This interview was originally published in the September 2012 of TGL.
Karin Hedén has been a passionate facilitator and trainer for more than 10 years. She is the founder of Resultatbolaget (“The Results Company”), an organization that helps companies to become more successful by developing their leaders and employees. She is a curious and creative person who likes to experiment with new games and activities. Her work has taken her from Sweden to Southeast Asia and to South America.
An Interview with Karin Hedén
TGL: Karin, what is your specialty area?
Karin: I mostly train managers in order to develop their leadership and communication skills.
TGL: How did you get into designing and using games?
Karin: In 2003, I went to a workshop in Sweden and it blew my mind how much more I could get out of meetings and training sessions using simple techniques that did not cost anything. Six year later, while I was living and working in Malaysia, I spontaneously signed up for a workshop in Singapore that was conducted by Tracy and Thiagi. It reinforced my realization that I could do my training sessions so much better.
TGL: How long have you been designing and using games?
Karin: For about 10 years.
TGL: Where do you use games?
Karin: Whenever I conduct training sessions or facilitate meetings.
TGL: How do your clients respond?
Karin: They are surprised by the amount of energy and engagement among the participants. They are particularly impressed by the enthusiastic discussion of topics that were traditionally ignored by the participants.
TGL: How do your participants respond?
Karin: They have a great time and learn new skills and knowledge. When participants say they have had the best meeting ever, I tell them it was all due to their participation. After all, they did all the work, not me.
TGL: What is the most horrible or embarrassing moment you had in conducting games?
Karin: I once asked a small group of four people if they wanted to try a cash game. After they agreed, I conducted the Dollar Auction. Two of the participants got extremely upset. They thought it was an awful game and accused me of all sorts of evil intentions. It was a really challenging event. Now looking back on it, I have learned that mixing money with training games can produce highly emotional reactions. As a result of this incident, I have learned to be more careful when conducting cash games.
TGL: What advice do you have for newcomers about interactive training?
Karin: Be brave and try new things. People like to have fun while they are learning and working. Before you conduct an activity, try to be a participant in that activity. When you experience the activity from the participant's point of view you can use your experience when debriefing the game.
TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?
Karin: I use games that let the participants come up with their own ideas and discuss them with each other. Framegames like Envelopes and Hello are very good for this purpose.
TGL: What is your favorite game?
Karin: Definitely Barnga. I have used this game in many different contexts including intercultural communication and conflict management. I think it is a great activity that evokes a lot of emotions and produces a lot of insights.
TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games?
Karin: I think there will be more and more learning games. My sons who are 4 and 6 are already playing games on Wii, iPad, and iPhone. This summer, my oldest son learned how to read thanks to a great app on my smart phone. I think our next generation will expect games to be included whenever they are going to learn something. I also think there will be a lot more computerized learning games.
A Closer from Karin Hedén
This is one of my favorite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.
10 to 30
20 to 45 minutes
Put as many chairs as there are participants in two rows. Place the chairs tightly, facing each other. If there is an odd number of participants, put a single chair in front for the bus driver.
Brief the participants. Welcome them to a great new invention. Explain that you have a fantastic bus that does not pollute the air, because it runs on positive energy. On this bus everyone gets to speak with everyone and they are for sure going to have a great trip together.
Load the bus. Ask the participants to go and sit on the chairs, close to each other so the knees are nearly touching each other. If there are odd numbers of participants, one person will play the bus driver and will just listen.
Start giving positive feedback. Ask the participants in one row to give as much positive feedback as possible to the participants seated in the opposite row (who will listen quietly). Give the following types of examples:
What I like about you is…
What I appreciate about you is…
I feel happy whenever you…
Announce a time limit of 45 seconds.
Change the roles. After 45 seconds, blow a whistle and pause for 10 seconds. Then ask the participants in the other row to take their turn.
Rotate the participants. After 45 seconds, it is time to rotate the passengers. If you have an even number of participants, select one person to stay on the same chair. Ask everyone else to rotate one chair clockwise. If you have an odd number of participants, ask everyone to rotate one chair clockwise. This will result in a new person becoming the bus driver.
Continue the positive conversations. As before, ask the participants in the two rows to take turns sharing positive feedback. Keep rotating the participants depending on the available time.
Conduct a debriefing discussion after several rounds of this activity. Ask the participants to discuss what happens when people give positive and appreciative feedback. Talk about the energy created in the room. Ask them how they can give more positive feedback within this group, within the organization, and in their families.