LearningWare interiews Bob Pike

Bob Pike: Adults and Games

An Interview with Bob Pike, CSP, CPAE Chairman & CEO of The Bob Pike Group.
Author of Unlock the Power to Learn, Unlock the Power to Perform, The Creative Training Techniques Handbook, and 19 other books.
LearningWare: Before we discuss your perspective on games and how they support effective learning, your company was not always known as The Bob Pike Group, was it?

Pike: No, it used to be called Creative Training Techniques.

LearningWare: What is The Bob Pike Group, and why the name change?

Pike: We changed our name because "creative techniques" is a process that we apply to more than just training. We use creative techniques to build and run meetings and conferences, for example. It is also true that training is more than just an event, so we employ strategies outside the classroom to make training more effective. We thought we should change our name because we do so much more than training.

LearningWare: How long have you used it? With how many groups?

Pike: I have been using AllPlay 2 for about two months (even though it seems longer). I have used them with 11 groups so far. The groups ranged in size from 10 to 210.

LearningWare: Such as?

Pike: When performance is the question, training isn't always the answer! There are actually five alternatives you should consider apart from training. We use our Performance Solutions Cube to help our clients identify the performance issue, what part of the organization needs to make a performance shift, and what types of interventions would be appropriate:
  • Systems
  • Organizational Development Programs
  • Training
  • Placement
  • Coaching
  • Recruiting
For example, a systems problem indicates that the systems, tools, and/or processes that people have available are getting in the way of performance. A manager might identify the performance problem as "50% productivity." By asking the right questions, such as, "Do systems support people doing their jobs?" we might discover that a system is the obstacle to higher productivity, and not necessarily the people. In other cases, we might find that coaching is all that is needed. Training is just one of six ways we might help an organization address a performance issue.

LearningWare: How do you gather the information you need from an organization, through interviews?

Pike: We do one-on-one's and conduct group meetings, but can also collect the information we need by e-mail or fax or on the Internet. We gather information from managers, employees, customers, suppliers and any other stakeholders there might be. No matter how we collect the data, we use a software-based 360-degree survey technique to guide us, called the Peformance Solutions Pathfinder. It asks a series of questions to indicate where an organization is in its ability to develop and use 15 strategic capabilities to achieve its goals. We organize the 15 strategic capabilities according to the 5 strategic challenges they drive:
  • Operational Excellence
  • Organization Agility
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Innovation Opportunities
  • Learning Culture
You can test drive it on our website if you want more detail, but our overall objective is to lead managers through a sense-making process of the information that is collected. When we do this, we can be sure that our training solutions tie directly to the organization's objectives.

LearningWare: So, you still do training, right Bob?

Pike: Of course, and we still do fun, engaging training. It is just that we are doing the training in a different context so that it provides more leverage to the client. We become a valued partner as opposed to excess baggage or just a "nice to have" activity.

LearningWare: And you still play games?

Pike: Yes! Absolutely! Adults are still just babies with big bodies. In my "Creative Training Techniques Handbook," I talk about how games foster wholesome competition and make for an ideal learning activity. Review and reinforcement is a key to every training process, and playing games is an excellent way to review information, to apply it repeatedly so that it is retained. By the way, your new AllPlay game makes game-playing even easier.

[Reader's Note: Bob Pike has used LearningWare's game-based learning templates, such as Gameshow Pro , for over 5 years. A new game template, AllPlay, allows for up to 30 people to play a game using wireless keypads. Pike is familiar with the AllPlay concept due to his having run numerous keypad-based games LearningWare created for Pike's use at ASTD conferences and other venues.]

LearningWare: Why do you say that, Bob?

Pike: In a typical gameshow environment, whether it is software-based or manual, only a few people can represent their teams. For example, in a group of 30 people divided into 5 teams, each team might have 1 person who is answering questions on behalf of the group. If that person is knowledgeable, the team scores a lot of points. However, I have seen many situations in which the team is quite knowledgeable, but its representative was not, so the whole team was penalized. With AllPlay, everyone on a team can be involved, and the whole team's knowledge can affect the outcome. And it allows for anonymity, so the competition can be even less threatening.

LearningWare: How do you use LearningWare's products in your training, Bob?

Pike: We use Gameshow Pro and some of your other products to reinforce learning, to accelerate learning, not necessarily for testing, although we have used your assessment templates on occasion. What we like is that, using your software templates, we can provide a rationale for answers (in other words, train) while we play a game.

LearningWare: Since you have played our games so often, do you have a tip or two for how best to use them?

Pike: Sure. First of all, it is very effective to play a game right after a break. It gets everyone back in on time and on track. For example, in a multi-round game, you can save the next round to play as a short transition exercise after the next break. That keeps everyone in suspense. Here's another tip: after you play a game in the classroom, use Gameshow Pro's self-administered capability to play the same game outside the classroom. Students can use it for review on-the-job, so you get more mileage out of the same game with no extra work.