“The Way” to Build Team Trust

A few days back I watched a fascinating movie on dvd, called The Way. Have you seen it? One of my go-to online resources, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), describes the film’s plot as follows:

“A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El Camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.”

Although the description makes the the story sound dry and depressing, the movie is anything but.

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Does Motivation Through Penalty Really Work?

As you think over your life, which has motivated you the most: the promise of a reward or the threat of a penalty? This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot of late. Let’s say, for example, I set a goal for myself of exercising at least five times a week. I have two choices for motivating myself: I can 1) “incentivize” the process by giving myself a nice treat (let’s say a chocolate bar–yum!) upon each successful work out or 2) administer a stern, self-imposed penalty (perhaps liver and brussel sprouts for dinner–yuck!) for each failed exercise session. Which do you think is the least and the most effective?

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Board Games For Business

Long before Facebook, Instagram and Angry Birds, in an age long past (or so it seems), families spent hours together huddled around the kitchen table, enjoying spirited games of Monopoly, Sorry, the Game of Life, and Risk. A welcome break from television — the chief electronic entertainment of the era — board games provided adults and kids alike a chance to interact with each other in real time: laughing, communicating, and strategizing together, across generations.

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The Monk and The Tiger

The other day, I was re-reading one of my favorite inspirational books, Sylvia Boorstein’s short and pithy “It’s Easier Than You Think“, and came across this famous parable:

“A monk was being chased by a tiger toward the edge of a cliff. He leaps off the cliff, grasping a vine that has grown over the edge. Below him is a long drop to certain death, above him is the snarling tiger.

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Scavenger Hunts vs. Treasure Hunts: Is there a difference?

One of the most common questions I hear from prospective clients is, “So what can you tell me about your scavenger hunts?” For a native San Franciscan like me, this is akin to a tourist saying “I just love Frisco…especially your trolley cars.” Sad to say folks, my lovely hometown by the bay is San Francisco (not Frisco), we have cable cars here (not trolleys), and Dr. Clue creates treasure hunts (not scavenger hunts). Semantics do matter!

So what exactly is the difference between a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt?

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Collaborative Games

What exactly is a “game”? A quick search on Wikipedia delivers this definition:
game
/g?m/
Noun

“A form of play or sport, esp. a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”

Although I agree that games must necessarily have rules (and structure), what strikes me as Interesting about the definition above is the phrase “[especially] a competitive one”. It seems that the internet, like most of society, has bought into the notion that games must be competitive in order to qualify as “games”. But is this necessarily so?

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Off to See the Wizard

Kyoto, Japan circa 1986, and there I was — standing at the ancient gates of Tofukuji monastery — eagerly attempting to meet the wizard.

In truth, Fukushima Roshi is no sorcerer, nor is Tofukuji the Emerald City. But the Abbot of Tofukuji temple is certainly “wizardly” in his sense of calm, equanimity, and spiritual development…or so I had heard. My college classmate, Tim Armacost — a Zen Buddhist and old Japan hand — was the one who had initially insisted I drop in on the Roshi when touring Japan’s imperial city.

“You have to go visit the Roshi. He may not change your life, but then again, he just might.”

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Should Games be More (or Less) Competitive

There’s a popular social movement in schools these days, compelling teachers and coaches to minimize competition on the playground while increasing collaboration. It’s gone so far that one school I heard about even removed the scoreboard from their high school football field, insisting that keeping score put too much pressure on the students and inflated the competitive element, reducing self-esteem.

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“The Wave” of Team Decision Making

A few days ago, I watched a fascinating movie from 2008 — “The Wave” — available widely on DVD, Netflix, etc. Although the film takes place in Germany (with an all-German cast), it’s actually a dramatization of the true story of an unusual teaching experiment conducted by Ron Jones at his Palo Alto, CA high school in 1969. As the “The Wave” begins, young teacher Rainer Wenger finds himself compelled to teach a one-week course on the topic of “autocracy” — not his favorite subject. After his first class — taught in the traditional, lecture manner — fails to inspire much interest from his students, Rainer decides to try an experiment.

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