What Do StarPower® Participants Learn?
Power is a taboo topic for most people. Yet, it profoundly affects the way we do business, manage organizations, and relate to those we are supposed to serve.
StarPower is used in cultural diversity programs, management training for younger managers on the “fast track”, training on the proper use of power for such diverse groups as police officers, doctors, gangs, supervisors of factory workers and their managers.
StarPower helps participants:
- Understand that power must have a legitimate basis to be effective.
- See and feel the effect of disempowerment.
- Realize that sharing power can increase it while hoarding or abusing power can diminish it.
- Understand the effect that systems can have on power.
- Be aware of how tempting it is for well-intentioned people to abuse power.
- Understand that there are different kinds of power.
- Personally experience and discuss the excitement of power and the despair of powerlessness.
As part of management training, StarPower illustrates how power affects performance, motivation and behavior. In diversity training, StarPower provokes discussion surrounding bias and gender, and helps examine how power manifests itself within a diverse organization.
What Happens in StarPower?
StarPower participants are challenged to progress from one level of society to another by acquiring wealth through trading with others. The first two rounds are very sociable. People are laughing, talking, and having a good time exchanging chips. Then the wealthiest group gains power.
Barriers spring up between the various levels of the society. Communication gets strained. The group that has the power often tries to protect their power through illegitimate means. The others respond by giving up, organizing, or overthrowing the power group. After the simulation winds down, participants discuss power in safe, yet revealing, ways.
Discussing StarPower (Excerpts from the Directors Guide):
There are many ideas, beyond those listed below (click +/-), which may emerge in a discussion of the StarPower simulation and it is likely that each facilitator will want to examine the implications of such ideas for the specific topic under consideration. For instance a facilitator concerned with improving relations between two racial groups, between employers and employees, or between men and women, might discuss the parallels between the powerlessness felt in situations created in the simulation.
Generally however, groups need to discuss the simulation in personal terms of “who did what to whom”, before going on to the issues involved. This can be an important experience in interpersonal relationships, helping members of the groups to understand their reactions to authority, competitive situations, etc.
Consequently, many of our efforts to improve relations between races, different factions of the community, and improve morale in businesses are doomed to failure if we also don’t try to change the social system in which they operate.
The idea that power corrupts as well as the other ideas which are listed below are often known by the participants before they participate in the simulation. Yet, when participants of all ages and sophistication are asked to place a value on what they learned from participating in StarPower, they consistently report that it was “very important” to them. In looking into this seeming contradiction of participants placing value on learning concepts which they already knew, it seems that the playing of StarPower has given new strength and validity to old but important ideas. It is one thing to know that power corrupts everyone, it is quite another to realize that power might also corrupt Ted or Mary or even oneself. This realization can often help the participants look at these ideas with a new perspective – an ideal time to re-evaluate them, to determine if there is still truth and meaning in them, to apply them to one’s own discipline or situation or simply re-affirm their importance.
This is not a new or surprising idea, but experiencing it directly can often help people see the behavior of those who are reacting to powerlessness, real or imagined, with a new tolerance and understanding.
This raises several interesting questions. Under what conditions is it possible to make unfair rules and have people obey them? Is it worth the price? Are people justified in disobeying unjust rules? Always?
Even when they do protest during the rule making, they will often use the rules to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of the Circles and Triangles. There is a question, or course, whether they would identify so closely with the Squares, if they continued to wear their Circle or Triangle badges after being promoted or if they had been sent to the Square group with the express purpose of representing the Circle and Triangles.
Conclusions from Participants
StarPower is different than anything I’ve ever played. I learned that, for the most part, when someone ‘makes it’, they tend to forget about the people who got them there. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
StarPower and Where do You Draw the Line? are incredible games. I am responsible for training over 1500 people and these games have presented me with the opportunity to present easy yet interactive training to my folks. Good job to all who were instrumental in making these games.
I have been using StarPower since 1983, when I first started teaching. I showed Inside Job to my students and pondered how to get at the underlying lessons. I decided to use StarPower illustrate many of the films major themes [including dealing with financial crisis}. The film is widely shown in high school and college classes. It remains the single most effective teaching tool I have ever encountered.
What are the minimum and maximum number of participants for StarPower?
StarPower requires a minimum of 18 participants and as many as 36.
How much time is required for StarPower?
StarPower is a strong half-day format. We recommend two to three hours for this simulation — a minimum of one and a half hours for the simulation and at least a half hour for discussion.
How is StarPower used?
Many companies use StarPower as an introduction for multiple day workshops on management skills, team building or TQM training. StarPower is also used in cultural diversity programs, management training for junior managers on the “fast track,” and in training on the proper use of power for such diverse groups as police officers, gangs, factory workers and managers.
What does the StarPower Kit include?
StarPower contains all of the materials for up to 36 participants.
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