If you are an external consultant or interested in re-selling this program please email or call us at 858 450-3400 for more details. You can see the main Pumping The Colors page here. We think you’ll find it very helpful.
Presentation Before The American Water Works Association
Annual Conference – Dallas, Texas
By Garry Shirts, Ph.D. with Mr. Jack Markel, American Water Works
Thank you Jack. The first time I met Jack, he was so angry with one of my partners he got up in the middle of our demonstration of Pumping The Colors® and walked out. A colleague of mine chased him down the hall, discovered what was wrong and apologized for our mistake. Jack thought about it for a few minutes and decided to return to the seminar. At the time, I thought, “We will never see him again,” but a year later he incorporated Pumping the Colors into one of the American Water Works management programs.
I knew from that incident that he’s a no nonsense, get down to work, let’s get it done kind of guy. I like to believe that that no-nonsense, bottom line, practical approach to the world is what attracted him to Pumping the Colors.
Before I elaborate on that point, I’d like to point out that when Jack and his team developed their program they did something that only a few people in training do. He didn’t assume what the training needs were, he did a needs analysis. He then designed the program to meet those needs. He then sold it to top management and said he wouldn’t proceed unless they supported the project. They had to be convinced. It was not an easy sale.
Then after the program he evaluated its effectiveness. He found that his program produced positive results in his managers in 8 out of 10 behaviors measured. That’s doing it right from beginning to end.
In the time I have available, I’d like to show you:
What happens in Pumping the Colors
- How teams behave in a typical session
- How Pumping The Colors was developed and how it has been used
- Why Pumping the Colors and similar type experiences help adults learn better than lecture, videos, computer based training and other techniques.
What happens in Pumping the Colors?
Here’s the challenge we present to participants when they participate in Pumping the Colors.
When they come into the room they see this 8 foot protective mat on the floor with 3 containers filled with colored water positioned at the top of the mat. After a brief introduction, the trainer puts on a hat or badge that says ZEGRA CORPORATION. He or she says something along the following lines: “I represent Zegra. Zegra is a large multi-national corporation that has just won a huge contract that is so large that we can’t complete it by ourselves. Zegra needs subcontractors to help it complete this contract.”
“At Zegra, we tried to figure out the best way to select the kind of subcontractors we want. We believed that there were many firms that had the required technical expertise, but we wanted firms that also knew how to work together in teams or workgroups. Instead of interviewing companies and asking them if they knew how to work together effectively, we decided to create a project for them to complete.”
After this explanation, the trainer asks them if they are willing to accept the challenge. Are they willing to represent their company to see if they can qualify as one of our subcontractors? They generally say yes. The few times they’ve said no, we’ve discovered major problems on the team. In those few instances, those problems had to be addressed before we could proceed. But 90% of the time they say, ” Yes, we accept the challenge.”
The trainer explains that the task is to use (hold pipes, tubes etc. up) the pipes, connectors, pumps, y-valve switches, 50 foot of tubing, this nifty pipe cutter (demonstrate cutting a piece of pipe), and the other materials included in these boxes build a water delivery system.
To qualify for Zegra’s subcontractor’s list, they must build a water delivery system that enables them to pump any one of these colors (pointing to mat) to any one of these 12 destinations. In addition to the water delivery system, they must design and build a platform and a holder. The platform must hold the water delivery system 60 centimeters or more above the floor. The holder must hold all four of these source containers 60 centimeters or more above the floor also.
The test for the delivery system is whether it works. Zegra might say, “deliver red to destination 4” and if the red water flows to destination 4 then the delivery system works. The test for the two platforms they must build is whether each one will remain standing after the trainer hits first the one platform and then the other at right angles with his or her fist (demonstrate hitting platforms with fist). This is called the double whack test.