Exercise: First Letter; Last Letter

One of my primary speaking sessions lately is centered around helping people start learning through experiencing and not being told.  I’ve enjoyed this session and the results so much that I’m going to do a series of posts that highlight an exercise and how you might leverage it.  Plus, this will force me to retire this session (always challenging myself too!).

This exercise is based on an improv game/exercise.

Facilitator Exercise Instructions (note: obviously feel free to put this into your own words):

  • Provide attendees initial instruction.
    1. Small groups of 6-12 standing in two relatively equal lines. The first person facing the first person in the other group. The remaining people in the group lining behind the first person.
    2. Goal:  get as many words as possible
    3. Constraints: The word must start with the last letter of the word spoken. If the word is forgotten, dramatic “UGH” from the group and start again.
    4. Process: One person says a word and moves to the back of the line in their group. The person facing them from the other group says a word that starts with the last letter from the word spoken. Then moves to the back of their group. This continues back and forth between groups.
  • I tend to let this exercise go for several minutes.
  • Provide attendees next instruction.  “What did you notice during that challenge?”

Key points that can be leveraged from this exercise:

  1. The most common key point I make here is how we need to listen before we decide what we want to say.
  2. That failure can be acknowledged but quickly move back towards progress.
  3. That people will sometimes create constraints that are never stated.

The amazing part of doing this exercise with a discussion afterwards rarely leads me to making the key point.  They do!  In fact, frequently, I’ve had one key point to make and yet so many other wonderful learnings came from the discussion…impacts to the team, experiments they could do, etc.

What key point would you leverage from this simple exercise?

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