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BaFa’ BaFa’

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Case Study: Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ – Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations.

Introducing the Rules for BaFa' BaFa' Introducing the Rules for Professional BaFa’ BaFa’.

The Situation:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 Community Involvement Training Conference was held on August 4-6, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. The competition for presenters was very strong, they received 118 proposals and only had slots for 37 presentations. Skeo Solutions were excited to be chosen as one of the presenters for their training session, Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture.

Skeo Solutions decided to incorporate Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ into the workshop and had received some encouragement from their EPA contact who remembered BaFa’ BaFa’ from her Peace Corps training some years ago. Living and Learning the Beta Culture. Living and Learning the Beta Culture.

The Approach:

Skeo Solutions Building Cultural Competence (BCC) training approach is very different from traditional USA “diversity” training. You can get a snapshot of it here:  http://www.skeo.com/projects/building_cultural_competence_training.

According to the lead facilitator for this session,  Michael Lythcott, “The design is kind of an amalgam of materials I helped develop for Peace Corps Volunteers and corporate executive training’s I helped design while I was at MS&B International working to prepare US executives (and their non-matrixed spouses) for long-term overseas assignments.” Discussion and Analysis of BaFa' BaFa' Experience. Discussion and Analysis of BaFa’ BaFa’ Experience.

Skeo Solutions decided to integrate BaFa’ BaFa’ at the beginning of this full day training opportunity. According to Lythcott, “people […]

Links Related To Our Products

There are countless ways organizations have used our products in business and educational settings. Here are a few links to relevant websites relating to using our simulations. We are just starting this resources so be sure to check back often. Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to have a link included.

Index of Topics:

BaFa’ BaFa’ – Schools & Charities Version
BaFa’ BaFa’ used with Medical Educators
StarPower – Leadership – Use/Abuse of Power
General Links To Our Website

BaFa’ BaFa’ – Schools & Charities Version

  • The Civic Education Project (CEP), an international non-profit organization, has supported grassroots efforts to reform higher education (very good description of how it’s been used and some take aways). Teaching and Learning Resources: BaFa-BaFa Game.
  • Sonoma State University Debriefing from BaFa’  BaFa’ (excellent series of discussion questions pertaining to creating and communicating in a community setting).
  • Debwewin project website: anti-racism initiative for […]

Cohesion Through Diversity

A presentation before the Indiana State Office of Minority Health at the Minority Health Conference on August 21, 2009: Cohesion Through Diversity pdf (pdf)

Cohesion Through Diversity

Indiana State Office of Minority Health

Minority Health Conference

R. Garry Shirts, Ph.D.

Thank you for that introduction.

I’m delighted to be here.

For the past 40 years I’ve been creating a type of learning experience called simulations. In the type I design, groups of 30 to 40 people interact from 3 to 8 hours within a set of rules designed to create emotions and challenges that are similar to real life. During this time they do such activities as set goals, allocate resources, negotiate, compete for resources, make alliances, use or abuse power and, in general, try to solve problems or meet challenges that develop during the experience.

These simulations have a game like quality, but I don’t like to refer to them as games, as games almost always have a zero sum outcome. In other words, one group or individual wins and another loses. In the simulation there may be winners and losers, but more often than not, if the groups and individuals cooperate everyone can win.

BaFa’ BaFa’, one of the most popular simulations I’ve created, was designed to give people the same kinds of feelings one gets when experiencing another culture.

I believe the person who learns the most from a simulation is the person who designed it. To design one, one must research the topic, try out many different prototypes, and view the topic from many different perspectives. It is an ideal way to learn about individuals and groups because you are always asking yourself, how will the participants react to this rule, requirement […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:06+00:00 February 7th, 2014|Categories: BaFa'BaFa'|Tags: , |0 Comments

Barbara Steinwachs describes BaFa’ BaFa’

Note: Garry Shirts sent out a request for facilitators for BaFa’ BaFa’ to the NASAGA (North American Simulation and Games Association) news list. In reponse to that request one of the NASAGA members asked, “What is BaFa’ BaFa’?” This is Barbara Steinwachs’ answer. Reprinted by permission of Barbara Steinwachs. […]

In response to designer Garry Shirts’ request for Northwest facilitators for BaFa’ BaFa’, someone asks “What is BaFa’ BaFa’?”

First designed in the mid 1970’s and recently revised, this is one of Garry Shirts’ (also the designer of the classic StarPower, which explores power relationships among haves and have-nots) most used and wonderful simulation games. Originally developed for the Navy, for cross-cultural misunderstandings faced by young sailors (Sandy Fowler was on the original research team), BaFa’ BaFa’ immediately became a generic game for use in many multicultural settings: international cross-cultural situations, domestic “diversity” issues, teacher-student, doctor-patient, & any setting where two groups of different “cultures” engage with one another.

It sets up two hypothetical cultures, Alpha & Beta, in two different rooms. The cultures are carefully constructed to be different from one another but with basics which can be misinterpreted if you come from the opposite culture– e.g. leadership, currency, activities, etc. In a very simple format, participants visit the other culture in small groups for a few minutes each. After each visit, each culture briefly discusses what happened and what was learned during the visit. When everyone has visited, the game is over. A splendidly designed debriefing guides players to explore their interpretations (mostly misinterpretations because they were made based only on the home culture experience of the one interpreting) and compare them to what actually was going on, and why.

Even though the visit […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:38+00:00 October 14th, 2013|Categories: BaFa'BaFa'|Tags: |0 Comments

Ten Secrets of Successful Simulations

By R. Garry Shirts

An experiential simulation can be a wonderful training method. But it’s easy to create a one that is not as effective as it could be. Here are some suggestions for improving your chances of being successful.

One of the most satisfying experiences in training or education, no matter what the subject, is the so-called “Aha!” moment, that instant when sudden, spontaneous insight cuts through the tangle of loose ends in a learner’s mind to reveal a memorable truth. […]

Having spent nearly 40 years designing experiential simulations, I believe simulations are the most likely teaching method to create those “Aha!” moments. In a simulation called StarPower, the moment occurs when trainees, who might be police officers or corporate managers, unexpectedly realize that the only way to keep power over others is not to use it. In BaFa’ BaFa’, the moment comes when trainees suddenly grasp the idea that good intentions can actually worsen cultural misunderstandings. In a team-building simulation called Pumping the Colors, it happens when trainees abruptly comprehend that the rules a team operates under are actually the team’s responsibility.

When combined with other unique strengths of simulations-their ability to simplify systems, to demonstrate other people’s perspectives, to develop “battlefront” skills in safety, and to solve problems from the inside out – these eye-opening moments can endow trainees with a vivid, often deeply personal understanding of even the most abstract training concepts.

Simulations, however, are widely misunderstood. The most experienced trainers, called upon to design a simulation, often create a workaday version of the board game “Monopoly.” These are sometimes successful as play, but rarely effective as training.

Here are 10 secrets for creating successful training simulations. They represent lessons learned from […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:54+00:00 October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Creating a New School Culture

By R. Garry. Shirts, Ph.D.

For the past 40 plus years, I’ve been designing simulations to help people learn how to work together productively, live together in harmony and resolve conflicts peacefully. I’ve designed simulations and other experiential learning activities for corporations, schools, government agencies, and churches.

Each simulation is like a mini-laboratory of human behavior. In this “laboratory” one sees the way people compete, allocate resources, respond under pressure and most important, how they relate to one another under different conditions. So if we assume there is some carryover from simulations to the real world, then what we learn from designing simulations ought to give us some insights and help in designing healthy, real-world organizations.

Today, my goal is to give you some suggestions for creating a new school culture in which staff members, teachers and students feel safe, feel valued and have the opportunity to be as productive and creative as each person wants to be. […]

I should point out that these criteria are based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which are as follows:

maslow's hierarchy of needs

His great insight was that one can’t address a higher need if the lower need is not satisfied. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the graphic.)

I also believe that it holds for communication as well. If one tries to talk to a student about achievement when he or she is worried about his or her safety, it’s going to be hard to communicate effectively with that student until the safety need is met. At least, it is important that one acknowledges one’s need for safety or any unmet need before moving up the needs ladder. But that is another […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:12:02+00:00 October 11th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , |0 Comments