Let Christmas give you an edge

This morning, my assistant Marco Madeira, gave me the usual run down of things we have to deal with. It was a fun, productive meeting. At the end, he said “Oh and there’s an email in your inbox from Michael Ambrose. You need to approve his idea for the team Christmas do”. Christmas! There you go. It’s October and we are officially in closing-out-the-year mode.

I haven’t read Michael’s email yet, but I trust him and I’m sure he’s come up with something unique, fun and business worthy. After all, getting my whole team together for a full day is a big investment – of brains and money. So no sappy Christmas jumper competition for Globocorp – not this year.

Let me give you a tip, my friends and advisers, you can escape the escape rooms and the choir practice, do something a bit more productive than just hang about and drink. Instead, Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders can come to you and help your team grow through play.

Our game helps you learn to navigate the ambiguity between theory and practice as your team encounters real-life scenarios in a game environment.

We know that we learn best when we experience things, when we are having fun and when we get a chance to reflect with others: these are the three pillars of its design.

Players will take part in an immersive experience to:

  • Quickly establish a team, sharing roles, and reaching consensus
  • Reflect around key business challenges and how to work with other functions.
  • Understand how to apply “rules” and “best practice” when reality bites.

My creators have even designed two new festive scenarios for our enjoyment.

So, if you are in Michael Ambrose’s position and need to figure out Christmas in October, don’t give it another thought: get in touch and my creators will help you use this task to advance your career. After all, ‘tis the season to be savvy.

its the season to be savvy

Memo from Montréal

We eat feedback for breakfast, so imagine our excitement when we got word back from IABC on our session in Montréal at this year’s World Conference.

Here’s what people said:

– Can we have this session again at a future conference.

– This was a great session. If we are serious about shifting the industry to executive level then it should be compulsory training for all. It is not so much as instructional as exploratory in its exploration of the rationale behind players’ decision making. A great start to the conference

– A valuable session to help us think strategically.

– Fun, easy to play and learn from, challenging scenarios geared to both individual and collaborative learning.

And the mean score out of a possible 7? 6.61…

Maybe you should try this.

See if it is right for you.

“It was fun (which I didn’t expect)!” – A Carmen Q&A

Hundreds have played Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders around the world. In this series Carmen interviews some of them. Today’s conversation was with Alexandra Rodríguez Cifre. 

C: Hello Alex! Tell me a bit more about yourself…

A: I am originally from the Canary Islands. I studied journalism in Barcelona and after a few years of working, I decided I wanted a new challenge. So came to London and saved up for a Master’s. After much research, I decided that the one from London College of Communications was the best one for me.

C: What’s your focus at the moment?

A: Exploring the relationship between journalists and public relations practitioners. Specifically in the field of travel and entertainment I’m trying to get as many voices into my research as I can. Also, I really like dealing with the media, a part of me misses that connection with journalists.

C: Interesting! I’m sure some of our readers will want to help (see the end for that).

C: Meanwhile, can you tell me more about your experience of playing Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders?

A: First we had a session on careers with Casilda and Stephen, which covered how to apply for jobs, how to do an interviews etc. It was really interesting.

Our second session was the game. We didn’t know what to expect so when we got there we were really impressed with the materials. It made us feel like we were doing something important, that we weren’t just playing a game.

Some of the questions we didn’t know how to approach, so we tried using common sense.

I learnt a lot through the game. It was tough, but as Stephen reminded us: ‘In every job opportunity we always have something to learn and to progress’ and ‘don’t lose your passion’.

I learnt how to put myself in situations that I had never been in before. And it made me think of things I had never thought of before.

For example, when dealing with big budgets (which I haven’t yet), you need to think things through, check with people from different departments and so on. It has helped me have a more mature approach to future jobs.

The game showed me some gaps in my understanding, but also how I can fill those: work as a team. And it prepared my mindset for future challenges.

It was fun (which I didn’t expect)!

It gave us time to discuss in the different teams. Learning from other people, and different approaches was really useful. I wish we would have done it again.

Alex tried Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders as part of her Master’s programme at the London College of Communication. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter – and if you’re interested in helping contribute to her research, do reach out to her.

And if you’d like to try the game: see if it is right for you.

If you’re an alumni and you’d like to be interviewed by Carmen, let us know here.

Was #IABC18 a Sunday crossword puzzle?

Six months ago, IABC invited Stephen Welch and Casilda Malagón to take me to Montreal and run the Strategic Adviser Forum at IABC18. We were all delighted for the opportunity, after all I was created for an IABC conference. Immediately we got our heads thinking: what could we add to Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders to make it more fun, more useful, more helpful to the audience?

Over 50 senior communicators from around the world were giving up their Sunday to spend a morning with us and we couldn’t disappoint.

The premise behind Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders – that corporate training has to be fun to engage the brain – has been proved right again and again. Yet, providing experiential learning through an enjoyable experience is a bit like the Sunday crossword puzzle. It takes little bit of method, a little bit of art, and some luck. The good ones are liminal. They take you just to the edge of your comfort zone, sometimes a little over and then bring you back. That’s the space we wanted our strategic advisers to navigate.

On the day, my new group of advisers applied themselves to find the answers to real-life dilemmas and they tried out a couple of practical tools to understand personality archetypes, influencing styles and advising typology. Without realising it, they were taking in complex concepts of psychology, HR and communication.
After just one session, ten teams representing cities from Astana to Johannesburg, walked away with:

  • The standard version of Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders, with me – Carmen Spinoza (@CarmenSpinoza11) – at the helm.
  • A diagnostic on the four types of strategic advisor
  • A self-diagnostic on influencing styles
  • A guide to the eight personality archetypes one can find at work.

They had fun and dared to put the “work” back into “workshop”. They discussed, debated, self-reflected and took away cool tips from each other, making us learn a few things along the way.

Casilda and Stephen love facilitating intense and diverse groups like these, it energises them and confirms that continuous improvement requires passion, and hard work, but no one ever said it had to be boring.

At the end of the session, participants submitted the three words that described the session. I held my breath, we had a new system and had gone through a lot of material. When the screen showed the results, my heart skipped a beat. Success: they had learned and enjoyed. The combination we live for.

If you want to know more about me, subscribe to my blog and I’ll let you know where I will go next subscribe: corporatesnakes.org/blog/

Or follow me on Twitter @CarmenSpinoza11

The view from Montréal: Corporate Snakes & Career Ladders

One of the official bloggers for #IABC18 took part in our Corporate Snakes & Career Ladders session in Montréal. Here’s an excerpt from her round-up of the first day of the 2018 IABC World Conference

Strategic Adviser Forum: Corporate snakes and ladders

Elizabeth Krecker

Led by the entertaining British team of Stephen Welch and Casilda Malagon, the Strategic Adviser Forum was designed to enhance our ability to sit at the executive table. But this session did much more than that by launching all of us into entirely new directions.

We met our teammates at round tables covered with a colorful board game, beautifully designed cards, and a pocket of black beans. Welch and Malagon tag-teamed their presentation, leading us through a guided tour of the game interspersed with robust discussion.

But first, they opened by explaining that their goal for us was that we learn from our mistakes in this room and not at the office. As we make the leap from becoming skilled technical experts in our profession to becoming a strategic adviser to our executive team, an entirely new skill-set applies. This session was designed to combine core technical skills with consulting skills through team problem-solving of real life dilemmas.

And Welch and Malagon truly made our experience a real-life dilemma. My team did all the right things. And yet in the end we ranked barely above last place because we kept falling into the same trap. We were bold in our discussions initially, but after 10 minutes, we landed on the “educated communication professional” answer to the problem we faced. And that was always the answer that gave us the least possible points.

It’s not much consolation that none of the teams chose the highest scoring answer on the last question. The highest scoring answer was the boldest answer: The answer that propelled us all from our cozy chairs onto the exciting playing field shared by other executives.

This session demonstrated the value of being bold in our role as communicators by not sitting back and responding with tried-and-true tactics, but instead being willing to risk stepping out of our traditional role.

Read the full piece on the first day of the 2018 IABC World Conference.