Sunday, January 22, 2012

Learning Through Play

As I sat on the floor counting and sorting out Lego, my husband was shaking his head, quizzing me on why I was doing this.

It was all in preparation for an exercise we were doing at a Company of Women dinner.  Now interactive sessions are always a bit of a gamble, especially if the people there really don’t want to play.  Fortunately, the women were more than ready to tap into their creativity and go with the flow.

Divided into groups by industry, the task was for the different teams to brainstorm ways that they could work together and upon reaching consensus, build a Lego structure that would best illustrate their proposed project.

It was actually quite fascinating and served to remind me of how when we chose a career we naturally gravitate towards work that suits our personality style. I am actually a trained True Colours/Personality Dimensions Trainer but it’s not something I have done in some time, yet that’s really what we did on Tuesday night. 

We had three groups – Business to Business (B2B), Health and Beauty and Home/Finances and each model revealed the underpinnings of the participants’ personality style. 

True to form, the folks who made up the B2B group, developed a business toolbox, through which small business owners could remove the chaos in their lives. This group represented virtual assistants, bookkeepers, graphic designers and HR specialists, all of whom are organized, and detailed oriented. They’d thought through their business plan and done the math.

 At the other end of the spectrum, the Health and Beauty group which was made up of spa owners, life coaches and health service providers were more interested in reaching out and helping other women feel better about themselves. They wanted to reduce the sense of isolation for women going through  cancer, divorce, abuse, etc…    Money never even came up in the discussion.

Five minutes prior to the end of the exercise, the group,  mainly made up of financial professionals, had no sculpture on the board. Nothing.  But one of the team quickly erected a creative model that represented their project.

This group wanted to develop a website that would provide people with vital information which would assist them in connecting to professionals in the instance of a difficult life situation such as cancer diagnosis or an accident. They’d worked on revenue streams to make the project financially viable and where they differed from the Health and Beauty Team was that their project focused on providing education and information, whereas the other group wanted the women to feel better through the services provided.

 Despite their tardy start, the financial planners won.

This exercise truly reminded me of the validity of personality type programs as each group was consistent to their colour type.  The B2B group were gold – organized, structured and wanting to help, while the Health and Beauty team were blue, the colour most interested in supporting people and for whom, money is a necessary evil.  This group finds it hard to invoice or chase up payments. 

And as for the financial planners, they were green – life long learners who take a logical approach, spending more time on planning so that when they deliver, every detail has been thought through.

Now we did  have one colour missing– oranges – they would be your event planners, actors, performers or recreation specialists.

Years ago I did a similar exercise with a group of seniors, assigning them with the task of designing the perfect centre for seniors.   It was equally fascinating to see how people of all ages and backgrounds, still came forward with suggestions that were so true to their personality styles.

What did they come up with?  The oranges wanted a multi-rail system that would take them to the different recreational activities offered throughout the facility.  The blues – the romantics, wanted a dating service. The golds wanted storage space and the greens, well they were still thinking about it.

All of which goes to show that when we choose the right career for ourselves, we are being true to our personality style.

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