There is a relatively new type of format for teaching kids that is 20%-75% more effective than a traditional classroom. It is called Tools of the Mind. Below is an explanation in conjunction with an office comparison. Hopefully this will show how changing just a few things in your office or meetings can dramatically improve your work life, business profitability and client/employee interaction/satisfaction:
Most elements of a Tools of the Mind class are identical to a traditional class. Recess, lunch, snack time and nap time. But the classroom LOOKS different. "The wall calendar is not month by month grid, but a straight line of days on a long ribbon of paper. Gone is the traditional alphabet display; instead children use a sound map, which has a monkey next to Mm and a sun next to Ss. These are ordered not from A to Z but rather in clusters with consonants on one map and vowels on another."
A cliche of course, but you can't get extraordinary results by ordinary measures. Has there not been enough research that cubicles are no better than cages. Great at holding employees back and preventing animals from biting. Why would anyone put up barriers to progress? If you need relative quiet, don't talk at a desk, find somewhere private. Change your desk, your office, you walls, your clustering of consonants and you will already be more successful. Guaranteed!
We are not advocating no walls, just different types of walls. Walls with art, walls with white BOARD space that you can write on, share on, collaborate on (see Graphics section for detail on how best to use white boards). Desks are great if you need some heads down writing time. Put them off to the side. Eat lunch together on one. Write that letter on one and then put it away for 90% of the day. It is just another barrier.
How else can you easily and cheaply change your office environment. You create your environment and then your environment creates you! How about pictures- not pictures on peoples desk, but blow some up on the walls of colleagues having fun. Having fun working together… not drinking together. Don't put up awards, put up happy successes. Happy people successes!
"When class begins, the teacher tells the students they will be playing fire station. The previous week, they learned all about firemen, so now, the classroom has been decorated in four different areas- in one corner is a fire station, in another a house that needs saving. The children choose what role they want to take on in the pretend scenario- pump driver, 911 operator, firemen, or family that needs to be rescued. Before the children begin to play, they each tell the teacher their choice of role. With the teachers help, the children make individual 'play plans.' They all draw a picture of themselves in the chosen role, then they attempt to write it out as a sentence on a blank sheet of paper to the best of their abilities.
Then they go play, sticking to the role, designated in their plan. the resulting play continues for a full 45 minutes, with the children staying in character, self motivated. If they get distracted or start to fuss, the teacher asks "Is that in your play plan?" On different days of the week, children choose other roles in the scenario. During this crucial play hour, the teacher facilitates their play but does not directly reach teach them anything at all."
Scenarios are one of the best ways to explore, learn and drive success. One of the most common meetings is the Monday Morning Status Meeting. There is usually a schedule and attendance is mandatory. Employees go through what they are doing and are going to do and bosses may or may not set a vision or purpose for the week. This would be the equivalent of a teachers lesson plan. A SCENARIO would the the business version of Tools. Scenarios are one of the best ways to help businesses improve their operations, morale and bottom line.
At the end, the teacher puts a CD on to play the 'clean-up song' As soon as the music begins, the kids stop playing and start cleaning up- without another word from their teacher.
Many offices have a droning radio in the background for the 'cubicled' employees. Some people wear headphones listening to their customized Pandora station and others tool around with an iPod on their arm. Hmm.
What if the work day was scheduled by achievement, divided by music instead of by conference call or meeting. Here are example SCHEDULES of days that the authors of collaboration king work by.
Later, they will do whats' called buddy reading. "The children sit facing each other- one is given a large paper drawing of lips, while the other holds a drawing of ears. The one with lips flips through a book, telling the story he sees in the pictures. The other listens and at the end asks a question about the story. Then they switch roles."
The pace of information overload is incredibly agonizing to keep up with these days. RSS readers, conferences, Twitter and more link you to vast amounts of information that are applicable to your business. How then can you keep track of it all? What if for 15 minutes, you played the reading game like the kids. Could those conversations lead to something more… more than just straight knowledge of the article(s) you share with each other… that you no doubt forget within a few hours?
The average reading score for kids in standard programs in the districts tested so far is 65%. "The Tools kindergartners (on average) jump more than 20 ticks higher to the 86th percentile. The kids who tested as gifted almost all came from the Tools classes."
Well, there isn't much scientific research or grants looking into better methods of working together. Most collaborative consulting companies, from McKinsey to the One Man Show claim better results than any nationalized test score is capable of reaching, but hey, what works for you?
Check out the book that discusses Tools of the Mind in detail: NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children