OK, today we are featuring one line puns, so I’m providing two for the price of one. (No real bargain since they are free!)

What do you get if you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor.

What do you get if you drop a piano on the officer’s club? A flat major.

Well either yesterday’s LEAP Summit was a big success or the participants are a bunch of liars.  I know that if they had half as much fun as I did, they really enjoyed themselves. We began as I always do with some improv based warmup games. As usual one of the most popular games was the “celebrate failure’ game where we stand in a circle, take turns announcing failures and cheer each one. Perhaps the biggest laugh was when the videographer I had hired announced that he had forgotten to push the “record” button. He was joking of course. I mean, he must have been, right?

After the warmup we divided the group into teams of about 10 and asked them to imagine the best possible programs for school and business partners to pursue. We wrote those on flip charts, and gave the participants a break while I and the program committee looked for common themes. We identified six programs based on common themes from the “imagine” groups, and then invited the participants back to self select which one they would like to work on to develop action plans to make the programs work. Although the summit was scheduled to end at 6:00 all of the groups worked beyond that time.

During our debrief, we decided that the only change we would make next time would be to use 5×8 cards rather than flip charts to write the suggestions from the “imagine” session. We had some difficulty with finding common themes working from flip charts. If we had used cards, we could have moved them around to facilitate finding commonalities.

I read an interesting exchange on Face Book:

Donna: “I am looking for a good interactive training for the administrative staff at KNEA

Someone: “You should check with Laugh2learn.”

Donna: We had Laugh2learn for our last quarter training and got the best evaluations we have ever had. We will be having him back for every other training.”

Smart people there at KNEA.


New Shirt

Here is my new shirt. I had two printed with my logo. (Thanks Shaun Marcotte of SLab Imaging for creating the logo.) The idea is that if I wear a shirt with the “company” logo on it, it won’t look so much like a one man shop operated  out of the upstairs bedroom of my house. Which of course it is, but don’t tell anybody, OK?


More on stories

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how important and powerful stories are, and suggested the story spine as a way to build your story. Today I’d like to talk about another story development exercise, but to do so, I want to try out some new technology. I want to see if my “tell me who you are, and get a freebie” technique works. So, let’s help each other. Go to my website, click on the “Color/Advance freebie,” and you will receive a pdf with a very useful exercise you can use to develop your story. I will find out if my new toy works, and I’ll have your name and address in case I decide to send you some mail. Oh, and if you don’t want my mail, just say so. I hate spam as much as you do.

Silos and Silo Mentality

Because I live in Kansas, I am very familiar with silos. They dot the landscape and are often the subject of fine art work and photography.

Silo Print by Justin Marable

Because I interact frequently with managers, I’m also familiar with silo mentality. Last week I visited three clients. When I asked them about their greatest training need, all three mentioned silo mentality. One, a director of a local health department said: “I just wish people would say they work for a great health department, rather than a great program.” Another client complained that people in one program often disparage the importance of other programs. This isolated thinking by teams is lateral silo mentality.

Another form of silo mentality is vertical silo mentality. This is characterised by  mistrust between management and staff. Again a client mentioned mistrust and a lack of understanding between “upstairs” and “downstairs.”

In his book Group Genius, Keith Sawyer discusses “Collaborative Webs,” which he demonstrates are responsible for the majority of innovation and creativity in our economy. Obviously any organization plagued by silo mentality will not feature collaborative webs, and will become stagnant.

How to deal with silo mentality. At Laugh2Learn. We have developed creative play exercises designed specifically to address the problem. Like all of our programs, they are guaranteed to be fun, and effective. If they don’t do what you expect, you don’t pay.

Let’s break down those silos!

Wise Leadership at the UMKC School of Nursing

Friday I did a training session for PhD nursing students at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Nursing.

UMKC School of Nursing

The session was successful and I think I have a satisfied client. But what I’d like to talk about today is my admiration for the leadership at UMKC School of Nursing. When I walked in and made contact with the receptionist, she was very positive, upbeat and helpful. That gave me a clue that there was a good workplace culture there. Before the day was over I understood why.

Shortly before my session with the students was to begin, my contact asked me if it would be ok to include staff in the session. “Of course,” I replied. Shortly staff members began filing into the room. One of them was a very elegant, professional looking woman.

“You’re not a student, are you?” I asked.

“No,” She replied, “I’m the Dean.”

Wow. Before long all of us, students, faculty, staff (including the dean) and yours truly were laughing and learning together. In that classroom we were equals.

That kind of leadership explains why staff are so cheerful and productive.

Congratulations Dean Lacey-Haun, and Associate Dean Patricia Kelly.

Validate Me

A few years ago I heard Dr. Rich Handley say that all human beings are like little antennae sending out a constant signal: “Validate me! Validate me!” I believe he is right. On more than one occasion I have admired someone from a distance; someone so self assured, so confident, so talented, who when I got to know them, confessed self doubt and a need to be validated.

We almost never tell people we value them. We can work side by side with someone we admire and they will never know how we feel about them. At Laugh2learn we have several creative play exercises designed to help people let their co-workers know they are valued. One of my favorites is “Good Gossip,” an exercise I almost always use to close a session. I divide the participants into groups of three and have them sit in chairs arranged like an arrowhead, two behind, one in front all facing forward. Once they are settled, I ask the two in back to talk out loud about the one in front for 30 seconds. The rule is they may only say positive things that are true. After 30 seconds I have them rotate so that a different person is in front and repeat the exercise, then rotate again, so that each person gets to listen to 30 seconds of positive information. It is amazing, and joyful to stand at the front of the room and watch the expression on the faces of the participants in the front chairs. Everyone leaves feeling good about themselves, and I leave with the knowledge that I have facilitated that.

You may want to try this exercise at the conclusion of your next staff meeting.

Whether you do or not, here is a challenge to all of you: Today, validate someone. Tell someone you know something positive about them. They will feel better, and so will you. If you get any feedback, let me know.