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Business Training for the Busy Trainer

"Business Applications of NLP: 30 Activities for Training"
by Roy Johnson and John Eaton, Gower, 1999, £155.00

Review by Mark McKergow

If you're working in with NLP in business, you probably find yourself wondering about different ways of running training exercises. The ways you experienced during your NLP training were all very well, but sometimes seem more relevant to therapists. What to do? You could do a lot worse than to look at this well-structured and carefully thought out manual.

Roy Johnson seems to have been around the NLP scene in the UK for ever. He still runs Pace, and was formerly a senior manager with Xerox. His collaborator on this collection is John Eaton, another corporate refugee who is now a counsellor. Both are INLPTA trainers, and their experience of working with business audiences is a great resource for the manual.

The work itself is a 300 page loose leaf collection of activities and associated materials for training business issues in an NLP way. It complements Roy's earlier manual, also for Gower, 40 Activities for Training with NLP, published a couple of years ago. Following the first collection which focused on "NLP training" activities, the latest pack presents activities to address a range of business issues, with NLP at their heart.

After a quick run through some NLP basics, the activities themselves are presented in 7 sections: Visionary Leadership, Influencing with Words, Business Planning, Working with Groups, Self and People Management, Unlocking People's Potential and Beginnings & Endings. Each section has some four to six activities - lasting between 35 and 130 minutes - addressing some particular aspect or angle. For example, the Visionary Leadership section comprises four activities; The teams's vision, Setting team goals that motivate, Modelling effective leaders and Integrating the vision.

I was particularly impressed with the comprehensive way in which each activity is described. We are taken through the set-up (numbers required, timings etc), objectives, applications, key points (in summary), materials and resources required, the background to the activity (which the trainer may find useful in presenting the activity to their audience), the method (how the activity runs), review questions to debrief the group afterwards, and reproducible handouts and OHP slides. There is also a section on related exercises - exploring similar or related areas - in both the current and previous volumes. If you're familiar with the "1001 Games to play for trainers" type volume, this is altogether more substantial and carefully constructed.

The whole collection is very well assembled. Each activity appears to have been tried and tested, judging from the comments and details given - I'd feel pretty comfortable to launch into one of these with a group. Johnson and Eaton are clear about the need to prepare and to try out the activities before you use them (usually a good idea, not always apparent in practice). They also rightly make the point early on that the activities will put the NLP ideas across moer successfully if the trainer has experienced some NLP training.

The final touch, at the end of the manual, is a series of ten suggested programmes, comprising activities from the manual, as a starter for those seeking to start from scratch. The authors make clear that these are just suggestions, and encourage users to look at related activities or add their own. This is another example of the way in which this collection has been carefully thought through from many angles.

One shortcoming is the price (as ever with Gower, they know their corporate training market and price accordingly), but if you work in these circles you've probably learned not to be outraged at this by now. I also wondered whether the activities would go better with participants who knew a bit of NLP as well as the trainer. Perhaps integrating these activities with some from the previous manual might be an interesting option.

The collection is very well put together and will interest organisational trainers and facilitators who are interested to apply NLP in their work and are prepared to pay for Johnson and Eaton's experience and the convenience of having all these activities devised, compiled, tested and prepared.

This review was originally published in NLP World 6, No 3 pp 82 - 84 (1999)