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Pen and Paper Games for Training reviewed


Title: Pen and Paper Games for Training
Author: Lucy Seifert
Publisher: Gower
Price: £65.00
ISBN: 0566082993
Date: April 2001

Buy this book from the TrainingZONE - Blackwells book shop.

Although I try to avoid missing the Sunday Times each week I've realised that, in order to get through all the sections before someone starts throwing it in the bin, I only read a few things thoroughly. One of these things is Amanda Ursell's column, Diet Watch. For those of you not familiar with the format, her column covers the same ground each time; subjecting either a diet book or an approach to weight control to some close scrutiny. Mostly the outcome of the review is to suggest that certain aspects of the approach exhibit opportunities for development. This is a polite way of saying (which can be translated as "how we trainers would say it") that the claims being made, the methods being espoused, or the underpinning theories used, are basically a load of old … cobblers.

But every now and then an approach is found that seems to really deserve the term "revolutionary" - that is, it works - people lose weight in a sustainable way. In this week's column (May 20 2001) Pete Cohen's methods, branded as Lighten Up, are reviewed. The perspective is fervently around losing weight - but I suppose this does seem to be the area of weight control that is in most demand. Pete summarises his approach in the following five steps:

  1. Change your focus - have a specific, positive, goal in mind. Rather than "I want to lose weight", focus on how you actually want to look.
  2. Understand your hunger - rate your hunger on a scale of one to ten where one is not hungry and ten is starving. Only eat is you register six or above and don't let yourself get to nine or ten before eating.
  3. Think about what you eat - stop and ask yourself how the food you want to eat will make you feel half an hour or so after you've eaten it. Think about different things you could eat, how they would make you feel, what they'd smell and taste like, then make your choice.
  4. Savour your food - it takes around ten minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full so slow down, chew everything properly, and take time to enjoy the taste of every bite.
  5. Treat your body better - build more activity and movement into your daily life.

  6. Just to emphasise the point of all this: the revolutionary thing about the Lighten Up method is that it works. Job done. But what is the secret? How come so many diets fail to deliver the goods? What is different about the Cohen method?

All of which is an attempt to say that Lucy's exercises are good for awareness raising. The linking theme is awareness and responsibility as the foundations for application of learning. Diets that people try and fail to sustain (or actually put weight on) are a perfect analogy for training events that fail to create application of skills back on the workplace.

As I see it, the basic recipe is the same that John Whitmore (author of "Coaching for Performance" who derived his methods from Tim Gallwey's earlier, inner game of... approach to sports coaching) emphasises in his approach to performance coaching: the two basic building blocks of learning, improvement and change are awareness and responsibility. The joke recipe for success is "sincerity is everything - once you can fake that you've got it made". If, as a trainer, your ambition is to catalyse a difference, and if you can build developing awareness and responsibility into your programmes, whatever their content, you have got it made for real. Actually, the five steps could make good generic guidelines for quite a few areas of life.

Is there a connection between the above and Pen and Paper Games for Training? Yes there is, this book is a core resource. A nest of ideas, resources, structured activities, bits and pieces you can adapt and combine with your own repertoire - all of which you can use to reinforce awareness and responsibility. This is unusual for a training resource. Use it carefully, you might cause some learning.

One question though (trainer-speak for something that irritated me), why, when there are so many things you can photocopy, is the book not in ring binder format? And I think the title doesn't do it justice - it discounts the possibilities lurking within.

Pen and Paper Games for Training was reviewed by Jon Kendall, Castleton Partners.

Read another review of Pen and Paper Games for Training.


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