WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017
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Training Training Materials & Aids The Change Game: Engaging Exercises to Teach Change

The Change Game: Engaging Exercises to Teach Change

Successful initial implementation and ongoing maintenance of process improvements requires overcoming the resistance to change. Green Belts are change agents who need to recognize, understand and interpret resistance to change and develop skills to manage it effectively.

Managing change resistance is often covered in training, yet a primary learning issue facing most organizations is the lack of engagement and motivation in lecture-based training. By using simulations, exercises or games, practitioners can enliven their learning environments and improve knowledge retention, skills and applications. This will keep the audience members interacting with each other and with the content.

Games are a great way to illustrate teaching concepts for several reasons. First of all, games are intrinsically motivating. It is no secret that kids like games, but people of all ages like to win or out-strategize the other team – and as long as there is a good tie-in to the teaching subject, this results in people practicing and using Lean and Six Sigma concepts. Standing up and moving around also provides variety and can save a long class from boredom. Finally, traditional classroom activities cater to visual and sometimes audio learners, but kinesthetic learners benefit from more physical activities. Overall, games can make a fun and helpful addition to class.

The following exercises and games were designed to increase participant understanding of the emotional barriers that are part of resistance and how to deal with them. In addition, they increase participant understanding of the support needed to keep changes in place.

Change Game 1: Cross Your Arms

Duration: 5 minutes

Number of participants: unlimited

Materials required: none

Description/Process: For practitioners facing a large class and not a lot of time, this exercise really gets the point of change across. After the introduction of the “change” subject, ask the audience to “cross their arms.” My operational definition of “crossed” is folding their arms together, as if they were bored or waiting for something. Once they have completed this task, ask them to “fold their arms the other way,” reversed of what they just performed. I guarantee that 90 percent of the class will struggle with it.

Discussion Questions

  • How did it feel when you were asked to cross your arms the other way?
  • Did it come naturally or did you have to stop and think about it?
  • Were you comfortable with doing this differently from your normal process?
  • What are some things that make people resistant to change?
  • What can you do to make it easier for people in your organization to accept the changes associated with Lean and Six Sigma?
  • What kind of support is necessary to maintain the changes associated with Lean and Six Sigma?

Facilitator Notes

When people cross their arms, they do so naturally, without even thinking about it. When they are asked to fold them the other way they, for the most part, stop, refold their arms again and then try to figure out which arm was on top, which arm moves first and so on. Try this yourself and see. Encourage participants to consider and share their own personal emotions related to making changes.

Change Game 2: Change Your Seat

Duration: 5 to 15 minutes (depending on debrief)

Number of participants: unlimited

Materials required: none

Description/Process: This is another quick and easy game. Participants are asked to change where they are sitting so they can experience the emotions and feelings often associated with change. After the class gets situated and comfortable, the facilitator should ask participants to change seats.

Discussion Questions

  • How did it feel to be asked to change seats?
  • Did you view changing seats as an opportunity to sit with someone new or as an uncomfortable or undesirable change?
  • What are some things that make people resistant to change?
  • What can you do to make it easier for people in your organization to accept the changes associates with Lean and Six Sigma?

If participants move back to their old seating arrangements after the exercise is over, ask the following questions:

  • Why is it difficult to maintain changes once they are made?
  • What kind of support is necessary to maintain the changes associated with Lean Six Sigma?

Facilitator Notes

Encourage participants to consider and share their own personal emotions related to making changes. This is what makes the exercise powerful. Another twist to this game might be asking participants to change seats frequently, which also can help them enhance their personal ability to deal with change.

Change Game 3: Change Your Look

Duration: 30 minutes (depending on debrief)

Number of participants: pairs of two

Materials required: none

Description/Process:

  1. Tell participants that they are going to assist in an experiment about making changes. I would not mention that it is a game. Obtain their buy-in ahead of time with their agreement to live with the changes made until the experiment is over. Reassure them that the experiment only lasts 30 minutes, and they will not have to do anything that they feel uncomfortable with.
  2. Number participants off in groups of two and have each pair stand facing each other.
  3. Ask the participants to determine which one will observe and which one will make the changes.
  4. Tell the observer to study their partner closely because their partner will be making a few changes.
  5. Next, the observer from each pair should turn their back (or close their eyes) and ask the other person to make five changes to their physical appearance. This could mean moving their watch from one wrist to the other, removing a shoe, taking off jewelry or a tie, or removing their glasses. Give participants 30 seconds to complete the changes.
  6. Participants may face each other again, all eyes open and ask the partner who did not make changes to identify as many changes as possible. Allow about 30 seconds for this.
  7. Do a couple more rounds of steps 5 through 7.
  8. Finally, ask participants to make 10 changes in 20 seconds. You will likely get some resistance at this point. When you start to get verbal resistance, stop and move to the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • How did it feel to be asked to make so many changes?
  • What are some things that make people resistant to change?
  • What can you do to make it easier for people in your organization to accept the changes associated with Lean and Six Sigma?

Begin with the preceding questions. At some point participants will begin to refer to the changes made during the exercise. When this starts to happen, ask the following questions:

  • Why is it difficult to maintain changes once they are made?
  • What kind of support is necessary to maintain the changes associated with Lean and Six Sigma?

Facilitator Notes

When providing instructions for this exercise, obtain agreement from the participants that they will maintain whatever changes are made until the exercise is over. Prompt the group to think about and share their own personal emotions related to making changes.

Some participants may make the point that these changes are not like changes being made in the organization. If this happens, acknowledge the validity of the statement, but ask how these changes – and people’s reactions to them – are similar.

Use Games to Keep Class Moving

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. If we can utilize games to better illustrate change, why not use them? While some adults see games in class as childish, as long as the games are not too ridiculous, many adults are willing to give them a try.

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Leave a Comment



Comments

kathie Gummow

good ideas

Reply
Gerald Taylor

I very much liked the exercises….the do work!

Reply
Sachin

very interesting exercises. More the merrier!

Reply
Eman Kamal

excellent exercise

Reply
zobida

very useful when conducting workshops

Reply
cherie terrey

I have been in a training similar using #3 exercise and it really helped me to think about how change affects everyone. The most interesting part was the leader also made changes along with the group (he had everyone in the pair make the changes.) His point was the leaders must be ready to change as well. At the end of the exercise & discussion, he asked us to look around the room. How many of us had changed back? That message hit home the hardest — may be easy to change temporarily, but not permanently. He still stood in front of us with a paper plate taped to his head. :)

Reply
Harvey Kodi

I have used just one exercise on a talk, ” committed to change”, and found my audience intrigued.

Reply
chris

Nice article, I love the games you chose. many people resist change because of fear of the unknown the only way to make the unknown more approachable is to make it FUN!

Cheers, Chris@walkme

Reply
Danielle Quinless

Loved theses games.
But am struggling to find more games about ‘change’ for grades 6’s
and about ‘the importance of keeping relationships’ for grade 5’s.

Any suggestions ??

Reply
Dr. Bill Dyment

Thanks for the quick tips, just what I was looking for. I had used the arms exercise before for a change management talk and forgot it!

Your tips were just in time to add a bit of spice to my half-day presentation.

Best,

Dr. Bill Dyment

Reply
Sara

Good exercise

Reply
Michael B. Cahapay

Helpful! I love the ideas! ;)

Reply
Krzysztof

Thanks a lot. Those are really nice activities.

Reply
Charles Carroll

I participated in the third change game, hosted by Vaughn Merlyn, about 25 years ago. At the end, when people were worrying about going naked, he asked, “How many people ADDED something to themselves like holding a hat or jacket or putting a pen in your pocket?” Only two of us did. That, Vaughn said, is because you associate change with LOSS. I hadn’t told you to remove clothing; just to change your appearance. Change can be GAIN or LOSS, depending on what you do.

Reply


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