coloured paper.



Paper rockets.



Only one sheet allowed - how many tiny balls can you get in the bin.



Time limits. Limits on amount of projectile materials.



All throw at once, or take it in turns.



Business cards - float or spin.



Coins, coloured rubber bands.



Pairs, threes, teams.



More than one bin with different point values.



Ice buckets and dustbins.

One bin per team with point deductions for opposing team missiles successfully deposited. •

Write a letter on each sheet before tossing - words must be spelled from bin contents. •

Pairs, or threes or teams to devise a party game based around the bin toss idea - then demonstrate and sell it to the group. •

You'll think of lots more.. When you have why not publish them on the new Businessballs Space?...

bricks in the wall exercise (aims, goals, objectives, steps - for new years, new beginnings, changes and planning, making dreams into reality) This is a simple exercise for goal-setting and making changes. The ideas are relevant for calendar new years, new trading years, new roles, teams and projects, and for personal development. The activity is based on the simple concept that even small aims actually comprise a series of elements which need to be identified, planned, and implemented in correct order. Achieving aims, goals and changes is like building houses - they need to be understood and assembled bit by bit - like bricks in a wall. You might start with a vision or dream or objective, but this cannot be achieved in one single move. A house is not built from the top down or all at once. It starts with a plan or maybe a vision if the type of house has never been built before - and is Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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then constructed from the foundations upwards, section by section, brick by brick. Like building a house, any aim or change or objective must be analysed and planned, and then built in a sensible order: what will it look like? - describe the vision or end-aim so we will recognise it and be sure it has been achieved correctly •

what are the components? - the causal factors and circumstances? what needs to be put in place? - physical resources and materials, maybe people too, and intangibles like agreements, permissions, understanding, etc. •

and what is the process for assembling it all? - the steps, sequence, timings, etc. •

Using this concept, ask the group, split into whatever teams or individuals that makes sense for your situation, to visualise and then map out - in very simple terms - one of their own main aims for the coming year/period, quarter/lifetime, whatever. Keep it simple. Resist getting into a lot of detail. Merely seek to explain/reinforce the need for basic structure and sequence and the relationship between cause and effect. This is the extent of the exercise. The framework is: 1. Describe the end-aim - what does the completed change/objective/aim/dream look like? What will it/you be like, feel like, behave like, and what difference will the change make? Is the end aim worth the investment? Is the end aim actually a good and right one? How will you know when it's been achieved, and everyone else too? 2. What are the components of this change? The physical things you can see and touch and put a cost to, and the other factors that are less easy to see and to measure? What are the cause-and-effect relationships - start at the end and work backwards - what needs to happen before this, and this, and this, etc. 3. What is the sequence and timings of assembling the components, and for more complex changes, what is the inter-relatedness (and inter-dependence) of the components? Certain elements are part of sub-sets or sub-structures that need to be built at the same time alongside eachother, converging at a suitable point. Understanding these connections is very important where a project comprises a number of separate inter-dependent structures. (Imagine how long it would take to build a house if only one trade or activity could be on site at any one time, and imagine how chaotic things would be if these different activities were not planned and joined together at the right time.) 4. Finally, having identified the above - in outline terms only - ask people to bring them together as a rough plan for their own particular aim/objective/change, in whatever format people find easiest. (Some people prefer to map out a flow diagram, others Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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prefer a pictorial representation like a house; other people prefer a list; any format is fine as long as it's clear and structured.) The purpose of this exercise is not to produce a heavily detailed project management plan - that can happen afterwards if required (see the notes on project management for examples of traditional planning formats) - the aim of this activity is to explain the importance of cause and effect, and compenents and process, in achieving aims.

the ampersand game (ice-breakers, warmups, demonstrations of learning, thinking, and brain-types, knowledge versus skill) This simple exercise is a quick icebreaker, or can be extended into something more meaningful. Fundamentally the activity demonstrates that knowing something is very different to doing something. Knowledge is different to skill. The exercise also illustrates certain learning and brain processes, notably relating to retention, practise and repetition, as steps to perfection. Useful reference models would include Bloom's Taxonomy and the Conscious Competence model. The basic activity idea is very simple: It's basically to draw the ampersand symbol (the 'and sign'). The exercise however can be adapted and developed significantly. Everyone has seen the ampersand symbol. Most people call it the 'and sign'. It looks like this, in two common fonts, (Tahoma and Times New Roman):

&

&

In fact the ampersand appears in a wide variety of wonderful designs; it has provided designers through the centuries with more scope for artistic interpretation than any other character. The activity is simply to ask people to draw the ampersand symbol - serif or sans serif - or a more stylised version - at the discretion of the facilitator. (Interesting background about sans serif and serif fonts is on the presentations page.) It's actually not at all easy to draw a good-looking ampersand, especially if team members are not able to see the symbol to copy it. Knowing and recognising the ampersand equates to 'knowledge'. Being able to draw it - to reliably produce one - equates to 'skill'. Different things. Knowledge we can learn by observation and other sensory input. Skill is generally only acquired from experience, practice, trial and error. This is the heart of the activity.

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Where people should draw and present their artwork attempts - and how large and how long is permitted for the effort - is all flexible and at the discretion of the facilitator. People can use a blank sheet of paper where they sit, or alternatively can practise (or not), and then take turns to draw the symbol on a flip chart. Or ask people to work in pairs or threes or even teams, to design their definitive ampersand. Or encourage branding and styling of people's artwork according to a particular theme, which extends the activity beyond the basic purpose described here. At its simplest the exercise is a two-minute icebreaker. With a bit of imagination it can be adapted into a much bigger activity, if the idea appeals and fits the situation. The exercise emphasises that we can know something very simply intimately but be incapable of reproducing it properly and expertly whether a printed symbol, or something more significant. The principle extends to behaviour, style, techniques, etc. The activity also demonstrates the significance of practice in becoming good at something. The brain must learn how to do it, which is very different from the brain simply recognising and being able to describe it. Incidentally while the symbol is about 2,000 years old, the word ampersand first appeared in the English language in around 1835. It is a corrupted (confused) derivation of the term 'And per se', which was the original formal name of the & symbol in glossaries and official reference works. More about the origins of the ampersand. Explaining the history can help position the exercise - it took 2,000 years to arrive at today's ampersand designs - hence why it takes a bit of practice to reproduce a good one by hand.

seasonal team games (exercises and activities linked to christmas and other celebrations) These activities ideas are not only for Christmas. They'll adapt for other seasons and celebrations. Use these activities sensitively. If there's a risk of causing offence then adapt them or avoid them. The ideas are meant to be fun, underpinned by some useful questions and learning. Split the group however suits you (teams, pairs, or threes probably best). Arrange presentation, discussion, review, etc., to fit your situation. The Roman/Greek god theme below has absolutely nothing to do with the activities, but if it helps add an additional creative perspective by all means go with it. 1. Christmas Community Party - You are a think-tank appointed by Bacchus, god of wine, merriment and debauchery. Bacchus has tasked you to devise a plan for staging a free local community Christmas party or event, to include ideas for the type of event, target audience and guests, funding, staffing, venue, marketing, publicity and ideally on-going benefit for the community, and reasons for the funders and event managers to Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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stay involved and supportive. (Specify a community as appropriate, or leave the teams to decide this themselves.) 2. Brussel Sprout Relaunch - You are marketing advisor to Saturn, not only Roman god of the sky, but also with a secondary portfolio responsibility for agriculture (never knew that did you..) Anyway Saturn is very concerned that one of the greatest vegetables ever - the brussel sprout - has struggled to achieve the popularity it deserves, especially among children, most of whom would apparently prefer to eat a bogie or a big mac instead of a good helping of brussels. Your task, should you decide to accept it, is to devise a product relaunch plan for the brussel sprout, including whatever you think would elevate the vegetable to its rightful place as king/queen of all vegetables. Consider the marketing staples: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and anything else you can bring into play, e.g., endorsement by Ramsos and Olivos, the two-headed god of culinary evangualisation. The world is no longer your oyster, it's your sprout. (Incidentally sprouts smell bad when they are cooked for too long, so education is worth including in your ideas.) 3. 2020 Retail Visioning - You sit on the advisory panel in the service of Argos, Asdos, Morros, Sainsbos, Tescos, and Waitros, the six musketeer gods of retailing, who have been assembled by Zeus and tasked to redefine the developed world's retail distribution model for the year 2020. Consider how, where, what, when and why consumers will be buying, and from whom. Your 2020 vision for retailing does not necessarily have to include the six musketeers, and in some ways it might be more fun if it does not. For instance, Co-opos, god of mutuality has some interesting ideas, as do Amazos, Ebos and Googlos, the gods of change and basically ripping up the rule book. 4. Seasonal Rebrands - You are marketing assistant to Richus Bransos, the emperor of branding, and he's hungry for a sleeping giant of a product to rebrand and relaunch. Your task is to identify a product or service or a proposition of some sort - anything from a chocolate bar to a whole country - which can be rebranded and relaunched for the Christmas season (or any other season as appropriate) to generate bucketloads of wonga for the Bransos Empire and its shareholders. Consider product/service, price, promotion, place, uniqueness and differentiation, distribution, plenty of photo-opportunities for Richus Bransos to dress up as a banana or a silly girl. (Forget brussel sprouts because Saturn is already working on it, and forget ITV because that other lesser god of the sky Rupertos Murderos has already bollocksed that one up right good and proper). 5. Christmas Diversity Project - You are doing a spot of workexperience for Gallupos, god of questioning. Zeus has raised the matter of the Christmas tree in the foyer and the 'Secret Santa' planned for next Friday lunchtime. Gallupos wants you to go forth into the local high street and canvass the populace (or look on the internet) to discover all the different ways that people celebrate Christmas around the world, and for those who don't celebrate Christmas find out what they do instead and when and how and why. Then (optionally) if you've time, try to roll them all together to conceptualise some sort of celebratory extravaganza for all Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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of humanity that will please everyone, and that we might be able to fit into the foyer. 6. Monetary Exchange project - You are special advisor to Soros, god of money, who has been tasked to devise an improved design of coinage and banknotes, which better reflects people's preferences and practical needs. Your responsibility is to suggest design, size, shape, material, monetary values, and any other innovative ideas for a new system of coins and banknotes.

christmas quiz See Quizballs 29 - twenty questions and answers for parties and team games.

cartoon and celebrity role-plays (casestudies, character profiles and scenarios for role-playing appraisals, interviews, counselling, disciplinary meetings, and coaching reviews, etc) Creating or compiling case-studies, character profiles, and scenarios for role-play training exercises can be time-consuming and difficult for trainers. This is especially applicable when planning role-plays in training for appraisals, job interviewing, counselling, disciplinary meetings, coaching, etc., when it's important to get people practising and observing techniques and learned skills. Role-plays produce significant benefits for the participants and observers and provide evidence of learning retention and comprehension - but giving people suitably interesting parts to play usually requires a lot of preparation. Even given good preparation, case-studies which are too mundane or too close to real work situations can hinder enjoyment and the necessary detachment and focus on techniques. Here's a way to generate easily and quickly lots of interesting case-study character profiles and scenarios for role-play exercises, which will also be great fun and very enjoyable to use. Instead of spending ages searching for and developing work-based casestudies, consider using well known characters and situations from the world of news, entertainment and celebrity. You can also get the group involved in thinking of suitable characters or situations they'd like to incorporate into their role-plays, for whatever work skills you are teaching or seeking to demonstrate.

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Certain characters are useful for different sorts of skills development roleplays. Where helpful or necessary also stipulate a situation that relates to the character. Situations related to characters are especially useful in roles-plays for disciplinary or counselling meetings, and for performance reviews, etc. Here are some character examples. You'll be able to think of many more: Superman, Lex Luthor, Batman, Catwoman, other comic book heroes and anti-heroes (for mediation roles-plays too..) •

George Bush, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela, Hillary and Bill Clinton, other politicians • •

Characters from Thunderbirds, Wacky Races, X-Men, Star Trek, etc

Characters from TV Soaps; Eastenders, Coronation Street, Friends, Sex in the City, etc •

Characters from Sci-Fi and fantasy adventure: Dr Who, James Bond, Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins, etc •

Rupert Murdoch, Clive Thompson, Richard Branson, and other notable corporate leaders in the news •

Cruella Deville, Snow White, Homer Simpson, other cartoon characters •

Tom and Jerry, Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote, (for arbitration roleplays..) •

Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Paul Gascoigne, OJ Simpson, and other controversial celebrity figures •

The world of news and entertainment is full of well-known characters and interesting situations that provide unlimited fascinating raw material for role-plays. Using iconic and famous characters enables participants to relate quickly to the personalities and broad issues. Characters and situations are instantly recognisable and instantly available for all sorts of role-play situations. Importantly, not having extensive case-study details encourages people to focus on helpful facilitative questioning and listening, and on clear expression and presentation, all of which is central to successful one-toone communications. Using very broad and powerful characters and situations enables a strong focus on the development of communications style and techniques for both/all participants, rather than getting bogged down in technical work-based content. (If you want to work with bit more detail you can always use biographies or obituaries of famous people, which are readily available on the web.) It's also a lot more fun role-playing larger-than-life iconic characters than using detailed (and for many, boring) management case-studies. Fully detailed work-based role-plays of course have a place in the learning and development spectrum, but there are times when something quicker and more stimulating will work better. Not forgetting also the benefit for Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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the facilitator, for whom these ideas enable role-playing activities to be organised without having to spend ages compiling and writing case-study profiles.

obituaries (personal goals, visualising personal aims and potential, identifying personal potential, life values, purpose and meaning) A simple exercise to lift people out of habitual thought patterns, and to encourage deep evaluation of personal aims, values, purpose and meaning. For groups of any size. Encourage post-activity feedback, review, sharing and discussion (or not), as appropriate, depending group/teams size, facilitators and time available. Encourage and enable follow-up actions as appropriate, dependent also on the situation and people's needs. The activity is based simply on posing the question(s) to team members: "Imagine you are dead - you've lived a long and happy life - what would your obituary say?" Alternatively/additionally ask the question: "How will you want people - your family and other good folk particularly - to remember you when you've gone?" Modern day-to-day life and work for many people becomes a chaotic fog, in which personal destiny is commonly left in the hands of employers and other external factors. It is all too easy to forget that we are only on this earth once. We do not have our time again. So it is worth thinking about making the most of ourselves and what we can do, while we have the chance. Focusing on how we would want to be remembered (who and what we want to be, and what difference we have made) helps develop a fundamental aim or idea from which people can then 'work back' and begin to think about how they will get there and what needs to change in order for them to do so. Follow-up exercises can therefore focus on 'in-filling' the changes and decisions steps necessary to achieve one's ultimate personal aims. Most things are possible if we know where we want to be and then plan and do the things necessary to get there. See the various quotes posters related to life purpose and values, which can be used in support of this activity, for example: "He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead" (Anon), and Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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"The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." (William James, 1842-1910, US psychologist and philosopher)

telephone chatting activities (team-building for home-based staff, telephone skills exercises, remote teams relationships) Home-based staff and remote teams miss out on the valuable social contact normally available to office-based teams. Personal interaction between staff (typically chatting and engaging in the canteen, elevator, lounge areas, etc) is crucial for developing relationships and mutual awareness among teams, so if teams do not meet frequently then the leader must devise ways to enable this personal interaction to happen. Traditional autocratic management discourages chatting between workers because it considers chatting to be a waste of time, but this misses the point. "You are paid to work not to chat or socialise in the corridor - get back to work.." is actually a very unhelpful management tactic. The truth is the better team members know each other the better the team performs. See the Johari Window model - it is a powerful explanation of the value of increasing mutual awareness, and why mutual awareness is central to effective teams and team building. Within reason, people need to be given every opportunity to get to know each other, and chatting achieves this very well. Chatting develops mutual awareness, and it also helps people feel included and valued. Conversely, if you deny people the chance to engage personally with their colleagues you starve them of interaction that is essential for well-being and life balance. The internet increasingly enables people to connect through 'groups' and 'social networking' websites, but for many remote or home-based work teams a simple telephone-based alternative can provide an easier more natural process, moreover using the telephone - even for chatting - helps improve telephone skills, especially listening. A simple way to achieve this double benefit of team development and skills improvement among remote teams is to encourage telephone chatting (within reason of course) between team members. Here are some ideas for doing this: Introduce a compulsory 15 minutes telephone chat-time which each team member must have with every other team member every week. Give no subject or aim other than having a good chat and getting to know the other person. •

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Introduce a rota or matrix for inter-team chat telephone appointments - timings to suit workloads - again with no aims other than to have a chat and learn something about each other. •

Introduce a virtual team tea-break or virtual visit to the pub everyone is in fact by their phone in their own homes or offices (with a cup of tea or a tumbler of what does you good) connected a suitable via telephone conference call - and the tone and spirit of the discussion must be as if the team were gathered around a table in the canteen or at the local pub. There are no aims or intended outcomes aside from having a good chat and getting to know each other better. •

When people are connecting more regularly and the telephone chats are up and running, maybe try introducing a few discussion subjects - not necessarily about work - anything to get people talking and understanding each other better. Maybe ask the team to suggest topics too, and then see where the team wants to take things. •

Encouraging and enabling chatting between team members improves telephone communications skills since it involves using the telephone to develop understanding, mutual awareness, empathy and relationships between people. Skills development becomes sharper still if activities are adapted for 'conference' calls connecting several people. Communications skills are placed under greater pressure when the voice is the only medium, which obviously tends to develop people's listening abilities.

businessballs quickies (ice-breakers, thought-provokers, ideas you can develop into all sorts of activities) These are quickies in the sense that they are quick for me to explain and for you to understand the basic ideas. What you do with them is up to you. Of course the development of these ideas could also be team exercises in their own right. Have fun. quickie 1 - marbles Take a few bags of marbles into the session. They are inexpensive, extremely evocative and nostalgic, beautiful and can be used for all sorts of exercises, aside from simply organising a quick knock-out competition (in which case be sure to brainstorm and agree the rules first with everyone..) quickie 2 - ultimate sandwiches Provide various loaves of bread, butter, margarine, and various (adventurous) fillings, plus bread-knives and wipes. Competition to make the ultimate sandwich. Variations extend to sending delegates out at lunchtime to buy their own ingredients for the ultimate sandwich challenge. Group tasting and voting as appropriate. Be adventurous with fillings and if appropriate enforce penalties and forfeits for anything you could buy in a sandwich bar. Bonus points for anything including Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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anchovies, capers, etc. Could you patent a sandwich? What sandwich would be most or least profitable? Consider production, packaging and distribution too. Correlations between sandwiches and types of people (makers and eaters)? Brand your ultimate sandwich. How would you market and promote your sandwich? How would you extend your successful sandwich business?.. Fancy rolls/cobs/batches/baps? (any other names incidentally for a bread roll?), pot noodles? restaurants, delivery? Market sectors? Range diversification? Pies, pasties, soup in the basket?.. quickie 3 - papier mache Papier mache, for those who never paid attention at infant school, is newspaper strips and flour paste glue, which is a wonderful modelling material, for small and large constructions, especially with a few tubs of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) as a release agent (if using moulds) and maybe some chicken wire from the local DIY store for making base structures. Painting is optional if you have time for constructions to dry and work on another day. For ideas see papiermache.co.uk. Revisit all the construction exercises you know and consider how they might work with papier mache. Aprons are advisable. quickie 4 - conkers Beyond September/October you might have some left over in drawers that the kids aren't interested in any more. A knock-out championship is the obvious activity, but like marbles they are beautiful and will prompt lots of thoughts, memories, feelings etc., which can be used to address all sorts of issues - environment, cultural diversity, technique, quality, ageism, etc. (Conkers of course get better with age, not vinegar, which just makes them smelly and soggy..) quickie 5 - sweeties Buy a few chocolate bars and tubes of sweets - one or two of the main varieties - and see how the groups responds to them. Why do we each have our favourites? What correlation is there between favourite chocolate bar and personality? Is there a class thing going on? Is there a gender thing? Cultural diversity and team correlations or analogies? What are the brilliant marketing and packaging successes and abject failures? Does anyone in the world like the new Smarties packaging? Bring back the tube I say. The possibilities are endless. quickie 6 - breakfast cereals Another visit to the supermarket, or task the delegates to go shopping at lunch-time for the cereals (according to whatever rules you state) and report back on their service and marketing experiences and observations. Same sort of activities and discussions as above basically. Milk, sugar, spoons and bowls are optional. Who prefers it straight out of the box dry? Anyone prefer water on their cornflakes? Salt and sugar debate, linked to marketing and social responsibility issues? How old is Tony the Tiger? What's the best thing you ever had free from a cereal box? What's the greatest example of added value? Which actually tastes the best and can we predict what your team members will like and dislike? Are the adverts grreeeeaaat or are they a load of rubbish? Can we see similarities in the Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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style and feel of products from the same organisation? Which brands are more likely to succeed globally and which will need re-branding? quickie 7 - groups Essentially this is an activity for the group to organise itself into subgroups according to the categories you state. People should have space to move around, and materials to create simple signs (for sub-group names). It's up to the group to establish the sub-group sections, which many people will find very challenging - they have to create the structure from nothing and then fit themselves into it. The facilitator can stipulate minimum and maximum sub-group sizes, which obviously increases or reduces challenge of deciding the sub-group structures. Here are some examples of subject categories. These are daft, but daft is thoughtprovoking, fun, and a great leveller, which makes the topics helpful for relating to each other in ways that are completely removed from usual work or social groupings: preferred washing-up or vacuuming or decorating or gardening methods • •

favourite type of TV or show or entertainment



leader role model

random words, eg., 'pets/money/sport/wow', or 'table/tree/nut/leave' (obviously the random words are effectively the sub-group structure) • •

holiday destinations



favourite music



dream car



preferred retirement age

Points to review after several group organisation phases would be for example: what did you think when you saw different people in different sub-groups? Who surprised you in their choices? Who was predictable and unpredictable? How did people's behaviour change in according to the different group categories? Who has knowledge or expertise or passion about something that we didn't realise before? quickie 8 - playground visit Take people to a local kids playground and mess around on the swings and roundabouts, etc. Try not to get into trouble with the local authority. Find a location without an upper age limit ideally. Preferable go when the kids are at school. Playgrounds help people get in touch with feelings and imagination that gets buried and hidden at work. And it's fun.

visualisation exercises (identifying unique personal potential, careers and direction, lifting limits) Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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A simple exercise with deep meaning, for any group size subject to appointing discussion leaders if appropriate. Review is optional. Thoughts can be shared and discussed or kept private; the type of review and follow-up depends on the situation. The purpose of the exercise is to encourage and enable people to think creatively and imaginatively about their direction and potential. As such it is particularly appropriate for people who are in a routine that is not of their choosing, or who lack confidence, or who need help visualising who they can be and what they can do. Ask people to imagine they are 18 years old and have just received a great set of exam results that gives them a free choice to study for a degree or qualification at any university or college, anywhere in the world. They also have a grant which will pay for all their fees. No loans, no debts, no pre-conditions. So the question is, given such a free choice, what would you study? Put another way, what would you love to spend a year or two or three years becoming brilliant at? For older people emphasise that they can keep all the benefit of all their accumulated knowledge and experience. They can even create their own degree course to fit exactly what they want to do. The important thing is for people to visualise and consider what they would do if they have a free choice. And then either during the review discussion and sharing of ideas, or in closing the exercise, make the following point: You have just visualised something that is hugely important to you. You are (depending on your religious standpoint) only here on this earth once. You will not come back again and have another go. So what's actually stopping you from pursuing your dreams? In almost all cases the obstacles will be self-imposed. Of course it's not always easy to do the things we want to do. But most things are possible - and you don't need to go to university for three years to start to become who you want to be and to follow a new direction. It starts with a realisation that our future is in our own hands. We ourselves - not anyone or anything else - determine whether we follow and achieve our passions and potential, or instead regret never trying. (Additional stimulus and ideas can be provided for the group in the form of university and college course listings or examples, although people should be encouraged to imagine their own subjects. Anything is possible. See also the Fantasticat concept.)

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team skipping (teamwork, team-building, warm-ups, outdoor activities) These team skipping activities are for groups of ten people or more, ideally twenty or larger, up to very large groups of a hundred or two hundred people. Split the group into teams of five to ten team members - 8-10 is ideal - or bigger teams if you fancy being more adventurous. Issue each team with a length of rope six metres long, or longer if you want to work with larger teams. The rope should be suitable for skipping, about 1cm wide, typically available from DIY and hardware stores. As ever practise and test any untried elements before selecting activities and materials for the actual event or session. The task for the teams is to perform a routine or series of skipping exercises in teams (like children's playground games, with two team members holding the rope, one at each end obviously). Instruct and demonstrate the rope twirling correctly, so that the skipping rope just touches the floor on each downward part of the twirl. Twirling too fast or too high can be dangerous and is punishable by detention or a visit to the head-teacher's office.. The rope holders will create a safer wider higher area of clearance for their team's jumpers by using their arms, not just wrists, to create big circles when twirling the rope. Ensure everyone in the teams has a chance to practise the rope twirling if the intention is to rotate this responsibility during the routines, which will add useful variety and change. Teams can perform simultaneously or one after the other depending on the situation, as planned by the session facilitator, although activities like this are far more dynamic and exciting if everyone is involved at the same time. If you wish you can arrange individual team displays or 'jump-offs' at the end of the activity, which will enable voting and judging by all participants. As implied, voting or judging the best teams and team members can be included in the activity depending on the situation. You can create different prize categories to ensure there are a number of different opportunities for teams and participants to excel in their own way (style, technique, duration, most spectacular rope tangle, most awkward director, overall best skipper, most reliable steady twirlers, best team rhythm, etc, etc.) Music can also be used to add to the atmosphere, in which case be aware of the effect of the music beat on the skipping speed. Encourage team members when not skipping themselves to coach and support those skipping at the time. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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It is the responsibility of the facilitator(s) to oversee the skipping speeds to ensure teams keep to sensible and safe rhythms. Be mindful of age and health issues, and structure the activities accordingly, for example allowing those who prefer not to skip to be twirlers or coaches or judges. Be mindful also of general health and safety and insurance issues, and where appropriate (especially if you are external provider) ask participants to sign a disclaimer. If using the activities indoors ensure the floor is carpeted or that sponge gym mats are used to cover the skipping areas. If using the exercise outside use a grassed area rather than a carpark. Under no circumstances force anyone to take part. This sort of physical activity must always be voluntary, and also must be appropriate for the group. Warn participants not to jump in high heels (not just the men, the ladies too..) If you really want to use this exercise but are unable or unwilling to risk the rope then consider running the exercise without the rope. Instruct the teams to use an imaginary rope. It might sound a daft idea, but it will get people thinking, moving and jumping about, and working in teams. And it's completely safe. Here are some examples of skipping instructions, which can be issued in advance, or called out during the activity by the facilitator. Plan instructions that are appropriate for the type of group. Variation to instructions can be increased by asking the teams to give a number to each team member. You should clarify the instruction terminology before the exercise begins. Terminology suggestions (adapt according to preferences): skipping zone = the floor area above which the rope is twirling, between the two rope holders •

step in = enter the skipping zone and start jumping, preferably over the rope at each revolution •

step out = exit the skipping zone, preferably without getting caught by the rope •

twirler = a rope-holding team member responsible for twirling the skipping rope •

These skipping instructions examples are based on a team size of 8-10 people but in principle they'll work with larger or smaller teams. Be creative and imaginative. There are no bounds to the silliness, subject to safety and the group's sense of humour and fun: step in/out boys/girls/all/bosses/directors/teammember1/2/3/whatever • •

change one/both twirlers (while skipping continues)

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clap/chant/count/sing along to the music/whatever in time with skipping rhythm • •

boys remove ties while skipping



girls put make-up on the boys while all skipping



make a mobile phone call to a loved one/colleague while skipping



you get the idea..

More chaotically challenging variation and team inter-action can be introduced by instructing team members to join or swap team members with other teams. This obviously changes the competitive team dynamic into one of whole group interaction and cooperation. To do this you will need to clearly identify each team. Again, using humour and imagination makes more fun. Examples of a 'whole group' instructions: All teams to synchronise their skipping rhythm so the whole group is skipping 'as one'. •

All teams maintain at least one/two/three jumpers, while the whole group re-organises into (balanced) teams according to categories specified by the facilitator, for example: boys/girls; job type; length of service; personality type; favourite food; etc, etc. (The facilitator must prepare and list the categories within these broad category headings, for example personality type could offer the categories of reliabledependable, intuitive-creative, critical-thinking, warm-friendly.) •

Each team develop into their own actual or virtual team by swapping team members with other teams and then develop their own distinct skipping pattern/sequence/style/performance which reflects their actual or virtual team role in the whole group/organisation (which can be performed and judged at the end of the activity). •

isolation and intuition team exercises (relationships, bullying and harassment, diversity, intuitive demonstrations) Here are two simple ideas for groups which can each be developed and adapted to suit local situations. Split very large groups into teams of ten to twenty people. exercise 1 - isolation The task demonstrates the feelings that a person experiences when isolated or subject to victimisation, group rejection, etc. As such it supports the teaching of positive human interaction principles, and laws relating to equality, diversity and harassment. Ask the team(s) to nominate a person among each team to be the 'victim', who must then stand away from the rest of the team, while the team Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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members stare and sneer at the unfortunate isolated 'victim'. For very grown-up people you can allow mild criticism directed at the 'victim' (nothing too upsetting or personal please). In any event be careful, and do you best to ensure that the first 'victim' is not the most vulnerable member of the team. Preferably it should be the most confident or senior member, and better still the team's boss. Ensure every team member that wishes to is able to experience being the victim. The review should focus on how 'victims' felt while isolated and being subjected to the staring or worse by the rest of the team. The exercise demonstrates the power of group animosity towards isolated individuals. If appropriate and helpful you can of course end the activity with a big group hug to show that everyone is actually still friends. (Hugging incidentally demonstrates well the power of relationships at the positive end of the scale of human interaction and behaviour. See the Love and Spirituality at Work section for more supporting background to this subject.) exercise 2 - intuition Aside from the lessons from exercise 1 relating to victimisation, the above activity also highlights the significance of intuitive feelings, which although difficult to measure and articulate, are extremely significant in relationships, teams and organisations. This next exercise augments the first one to further illustrate the power of intuition and feelings that resides in each of us. Using the same or similar team(s) in terms of size, then split the team(s) into two halves. One half of the team (called 'the watched') should stand facing a wall unable to see the other half of the team (called 'the watchers') which should stand together, several or many yards away from 'the watched'. The watchers then decide among themselves which person to stare at in 'the watched' half of the team (for say 30 seconds per 'target' person). The watchers can change whom they stare at and if so should make rough notes about timings for the review. After an initial review you can change the sides to ensure everyone experiences watching and being watched. Of course 'the watched' half of the team won't know which one is being stared at... or will they? In the reviews you will find out if any of 'the watched' people were able to tell intuitively who was being stared at, even though 'the watchers' were out of sight. Also discuss generally how 'the watched' and 'the watchers' felt, such as sensations of discomfort or disadvantage among 'the watched', and perhaps opposite feelings among the watchers, all of which can support learning about relationships and human interaction. For review also is the possibility that some people in the teams are more receptive and interested in the activity than others, which invites debate about whether some people are more naturally intuitive than others, which is generally believed to be so, and the implications of preferences either way. Experiments (and many people's own experience) indicate that many people have an instinctive or intuitive sense of being watched, and Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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although there is no guarantee that your own activities will produce clear and remarkable scientific results, the exercise will prompt interesting feelings, discussion and an unusual diversion into the subject of intuitive powers.

age diversity exercises for teams (age discrimination training, ageism awareness, diversity development) With the introduction of Age Discrimination legislation (UK October 2006, and consistent with European law), there is an increased need to raise awareness and to train people about ageism and age discrimination. Here are some ideas for activities and exercises which will highlight the issues. See the related notes about Age Discrimination and Diversity, including the 'objective justification' rules explaining certain allowable age discrimination subject to robust evidence that it is proportionate and legitimate. Organise teams and discussions according to your situation. Here are four separate ideas which can be used for exercises and team games. 1. Under age discrimination legislation many customary expressions in written and spoken communications are potentially unlawful if they refer to a person's age (any age - not only older people) in a negative way, and/or which could cause a person to feel they are being harassed or discriminated against. Under the law, individuals are liable (for harassment claims) as well as employers' wider responsibilities regarding discrimination, harassment and retirement. Some very common expressions are potentially discriminatory or harassing if directed at someone at work. Ask people to think of examples - there are lots of them, such as: •

Teach an old dog new tricks



An old head on young shoulders



Mature beyond his/her years



Respect your elders



It's a young man's game



Too old



Past it



Over the hill



Put out to grass or pasture



Dead man's shoes



Too young/Not old enough/Not mature enough

2. Direct age discrimination means treating a person at work less favourably because of their age. Indirect discrimination is more difficult to identify and guard against than direct discrimination, and it is equally Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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unlawful. Indirect discrimination is where policies, criteria, processes, activities, practices, rules or systems create a disadvantage for someone because of their age. These pitfalls can be less easy to identify and eliminate than directly discriminatory behaviour. Ask delegates to think of examples of potential indirect discrimination with your own organisation or within other (real or hypothetical) organisations, and/or based on past experience. Here are some examples - there are lots more: job or person profiles or adverts (and advertising media) which stipulate or imply an age requirement •

application or assessment documentation which includes reference to age or date of birth •

training or job selection criteria, attitudes, expectations which differentiate according to age • •

job promotion decisions and attitudes



pay and grades and benefits policies



holiday entitlement and freedoms



social activities and clubs which have or imply age restrictions

office and work-place traditions of who should do the tea-making, errands and menial tasks •

organisational and departmental culture, extending to jokes and banter •

3. Age diversity (as other sorts of diversity) offers advantages and benefits to all organisations and employers, especially where a diverse range of people-related capabilities is a clear organisational and/or competitive strength. This is particularly so in all service businesses. In all organisations, age diversity (as other sorts of diversity) is very helpful for management teams, which benefit from having a range and depth of skills, and a broad mix of experience, maturity, and different perspectives, from youngest to oldest. Diversity in organisations relates strongly to the immensely powerful 1st Law of Cybernetics. Ask people to suggest specific benefits which age (or any other) diversity brings to organisations. This helps focus on the advantages of encouraging diversity, aside from simply complying with the legislation. Here are some examples - there are lots more: Diverse organisations can engage well with diverse customer groups, markets, suppliers, etc •

Diversity in management teams can more easily engage with a diverse workforce •

A diverse workforce has a fuller appreciation of market needs and trends •

Diverse organisations have more answers to more questions than those which lack diversity •

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Diversity enables flexibility and adaptability - diversity has more responses available to it than narrowly defined systems (Cybernetics again..) •

Age Diversity in an organisation collectively understands the past, the present and the future • •

Age diversity naturally enables succession and mentoring

Age diversity in management helps executives stay in touch with the whole organisation; helps keep feet on the ground (as opposed to heads in the clouds or up somewhere unmentionable) •

Full diversity in an organisation collectively understands the world, whereas a non-diverse system by its own nature only has a limited view. •

N.B. Beware of promoting age diversity by suggesting particular correlations between age and capability, which can in itself be discriminatory. For example it is not right to say that only older people have maturity and wisdom, nor that only younger people have energy and vitality. Instead make the point that by having a mixture of people and ages, an organisation is far more likely to be able to meet the diverse demands of managing itself, and engaging successfully with the outside world, compared to an organisation which lacks diversity. 4. If you do not already have an equality policy (stating the organisation's position relating to all aspects of equality and discrimination) why not start the creative process with a brainstorm session about what it should contain. Incidentally the term 'brainstorming' is not normally considered to be a discriminatory or disrespectful term, just in case anyone asks... Ask the team(s) or group to list your own or other typical major organisational processes (inwardly and outwardly directed, for instance recruitment, training and development, customer and supplier relationships, etc) and how each might be described so as to ensure equality and to avoid wrongful discrimination. Alternatively ask people individually or the team(s) to prepare or research (in advance of the session, or during it if you have sufficient internet connections) examples of other organisations' equality policies, with a view then to suggesting and discussing as a group all of the relevant aspects which could for used for your own situation.

We all, irrespective of age, race, religion, gender, disability, etc., have our own special capabilities and strengths, and it is these capabilities and strengths that good organisations must seek to identify, assess, encourage and utilise, regardless of age or other potentially discriminatory factors.

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shot at dawn discussion (organisational morality, leadership styles and integrity, decision-making, humanity versus efficiency) This is a big emotional subject which enables a variety of discussions about morality, ethics, integrity, leadership styles, policies and decisionmaking in institutions and organisations, and the wider world. It also provides a stimulating basis for exploring ethics versus autocracy, and for examining the balance in organisations and cultures between humanity and efficiency. Organise the team(s) and debating activities to suit the audience and context. This can include debating, presenting, role-playing, brainstorming, listing and mapping key factors - anything that fits your aims and will be of interest and value to people. The subject also provides a thought-provoking warm-up discussion for any session dealing with ethics, morality, compassion, leadership, decision-making, and organisational culture, etc. Read and/or issue the notes about the Shot At Dawn pardons, which were announced by the British government on 16 August 2006, relating to British soldiers shot by firing squad for 'cowardice' and 'desertion' in the 1st World War. The 'Shot At Dawn' story represents a 90 year campaign to secure posthumous pardons for over 300 soldiers shot by firing squad in 1914-18 when it was known then, and certainly in recent decades, that most of these men were suffering from shell-shock and mental illness. The human perspective is obviously considerable, including the institutional position up to the August 2006 announcement. The story of the Shot At Dawn campaign and its historical background prompts discussion about some fundamental modern issues relating to organisational management, ethical leadership, and wider issues of cultural behaviour, for example (see the organisational perspectives below too): leadership styles - morality-centred versus results-centred (and any other leadership styles models people care to explore) • •

leadership integrity and ethics



policy-making methods, purposes and reviews



decision-making influences and reference points



decision-making pressures which cloud judgement

morality and compassion in institutions and organisations - versus the need to maintain controls and systems •

the growing responsibility and opportunity for ordinary people to hold leaders to account for humanitarian and ethical conduct •

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why did it take successive UK governments much longer than any other nation to begin to reconcile this issue? •

why is this issue being resolved now and not twenty or fifty years ago? •

The different organisational perspectives together provide a stimulating way to look at organisational dynamics, systems, and relationships, etc: the army and leaders of the time who saw the need to implement the policy to execute soldiers •

the politicians and institutional system which until recently refused to acknowledge the injustice of the executions and the avoidance of the truth •

the campaign dimensions, and how the modern world enables increasing transparency of ethical issues •

When looking at the issues people will also see meanings and relevance in their own terms, and as such discussion can help personal and mutual discovery and awareness. There are also many parallels with modern issues of organisational ethics and social responsibility, because at the heart of the issue lie the forces of humanity and efficiency, which to a lesser or greater extent we all constantly strive to reconcile. N.B. People will not necessarily all agree a similar interpretation of the First World War pardons. This makes it a particularly interesting subject for debate, especially in transferring the issues and principles and lessons to modern challenges in organisations, and the world beyond.

corporate globalization debate exercise ideas (exploring: corporate globalization issues, corporate response to the debate, and the internet as a powerful force for awareness, challenge and change) Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, this performance by Lizzie West is an immensely powerful comment about corporate globalisation. The nature of its availability and potential 'reach' (an advertising expression for exposure) also illustrates the awesome potency of the internet. Maybe start your next meeting or training session with this and discuss or arrange an organised debate about the issues involved, whatever your perspective. Free live music download: - Lizzie West performing 'Little Boxes' at The Cutting Room in NYC 27 July 2006

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Please ensure that when you use this you credit Lizzie West and mention her website as the source: www.lizziewestlife.com. Here are some ideas for exercises to use with this for developing good awareness and outcomes related to globalisation, and particularly corporate globlisation issues: Define 'globalisation' (or 'globalization' - either is correct) - there is no single answer, eg: www.globalisationguide.org •

What is corporate globalisation? Is it a feature of globalisation or a driver of it? •

What are the other drivers of globalisation and/or corporate globalisation? •

Is globalisation and/or corporate globalisation a good thing or a bad thing? Give examples of each. •

Is our company or organisation an example of good globalisation or not so good globalisation? •

Name some examples of good organisations on the context of globalisation, and some not so good ones, and say why. •

What can individual employees and teams do to ensure that the organisation is regarded as a positive effect on globalisation and not a negative one? •

How does globalisation relate to ethical business, the 'Triple Bottom Line', Fairtrade, etc? •

How do customers perceive globalisation - what's good about it and what's not good about it? • •

How does globalisation relate to customer service and retention?

What are the environmental impacts and potential advantages in globalisation? •

Which are the subjective (matter of opinion) aspects of globalisation, and which are the clear indisputable good and bad points? •

What would be a good three or five-point plan for an organisation to use globalisation for good, rather than risk damage and harm? •

inspirational speech exercises (public speaking, presentation skills, motivation, inspirational leadership) This is a simple idea for a group of between five and around a dozen delegates. Split larger groups into teams and appoint team-leaders. Ask people to select in advance a great speech, verse, piece of poetry, news report, etc., to deliver to the team or group. The chosen piece can be anything that each delegate finds inspiring and powerful, for example Nelson Mandela's inauguration speech, Martin Luther King's speeches Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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about civil rights, The St Crispin's speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, or maybe lyrics from a pop song - really anything that the delegates find personally exciting and interesting. Ask the team members to give their speeches in turn to the group, injecting as much personal style and passion as they can. Then review with the team the notable aspects of each performance, the effect on the speaker, the audience, etc. Preparation in advance by the delegates is optional and in some situations recommended for presentation skills and public speaking courses. Facilitate accordingly. Obviously where delegates are not able to prepare then the facilitator instead needs to prepare several suitable pieces for team members to choose from or select at random. Or to keep matters very simple the facilitator can select just one speech or other literary work for all of the delegates to deliver, in which case encourage and review the different interpretations. A different twist to the exercise is to select a piece or pieces that would not normally be delivered passionately to an audience, such as the instructions from the packaging of a household cleaner or a boil-in-thebag meal. Encourage people to team members to stretch and project themselves through their performances. If helpful, brainstorm with the group before hand the various elements of an effective speech. If appropriate and helpful organise lectern or suitable stand for the speaker to place their notes on while speaking. Interestingly this exercise works well with several speeches being given to their respective teams in the same room at the same time, which actually adds to general atmosphere and the need for speakers to concentrate and take command of their performance and their own audience. This is a flexible activity - adapt it to suit your situation. For young people particularly give a lot of freedom as to their chosen pieces - the point of the exercise is the speaking and the passion; the actual content in most cases is a secondary issue. See also the presentations page, and bear in mind that many people will find this activity quite challenging. A way to introduce a nervous group to the activity is to have them practise their speeches in pairs (all at the same time - it aids concentration and focus and relieves the pressure) before exposing delegates to the challenge of speaking to the whole team or group.

corporation life-cycle exercise (understanding organisational dynamics, corporate maturity and development; Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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market development, organisational systems) This is a simple and flexible activity for groups and teams of any size. Split the group into working teams or pairs and decide the presentation or discussion format, which can be anything to suit your situation. Alternatively run the exercise as one big brainstorming session. First introduce to the delegates the Adizes Corporate Life Cycle model. Then ask the delegates or teams for real company examples of each stage, from team members' own experiences, or their knowledge of their market place, or the general economic landscape, or from a few business pages of newspapers or trade journals (which you can provide as reference materials for the activity). This exercise prompts a lot of thinking and useful debate about the differing 'organisational maturity' found across different types of organisations. This is helpful for understanding how to deal with corporations from a selling viewpoint, and is also useful in providing a perspective of organisational culture for management and supervisory training. The exercise can be extended into (for example): exploring different selling strategies required for different life-cycle stage corporate prospects, or •

examining different management styles and behavioural issues and challenges within corporations of different life-cycle stage •

interpreting the delegates' own organisation and divisions in terms of the life-cycle stages, and discussing the implications for working styles, attitudes, need for change, etc. •

The theme overlaps with the Tuckman model of team and group development, which is a further useful reference point, especially for management development and training, and particularly if extending the discussion to the maturity of departments and teams.

world cup/major event 'learning parallels' exercises (strategy skills and understanding global marketing, debating, presentation, and for icebreakers and warm-up sessions) This sort of activity is handy following any major popular event, such as a sport tournament of entertainment. When people are preoccupied and discussing a popular news story of the moment, harness the interest for development ideas. 'Learning parallels' exist everywhere - use them for explaining and developing understanding about work and organisations. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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For example, many people will probably be fed up with the World Cup by now, but for delegates at meetings and training sessions who still want to pick over the bones of what happened in Germany, and/or the wider effects of football on life in general, here are some suggested activities which might reap a few positive learning outcomes. There are many parallels between football and business, management, strategy, life, etc., after all football is arguably more of a business than a sport (which might be the subject of a team debate, aside from these other ideas): Activity 1 - Split the group into pairs and give each pair five minutes to prepare a list of five strategic changes for the improvement of football as a sport and business, as if it were a product development or business development project. For example how about changing the rules, because they've essentially not been altered since the game was invented. What about increasing the size of the goal, or reducing the number of players on the pitch? You'll get no agreement of course, but it will get people talking. Activity 2 - Split the group into teams of three and ask each team to prepare and present a critique of the management style and methods of the FA and head coach (Sven) in the last four years, with suggestions as to how things might have been done differently and better by the FA and the head coach. What lessons of management and strategy might we draw from this? Activity 3 - For an open debate or as a team presentation exercise, ask the question: What cultural/social/economic factors influence the success of a nation's football team, and what do these things tell us about fundamental trends of national economic and business performance on a global level? Activity 4 - Split the group into two teams. One side must prepare and argue the motion for and the other the motion against. The facilitator must chair proceedings or appoint a responsible person. Each side has five minutes to prepare, and five minutes to present its case. Then allow five minutes for debate, and then have a vote. The motion is: "Football would be a better game and globally would be more sustainable and appealing if FIFA were run by women rather than men." (Alternative motion: "England would have done better at the World Cup if the FA was run by women rather than men.") See also the football quiz questions and answers. The concepts above are not restricted to football - they are transferable to any popular events that enthuse and interest people - it just takes a little imagination to translate the themes and names for the event concerned and relate them to 'learning parallels' found in work and organisations.

newsdesk broadcast exercise (team building, global team building, interdepartmental development, cultural Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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diversity and understanding, video conferencing) This is a simple activity for developing global teams. The activity requires video conferencing facilities. For groups of any size, and any number of teams, although the more teams, the less time should be allowed for broadcasts, so as to avoid people having to sit watching for long periods. The exercise simply requires the teams to use the video conferencing equipment to create and 'broadcast' their own 'newsdesk report/magazine TV program, to be 'broadcast' to the other office(s). The teams' newsdesk broadcasts can be given to each other in rotation during the same session, or at different times, depending on staff availability and logistics issues. Broadcasts can include guest interviews, update reports, personalities and highlights, plans and forecasts, profiles, etc, even adverts and sponsor slots - anything that might be included in a newsletter/company magazine. Teams need to be given suitable time for planning and preparation and rehearsal. The teams' aims are to impress the other viewing departments or locations with the quality, content, professionalism and entertainment contained in the newsdesk broadcast. The them can be decided by the teams or facilitator(s) as appropriate. Timings for preparation and delivery are also flexible. Each team can appoint presenters, producer, directors, make-up staff, technical staff (camera, props, etc), researchers, special correspondents, advertisers and sponsors, etc. Broadcasts can also be recorded for other staff to enjoy at later times. Consideration can also be given to broadcasting to other staff via personal computers using more advanced communications technology if available. In some respects this concept extends the traditional ideas of teambriefing, and can easily be tailored to incorporate team-briefing principles. The 'Newsdesk Exercise' also adapts easily for conferences, particularly for international and global teams who seek to develop mutual understanding and awareness of each others issues, aims, personalities, etc.

baking foil modelling games (team-building, warm-ups, mutual understanding, expression of ideas, johari window development, and fun for kids activities)

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This is not so much a game but a concept that can be used and adapted for all sorts of activities and exercises, ice-breakers, warm-ups. the ideas are also great for young people and school children. Aluminium baking foil is a wonderful material for modelmaking. A horse is quite easy. Here's one we made earlier... Baking foil is clean, looks great when put on display, and is very easy to clear up.

See how to make a baking foil horse.

Most people will never have tried using it before, so it's very new and interesting and stimulating. Aside from the ideas below, you can use baking foil for any exercise that you might use newspapers for, especially construction exercise like towers and bridges, etc. Baking foil is also very inexpensive and easy to prepare in advance and to issue to teams and groups. A 10-metre roll of the stuff only costs less than 50p (say 30 cents), a lot less than a big newspaper, and it provides a lot of material for table-top modelling and construction exercises. People of all ages have fantastic fun making models - it's a chance for people to discover talents they never knew they had, and for lots of laughter from one's own efforts and seeing other people's efforts too. Today people in organisations need to be more aware and expressive about concepts that are intangible and not easy to write down or talk about. Culture, diversity, attitude, belief, integrity, relationships, etc these are all quite tricky things to articulate and discuss using conventional media and communications tools. Making models helps the process of expression and realisation, because these less tangible concepts are more related to 'feel' and 'intuition' than logic and typical left-side-brain business and organisational processes. Here are some simple ideas for baking foil exercises. Structure the group to suit the situation and the timings and the outcomes you'd like to prompt and discuss. Obviously not all individuals or teams need to be given the same task. You can determine who does what by any method that suits your aims and the preferences of the group. Some of these Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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ideas are mainly for fun; others are more potent in terms of addressing and visualising people's own selves, and organisational challenges and solutions: make a baking foil horse (you can use the same method for making any four-legged animal) • •

make an animal that represents yourself



make a tree

make a tree with fruit and things hanging from the branches that represent you as a person •

make a garden with plants and tools that represent your family or work-group • •

build a set of farmyard animals



build a farmyard

build a farmyard that represents your family or your work-group, or the department or the organisation • •

create a set of African safari animals



build a famous bridge or building



build a village

build a village that represents the organisation, in whatever way the organisation is defined •

build models of vehicles, tools, company products, new product ideas • •

build anything that represents you

build the highest tower or strongest bridge (see the various newspaper construction exercises and tips on the other teambuilding page for more ideas) •

make a baking foil plane - one that flies for a few feet when you launch it from standing on a chair •

design a range of cars that represent the company car policy as it is and as it should be •

create a model to represent the organisation's communications system - how it is and how it should be • •

design a new workplace layout model



design a new reception area model



design a new production layout

create a model to represent the organisation - whatever parts of it that are relevant to the session • •

a model to represent the CRM process

a representation of a particular management concept, eg., Tuckman, Maslow, 'conscious-competence', etc • •

an inter-departmental communications model

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a (or your organisation's) management hierarchy model - how it is and/or what it could be • •

a global teams model



a virtual teams model



a cultural diversity model

a symbolic model representing the organisation and its values and aims - how it is and/or how it could or should be • •

a symbolic interpretation of a SWOT analysis or PEST analysis

Using a clean flexible new material like baking foil to express ideas is extremely liberating in today's world when people are so restricted and confined by PC's and computer screens. God help us all when flip-charts disappear, or when we have to work on tiny little hand-held devices to create and express new ideas and solutions. The world is becoming more complex and more challenging. The concepts that people need to grasp and address are multi-faceted and multidimensional. It helps therefore to work sometimes with an exciting medium, daft as it sounds, like baking foil, to free-up people's thinking and imagination. See also the organisational modelling exercise on the other team-building page for more ideas about using models to express ideas about organisational shape and structure and culture, etc.

triple bottom line game (understanding TBL - profit people planet - implications, developing ethical teams and organisations) With the obvious rising interest in and awareness of modern 'ethical' organisations issues (at last), it's helpful for all organisations to bring TBLtype thinking to life in team activities. Here's a simple exercise to do it: The activity (which can also be used for more structured workshops) is for groups of any size although large groups of more than twenty people will need splitting into several teams with facilitators/spokespeople/presenters appointed, and extra thought needs to be given to the review/presentation stage to review and collect all the ideas and agree follow-up actions. Split the group into debating teams of 3-7 people. (The larger the whole group, the larger the debating teams should be.) Each team's task is to identify three great new team or department initiatives - one for each of the Triple Bottom Line areas, namely, Profit, People, Planet. Give some thought to team mix - if helpful refer to the Belbin model or Gardner's Multiple Intelligences inventory - it's useful for all teams to have a balance of people who collectively can reconcile ideals with practicalities. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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If necessary set the scene with a brainstorm or group discussion about what ethics and the Triple Bottom Line (profit people planet) actually means to people, staff, customers, and its significance for the organisation/industry sector concerned. Initiatives must be SMART (in this case SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Each of the initiatives must focus on one of the Triple Bottom Line areas (profit, people, planet), and at the same time must support the other two TBL areas. For example, a profit initiative must not undermine people or planet. A planet initiative must not undermine profit or people. And most certainly a profit initiative must not undermine people or planet. When we say 'not undermine profit', let's be clear that many ethical intitiatves can reduce profit, especially if the profit was being achieved by doing harm or damage somewhere, and the initiative seeks to correct this. The extent to which profit is affected by ethical initiatives is a matter for discussion and consideration of the wider and long-term view. Within this view are the wider benefits achieved by improving the ethical behaviour of the organisation, which ultimately will improve profits far more than ignoring ethical issues. Instead of looking at loss of profit, think about the risks associated with ignoring the ethical issues, which generally dwarf short-term costs of ethical initiatives. For example, what's the point in sticking with exploitative third-world manufacturing if the consequence of doing so means in the future there'll be no customers prepared to buy the manufactured product? Teams have between 20 and 40 minutes (facilitator decides beforehand) to develop their ideas, and presentations, depending on time available. Presentations can be in any format to suit the timescales, numbers of teams and delegates, and the emphasis given to the TBL theme. Allocate time for presentations to suit the situation, numbers and timescales. David Cameron is entirely correct (and very clever) in identifying that the 'zeitgeist' (feeling of the times) is for more meaning, humanity and corporate responsibility in work and organisations; the question is how to make it happen. This exercise begins to address the practicalities. Otherwise it's all talk. As with any ideas session or activities always ensure that there is follow-up, and seek agreement for this with the relevant powers before raising hopes and seeking input of people and teams. Follow-up can be for a limited number of initiatives that all delegates vote on at the end of the presentations, or you can agree follow-up actions on a team-by-team basis, depending on levels of enthusiasm, quality of ideas, workload, and perceived organisational benefit. This activity links with the spirit of the development forum gameshow activity, which particularly addresses the people and well-being aspect of the triple bottom line philosophy. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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jigsaw puzzle game/team puzzle race exercises (team-building, illustrating teamwork, team problem-solving, lateral thinking, etc) For groups of 8-100 people, even more with suitable adaptation - this is a very adaptable game. Divide the group into a number of teams. Give each team some pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and instruct them to assemble the puzzle as quickly as possible. Ensure each team's pieces appear initially as though they could be an entire puzzle in their own right. Say, "The task of each team is to assemble the puzzle as quickly as possible. Each team has the same puzzle. No further instructions will be given," (other than options explained below; the point is for teams to resolve the exercise for themselves working together in teams, not by asking the facilitator). The teams will assume they are competing against each other, but in fact there is only one jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces are shared out among the teams. If the teams are in the same room they soon find out, and begin to cooperate. If they are in different rooms the realisation takes a little longer, but eventually the teams understand that the pieces are held by all the teams and the only way to do the puzzle is to work together. The facilitator's preparation for this exercise is there therefore to obtain or create a jigsaw puzzle whose complexity and number of pieces are appropriate for the group numbers and time available for the activity. Ensure there are sufficient pieces to occupy the total number of team members, and obviously each team needs a suitably sizes table or floorspace to work on, so that all team members can be involved. Larger teams (upwards of five people) will be additionally challenged in areas of team organisation and 'work allocation' to ensure everyone is involved. The exercise can be made easier and quicker for the teams by describing or giving clues as to the shape or image on the puzzle, for example, (if using the template below) "It's a square," or "It's a geometric shape," etc., as appropriate. Offering a prize in the event that the puzzle is completed within a timescale of say 10 minutes (or during the session, day, whatever, depending on the situation), adds extra interest. The prize is obviously given to the whole group, so be mindful of the budget... Use these words or similar: "In the event that the puzzle is completed (within...) a prize will be awarded," rather than referring to 'the winning team," which is not technically correct, because the activity is one of cooperation not competition. Exercises based on this theme demonstrate that all the people and all the teams make up the whole, and no team or individual can do it alone. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Ideally you need to have a space somewhere that the puzzle can be kept and worked on during tea-breaks, should the activity over-run the initial time-slot. This is not a problem - people will continue to work on it during the day/session, and the ongoing activity and assembled puzzle serve as a constant reminder to team members of the theme of cooperation and teamwork, so don't worry (and explain this to the group once they've started cooperating) if the puzzle is not completed in the time initially allotted. Here is a jigsaw puzzle pattern (in MSWord) and separately as a pdf. This puzzle is for groups of, for example, twenty people split into five teams of four. The puzzle needs to be significantly enlarged - at least five to ten times bigger - for best effect, so that it's visible and usable for lots of people, and makes a big impact. The more teams and players, the bigger the enlargement is required (and the more pieces - achieved by drawing and cutting more lines). The jigsaw pattern artwork needs to be taken to a decent print/copy bureau, enlarged, printed, laminated onto card or foam and cut by hand. If you possess basic craft skills and the necessary equipment you can do it yourself - it's quite straightforward really. The dashed lines are thick so as to be cut through the centre (along the lines), which helps the puzzle assembly. You can adapt the puzzle for more players by drawing more drawing more lines to increase the number of pieces. The design of the puzzle is currently the businessballs logo although you can substitute it with your own (if using the MSWord version, via box 'fill' pattern). Someone who knows MSWord well will know how to adapt/develop it. Use and adapt the puzzle artwork, or source your own jigsaw puzzle, to suit your own situation.

values-led team-driven change activities (team-building, goal-setting, values, philosophy, planning and change management) This is a simple themed activity which can be adapted to suit your situation. It concerns fundamental aims and values - making work more real and meaningful. For groups any size although groups of more than ten or so will need to be sub-divided and facilitators/leaders appointed, and then a forum arranged to share and review ideas and actions afterwards. The activity focuses on reconciling personal dreams/values/philosophies/passions with the organisational aims and methods. Ask: What can we all do to change and improve how our organisation acts? Pick the easy gains. Leave the tough ones for later/ever. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Refer people to the Serenity Prayer. Refer (especially if the teams have idealistic compassionate roles/tendencies) to the 'zeitgeist' of our times: organisational ethics, 'Fairtrade', sustainability, corporate integrity, 'Triple Bottom Line' ('Profit People Planet'), etc., and have people visualise what successful organisations will be like in the future, given increasing awareness and expectations of employees, customers and general public opinion in relation to humanistic values. How can the individuals and the team help to develop/influence/behave within the organisation so as to make it (the organisation) fit our personal perspectives and these modern values? You'll need to provide strong support and follow-up afterwards, and ideally get some buy-in from the top. This is a brave initiative, although most organisations are now beginning to understand that the concepts are real and will eventually be irresistible.

fantasticat See the Fantasticat page - ideas for motivating, teaching and developing young people - grown-ups too..

transactional analysis activities ideas (understanding transactional analysis, undersanding self, improving tolerance and communications, diffusing conflict) There are many exercises and activities that can be used to illustrate and develop understanding of Transactional Analysis. Many of the exercises in the team-building activities pages on this site will adapt for a TA perspective, especially the activities which relate to the Johari Window theory. When selecting activities and ideas to use, much depends how knowledgeable your audience is. If teams know the basics of TA then a lot of fun and learning can be had from acting out scenarios, reviewing and discussing emotional communications and behaviours (for example in newspapers), and watching films - and particularly TV soaps and sitcoms with the purpose of looking for different types of transactions between the characters. This invites also the opportunity to critique certain on-screen transactions which are poorly scripted and acted, where behaviours can be seen to be unnatural, and reasons explained and discussed from a TA perspective. At a more fundamental level, people can work in pairs to identify their own personal triggers for parent and child responses: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Behaviours which can be traced back to a root cause or emotional trigger are typically for example: losing one's temper, especially with children and subordinates; feeling stressed and upset; exhibiting 'sour grapes' attitudes; messing around; being judgmental or critical; blaming things and people; being too compliant and submissive, etc. Analysis and discussion benefits from using the 'Parent, Adult, Child' model, and also by referring to the 'I'm OK, You're OK' (OK Corral) model. See the modern Transactional Analysis theory pages for more TA guidance and materials. Identifying behaviours and their causes are important steps towards addressing the causes of emotional responses, and changing the behaviours resulting. Transactional Analysis is an excellent model for teaching and developing these concepts.

obstacles exercise (team-building, communications, giving or writing clear instructions, teamworking strategies) A team activity for groups of four to twenty people to promote teambuilding, communications and understanding about clarity of instructions. Much larger groups can be accommodated with suitable space, adaptation and planning. For indoors or outdoors. The exercise can be organised for a single team although normally it will be more effective and enjoyable for a number of teams competing against each other. The activity is simple. Nominated members of teams must guide their blind-folded fellow team-members, using spoken instructions, through an obstacle course made with chairs or other items. In preparing for this activity remember to source sufficient blindfolds for team members. Alternatively instructions can be written, in which case team members (not blind-folded) must negotiate the obstacle course walking backwards (obviously so as not to see the obstacles but to be able to read hand-held instructions). Where two or more teams compete against each other a nominated observer from each team acts as adjudicator, to count the number of times that the walkers make contact with obstacles, resulting in penalty points. Clear adjudication rules must be stipulated so that the integrity of the scoring is protected, for example, after completing the course each walker signs their name against the written score marked by the adjudicator. An example score sheet is shown at the end of this item. The winning team is the one to complete the course as quickly as possible, after deduction of penalty points, for example ten seconds per obstacle contacted. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Given a group of just four or six people it is generally better to split this into two competing teams rather than run the exercise as a single group activity, unless you have a particular reason for running a single group exercise. Room set-up is quickest achieved by simply asking the delegates to place their chairs somewhere in the 'playing area', which immediately creates the obstacle course. The facilitator can make any necessary adjustments in case any straight-line routes exist. Teams then have five to ten minutes (at the facilitator's discretion, depending on time available, team size and complexity of the obstacle course) to plan and agree a start point and a finish point through the obstacles - in any direction - and to plan a strategy for guiding blindfolded members through the route planned, (or for the backwards-walking version of the exercise, to write instructions sheets for walkers to use). So that everyone experiences being a guide and a walker you can stipulate that every team member must negotiate the course, which means that team members must swap roles (the guided become the guides having completed the course). This would also require adjudicators to swap roles with guides or walkers of their own teams. This is a flexible exercise that allows the facilitator to decide how difficult to make the obstacle course, how specific to be regarding start and finish points (all teams starting at one side of the room, or leave it up to the teams to plan their routes in any direction from one side to the other), and the strategic complexity of the challenge (determined by team size and number of obstacles - large teams of more than four or five people will also require a strategy for who performs what role and when roles are exchanged). Additionally the facilitator can decide to stipulate whether all instructions are spoken, (blind-folds), written (walking backwards), or a mixture of the two methods (for example stipulate how many team members must use either method). Review points afterwards: •

Why did the winning team win?



What were good strategies?



What were good instructions and what were unhelpful ones?

What were the unforeseen problems? (One unforeseen problem, especially where competing teams are permitted to decide their own start and finish points and therefore are likely to cross the routes of other teams, is the fact that walkers of other teams will become obstacles during the exercise) •

What adjustments to strategies and instructions were made along the way? •

Discuss the merits of practical trials before having to decide strategies and instructions. • •

And lots more points arising from the activities.

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Here's a simple example of the adjudicator's score sheet: walker's name

obstacles contacte d

signed (by walker)

portmanteau words games (creativity, ideas and concepts, a vehicle for developing and highlighting issues and initiatives) For groups of any size. This is a basis for various activities. Adapt and use it to suit your purposes and situation. If you need help deciding on format, teams sizes, timings etc., refer to the tips on working with teams and groups and exercises. First see the explanation about portmanteau words - aside from anything else it's very interesting as a perspective on the development of language and communications. Portmanteau words are new words that are made from the combination of (typically) two other words. Common examples are 'Pictionary' (the board game), the Chunnel (the channel tunnel), 'infomercial' (information and commercial advertising); avionics (aviation and electronics), and 'webinar' (web and seminar) The grammatical effect enables the quick and stimulating creation of new ideas and themes, for any purpose. First explain to people about portmanteau words. Then, depending on your theme or purpose for the meeting or session, ask people (can be individually or in teams - pairs or threes ideally unless you ask for lots of work and ideas), to devise their own portmanteau word or words for a particular purpose. Here are some examples of purposes: a new brand name for a product or service (for the people's organisation or any another organisation, depending on the situation and participants) •

a name for a new company/organisation initiative (perhaps addressing customer service, quality, communications, interdepartmental relationships, training and development - anything that is a challenge or opportunity that would benefit from a fresh and inventive perspective) •

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a new name for the company or organisation to replace the existing one, that will effectively communicate purpose and values, etc. •

a name to describe a particular problem or challenge within the organisation (agree or state specifics or a range as appropriate), and then a name or names for remedial action(s) •

a name (or names) to describe the most important skill(s) or attribute(s) for given roles within the organisation (this is a useful way to look at job skills, which are commonly not described or stated very well, and which of course are under pressure to change and develop all the time) •

a name to describe a particularly challenging customer behaviour, and then name(s) to describe appropriate responsive behaviour from staff •



a special combination of abilities I'd love to develop for myself

a special combination of abilities I'd be really good at coaching and developing in others •

the name of a conference to improve/develop/raise profile of... (whatever - sport in schools; diversity tolerance; media responsibility; ethics in business; etc) •

Exercises in creating portmanteau words involve a lot of thinking about meanings, interpretations, communications, and the efficient, effective, creative use of language and ideas. As such this is a potent and flexible activity, for all ages, roles and levels.

kitchen top drawer game (introductions and ice-breakers, and for children's activities too) This exercise is a very simple quick activity for ice-breakers and introductions, and for expressing and revealing feelings of personality. Also for exploring team roles. For groups of any size although is best to split large groups into teams of a dozen or less, with appointed teamleaders to facilitate. The task is simply for each team member to liken themselves to a utensil or piece of cutlery commonly found in a kitchen top drawer, and say why they think they are like the chosen item, ideally focusing on strengths and styles. Give delegates thirty seconds to think and decide before asking people to reveal their choices and reasoning in turn. If it helps (especially for young people), start the exercise with a quick brainstorm session with a flipchart or wipeboard of all the sorts of items that people have in their kitchen top drawers at home, which should produce a long list of ideas. For very large groups you can vary the exercise by asking people to think and decide and then circulate around the room finding other people who Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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have chosen the same utensil to represent themselves, and to form into sub-groupings of the same types. Fun and noise can be injected especially for young people or lively conferences - by asking people to identify themselves by shouting the name of their utensil, and/or by trying physically to look or act like the utensil. Be prepared and on the look-out to instruct potentially large sub-groups of 'knives' into different types of knives, so that no category sub-grouping amounts to more than 20% of the whole group. Extend the activity by asking each group to develop a proposition as to why their particular utensil is the best in the drawer - or 'top drawer' which they can present in turn to the whole group. Further extend the activity by asking teams or players to vote (secret ballot on slips of paper given to the facilitator) as to the utensil with most and least value to the kitchen, thereby being able to decide the 'winners', should the activity warrant it. Alternatively, so as to emphasise the value of all team members and roles, ask each team to identify a particular typical 'project' (Sunday Roast dinner for instance) for the kitchen which demands the involvement (and in what way) of all of the selected utensils. Add greater depth and interest to the activities by referring to the Johari Window and discussing mutual and self-awareness issues resulting; also refer to personality types and styles to discuss and explore comparisons between 'utensils' and people associating with them, and various personality types from whatever personality models are of interest and relevance to the group. For example, are knives most like Jung's and Myers Briggs 'thinking' types and why? Does the meat-thermometer or the egg-timer most equate to Belbin's 'monitor-evaluator'? What personality types might be represented by the whisk and why? Is it possible to identify a Belbin role with every utensil, and on what basis? Whish are the extravert utensils and which are the introvert ones and why, and what are their relative strengths? Etc, etc. The exercises can of course be adapted for other types of tools instead of those found in the top drawer of the kitchen, for example the garden shed, or the tools associated with a particular industry, perhaps the industry in which the delegates operate. If you stay with the kitchen drawer theme it's probably best to avoid any reference to the 'sharpest knife in the drawer' expression so as not to sway attitudes in this direction - rest assured you will see plenty of people aspiring to be 'knives' as it is without encouraging any more..

employee relations and communications exercise (team briefing role-plays, speaking to groups, handling difficult communications and questions, written communications) Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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This is a simple quick role-play or written communications exercise. For groups of up to a dozen. Split larger groups into smaller teams and appoint team leaders to chair and facilitate. Ask the participants to draft (and then deliver as if in a meeting) a 2 minute employee 'team brief' item or a verbal instruction (or for participants who are not comfortable standing up and speaking to the group a written employee notice or email) relating to a contentious subject. There are some examples below, but you can define different scenarios depending on your situation and the needs of the delegates. Car-park spaces in the front of the reception are now reserved for directors only. •

Canteen is being closed in order to make room for more office space. •

Access to site is restricted to employees only - no family or friends permitted unless on company business in which case formal pass and security procedures to be followed. •



The site is now a non-smoking area everywhere.



(Add your own scenarios as appropriate.)

You can run the exercise for individuals or in pairs. If in pairs encourage both people to have a go at speaking. More variety is created if you offer different scenarios - for instance by having people pick blind which one they must handle. Alternatively for complex scenarios you might prefer to see how people take different approaches to the same situation. You can additionally/alternatively ask delegates to describe their own particular scenarios for use in the role-playing activities. You can extend and increase the challenge within the activities by asking the team to role-play some 'questions from the audience' at the end of each spoken exercise, which the speaker(s) must then handle appropriately. Review use of language, tone, clarity, effective transfer of key points and reasons, technical and legal correctness, and the actual reaction of other participants to the verbal delivery/written notice.

people picture interpretations (relationships, communications, attitudes, body language) The activity is a simple discussion of the group's interpretations of different pictures (photographs of people) - anything between one and six different pictures, depending on how long you'd like the activity to last each picture/photo featuring people engaged in some sort of activity or interaction.

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Show a picture to the group and ask them to consider and comment on how they interpret what's happening in the picture - what's being said, how people feel, what the moods are, what the personalities and motivations are, what might have caused the situation and what the outcomes might be - as much as people can read into and interpret from each photograph. Additionally ask the group or teams what questions they would want to ask anyone in the picture to understand and interpret the situation. You can organise the group's response to each picture in different ways in open discussion, or split the group into pairs or threes and give them a couple of minutes to prepare their interpretation for presentation and discussion in turn, or split the group into two teams and see which team can develop the best interpretation, and optionally, questions. It's helpful, but not essential, for you to know the true situation and outcomes in each picture (perhaps you've read the news story or the photo is from your own collection), which will enable you to give the actual interpretation after each picture is discussed. However one of the main points of these exercises is appreciating the variety of interpretations that can be derived from observing people's behaviour, facial expressions and body language, which means that many situations can quite reasonably be interpreted in several different ways. So knowing and being able to give a definitive 'correct answer' is not crucial - the main purpose of the activities is the quality of the ideas and discussion. To prepare for the exercise, find and enlarge, or create slides of several pictures of people in various situations. These photographs and pictures are everywhere - on the internet, newspapers and magazines, in your own snapshot collections and photo albums. Select photographs of people showing facial expressions, body language, especially interacting with other people. In addition to communications, motivation, relationships, etc., you can link the exercise to Johari Window (the exercise will develop people's awareness about themselves and each other from listening to the different interpretations of the pictures) and personality (different personalities see the same things in different ways).

'christmas is/holidays are brilliant' vs 'christmas is/holidays are a pain in the arse' exercise (team debate activity, warm-up, ice-breaker, group presentations preparation and delivery) A simple warm up after the festive season or the holidays (whenever), for grown-ups or young people, for two teams, (or at a stretch three teams). One team must prepare and present the motion: "Christmas is Brilliant" (or "Holidays are Brilliant" - whatever is appropriate).

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The opposing team prepares and presents the case against the motion, which is logically: "Christmas is a Pain in the Arse" (or Holidays are a Pain in the Arse"). Begin the exercise by asking the group to organise itself into two separate teams according to their individual views: ie., "Christmas is Brilliant" or "Christmas is a Pain in the Arse" (or "Holidays") . Alternatively split the group into two teams and allot the motions by flipping a coin or similar random method. Teams of five or six are fine provided full participation is stipulated. Teams of more than six will be fine provided team leaders are appointed and instructed to organise their teams into smaller work-groups to focus on different aspects of the presentation, which can be brought together at the end of the preparation time. For groups of more than about twenty you can introduce a third motion, "Christmas is both Brilliant and a Pain in the Arse, depending on your standpoint", and structure the activity for three teams. Timings are flexible to suit the situation, as are use of materials, presentation devices, and number of speakers required from each team, etc. For preparation, as a guide, allow 5 minutes minimum, or up to 15 minutes maximum if more sophisticated presentations are appropriate. Allow 5 minutes minimum for each presentation although you can extend this if warranted and worthwhile. Optionally you can allow each team to ask a stipulated number of questions of the other team(s) at the end of the presentations. The winning team can be decided at the end by a secret ballot, which will tend to produce a more satisfying conclusion (even if there's no outright winner) than a decision by the facilitator, who can vote or not, or have casting vote in the event of a tie - it's up to you. The facilitator should advise the teams before commencing their preparation that the winning team will most likely be the one which prepares and presents the clearest and fullest and most appealing case, and if applicable asks the best questions and gives the best answers. Obviously deciding the winner will not be a perfect science and if using the exercise as a development activity it's important to review structure, logical presentation, and other relevant aspects of learning as might be appropriate. In reviewing the presentations the facilitator can award a point for each logically presented item within the presentation, with a bonus point for any item that is supported by credible evidence or facts or statistics. Award bonus points for good questions and answers if applicable, and award bonus points for particularly innovative and striking aspects or ideas within the presentation. If using the activity as a learning and development exercise it's helpful to explain the review criteria to the teams at the start. Encourage participants, particularly young people in large teams, to use their imagination to create interesting and memorable methods of making Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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their points, for example play-acting scenarios, and injecting movement and lots of activity within their presentations. For more sensitive groups or situations you can of course substitute the word 'nuisance' for 'pain in the arse'. Obviously the activity can be used for any debate exercise - work-related or otherwise - and serves to get people working and cooperating in teams, developing skills in preparing and presenting arguments and propositions, and can also provide much revealing and helpful mutual awareness among team members, and useful insights for the facilitator/group manager. Examples of other motions, which for group selection recruitment exercises can be extended far beyond normal work issues, examples of which appear later in the list below: •

"The Smoking Policy is..."



Team Briefing is..."



"The Car-Parking Policy is..."



"The (XYZ) Initiative is..."



"The Monthly Meeting is..."



"The CEO is..."



"The Weather in our Country is..."



"The Sport of Football (Soccer) as a sustainable business model is..."



"Reality TV is..."



"The Monarchy is..."



"Supermarket Domination of the Retail Industry is..."



"Mobile Phones are..."



"The Internet is..."



"This Recruitment Process is.."



Etc

The exercise can also be used or adapted for a group selection recruitment activity, to provide useful indications of candidates' skills and capabilities in a variety of areas.

rotating line introductions icebreaker (warm-ups, icebreakers, communications, communicating styles) This icebreaker or communications activity is for groups of six people or more. Ideal team size is ten or twelve. Larger groups can be split into teams of ten or a dozen people. For large groups where time is limited you can split the group into teams of less than ten, which obviously makes the Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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exercise quicker. Split the (or each) team into two standing lines of people facing each other, two or three feet apart. For example: 1

1

2

2

3

3

4

4

5

5

6

6

Ask the team to introduce themselves to the person facing them, optionally (up to you) by asking and answering questions, such as: •

Who are you and what do you do?



Tell me what interests you and why.

What special thing do you want to achieve (at the event, or in life generally - depending on the situation and group) •

You can design other questions to suit the theme or purpose of the event. You can provide strict instructions relating to questions and answers or (for a simple icebreaker) just ask the people to engage in general introductory conversation as they see fit. You can stipulate that the facing pairs each have a turn at questioning and answering, or that one is the questioner and the other the answerer. Whatever, ensure that everyone has a chance to ask questions and to give answers. If appropriate nominate one line as the questioners and the other line as the answerers. After a minute ask the lines to rotate as follows (one person from each line joins the other line and both lines shuffle to face the next person: 2

1

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1

4

2

5

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6

4

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If using the exercise as a simple icebreaker continue the process using the same questions or general introductions. If you are using the activity develop communication skills you can increase the sophistication of the exercise by introducing new questions after the initial introductions, for example: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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What worked well in the last conversation?



What could have been improved in the last conversation?



What type of questioning and listening works best in this exercise?

Continue rotating the line every minute until everyone has conversed (questioning or answering) with every other person. Logically this takes as many minutes as there are people in the team. Twelve people will take twelve minutes to complete the exercise. If using the exercise to develop or demonstrate communications skills it's worth thinking more carefully before the exercise and explaining more about the questions and points to review. For example, points to review can include: Aside from the words spoken what else was significant in these communications? • •

What aspects were most memorable and why?



What aspects or information were most impressive and why?



What happens to communications when time is limited?

Obviously where team members already know each other there is no need to needlessly go through name and position introductions, although check beforehand as to how well people know each other rather than make assumptions. Where a team has an odd number of members, then you (the facilitator) can become one of the team members in the line. Where the purpose includes developing mutual awareness it can be useful to refer to the Johari Window model. (Ack C Mack)

'straw poll' exercises (identifying and getting buy-in for individual and group learning and training) These team development activities quickly identify team and individual learning needs and wishes, and importantly helps builds 'buy-in' and commitment among the team members to pursue the identified learning or training. The activity can also be extended to explore, encourage and enable more innovative approaches to personal development, and particularly to pursuing 'life-learning' or 'unique personal potential' if such a concept fits with the organisational philosophy. If so, the organisation (or department or at a team level) must first decide how and to what extent it can support people's 'non-work' and 'life learning' aspirations. There are very many ways to do this. Progressive modern organisations have been doing this for several years. Use your imagination. You will find that as far as the Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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people are concerned, you'll be pushing on an open door. The provision of 'non-work' personal development must be defined within a formal organisational process and framework, by which identified individual 'lifelearning' ideas can be acted upon. Such process and framework are obviously vital to discussing people's personal needs and wishes in these non-work areas. The exercise is for groups of any size, although large groups should be sub-divided into teams of between five and ten people representing single functions. The bigger the teams the more requirement there will be for good facilitation by a team leader within each team. The level of guarantee for ideas to be acted upon is a matter for the facilitator and the organisation. Promise only what you can deliver to people. Embark on these activities only if you can reliably implement the outcomes, to whatever extent that you promise to the team members. The facilitator should ideally run the session with a flip-chart or wipeboard because the sharing of ideas and discussion is a valuable part of these exercises. Refer to the guidelines for running brainstorm sessions, since the activity uses a team brainstorming process. The aim of the exercise is to gather, list and prioritise collective and individual training and learning needs and wishes for work and non-work learning and development. Involving the team in doing this in an 'immediate' and 'free' informal situation generally exposes many more ideas and opportunities than normally arise from formal appraisal, surveys and training needs audits, or personal development review discussions. Sharing ideas and personal views also helps build teams and mutual awareness (see Johari Window theory). The exercises enable the team leader or facilitator to work with the people to arrive at ideas for learning and development, which can then - according to organisational processes and framework - be fed or built into proposals or plans for implementation. The process of hearing and sharing other people's ideas also greatly assists people in imagining what might be helpful and relevant to their own situations - far better than thinking in isolation. First ask team members individually (allow five minutes) to make one or two short lists: 1. Three things they'd like to be able to do better for their jobs, (and if the organisation supports and enables 'non-work' and 'life learning'): 2. Three things they'd love to learn or do better for their life in general - anything goes. Then ask the team members to call out in turn their top-listed work or job learning personal development item. Write these on the flip-chart. This immediately identifies collective training priorities. Ask for reaction and comment. Then ask for people to call out in turn their second-listed work/job learning item and write the answers on the flip-chart. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Then gather the third-listed job/work learning items. Use different coloured marker pens so as to be able to group common elements and to identify patterns and consensus priorities. Ask the group to comment on what they consider to be the 'high-yield' items - ie., the development items that will make the biggest difference to productivity, enjoyment, stress-reduction, service quality, business development, etc., and discuss this issues. Ask the group what type of learning they'd enjoy and best and find most helpful. Additionally explore people's learning styles; also look at multiple intelligences, and perhaps introduce a learning styles questionnaire. Using these activities and exercises will enable you to identify development opportunities that are high priority according to need and organisational effect, and you can now conclude this part of the session with an agreement with people to investigate or proceed with implementation depending on personal wishes, learning styles and preferences, organisational processes, budgets, etc. The investigation/implementation can involve the people or not, depending on the circumstances. Now, provided the organisation/department/team endorses and supports 'non-work and 'life learning' development, turn to the non-work 'life learning' items featured in the second list. These can be anything: hobbies, pastimes, personal loves and passions, natural abilities stifled or ignored at school, anything. The aim is to explore personal potential and enthusiasm in whatever areas that might be relevant to people and what they want from their lives. It is important to open your own mind and the minds of the team members to the fact that all learning and development is useful. All learning and experience in life benefits people in their work. Everything learned and experienced in life is transferable one way or another to people's work. People commonly don't realise this, because nobody tells them or gives them the confidence to see it. When you see it and talk about it, people begin to see too that there can be more alignment and congruence between their lives and their work. Moreover, organisations are now seeing that when people are supported and encouraged to follow their own life interests and natural potential, so the organisation benefits from their development. When people learn and experience new 'non-work' and 'life learning' capabilities and development, they achieve and grow as people, and this gives them many new skills for their work (especially the behavioural capabilities normally so difficult to develop via conventional work-based training), and a greater sense of value, purpose, self-esteem and maturity. All these benefits and more result from non-work learning and experience. What matters most is that people are given the encouragement and opportunity to pursue experiences and learning and development that Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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they want to. People are vastly more committed to pursuing their own life learning and experiences than anything else. So, the more that organisations can help and enable this to happen for their people the better. People develop quicker and more fully, and they obviously become more aligned with the organisation because it is helping them to grow in their own personal direction - far beyond the conventional provision of work-only skills training and development. Ask people to think about and discuss the skills, knowledge, behaviour, maturity, experience, etc., from personal 'non-work' activities and learning that are transferable to their work. Many people will be able to give specific examples of where they are performing outside work in some activity or other that is way, way, way above their status and responsibility at work. This is the principle that we are seeking to recognise and extend. For example (these examples of experiences and learning and benefits are certainly not exhaustive - they are simply a few examples): Sports and physical pursuits - develop fitness and determination, leadership, discipline, commitment, teamwork, stress-management, goal-setting, excellence, perfection, etc. •



Travel - develops cultural awareness, maturity, languages, etc.

The Arts (art, music, writing, etc) - develops creativity, communications, empathy, interpretation. •

History - develops cultural and political and philosophical awareness, analytical and interpretation abilities. •

Voluntary and Care work - develops humanity, team-working, management, leadership, decision-making, etc. •

Environmental, Animals, Natural World - develop humanity, social responsibility and awareness, team-working, organisational and political understanding. •

Clubs and Societies - management, planning, organisation, communications, knowledge and information management, etc. •

Own 'sideline' business - entrepreneurialism, decision-making, management, marketing, customer service. •

I once knew a wonderful receptionist. She worked part-time. Most people only ever knew she was a receptionist. She never received any training or development. Nor much respect. In her spare time she ran an international market-leading business, supplying high performance components to a specialised sector of the industrial engineering sector. She could have taught the MD a thing or two but they never asked.. Every organisation contains several people like this, and many more people with the potential to be the same. But nobody bothers to ask. When an individual pursues personal learning and development and experience, whether through a hobby or some voluntary work, or any outside-work activity, they always develop as people, and also learn lots of new skills, which are increasingly transferable and valuable to their Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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work situations. The tragedy is that organisations mostly fail to recognise this, and this is a major reason why most people continue to perform at work considerably below their full potential. Non-work experiences, responsibilities, learning and development provide wonderful opportunities for people to grow in capability, maturity, experience, and in specific knowledge and skills areas, that are immensely valuable to employers. Opening people's minds to these possibilities then enables discussion and identification of personal learning aims and wishes, perhaps some consensus, which then naturally enables planning and implementation and support of some new exciting non-work and life-learning activities for people, as individuals and as teams, depending on what people want and will commit to, and how far the organisation is prepared to assist and encourage.

playing card bingo (warm-up, icebreaker, exercises to demonstrate competitive effects, team-building, team-working and cooperation - also a great way to teach numbers to small children) This is a bit of fun which can be used as a simple icebreaker or warm-up. The game also adapts to provide a simple yet novel team-working exercise. The game and games variations demonstrate the heightened concentration and focus which results from contest and competition, and as an adapted exercise it prompts teams to work together to approach a complex statistical challenge. For groups of any size. Materials required are simply two packs of playing cards (or more packs, depending on group size). Shuffle the packs keeping them separate. Retain one pack. Deal from one pack between three and ten cards to each team member. The more cards then the longer the exercise takes. If there are more team members than can be supplied from one pack then use additional packs. It is not necessary to remove the jokers, but be mindful of the effect of leaving them in the packs. Team members must arrange the cards dealt to them face up on the table in front of them. The dealer (facilitator) then 'calls' cards (like a bingo caller) one by one from the top of the dealer's own (shuffled) pack, at which the players match their own cards (by turning them over face down). The winner is the first to turn over all cards. Suits are irrelevant - only the numbers matter. Aces count as one. Picture cards as 11 (Jack), 12 (Queen), 13 (King), or simply call them by their normal picture names - again the suits are irrelevant. Jokers (optional) treat as jokers. Players can only turn over Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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one card at a time, in other words, if a player has two 4's they must wait for two fours to be 'called'. Interesting variations can be made to the game to add team-building and cooperation to the activity, for example: Have people play in pairs or threes. Deal cards to each person as normal, but then teams can sort and swap cards between themselves so as to give the team of two or three the best chance of one (or two - it's up to the facilitator) of the sorted sets winning. (This is pure guesswork obviously, but it will test people's approach to the challenge of statistical anticipation.) Have the group play in two or three teams (each team size ideally no bigger six people). Deal each team twenty cards and ask them to pick the fifteen that they wish to play with as a team. Again this is pure guesswork, but it will challenge the teams to think about statistics, and to agree the best tactical approach. Other variations include prohibiting or enabling competing teams to see the other team's cards while they are deciding which to select. To make the games last longer and to alter the statistical perspective you can require that suits are matched as well as numbers/picture cards. Practise your ideas first if possible.

'spice of life' exercise (personal development, goals, true motivation and purpose, visualisation, life balance) A quick simple powerful activity for groups and teams of any size. The exercise can also be used for yourself, and when working with individuals in counselling, coaching and performance reviews and appraisals. Optional preparation for a group activity: buy some green cardamom pods - they are a highly aromatic spice used in Asian cooking and curries - the Latin name incidentally, for interest, is Eletteria Cardamomum. Star Anise - aniseed seed pods - and cloves also work well for this sort of exercise they reinforce the point and add additional sensory stimulation to the activity. Distribute a pod or clove or several of each spice to each team member. Alternatively you can give different spices to different people if you have them. This will prompt discussion and expectation. You can mention that spices like these are symbolic - they are small and natural, of relatively little monetary value, and yet have a remarkably powerful effect. They also have healing qualities, and being seeds they represent new life and beginnings. Also optionally at this point in the exercise you can ask people do this calculation in their head to further concentrate the mind: Subtract your age from 90 and add two zeros to the answer. Divide that number in two. This is roughly how many weeks you have left on this Earth, assuming you live to a very ripe old age. If you smoke and don't look after yourself Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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properly subtract 1,200 weeks (if you are very lucky). How quickly does a week pass by? Almost the blink of an eye... Then ask the group to close their eyes, take a few slow deep breaths, and visualise.... (it's a bit morbid but it does concentrate the mind somewhat): You are very close to the end your life - perhaps 'on your deathbed'. You have a few minutes of consciousness remaining, to peacefully look back over what you achieved, and what difference you made in the world. And especially how you will be remembered. So how do you want to be remembered? What did you do that mattered? What spice did you add to people's lives? What was the spice in your life? What will you have done that will give you a truly good feeling at the end of your life? And so, how can you best fulfil your own unique potential? We rarely think about our lives this way: that we are only here for a short time, and that what really matters is beyond money, possessions, holidays, cars, and the bloody lottery. Thinking deeply about our own real life purpose and fulfilment helps us to align what we do in our work with what we want to do with the rest of our life. This in turn creates a platform for raising expectations and possibilities about direction and development - pursuing personal potential rather than simply 'working' - and finding ways to do so within our work and our life outside it. (As facilitator do not ask people to reveal or talk about their dreams unless they want to. The exercise is still a powerful one when people keep their dreams and personal aims to themselves.) This type of visualisation exercise is also important in helping people to take more control of their lives and decisions - becoming more self-reliant and more pro-active towards pursuing personal dreams and potential, instead of habitually reacting to work demands and assumptions.

'starter keys' icebreakers and activities (warm-up exercises, introductions, getting people talking, potentially leading to deeper discussions) An easy and flexible exercise (using people's bunches of keys) for icebreakers and introductions for groups of any size (very large groups need to be split into smaller teams with appointed team leaders). Also a quick fun method for deciding order (who goes first - for introductions, speaking, presenting, etc) and also for splitting a group into smaller teams, threes or pairs. The idea can also extend into various activities for self- and mutual awareness, story-telling, understanding life 'partitions', time management and prioritising, life balance, responsibility, even delegation and management. Keys are of course very personal items with significant Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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personal connections and representations, and so provide opportunities to create lots of interesting, enjoyable and helpful activities around them. Exercises examples: 1. For deciding order- 'Who goes first' - Ask each person to put their bunch of keys on the table in front of them. Order is decided according to most keys on the bunch. Tie-breaker(s) can be decided according to the key(s) with most notches. 2. For splitting group into teams or threes or pairs - Ask the group to sort themselves into the required number (which you would normally stipulate, unless your purpose allows/prefers them to sort into teams of their own choosing) of teams or threes or pairings according to shared features (in common with others) of their key bunches, for example number of keys on bunch; type of key-ring fobs (sensible, daft, tatty, glitzy, unmanageably large, uselessly small, broken, holiday mementoes, promotional giveaways, etc), size of keys, type of keys, colours of keys, purpose of keys. 3. For starting and framing personal introductions and profiles - Ask group members to put their keys on the table. Each person then takes turns (you can use the order-deciding method above) to introduce and describe themselves according to their keys, from the perspective of each key's purpose and the meaning in their life represented by what each key unlocks. 4. For addressing time management, life balance and personal change, etc - Split the group into threes and ask each person to discuss in turn, among their teams of three, what their own keys represent in terms of stuff they're happy with and stuff they'd like to change (where they live, what they drive, what they value, their responsibilities, their obligations, personal baggage and habits, etc). 5. For addressing personal responsibilities and delegation, from others and to others, and responsibilities people aspire to - Ask the group to split into pairs or threes, and as individuals, to discuss with their partners what they'd like their bunch of keys to be like instead of how it is at the moment - what responsibilities (keys) would they like to lose or change or give to others - what new keys would they like to add? How else would they like to change their bunch of keys? If anyone is entirely happy with their bunch of keys ask them to think ahead five years. If they're still happy with their keys ask them to help facilitate... You will no doubt think of your own ideas and variations to these exercises. Let me know anything different and interesting that works for your team. See also the 'letting go' de-cluttering exercise on the team building games page 1, which might give you more ideas for extending and varying these activities. See also the Johari Window model, which helps explain to people the benefits of feedback and developing self- and mutual awareness. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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'where in the world' exercise (personal development, icebreaker, warm-up exercise, questions for recruitment group selection or interviews , student presentations) This exercise and the activities that can be developed around this idea provide very simple quick ice-breakers or presentation ideas for all sorts of situations. The activity is for any group size. (For large groups: split group into teams of 5-7 people and appoint team facilitators to ensure full participation by all. Presentations can be given within teams, not to whole group. Teams can then reconvene as a whole group to review the exercise and experience after completing the activities in teams.) Ask the group as individuals to take a couple of minutes to close their eyes and imagine running their own ideal business or enterprise (not necessarily profit-making in a conventional business sense - it can be a service of any sort; some people for example seek to be carers, or writers, or gardeners, or cooks, to have a shop or a cafe, or to teach others. It is important to emphasise that everyone - not just entrepreneurs - can follow their dreams. Visualising and stating one's dreams helps greatly to make them happen). Then ask the group as individuals to close their eyes and think where in the world would they locate their business/service activity and why? Give the team members or delegates anything between two and five minutes to think of their answers and to structure a brief explanation or presentation (again stipulate timing for their presentation or answer), depending on the purpose and depth of the activity. N.B. Giving a presentation is not an essential part of this activity. It might be more appropriate for the participants and/or the situation for people to simply keep their thoughts to themselves, or to write them down privately, perhaps to refer to and consider in the future. In explaining their choice of location team members will be encouraged to think about and express personal dreams and passions relating to their ideal business or service activity or enterprise (which involves exploring their fulfilment of personal potential and strengths), and also where in the world and why they would locate their enterprise or service activity, (which involves each person in considering the environment and context to which they see their dreams relating). Some people will not imagine locations very far away; others will imagine locations on the other side of the world. There are no right or wrong answers - the activity is an opportunity for people to think and imagine possibilities for themselves beyond the constraints that often limit us and our fulfilment. The exercise relates also to Johari Window development, to goals, personal and self-development, and (if ideas are expressed or presented) Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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also provides helpful insight for team leaders, facilitators, trainers, or recruitment selection observers in understanding more about the people performing the exercise.

'one word' exercise (exploring deep values and purpose, and behaviour towards others, which relates to all sorts of development needs and opportunities) Again - this is a simple activity - which contributes to many and various positive outcomes. The exercise is for any group size, although if presentation is required split large groups into smaller teams which can self-facilitate to enable full participation and discussion. If splitting into teams you can reconvene as a whole group for review of the experiences after the team activities. Ask people as individuals to clear their minds, close their eyes, and to think of one word - just one word - which they feel best describes or encapsulates living a good life. A one-word maxim for life. The facilitator might be required to explain what is meant by 'living a good life'. Use your imagination so as to relate the concept to the situation and the participants. Think about: force for good; civilised society; leaving the world a better place than when you entered it. Of course words mean different things to different people, and many people will find it quite difficult to pick just one word, but this is the point: One word concentrates the mind in a way that five or six words, or a longer sentence tends not to. For participants who find it impossible to decide on one word, encourage them to use as few words as possible - but still aiming to focus on the essence, or a central concept, rather than a catch-all or list. It's easy for people to think of a list - one word is a lot more thought-provoking. Ask people to write down their chosen one word (or words if necessary), plus some brief explanation as to what they mean. Then in turn ask people to tell or present their answers to the group or team. It is interesting to hear people's ideas. They will be quite different to how people actually normally behave in organisations - to each other, to customers, to suppliers, etc. And quite different to how people behave in societies in local, national, religious and global communities. Why is this? Where does individual responsibility begin and end? Are we part of the problem - or part of the solution? Do we want to be part of the solution? What actually stops each of us trying to live and behave more often as we know to be right? Are the pressures and habits and expectations that distract us from more often following a right path really immovable and so Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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strong that we cannot rise above them? What personal resolutions and changes might we want to make? The exercise relates also to Johari Window development, to personal life philosophy and values, personal and self-development, and (if ideas are expressed or presented) also provides helpful insight for team leaders, facilitators, trainers, or recruitment selection observers in understanding more about the people performing the exercise. Transactional Analysis and the blame model within the TA section can be a helpful reference to assist people in understanding more about the forces that cause us to behave differently to what we know to be right. See also the articles section about love and spirituality in organisations which helps explain about bringing compassion and humanity to teams and work.

This is page 2 of the free team building activities and games ideas on this website. If you'd like to share your own team building or personal development games and ideas please send them.

see also •

team building activities page 1 - including full listing of all games



abstract images for feelings, challenge and change



quizballs quizzes



amusing and fascinating origins of words, expressions and cliches



word-play puzzles and games for quizzes and exercises



stories and analogies for training, public-speaking and writing



difficult puzzles for teams

delegation delegating authority skills, tasks and the process of effective delegation Delegation is one of the most important management skills. These logical rules and techniques will help you to delegate well (and will help you to help your manager when you are being delegated a task or new responsibility - delegation is a two-way process!). Good delegation saves you time, develops you people, grooms a successor, and motivates. Poor delegation will cause you frustration, demotivates and confuses the other person, and fails to achieve the task or purpose itself. So it's a Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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management skill that's worth improving. Here are the simple steps to follow if you want to get delegation right, with different levels of delegation freedom that you can offer. This delegation skills guide deals with general delegation principles and process, which is applicable to individuals and teams, or to specially formed groups of people for individual projects (including 'virtual teams'). Delegation is a very helpful aid for succession planning, personal development - and seeking and encouraging promotion. It's how we grow in the job - delegation enables us to gain experience to take on higher responsibilities. Effective delegation is actually crucial for effective succession. For the successor, and for the manager too: the main task of a manager in a growing thriving organization is ultimately to develop a successor. When this happens everyone can move on to higher things. When it fails to happen the succession and progression becomes dependent on bringing in new people from outside. Delegation can be used to develop your people people and yourself delegation is not just a management technique for freeing up the boss's time. Of course there is a right way to do it. These delegation tips and techniques are useful for bosses - and for anyone seeking or being given delegated responsibilities. As a giver of delegated tasks you must ensure delegation happens properly. Just as significantly, as the recipient of delegated tasks you have the opportunity to 'manage upwards' and suggest improvements to the delegation process and understanding - especially if your boss could use the help. Managing the way you receive and agree to do delegated tasks is one of the central skills of 'managing upwards'. Therefore while this page is essentially written from the manager's standpoint, the principles are just as useful for people being managed.

delegation and SMART, or SMARTER A simple delegation rule is the SMART acronym, or better still, SMARTER. It's a quick checklist for proper delegation. Delegated tasks must be: •

Specific



Measurable



Agreed



Realistic



Timebound



Ethical



Recorded

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Traditional interpretations of the SMARTER acronym use 'Exciting' or 'Enjoyable', however, although a high level of motivation often results when a person achieves and is given recognition for a particular delegated task, which in itself can be exciting and enjoyable, in truth, let's be honest, it is not always possible to ensure that all delegated work is truly 'exciting' or 'enjoyable' for the recipient. More importantly, the 'Ethical' aspect is fundamental to everything that we do, assuming you subscribe to such philosophy. The delegation and review form is a useful tool for the delegation process. Also helpful tools for delegation, see the goal planning tips and template, and the activity management template. The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum model proviodes extra guidance on delegating freedom to, and developing, a team. The Tuckman 'Forming, Storming, Norming Performing' model is particularly helpful when delegating to teams and individuals within teams. Below are: The steps of successful delegation - step-by-step guide. The levels of delegation freedom - choose which is most appropriate for any given situation.

the steps of successful delegation 1 Define the task Confirm in your own mind that the task is suitable to be delegated. Does it meet the criteria for delegating?

2 Select the individual or team What are your reasons for delegating to this person or team? What are they going to get out of it? What are you going to get out of it?

3 Assess ability and training needs Is the other person or team of people capable of doing the task? Do they understand what needs to be done. If not, you can't delegate.

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You must explain why the job or responsibility is being delegated. And why to that person or people? What is its importance and relevance? Where does it fit in the overall scheme of things?

5 State required results What must be achieved? Clarify understanding by getting feedback from the other person. How will the task be measured? Make sure they know how you intend to decide that the job is being successfully done.

6 Consider resources required Discuss and agree what is required to get the job done. Consider people, location, premises, equipment, money, materials, other related activities and services.

7 Agree deadlines When must the job be finished? Or if an ongoing duty, when are the review dates? When are the reports due? And if the task is complex and has parts or stages, what are the priorities? At this point you may need to confirm understanding with the other person of the previous points, getting ideas and interpretation. As well as showing you that the job can be done, this helps to reinforce commitment. Methods of checking and controlling must be agreed with the other person. Failing to agree this in advance will cause this monitoring to seem like interference or lack of trust.

8 Support and communicate Think about who else needs to know what's going on, and inform them. Involve the other person in considering this so they can see beyond the issue at hand. Do not leave the person to inform your own peers of their new responsibility. Warn the person about any awkward matters of politics or protocol. Inform your own boss if the task is important, and of sufficient profile.

9 Feedback on results It is essential to let the person know how they are doing, and whether they have achieved their aims. If not, you must review with them why things did not go to plan, and deal with the problems. You must absorb the consequences of failure, and pass on the credit for success.

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Delegation isn't just a matter of telling someone else what to do. There is a wide range of varying freedom that you can confer on the other person. The more experienced and reliable the other person is, then the more freedom you can give. The more critical the task then the more cautious you need to be about extending a lot of freedom, especially if your job or reputation depends on getting a good result. Take care to choose the most appropriate style for each situation. For each example the statements are simplified for clarity; in reality you would choose a less abrupt style of language, depending on the person and the relationship. At the very least, a "Please" and "Thank-you" would be included in the requests. It's important also to ask the other person what level of authority they feel comfortable being given. Why guess? When you ask, you can find out for sure and agree this with the other person. Some people are confident; others less so. It's your responsibility to agree with them what level is most appropriate, so that the job is done effectively and with minimal unnecessary involvement from you. Involving the other person in agreeing the level of delegated freedom for any particular responsibility is an essential part of the 'contract' that you make with them. These levels of delegation are not an exhaustive list. There are many more shades of grey between these black-and-white examples. Take time to discuss and adapt the agreements and 'contracts' that you make with people regarding delegated tasks, responsibility and freedom according to the situation. Be creative in choosing levels of delegated responsibility, and always check with the other person that they are comfortable with your chosen level. People are generally capable of doing far more than you imagine. The rate and extent of responsibility and freedom delegated to people is a fundamental driver of organisational growth and effectiveness, the growth and well-being of your people, and of your own development and advancement.

levels of delegation - examples These examples of different delegation levels progressively offer, encourage and enable more delegated freedom. Level 1 is the lowest level of delegated freedom (basically none). Level 10 is the highest level typically (and rarely) found in organisations.

1 "Wait to be told." or "Do exactly what I say." or "Follow these instructions precisely." This is instruction. There is no delegated freedom at all. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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2 "Look into this and tell me the situation. I'll decide." This is asking for investigation and analysis but no recommendation. The person delegating retains responsibility for assessing options prior to making the decision.

3 "Look into this and tell me the situation. We'll decide together." This is has a subtle important difference to the above. This level of delegation encourages and enables the analysis and decision to be a shared process, which can be very helpful in coaching and development.

4 "Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we'll decide." This is opens the possibility of greater freedom for analysis and decisionmaking, subject to both people agreeing this is appropriate. Again, this level is helpful in growing and defining coaching and development relationships.

5 "Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I'll let you know whether you can go ahead." Asks for analysis and recommendation, but you will check the thinking before deciding.

6 "Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding." Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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The other person is trusted to assess the situation and options and is probably competent enough to decide and implement too, but for reasons of task importance, or competence, or perhaps externally changing factors, the boss prefers to keep control of timing. This level of delegation can be frustrating for people if used too often or for too long, and in any event the reason for keeping people waiting, after they've inevitably invested time and effort, needs to be explained.

7 "Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to." Now the other person begins to control the action. The subtle increase in responsibility saves time. The default is now positive rather than negative. This is a very liberating change in delegated freedom, and incidentally one that can also be used very effectively when seeking responsibility from above or elsewhere in an organisation, especially one which is strangled by indecision and bureaucracy. For example, "Here is my analysis and recommendation; I will proceed unless you tell me otherwise by (date)."

8 "Decide and take action - let me know what you did (and what happened)." This delegation level, as with each increase up the scale, saves even more time. This level of delegation also enables a degree of follow-up by the manager as to the effectiveness of the delegated responsibility, which is necessary when people are being managed from a greater distance, or more 'hands-off'. The level also allows and invites positive feedback by the manager, which is helpful in coaching and development of course.

9 "Decide and take action. You need not check back with me." The most freedom that you can give to another person when you still need to retain responsibility for the activity. A high level of confidence is necessary, and you would normally assess the quality of the activity after the event according to overall results, potentially weeks or months later. Feedback and review remain helpful and important, although the relationship is more likely one of mentoring, rather than coaching per se.

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10 "Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It's your area of responsibility now." The most freedom that you can give to the other person, and not generally used without formal change of a person's job role. It's the delegation of a strategic responsibility. This gives the other person responsibility for defining what changes projects, tasks, analysis and decisions are necessary for the management of a particular area of responsibility, as well as the task or project or change itself, and how the initiative or change is to be implemented and measured, etc. This amounts to delegating part of your job - not just a task or project. You'd use this utmost level of delegation (for example) when developing a successor, or as part of an intentional and agreed plan to devolve some of your job accountability in a formal sense.

contracts - 'psychological contracts', 'emotional contracts' Variously called 'contracts' or 'psychological contracts' or 'emotional contracts', these expressions describe the process of agreeing with the other person what they should do and the expectations linked to the responsibility. It all basically means the same, whatever you call it. The point is that people cannot actually be held responsible for something to which they've not agreed. The point is also that everyone is more committed to delivering a responsibility if they've been through the process of agreeing to do it. This implies that they might have some feelings about the expectations attached, such as time-scale, resources, budget, etc., even purpose and method. You must give the other person the opportunity to discuss, question and suggest issues concerning expectations attached to a delegated task. This is essential to the contracting process. Certain general responsibilities of course are effectively agreed implicitly within people's job roles or job descriptions or employment contracts, but commonly particular tasks, projects, etc., that you need to delegate are not, in which case specific discussion must take place to establish proper agreement or 'contract' between you and the other person.

see also Go to businessballs homepage for more tips and materials relating to effective management, working, career and self-development. Many, including those below, are very relevant to delegation. For example processes and tools: Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Goal planning



Project Management

And help with managing people in the theories, meaning and application of: Erikson's life stages - very powerful for self-awareness - and helps explain why have different responses to delegation •

Tuckman's 'forming storming' team model - brilliant for understanding teams and group development •

Kolb's learning cycle and learning styles - helps explain why we respond differently to different tasks and communications • •

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - just as relevant today as ever

Kirkpatrick's learning and training evaluation model - simple, quick great for designing and measuring development effectiveness •

balanced scorecard kaplan and norton's organizational performance management tool In the beginning was darkness. We went to work, did our job (well or otherwise) and went home - day in and day out. We did not have to worry about targets, annual assessments, metric-driven incentives, etc. Aahh… life was simple back then. Then there came light. Bosses everywhere cast envious eyes towards our transatlantic cousins whose ambition was to increase production and efficiency year-by-year. Like eager younger siblings we trailed behind them on the (sometimes) thorny path to enlightenment. Early Metric-Driven Incentives - MDIs - were (generally) focused on the financial aspects of an organization by either claiming to increase profit margins or reduce costs. They were not always successful, for instance driving down costs could sometimes be at the expense of quality, staff (lost expertise) or even losing some of your customer base. Two eminent doctors (Robert S Kaplan and David P Norton) evolved their Balanced Scorecard system from early MDIs and jointly produced their (apparently) ground-breaking book in 1996. Many other 'gurus' have jumped on the Balanced Scorecard wagon and produced a plethora of books all purporting to be the ‘Definitive' book on Balanced Scorecards. Amazon.com shows over 4,000 books listed under Balanced Scorecards, so take your pick - and your chances!

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What exactly is a Balanced Scorecard? A definition often quoted is: 'A strategic planning and management system used to align business activities to the vision statement of an organization'. More cynically, and in some cases realistically, a Balanced Scorecard attempts to translate the sometimes vague, pious hopes of a company's vision/mission statement into the practicalities of managing the business better at every level. A Balanced Scorecard approach is to take a holistic view of an organization and co-ordinate MDIs so that efficiencies are experienced by all departments and in a joined-up fashion. To embark on the Balanced Scorecard path an organization first must know (and understand) the following: •

The company's mission statement



The company's strategic plan/vision

Then •

The financial status of the organization



How the organization is currently structured and operating



The level of expertise of their employees



Customer satisfaction level

The following table indicates what areas may be looked at for improvement (the areas are not exhaustive and are often companyspecific):

balanced scorecard - factors examples Department

Areas

Finance

Return On Investment Cash Flow Return on Capital Employed Financial Results (Quarterly/Yearly)

Internal Business Processes

Number of activities per function Duplicate activities across functions Process alignment (is the right process in the right department?) Process bottlenecks Process automation

Learning & Growth

Is there the correct level of expertise for the job? Employee turnover Job satisfaction

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Training/Learning opportunities Customer

Delivery performance to customer Quality performance for customer Customer satisfaction rate Customer percentage of market Customer retention rate

Once an organization has analysed the specific and quantifiable results of the above, they should be ready to utilise the Balanced Scorecard approach to improve the areas where they are deficient. The metrics set up also must be SMART (commonly, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) - you cannot improve on what you can't measure! Metrics must also be aligned with the company's strategic plan. A Balanced Scorecard approach generally has four perspectives: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Financial Internal business processes Learning & Growth (human focus, or learning and development) Customer

Each of the four perspectives is inter-dependent - improvement in just one area is not necessarily a recipe for success in the other areas.

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balance scorecard implementation Implementing the Balanced Scorecard system company-wide should be the key to the successful realisation of the strategic plan/vision. A Balanced Scorecard should result in: •

Improved processes



Motivated/educated employees



Enhanced information systems



Monitored progress



Greater customer satisfaction



Increased financial usage

There are many software packages on the market that claim to support the usage of Balanced Scorecard system. For any software to work effectively it should be: •

Compliant with your current technology platform



Always accessible to everyone - everywhere

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Easy to understand/update/communicate

It is of no use to anyone if only the top management keep the objectives in their drawers/cupboards and guard them like the Holy Grail. Feedback is essential and should be ongoing and contributed to by everyone within the organization. And it should be borne in mind that Balanced Scorecards do not necessarily enable better decision-making! Here's a helpful webpage for further in-depth information on Balanced Scorecards.

see also •

Quality Management



Adair's Action Centred Leadership model



McGregor's X-Y Theory



Adams' Equity Theory



McLelland's Motivational Theory



Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs



Personality Models and Types



NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)



Transactional Analysis



Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory



Kolb's Learning Styles



Kirkpatrick's Learning Evaluation Model



Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains (Educational Objectives)



360 degree appraisals tips

Employment termination, dismissal, redundancy, letters templates and style • •

Exit interviews, questions examples, tips



Grievance procedures letters samples for employees



Group selection recruitment method



Induction training checklist, template and tips



Job interviews - tips, techniques, questions, answers



Job descriptions, writing templates and examples



Performance appraisals - process and appraisals form template



Team briefing process



Training evaluation processes

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Training and developing people - how to

design process and design management tips how to plan and manage the creative design process, creative agencies and creative people All organisations, businesses and individuals use design in very many ways. For example, the design process features in corporate identity, branding, image; design is central to advertising, marketing, promotion, and in the development of new products, new services and technical development of all sorts such as websites and other internet systems. Design features in very many aspects of work and business. The design management principles explained in this section also apply to all sorts of other management processes involving the use of external creative agencies or providers, for example architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners, personal stylists, etc. The principles of planning, communication, control and working towards clear agreed aims and accountabilities apply to all situations where we ask a creative provider - internal or external, in-house or contracted - or to do something for us. These simple principles will help in managing the design process, and are relevant to a lesser or greater extent when working with creative people and providers of all sorts, from design and advertising agencies, product designers, branding and image consultants, to creative people providing design services for building and renovation, and other creative services relating to domestic, house and home, lifestyle and personal image.

design process stages and principles These process steps are certainly applicable and necessary for large complex commercial or industrial design projects. For smaller routine design management projects and tasks, or for managing creative providers in domestic or personal style areas, many of these principles will be unnecessary, so use what is helpful and appropriate. If in doubt ask team members and agency people and creative specialists what stages are necessary and helpful for them. Err on the side of caution. Where any simple routine design management project encounters problems or fails, it's likely that the project manager will have decided that something in this process could be ignored or taken for granted.

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Even at the most simple level of working with a creative provider - for example a hair stylist or an interior decorator - if there is an unhappy result, it's rarely the fault of the creative person - the problem and the ultimate responsibility belongs to the customer or specifier. Problems are generally due to the fact the customer or specifier has not explained and agreed 'the brief' properly, or not managed the process adequately while it's happening. Managing design and creative projects requires a clear methodology. For complex tasks the project manager must be vigilant and detailed. This is not to say you need to be 'hands-on' and constantly interfering absolutely not - creative people need to be given freedom to use their abilities or you might as well ask an accountant to do the job (no offence to accountants), however, you as project manager - or the customer need to allow for and anticipate everything that can arise. The key to this is establishing clear positive open communications at the outset, and then maintaining full mutual understanding at all times, irrespective of how much freedom is delegated. This is both a process and a checklist of management stages. Adapt and use it to suit your purposes. Again, bear in mind that the full extent of the process here is for complex design projects, but the essential principles are transferable to any situation where a creative person or provider is required to design something. Adapt the level of detail and use the aspects described here to suit the purposes of your particular design project.

process for managing design projects and creative services 1. First, establish and agree the aims of the project - large or small aims must be defined and agreed with the executive budget-holder (that's you if this is a small project and you are the only person at the 'customer' side), and if appropriate with all other stakeholders (team-members, focus group, departmental opposite numbers, legislative/approving bodies, etc). See the more detailed notes about establishing and agreeing design aims below. 2. Determine a budget, (or for simple projects decide simply what you are prepared to spend) and decide timescales and chief outcomes/results required - remember the principle of 'fitness for purpose' - there is no point shooting for the stars if all you need is a quick basic refinement. Conversely do not expect to create a new market with a 'me-too' basic improvement. 3. Decide the level of innovation required - 'me-too' or high innovation, or something in between - this depends on your aims and required outcomes. Again consider 'fitness for purpose'. See the more detailed notes about level of design innovation below. 4. Write an 'outline' brief or specification - a detailed brief comes later and should be developed with or by the principle agency when Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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appointed. Ensure interested affected people are aware and are in agreement. 5. Define a team or supplier specification - what sort of team agency will be best for this - have a clear idea of the qualities and scale and style of the agency and/or creative people that will be appropriate for the project. 6. Consider and (perhaps provisionally) decide what project management tools and information systems you will use. For small projects you will not need to change your mind about this, but for large projects you'll need to ensure that your chosen tools and systems interface with those of the selected creative agency, so for larger projects keep your options open; the agency might have better suggestions, and will certainly want to use their own systems for managing the creative activities and progress at their end. 7. Draw up a short-list of external agencies or creative providers - for anything other than small routine projects and on-going design work, use referrals to identify candidates - do not use an existing agency out of pure habit unless there are good reasons for doing so - ensure any large design project is won by going through proper selection process. 8. Decide method of team or agency selection - make this transparent and inform candidates of the process - for large projects invite formal presentations in response to the outline brief. 9. For large projects particularly, ensure that proper legal documentation and processes are used and in place, for example, non-disclosure agreements (where the development is commercially sensitive, or might be subject of a patent application), clear agreement about the use of ideas, intellectual property and copyright ownership - clarify any areas of doubt and potential misunderstanding. Creative agencies commonly have a different view about these things to commercial business managers misunderstandings develop easily so you must flush all of these issues out into the open and make sure they are fully understood and agreed on all sides (and ensure this transparency of agreement is maintained through the design management project). 10. Select the internal team and agree clear responsibilities as appropriate - often internal team members are on the fringe, notably for such things as quality and safety, ITC, finance, etc., which means these people are easy to forget, but it's important to involve and include them as appropriate in your planning and ongoing communications so that they are able to provide the assistance and input required. Consider the strengths and styles and preferences of different team members. Look at the personalties and styles section to better understand that different people are naturally better at doing different things. If in doubt, ask people what they are good at and what they prefer to be doing within the project - don't just assume that everyone can do anything. Some creative people are passive or introverts and need to be given guidance and management; others are proactive and/or extraverts, and will be happy to instigate and use their initiative. Be aware of whom you expect to do what, and seek their commitment that your expectations are appropriate and comfortable for them. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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11. Select external team - external agency and or other creative people as appropriate - be mindful of level of innovation required assess integrity and track-record as well as the quality of their 'pitch' presentations (in trying to win the project contract) - clarify allocation of work and responsibility within external agency - senior people are more expensive than junior people, but senior people are bored by routine work - be comfortable with the people appointed to the tasks within the agency. 12. Identify and agree clear project management accountability among the internal and external team members - you certainly need a primary project manager on the agency side to take responsibility for the project (aside from the ultimate accountability which naturally defaults to you, being the project manager for your own organisation). Again consider personalties, styles, strengths and work preferences of all team members; do not assume that the team leader at the agency end of things will be on top of this, although usually they will be. Some won't be however, and as the customer and specifier you are entitled to check that different types of work are being done by people best suited to the responsibilities and expectations concerned. This is where a good relationship with the agency team leader is very helpful. You need to be confident that they can manage their team well, on your behalf. 13. Develop and agree detailed brief with the appointed agency - large projects will require 'sub-briefs' for each team or element of the project. For large projects an agency is perfectly entitled to include the development of the detailed brief within the overall project chargeable services. It is not advisable to seek to avoid these costs by developing a detailed brief in isolation and then presenting it to an agency as a 'fait accomplis' (decided and issued as an edict). the detailed brief is part of the project, and a good agency will help usually you develop one that is realistic and deliverable. Conversely, no supplier is comfortable being given a complex brief which excludes the supplier's input, expertise and interpretation. And aside from all of this, people work best on projects when they have a sense of involvement and ownership; inviting agency input to the detailed brief creates involvement and a sense of ownership, which generally provides a platform for commitment and reliable delivery. 14. Develop and agree a detailed project plan with the appointed agency - the plan includes the tools you will use for managing and communicating - especially for budgets and approvals. Again, for large complex projects expect this to be chargeable agency time and part of the agency service. Only for the smallest simplest projects will you get away with creating a detailed project plan in isolation. the bigger the project, the more input you should seek from the agency - they are the ones who'll have to make it all happen. Edicts and X-Theory management techniques are a recipe for disaster. You've gone to all the effort to find a good agency, so let them contribute as fully as possible to the project. 15. Be guided by the agency about the different stages of the design process, and when you can expect to see representations, ideas, models, art-work, etc., whatever is appropriate for the project. For certain design projects, for example the design of new products, the Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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agency will suggest a staged process of producing ideas, drawings, mock-ups, models and various stages of prototypes. Understand and agree these stages and expectations, and build the stages and the approvals into the project plan. 16. For design projects that involve a production phase, as many will do (eg., new products, advertising campaigns, websites, etc) again be guided by the agency about how the design process should interface with aspects of production and implementation. In many circumstances the agency will have more experience about this than you (for instance design to print production), and in any event you must ensure connections and understanding between design and implementation, whatever that entails. Your job is to ensure that the connections between design and production/implementation enable a seamless transition from one to the other, ie., design to production/implementation. This transition varies greatly depending on the type of design project and you must involve and integrate the needs of all departments, divisions, organisations, whatever, that are responsible for or have an interest in the implementation or production of the design(s) concerned. The more the agency understands about the implementation and production issues, the better able it is to incorporate those requirements and factors into the design plans. 17. Communicate and explain the plans to all involved and seek agreement - clarify expectations (and always keep doing so through the project). At this stage, assuming appropriate sign-off of the plans, you are ready for the project to start, and are now into the implementation stage. Clarify and agree the preferred management style and management methods with the agency, firstly with the agency's team manager or project manager, and then with all other people on the project, so that everyone knows what's expected this should embrace communications, updates, approvals, breakpoints, amendments - where possible anticipate anything that might arise to affect the project - aim to prevent surprises on either side transparency and clear open positive communications on both sides are essential. Look at the levels of delegation, and decide continuously how much freedom to extend to people within the project. Your job is to manage the project - not to do all the work. The aim is to manage the team so that they feel good about what they are doing, they know clearly what the 'rules of engagement' are, and they get feedback and regular updates about progress and expectations. Communication, measurement, encouragement and maintaining some flexibility to accommodate slippage and new opportunities along the way, are vital aspects of managing successful creative projects. 18. Ensure plans and forecasts are kept up to date and communicated. Provide information and progress reports to upline managers and executives - do not wait to be asked. Updates and progress reports are vital for staying on top of creative projects, and demonstrate that you are in control, which keeps nervous up-line managers off your back, because they can trust the project is in safe hands. Stay informed; measure and monitor; be available when required, but try to let the team get on with their jobs. Creative people need space Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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and reassurance. You have the overview, not them, so behave accordingly: manage and feedback and update in the big picture and resist the temptation to 'micro-manage', if you have such tendencies. 19. And generally enjoy the creative process and encourage all involved to do the same - it's a wonderful thing, in which the combination of solid project management skills and creative specialisms can produce extremely significant and rewarding outcomes, for the organisations and all the people involved. 20. Finally, always remember to give good positive feedback and thanks to creative people and agency staff. Creative agencies and creative people are like most other staff - they get blamed when things go wrong, but get little credit when things succeed. Instead turn it around the other way: make sure you take responsibility and accept the blame for any problems that arise, and ensure the creative people get the thanks and the credit for all the success. As with any management role, this provides the best platform for success.

design process and principles - important aspects in more detail establish the aims of the design project Be clear first what your aims are - what is the purpose of the design project? You need to agree and confirm with all involved the actual purpose of the design project. What are the outcomes required? Use the SMARTER criteria to establish these essential starting parameters. Design and the creative process will always tend to zoom off in weird and wonderful directions - that's the nature of the creative process and of creative people - so you need to establish clear guidelines or things can become very difficult to control. It's all too easy to lose sight of the original purpose of any design project unless it is properly established, quantified, agreed and recorded. Specific (a clear written description of what is intended or required, the outcome needed - the basic aim of the exercise) •

Measurable (quantify every aspect that is fixed, especially budgets, scale of application, • •

Agreed (with all stakeholders and interested/affected parties)

Realistic (even highly conceptual projects need to have a realistic intention or the project is inherently flawed) •

Timebound (proper start and finish timescales, ideally with milestones (check-points) and measures along the way) •

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Ethical (if you build ethics in from the start you provide a valuable reference point to maintain integrity) •

Recorded (write everything down; it's essential for clarification, agreement, management and control) •

Using the brainstorming process can be very helpful in beginning to establish project aims.

consider and decide the level of design innovation required This is a vital dimension of the specification and is critically important for any creative people working on the project. Is your design project highly conceptual and ground-breaking, or is it a revision or development or improvement of an existing design or product or service? Or something in between? The thought process and design process are entirely different for something absolutely new compared to something that simply adapts or develops an existing concept or idea. Creative people therefore need to know the level of innovation required. Many of the best creative people will by their nature tend to strive for optimum innovation. This is fine if the project requires it, but if the design project is merely to design next season's range of tea-towel patterns, there's no point in having a designer working on the next generation of bactericidal super-absorbent textiles that change colour to indicate when they're due for cleaning. The level of innovation must be 'fit for purpose' whatever that purpose is. Your reference point is the outcome or result required by the business or organisation. Deciding the level of innovation is also crucial for selecting the right type of designer(s) to work on the project. Some designers are highly innovative; others are more comfortable with refinements and developments. Knowing the level of innovation helps you to identify the right people for the job.

patents and non-disclosure agreements (nda's) It is generally not possible to patent an idea or an invention once it becomes public knowledge, or enters the 'public domain'.

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If your design project involves a concept or plan or details that might be subject of a future patent application, you can protect the confidentiality of your ideas when discussing them with prospective designers through the use of a non-disclosure agreement (commonly abbreviated to NDA, also called a non-disclosure undertaking or a confidentiality agreement). A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) simply states that both sides (normally the specifying 'company' or customer, and the prospective supplier or 'recipient' of the confidential information) will keep confidential all sensitive information disclosed by either side relating to the (named or described) project. A two-way undertaking is often more appropriate than merely protecting the interests of the customer or specifier because the supplier will commonly have their own needs for confidentiality too. Having said this many NDA's ignore the interests of the potential supplier and are worded as a simple one-way protection, basically signed by the potential supplier or agency to guarantee that they will keep information relating to the project confidential, and take reasonable measures to ensure that all information is treated confidentially among their people. A simple NDA can be achieved also via a simple exchange of letters. It's not a complex thing, unless the project is very serious. If you do not have a non-disclosure agreement document or template, most good design agencies will often have their own NDA's which can be adapted to suit the needs of both sides. If not, a decent solicitor should be able to advise on the creation of a simple non-disclosure agreement. Alternatively examples of NDA's are freely available on the internet. Try to choose an NDA which uses simple plain language, and avoid being persuaded by lawyers to spend a lot of money creating a complex document, unless the project is very serious. The likelihood is that the creative agency will want to amend your NDA anyway, so keeping things simple is your best way to complete this formality quickly and easily, and then get on with awarding and managing actual project. Incidentally non-disclosure agreements can be used for any discussions where you need to protect the confidentiality of information - NDA's are not restricted to design projects and ideas that might be patented.

time management tips time management quick tips here time management techniques, tools, free systems samples and templates here Time management starts with the commitment to change. Time management is easy as long as you commit to action. The key to successful time management is planning and then protecting the planned Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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time, which often involves re-conditioning your environment, and particularly the re-conditioning the expectations of others. In terms of time management, you are at your most efficient the day before you start your annual leave. Your time management and efficiency on this day is probably awesome. If you really want to, you can be that well-organized every day... Time management enables each of us to improve and be more productive and fulfilled individually, so logically the effects across whole organisations of good or poor time management are enormous. The collective implications of wasted time, and happily also the benefits of increasing personal productivity, are immense.

some interesting time management statistics Emphasising the huge significance and opportunities in time management, a 2007 survey by the Proudfoot Consulting (Guardian 22 Oct 07) covering 2,500 businesses over four years and 38 countries, indicated that wasted time costs UK businesses £80bn per year, equivalent to 7% of GDP. The causes of wasted time - labour inefficiency in other words - were: •

inadequate workforce supervision (31%)



poor management planning (30%)



poor communication (18%)



IT problems, low morale, and lack or mismatch of skills (21%)

Clearly organisations are vastly under-utilising their people, and could be doing a lot more to enable more efficient working. These failings of organisation and leadership make it all the more important for individual people to think creatively about time management, and particularly to start making changes to improve time management at a personal individual level.

time management tips - and ideas for time management skills training Be prepared to make drastic changes. Be creative to find and introduce different ways of doing things. If you need a starting point see the 'Pareto Principle' (80:20 Rule), to assess what efforts and activities are most productive, and which are not. (See also the acronyms PAY and MILE warning: there is adult content on the acronyms page.)

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Manage your emails and phone calls - don't let them manage you. Ideally check at planned times, and avoid continuous notification of incoming emails. The more senior you are the more selective you need to be about when to be available to receive phone calls. Try to minimise the time that you are available to take unplanned phone calls, unless you are in a customer-facing, reactive role (customers can be internal too), and even if you are customer-facing, you must plan some time-slots when you are not available, or you'll never get anything important and pro-active done. Challenge your own tendency to say 'yes' without scrutinising the request - start asking and probing what's involved - find out what the real expectations and needs are. Really think about how you currently spend your time. If you don't know, keep a time log for a few days to find out there's a free time management time-log template tool here. Knowing exactly what's wrong is the first step to improving it. Challenge anything that could be wasting time and effort, particularly habitual tasks, meetings and reports where responsibility is inherited or handed down from above. Don't be a slave to a daft process or system. Download and use the free time management assessment tool at the free online resources section, which will help you or another person to objectively judge your time management, and underlying issues. Review your activities in terms of your own personal short-term and longterm life and career goals, and prioritise your activities accordingly. Plan preparation and creative thinking time in your diary for the long-term jobs, because they need it. The short-term urgent tasks will always use up all your time unless you plan to spend it otherwise. Use a diary, and an activity planner to schedule when to do things, and time-slots for things you know will need doing or responding to. There's a sample time management activity schedule template with examples on the new time management section. Re-condition the expectations of others as to your availability and their claim on your time - use an activity planner to help you justify why you and not others should be prioritising your activities and time. Manage your environment as a whole - especially at the proposed or actual introduction of new systems, tools, technology, people, or processes, which might threaten to generate new demands on your time. If you accept changes without question - particularly new technology that helps others but not you - then you will open the way for new increasing demands on your time, or new interruptions, or new tasks and obligations. Instead consider new technology and other changes from the point of view of your time and efficiency. Ask yourself - is this going to save my time or add to my burden? Managing your environment - which includes Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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managing, redefining, or reconditioning the expectations of others - is a critical aspect of effective time management. You must plan time slots for unplanned activities - you may not know exactly what you'll need to do, but if you plan the time to do it, then other important things will not get pushed out of the way when the demand arises. Use the 'urgent-important' system of assessing activities and deciding priorities. See more at the new time management section. When you're faced with a pile of things to do, go through them quickly and make a list of what needs doing and when. After this handle each piece of paper only once. Do not under any circumstances pick up a job, do a bit of it, then put it back on the pile. Do not start lots of jobs at the same time - even if you can handle different tasks at the same time it's not the most efficient way of dealing with them, so don't kid yourself that this sort of multi-tasking is good - it's not. Be firm and diplomatic in dealing with time allocated for meetings, paperwork, telephone, and visitors, etc. When you keep your time log you will see how much time is wasted. Take control. Provided you explain why you are managing your time in this way, people will generally understand and respect you for it. Keep a clean desk and well-organized systems. Don't be obsessive about tidiness - busy people often make a mess - but ensure your mess doesn't undermine your effectiveness. Delegate as much as possible to others. If you have one, give 25% of your responsibility to your successor. (See the rules of delegation.) You don't need to be a manager to delegate. Just asking nicely is sometimes all that's required to turn one of your difficult tasks into an easy one for somebody else better able to do it. If you can't stop interruptions when you need a quiet space for planned concentration time-slots, then find somewhere else in the building to work, and if necessary work at home or another site, and fight for the right to do this - it's important for you and the organization that you be able to work uninterrupted when you need to. Set up an acceptable template for the regular weekly or monthly reports you write, so you only need to slot in the updated figures and narrative, each time. If you can, get a good assistant, secretary or pa. Sharpen up your decision-making. Always probe deadlines to establish the true situation - people asking you to do things will often say 'now' when 'later today' would be perfectly acceptable. Appeal to the other person's own sense of time management: it's impossible for anyone to do a good job without the opportunity to plan and prioritise. Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Break big tasks down into stages and plan time-slots for them. Use project management methods. Now read the time management systems, techniques and training section. Choose some of the above time management tips and commit to putting them into effect.

the priest and the politician (a story about time management and being late) After twenty-five years in the same parish, Father O'Shaunessey was saying his farewells at his retirement dinner. An eminent member of the congregation - a leading politician - had been asked to make a presentation and a short speech, but was late arriving. So the priest took it upon himself to fill the time, and stood up to the microphone: "I remember the first confession I heard here twenty-five years ago and it worried me as to what sort of place I'd come to... That first confession remains the worst I've ever heard. The chap confessed that he'd stolen a TV set from a neighbour and lied to the police when questioned, successfully blaming it on a local scallywag. He said that he'd stolen money from his parents and from his employer; that he'd had affairs with several of his friends' wives; that he'd taken hard drugs, and had slept with his sister and given her VD. You can imagine what I thought... However I'm pleased to say that as the days passed I soon realised that this sad fellow was a frightful exception and that this parish was indeed a wonderful place full of kind and decent people..." At this point the politician arrived and apologised for being late, and keen to take the stage, he immediately stepped up to the microphone and pulled his speech from his pocket: "I'll always remember when Father O'Shaunessey first came to our parish," said the politician, "In fact, I'm pretty certain that I was the first person in the parish that he heard in confession..." (Adapted from a story sent by Stephen Hart, thanks.)

For more amusing time management examples and stories see: the rocks in a bucket story the monkey story the 'we've always done it that way' story

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SOLUTIONS *

IDEAS * SOLUTIONS * IDEAS

Project Management

From web projects through to major change projects Project Agency

SOLUTIONS *

IDEAS * SOLUTIONS * IDEAS

Brought to you by Project Agency www.projectagency.com

Why Write This Booklet and Who Wrote It? Ron Rosenhead is Managing Director of Project Agency. He believes the modern day manager needs project management skills to deliver the organisations’ agenda. He therefore decided to write this Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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book to help support them. The writing of this Tips Booklet fits nicely with the company motto “Helping organisations deliver projects effectively.” The word project can be misleading. Many people think of large scale building works or changes in information technology. Your project may not be as big as those quoted; preparing and writing a report, developing an internet product alongside marketing and sales plan, relocating an office. They all need careful planning. This tips booklet is based on the unique Project Agency Project Management System - PMS. It has been used in many organisations and is a tried and tested and very flexible model. This booklet will help you in many ways: • • • •

Providing you with a structure to manage your projects Giving practical advice based on over 10 years of running workshops and projects Answering many of the questions posed by people involved in projects Using it to check current project management practices in your organisation

You, the reader may be a one person business or working in a global company with many thousands of workers. This book is written for all of you!! We mention senior managers. If you work alone, you are the senior manager! Please adapt the content to fit your situation. Ron has worked in the project and change management field for many years. He is passionate about project management and formed Project Agency in 1995. Since then, he has written articles and spoken at conferences and run many many project management events for a vast array of organisations. Project Agency run a wide variety of training events around the world, so do go to www.projectagency.com for further information or contact us on [email protected] Good luck with all your projects and we would be delighted to receive feedback about the content of this booklet as well as how you have managed to apply it. Happy Reading



© Ron Rosenhead, Project Agency Ver: 3. February 2006 This Tips Booklet has been produced for open distribution to anyone. Please feel free to pass it onto friends or colleagues. We would be delighted to hear how you used this book and how useful it has been in supporting the delivery of your project. If you want something more in-depth try our e-book; Deliver That Project, a Step- by- Step Training Guide. Go to www.deliverthatproject.com or send an email to [email protected] Finally, good luck with all of your projects. We would be delighted to talk with you about any project management issues you may have. Do call +44 (0)20 846 7766 or email [email protected]

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Project Management Tips Getting Started – Initiation 1.

Develop a solid business case for your projects. Where appropriate, ensure you obtain senior managers’ agreement before you start the project. Research points out that too many projects are started without a firm reason or rationale. Developing a business case will identify whether it is worth working on.

2.

Ensure your project fits with the key organisational or departmental agenda or your personal strategy. If not, why do it? Stick to priority projects.

3.

Carry out risk analysis at a high level at the initiation stage. Avoid going into great detail here – more an overview focussing on the key risks.

4.

Identify at this early stage key stakeholders. Consider how much you need to consult or involve them at the business case stage. Seek advice if necessary from senior managers

5.

Where appropriate, involve finance people in putting the business case together. They can be great allies in helping crunch the numbers which should give credibility to your business case.

Defining Your Project 6.

Produce a written project definition statement (sometimes called PID) and use it to inform stakeholders – see point 13. This document is ‘your contract’ to carry out the project and should be circulated to key stakeholders.

7.

Use the project definition statement to prevent creep. Use it to prevent you going beyond the scope of the project through its use in the review process.

8.

Identify in detail what will and will not be included in the project scope. Avoid wasting time by working on those areas which should not be included – identify these in the PID.

9.

Identify who fulfils which roles in your project. Document them on the PID. Include a paragraph to show what each person does.

10.

Identify who has responsibility for what in the project e.g. project communications is the responsibility of AD. This helps reduce doubt early in the life of the project.

11.

Think ‘Team Selection’ – give some thought to who should be in your team. Analyse whether they have the skills required to enable them to carry out their role? If not, ensure they receive the right training. Check they are available for the period of the project. NOTE: this includes any contactors you may need to use

12.

Form a group of Project Managers. The Project Manager role can sometimes be very lonely! Give support to each other by forming a group of Project Managers.

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13.

Identify who the stakeholders are for your project – those affected and ‘impacted’ by the project. This should be an in- depth analysis which needs updating regularly.

14.

Recognise early in the life of the project what is driving the project. Is it a drive to improve quality, reduce costs or hit a particular deadline? You can only have 1. Discuss with the sponsor what is driving the project and ensure you stick to this throughout the project. Keep “the driver” in mind especially when you monitor and review.

15.

Hold a kick off meeting (Start up Workshop) with key stakeholders, sponsor, project manager project team. Use the meeting to help develop the PID (see Tip 6). Identify risks and generally plan the project. If appropriate hold new meetings at the start of a new stage.

16.

Ensure you review the project during the Defining Your Project Stage – involve your sponsor or senior manager in this process. Remember to check progress against the business case.

Delivery Planning 17.

Create a work breakdown structure (WBS) for the project. A WBS is a key element you will need to develop your plan. It lists out all of the activities you will need to undertake to deliver the project. Post it notes can be a great help in developing your WBS.

18.

Group tasks under different headings once you have a list. This will enable you to identify the chunks of work that need to be delivered, as well as put together the Gantt chart and milestone chart.

19.

Identify dependencies (or predecessors) of all activities. This will let you put together the Gantt and milestone charts. Ensure you write them down otherwise you are trying to carry potentially hundreds of options in your head.

20.

Estimate how long each activity will take. Be aware that research points out we are notoriously bad at estimating. You estimate a task will take 3 days. Identify how confident you are that you can deliver in 3 days by using % e.g. I’m only 40% certain I can deliver in 3 days. You should aim for 80%. If you do not believe you can achieve 80% then re-calculate

21.

Identify the critical path for the project. The critical path identifies those activities which have to be completed by the due date in order to complete the project on time.

22.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! Delivering a project effectively means you need to spend time communicating with a wide range of individuals. Build a communication plan and review it regularly and include it in your Gantt chart.

23.

Are you involved in a major change project? If you are, think through the implications of this on key stakeholders and how you may need to influence and communicate with them.

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24.

Conduct Risk Assessment – carry out a full risk analysis and document it in a risk register. Regularly review each risk to ensure you are managing them, rather than them managing you. Appoint a person to manage each risk.

25.

Develop a Gantt chart and use it to monitor progress against the plan and to involve key stakeholders in the communications process.

26.

Draw up a milestone plan. These are stages in the project. You can use the milestone dates to check the project is where it should be. Review whether activities have been delivered against the milestone dates and take a look forward at what needs to be achieved to deliver the next milestone.

Project Delivery – Monitoring Project (Project Governance)

and

Reviewing

Your

27.

Have a clear project management monitoring and reviewing process – agreed by senior managers - the project sponsor and the project Board, if you have one.

28.

Ensure your organisation’s corporate governance structure and your project management monitoring and control structure are compatible. If you do not know whether this is the case then seek senior management involvement.

29.

Be aware early in the project what will be monitored, how they will be monitored and the frequency.

30.

Keep accurate records of your project not only for audit purposes but to ensure you have documents which enable you to monitor changes.

31.

Use a Planned v. Actual form. It is easy to create – it allows you to monitor how you are progressing with specific tasks – time and money. Link these forms into milestone reviews.

32.

Identify with your sponsor the type of control that is needed – loose or tight or a variation of these, e.g. tight at the start, loose in the middle, tight at the end. Ensure the system you develop reflects the type of control intended.

33.

Agree a system for project changes – have an agreed system for monitoring and approving changes. Use change control forms and obtain formal sign off (agreement) by the sponsor, before action a change. Look for the impact of the change on the project scope as well as the “key driver” - quality, and cost and time.

34.

Appoint someone to be responsible for project quality especially in larger projects. Review quality formally with the client at agreed milestone dates.

35.

Make certain you have agreed who can sanction changes in the absence of your sponsor. If you haven’t agreed this, what will you do in their absence?

36.

Set a time limit for project meetings to review progress. Have an agenda with times against each item and summarise after each item at the end of the meeting.

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37.

Produce action points against each item on the agenda and circulate within 24 hours of the meeting. Use these action points to help in the creation of your next agenda.

38.

Review the items on the critical path checking they are on schedule. Review risks, review yours stakeholders and your communication plans and whether you are still on track to deliver on time, to budget and to the required quality standard.

39.

Set a tolerance figure and monitor e.g. a tolerance figure of ±5% means as long as you are within the 5% limit you do not have to formally report. If exceed the 5% limit (cost or time) then you need to report this to the agreed person – probably your sponsor

40.

Report progress against an end of a stage – are you on schedule? Time, cost or quality? Ensure that if something is off schedule the person responsible for delivering it suggests ways to bring it back on time, within budget or to hit the right quality standard.

41.

Develop an issues log to record items that may be causing concern. Review at your project meetings.

42.

See whether you are still delivering the original project benefits when reviewing your project. If not, consider re-scoping or if appropriate abandoning the project. Do not be afraid of abandoning a project. Better to abandon now rather than waste valuable time, money, and resources working on something no longer required. If you close a project early – hold a project review meeting to identify learning.

43.

Produce one-page reports highlighting key issues. Agree the areas to include with the Sponsor before writing a report.

44.

Use a series of templates to support the monitoring process, e.g. milestone reporting, change control, log, planned v. actual. Contact [email protected] for more information.

45.

Apply traffic lights to illustrate how you are progressing – red, amber and green. Use these in conjunction with milestone reports.

46.

Engender honest reporting against specific deliverables, milestones, or a critical path activity. If you do not have honest reporting imagine the consequences.

Closedown and Review 47.

Agree well in advance a date to hold a post project review meeting. Put this onto the Gantt chart.

48.

Invite key stakeholders, sponsor, and project team to the post project review. If the date is in their diary well in advance it should make it easier for them to attend

49.

Focus your meeting on learning – identifying what you can use on the next project. Share the learning with others in the organisation.

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50.

Check whether you have delivered the original project objectives and benefits and not gone out of scope.

51.

Make sure that you have delivered against budget, quality requirements and the end deadline.

52.

Understand how well you managed risks and your key stakeholders. Use questionnaires to obtain feedback.

53.

Prepare a list of unfinished items. Identify who will complete these after the project and circulate to any stakeholders.

54.

Hand over the project formally to another group (it is now their day job) - if appropriate. You may need to build this into the project plan and involve them early in the plan and at different stages throughout the project.

55.

Write an end of project report and circulate. Identify in the report key learning points.

56.

Close the project formally. Inform others you have done this and who is now responsible for dealing with day to day issues.

57.

Celebrate success with your team! Recognise achievement, there is nothing more motivating.

General Tips 58.

But what is a project? Why worry whether something is a project? Why not use some of the project management processes, e.g. stakeholder analysis or use of traffic lights to manage your work? They key principle is to deliver the piece of work using the appropriate tools. We use the term project based working to describe this approach.

59.

Get trained! Research points out that only 61% of people have received any project management training. Contact Project Agency on Telephone No: +44 (0) 208 446 7766 or email [email protected] for more information.

60.

Ensure you have the buy-in of senior managers for your project. You will need to work hard to influence upwards and get their support.

61.

What about the day job? Projects get in the way and the day job gets in the way of projects! Many people have found that by applying project based working to day to day activities and by being more rigorous on project work, more is achieved.

62.

Identify early on in the life of the project the priority of your projects. Inevitably there will be a clash with another project or another task. Use your project management skills to deliver and your senior management contacts to check out the real priority of the project.

63.

Discover how project management software can help. But, you will need to develop the business case, produce a project definition alongside planning what will go into

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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the software. Many project managers use simple Excel spreadsheets or charts in word to help deliver their project.

Good luck in delivering your project!

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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About Project Agency Project Agency was formed to help people and organisations deliver projects effectively. Its philosophy was developed early in our history and is still with us today. We work in organisations: 

demystifying project management with professionals at all levels



developing core skills – of project managers, their teams and project sponsors providing written guidelines and protocols for staff to deliver projects in consistent and effective way



helping those involved in the project management process to recognise the need to further develop their people skills as well as their project management skills.



We have a range of staff who support us in delivering the above philosophy. They are all well trained and work flexibly with clients.

What does the Project Agency do? We list below a range of services to our clients. Please note that we customise much of what we do to meet organisational and individual needs. Our services include: Delivering practical project management training:



    







designed to ensure project managers and project team members understand the processes and skills to deliver effectively customised to meet specific needs – really targeting organisational needs working with project teams focusing on delivering a specific project – alongside developing their team skills running PRINCE2 qualification programmes or PRINCE2 training workshops Developing in-house project management systems i.e. a customised project management system ensuring consistency of approach - complete with templates Running training sessions for project sponsors and project board members – to help develop their role effectively Carrying out audits of projects – after project completion, end of stage or an audit of internal project management approaches. Organising and running start up workshops for groups pre project – ensuring projects get off to a really effective start



Developing effective business cases.



Effective project leadership training.

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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 

Working with senior managers identifying the key projects for the organisation and their priority Individual coaching support to project managers and project sponsors Developing programme management strategies and establishing project (programme) support offices

www.projectagency.co.uk

Blank Project Management Templates Saving Time! Saving Money! Saving Stress! Please feel free to copy any of the attached documents. You can alter any of them to suit the needs of your specific project or organisation. If you want information about the services provided by Project Agency please call 0208 446 7766 or email [email protected] our web site is www.projectagency.com

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Note: in supplying these templates, Project Agency cannot be held responsible for how they are completed!

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Listed below are some forms you will find on the next pages. Please complete the forms as appropriate. Please note, completing the forms is an aid to help you deliver your projects, not an end in itself. Page No. ♦

Defining

Project Responsibilities

3



Stakeholder

Analysis

4



Milestone Chart

5



Milestone

Report

6



Variation Form

7 ♦

Risk Log



Business Case

Form

9



Project

Definition Form or PID

10



Project

Reporting Form

12



Highlight

Report

13



Change

Control Form

14



Change

Control Log

15

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

8

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Actual V

Planned

16



Project

management check sheet

17

These project management templates have been produced for open distribution to anyone. Please feel free to pass them onto friends or colleagues. The forms have been used by professional staff at all levels – staff who have to deliver projects. Some of these projects are small quick delivery (less than a month), others large long term projects which cost significant sums of money. We would be delighted to hear how you used these forms and how useful they were in supporting the delivery of your project. Please email [email protected] Do look at www.projectagency.com where you can find a range of information, products and services. Finally, good luck with all of your projects and we would be delighted to talk with you about any project management issues you may have. Call on +44 (0)20 846 7766 or email

Project Agency Tel: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.com

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Defining Project Responsibilities PERSONNEL

TASKS/ACTIVITIES

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Stakeholder Analysis The purpose of stakeholder analysis is to inform the project manager and sponsor who should contribute to the project, where barriers might be, and the actions that need to be taken prior to detailed project planning. Stakeholde r

Their interest or requirement from the project

What the project needs from them

Perceived attitudes and/or risks

Actions to take

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Milestone Chart Main milestones/phases shown on higher chart, and sub-milestones for each phase on charts below TIME [in suitable units -days, weeks, months, etc.] MILESTONES

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Responsibilit y

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Milestone Report Project: Date of Milestone meeting/discussion: Deliverables due

Due date

R/A/G*

Action to take to bring deliverable or task back on schedule

* R = Red flags [off plan - describe in detail: quality, cost, time] A = Amber [is almost off schedule or will definitely be off schedule NOTE: you may need to agree the precise definition before use] G = Green flags [to plan or better - show savings]

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Variation Form Activity name /No.

Signed:

Description

Date to be deliver ed

Revise d est. Q/C/T

Reason for delay. Q/C/T? Explain

Effect on project

Project Sponsor Project Manager Date

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Risk Analysis Score as follows, for Likelihood and Impact: High = 3, Medium = 2, Low = 1

Nature of Risk or Uncertaint y

Likelihood High/ Medium/ Low

Impact High/ Medium/ Low

Project Agency Tele: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.co.uk

Likelihood x Impact [Score]

Actions required and who will take responsibility to manage the risk

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Business Case Form Please complete the form below and submit it to your project sponsor. Background to the project (PLEASE KEEP BRIEF)

General aims(s)

Initial Risks

Expected Outcomes

Benefits of running with this project

Initial estimates of cost and time £: Time: Outcome of the business case

Decision from (x x)

Date

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Project Definition Form [or PID] Project Title:

Insert actual sponsor name Put here a very Sponsor: brief title State below the link with the corporate agenda – the actual wording please. Put here the actual words in the corporate agenda – showing the link with this project

Project Background: The background to the project. Enough information to inform the reader.

Project Benefits:

An outline of what the benefits are to the organisation, individuals or stakeholders in delivering the project

Project Objectives:

The specific objectives for the project. NOTE: the objectives can be one line or more detailed text.

Project Deliverables:

What you will be delivering at the end of the project. NOTE: these are the what you will have at the end of the project, e.g. a report, a building, improved service levels etc. This project will include: This project will not include: This section defines the boundaries Planning details should not be included at this of the project. stage.

Success Criteria:

How you will measure the success of the project. NOTE: the success criteria must be measurable.

Constraints:

Examples here can be specific (a skill which the project team must have) resources, or a legal deadline – NOTE: only include time and money if you can quantify them.

Key Assumptions:

The assumptions you are making in putting this document together.

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Project Manager:

Who fulfils this role and what they do.

Project Sponsor:

Who fulfils this role and what they do.

Project Board/Steering Group Members:

Who fulfils these roles and what they do. NOTE: may not be appropriate for all projects

Resource Costs:

Project Team Members:

Budget Other Costs:

Total costs (attach a breakdown of the overall budget)



VAT*– Some projects may have important VAT issues. Have you spoken to accountancy to discuss these?

Start Date: Signature of Project Manager: Approval from Sponsor:

Completion Date: Date: Date:

 For your organisation, you will need to liaise with your Finance people in order to develop financial information that will inform project delivery. The data on this form in relation to finance needs to be fine tuned to your organisational and project management needs

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Project Reporting Form Project Title:

Number:

Project Sponsor:

Project Manager:

Progress Report RAG Status*:

Report No. RED / AMBER / GREEN

Headlines

Tasks, Milestones, Outcomes delivered this period Tasks, Milestones, Outcomes

Comments

Completion dates Plan

Actual

Major Risks and Issues Include an assessment of the impact and any actions taken

Recommendations and Requests for Decisions or Support

Tasks, Milestones, Outcomes scheduled for next period Tasks, Milestones, Outcomes

* RED AMBER GREEN

Comments

Completion dates Plan

Forecast

"Major concern - escalate to the next level" Slippage greater than 10% of remaining time or budget, or quality severely compromised. Corrective Action not in place, or not effective. Unlikely to deliver on time to budget or quality requirements "Minor concern – being actively managed” Slippage less than 10% of remaining time or budget, or quality impact is minor. Remedial plan in place. "Normal level of attention" No material slippage. No additional attention needed

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Highlight/Progress Report Project Name:

PROJECT NAME

Reporting Period:

Project Manager:

Prepared by:

Date Prepared:

Project Sponsor: RAG Status

Project Description:

R

Project End Date:

Key Deliverables Completed this period

Key Deliverables Outstanding this period

Project Phase:

0

dd/mm/yyyy

Key Deliverables for next reporting period

Delivery Date

Risk Management Log No

Risk

Delivery Date

Issue Management

Action/Status

Log No

Issue

Change Management

Action/Status

Req No

Details

Approved

Financial Statement Capital Source

Budget

Actual

Revenue Remaining 0

Project Agency Tele: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.co.uk

Forecast

Source

Budget

Actual

External

Remaining 0

Forecast

Source

Budget

Actual

Remaining

Forecast

0

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Change Control Sheet Project Title

Project Number

Project Manager CHANGE REQUEST Originator Phone:

Date of request

Change request no. allocated by Change Controller

Items to be changed

Reference(s)

Description of change (reasons for change, benefits, date required)

Estimated cost, and time to implement (quotation attached? Yes

No )

Priority / Constraints (impact on other deliverables, implications of not proceeding, risks)

CHANGE EVALUATION What is affected

Work required (resources, costs, dates)

Related change requests Name of evaluator

Date evaluated

Signature

CHANGE APPROVAL Accepted Deferred

Rejected

Name

Signed

Date

Comments

CHANGE IMPLEMENTATION Asset

Implementer

Project Agency Tele: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.co.uk

Date completed

Signature

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Change Control Log Project Title

Project Number

Project Manager Change numbe r

Description of change

Date received

Date evaluated

Date approved

Date completed

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Actual V Planned Activity

Planne d Time

Actua Differenc Planne l e d Time Cost

Actua l Cost

Differenc e

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Project Management - Check Sheet Y A: SET UP - INITIATION 1 2 3 4

Developed the business case? Is a full options appraisal necessary? Is the project in line with the strategic plan? Has the project received sign off by sponsor or project board?

Amend this Check Sheet to suit your project N

COMMENTS

5 6

7 8

Have you identified the critical path for the project? Have you developed a communications plan and included its component parts into the Gantt charts? Are you continuing to carry out risk analysis throughout the project? Are quality standards high? How do you know?

B: SET UP - DEFINITION

D: DELIVERY

1

1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Has a PID or project definition form been completed? Are roles explicit and documented? Are levels of authority clear? Have you carried out a stakeholder analysis and planned accordingly? Have you assessed risks and put a plan into action to monitor them? Are you clear what is driving the project Quality, Cost or Time (1 only) Have clear project review procedures been established? Has planning started for a start up workshop (or series of workshops)? Team selection - have you got the correct mix of skills and professional experience?

C: DELIVERY PLANNING 1

Have you broken the project down into its component parts – work breakdown 2 How accurate are your estimates? If a low percentage then recalculate. 3 Have you developed a milestone chart or produced a Gantt chart? Project Agency Tele: 020 8446 7766 www.projectagency.co.uk

2 3 4 5 6

Y

N

COMMENTS

Have you identified the appropriate type of control – loose versus tight? Project reporting – are you clear who reports what and to whom and how? Do you have a clear procedure for managing change? Have you developed a planned versus actual schedule? How up to date is it? Tolerance – have you an agreed tolerance figure? Variations – are these quickly flagged?

E: CLOSEDOWN AND REVIEW 1 2 3 4 5

Post project review has been planned? Learning identified? Is the project still delivering the benefits intended? Is there a case for abandoning the project – off schedule or delivered a significant part of it? End of project review reports are produced and circulated? 312

Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs 4 Have you developed an overall project budget? Have you sought advice from financial experts

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Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs

Services provided by Project Agency Project Agency provides a wide range of services. Some of these are listed below: 

Delivering practical project management training: o designed to ensure project managers and project team members understand the processes and skills to deliver effectively o customised to meet specific needs – really targeting organisational needs o working with project teams focusing on delivering a specific project – alongside developing their team skills o running PRINCE2 qualification programmes or PRINCE2 training workshops









Developing in-house project management systems i.e. a customised project management system ensuring consistency of approach - complete with templates Running briefing sessions for project sponsors so they can understand their important role in projects Carrying out audits of projects – after project completion, end of stage or an audit of internal project management approaches. Organising and running start up workshops for groups pre project – ensuring projects get off to a really effective start



Developing effective business cases.



Effective project leadership.



Working with senior managers identifying the key projects for the organisation and their priority

314

Project management templates from Project Agency – please alter to suit your needs 



Individual coaching support to project managers and project sponsors Developing programme management strategies and establishing project [programme] support offices

Please do visit our web [email protected] for further information or call 09795445381 for further information

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