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Lights, Camera, Inter-Action: Now is NOT the time to be camera-shy! The clock is ticking and the newscast must be ready in 2 hours! The Red Team is hot on the trail of a fugitive, the Green Team has the latest on the stock market, the Blue Team is on top of sports and the Yellow Team has Mother Nature covered. But wait—there’s more! Local hero saves lives; Political Scandal in White House; the most significant merger in years! How will you capture it all? In order to accomplish what may seem like “Mission Impossible”, each team must meet specific criteria for their ‘mini-movie’ and your entire group must pull together to make the deadline. This could be your chance to send the Nielsen Ratings soaring. Go get ‘em!

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Key Design Elements:
  • Criteria can be customized for your specific location, situation, desired learning outcomes, company and industry.
  • All team members must appear on camera
  • All news segments must include specific elements that bring to life core business themes/objectives
  • Criteria can be customized for your specific location, situation, desired learning outcomes, company and industry.

Program Benefits:
  • The experience is captured in a fun final video compilation; teams get to see themselves on screen AND they have a great memento which they can take home and share with their colleagues, direct reports, and family!
  • Encourages interaction amongst all participants
  • Movement between small team focus and broader cross-team goals
  • Builds camaraderie and breaks down barriers through a FUN, innovative approach
  • Teams, in order to be successful, must use skills in the following areas: creative thinking, strategic planning, decision making, negotiation, communication, role assignment etc.
  • Unique, memorable and fun!

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You are one of three teams charged with the same challenge: to utilize your resources to complete one of several pre-determined designs. The level of difficulty of the design you select determines the upside of the points your team can earn. Over the course of 5 rounds, individuals and their resources are rotated between teams in an effort to strategically reallocate the group’s resources toward the goal of maximizing point totals. Careful planning, strategic thinking and creative execution are crucial to success. And only if all three teams collaborate effectively and communicate openly can group-wide success be achieved!

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Key Design Elements:
  • Power to control personnel rotation and allocation of assets is not uniform
  • Specified conditions limit communication between teams

Note: These design elements create an initial mindset of competition between teams. Some shift to a collaborative approach rather quickly as they realize that their success can be enhanced by working together. However, this requires innovative thinking and finding unique channels for communication between teams as well as effective strategic planning and execution.

Program Benefits:
  • Encourages a shift from competitive to collaborative mindset and execution
  • Encourages “big-picture” and ‘all-for-one-and-one-for-all’ thinking
  • Requires effective strategic planning for success
  • Challenges communication, negotiation and influencing skills
  • Draws upon numerous other group processes and skills:
    resource management, decision-making, change management, leadership, and time management
  • Program is purposeful, applicable, 100% interactive and fun!
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Hawthorne Youth and Community Center members and recipients of
Leapfrogs' holiday 'What Goes Around Comes Around' celebration.


Leapfrog's 'What Goes Around Comes Around' Holiday Party!



Many hands working together at Wyeth’s Global Leadership
program; rebuilding a park with Isles Youthbuild students
in Trenton


Beach balls, bungee cords and baskets propelled Terex
executives to new heights!


The winner of the 2007 “It’s Not My Job” award goes to….


What are these folks doing in this new Leapfrog energizer?
Email us your funniest caption and we’ll post it here.
ed@leapfroginnovations.com

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Here are some quick, fun, free, and easy energizers we use with great effect. Hope they can help you and your teams!

"Do You Know Where Your Children Are?"
“We interrupt this team meeting for a Public Service Announcement …” Spice up your team meetings by creating and then ‘airing’ PSAs to promote teamwork. 

Model them after well known PSAs dealing with health and safety issues like youth curfew or anti-drug campaigns. Baby boomers might remember the “Just Say No” television advertising campaign that was prevalent during the 1980s and early 1990s to discourage children from engaging in recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying no.  Gen-Y’ers and Millennials may have heard of another effective anti-drug campaign “This is Your Brain on Drugs” that was originally aired in 1987, revived in 1998, and since frequently parodied in popular culture.

Encourage creativity to address relevant team topics such as operating norms, core values and promoting trust engendering behaviors.  Allow 20-40 minutes for people to work in teams of five to create PSAs.  Consider dedicating one meeting to creating the PSAs and then creating a schedule to ‘broadcast’ them one at a time in subsequent team meetings over time.  For teams that meet face-to-face, provide materials to inspire creativity such as poster boards, glue, tape, scissors, a variety of magazines, colored paper, and markers.  Virtual teams can use PowerPoint to creatively create webcasts.

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Perspectives
Try something different next time you are facilitating a meeting and really want everyone to contribute so that you can leverage multiple perspectives. You don't have to be a Leapfrog Master Facilitator to fully engage folks and generate "ah-has" with this clever and elegantly simple three minute activity. Even Ed - Leapfrog's favorite amphibian teammate - can lead this one!

  1. Ask everyone to stand up.

  2. While demonstrating, have each person point one finger at you with their arm fully extended straight.

  3. Now, instruct people to keep their arm fully extended and raise it so that they are pointing up at a spot on the ceiling straight above their heads.

  4. Do this yourself and ask folks to continue to follow your lead. Using your pointer finger like a pencil, draw a circle on the ceiling circling clockwise. Describe out loud what you are doing. Note: make it very clear in your instructions to move your finger clockwise.
  5. As you and the others continuously draw a circle clockwise, with your pointer finger pointing straight up at the ceiling, bend your arm and slowly lower it .

  6. Bring your circling finger down to your waist level. Now you should be looking down on your circling finger.

  7. Once everyone has reached the same position, ask the group: "Look carefully. what direction is your finger circling now?

  8. In amazement, folks will exclaim: "Counter clockwise!"

  9. Why is this? Well, of course, it all has to do with your vantage point. Looking up at your finger, it appears to be circling clockswise.  Looking down on your same finger, the circling motion appears counter clockwise. Eureka! We can learn from each other by sharing how we each see the world (or a particular business issue under discussion) from our differnt perspectives.

I suppose that's why Ed always says: "Two heads are better than one!"!

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Gotchya!
Here’s a quick and fun way to break the ice and get people’s brains (and fingers!) stretched and moving. This fun activity only takes a minute or two, doesn’t require any materials, and produces laughter and energy every time!

  1. Ask everyone to stand in a circle.
  2. While demonstrating, have each person hold out their right hand (flat with palm side up) and slide it over so that it rests in front of the belly of the person to their right.
  3. Now, instruct people to take their left hand index finger and point it down in front of them, so it now rests just above the palm hovering (of the hand) in front of them.
  4. You should now have everyone standing with their left index finger pointing down at a palm in front of them, and their right hand hovering just below the index finger of the person to their right.
  5. Tell the group that the purpose of this exercise is to help evaluate their multi-tasking skills. The rules are easy. When the magic word is said (“GOTCHA!”), each person must try to simultaneously grab the finger that hovers above their right palm while avoiding the capture of their own index finger. .
  6. Give the group two or three rounds to try this. The facilitator calls “GOTCHA” for the first round, then opens it up to the group so that anyone can yell “GOTCHA” for the next round(s).
  7. Finally, shift (shake?) things up a bit by asking people to reverse their hands (i.e. left palm is now positioned in front of the person to the left and right index finger pointing down in front). Repeat GOTCHA!

NOTE: This is a great exercise for the beginning of a meeting, after lunch, or in between sessions, or anytime when you need a quick jolt of energy!

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"Toothpaste"
An energizer we like to use as a meeting opener, “Toothpaste” gets folks moving, laughing, interacting and identifying affinities.

Facilitator Opening:
Alright, in this first exercise, I am going to pose a question to everyone. Your goal is to find others in the room who answer the question identically to you. Do this as quickly as possible since I will be timing you. So, for example, if I were to ask everyone's favorite color, all the Blues would come together, all the Reds would clump and so on. Any questions? OK, remember you are grouping yourselves IN DISTINCT GROUPS with everyone else who answers the question in the same way. Any questions before we begin? Here goes...

Question #1:
How many children were there in your family GROWING UP, including yourselves? Go! [Time them. Once all grouped, stop the clock.]

Excellent! You did that in x seconds. And we still have a few more questions so that you can improve on that time. What I am going to do is count to 3, point to a specific group and then you need to yell out your answer with as much enthusiasm as you can possibly pull together at this point in the day. So, let's start with this group [pointing]. One, two, three ... !! [Lead in the applause. Interject any humorous comments to play on what you are seeing/hearing in the group. Repeat pointing and counting process with ALL groups.]

Question #2:
Excellent start! Please come together in the center of the room. Here is Question #2. What [pause] is your favorite brand of toothpaste? Go! [Repeat facilitation process above.]

Question #3:
And now for our last question. This one is kind of serious so if you could, please focus and think carefully... Do you roll [brief pause], fold [brief pause], or bunch [brief pause] your toilet paper? Go! [Repeat facilitation process above.]

Facilitator Closing:
FAN-tastic! I think you all agree that we are learning a lot—not only about others, but ourselves as well. Perhaps even more than you've ever wanted to know!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rumor has it that Wendy and Julia roll and Lisa and Carrie bunch. Dick, of course, has his own unique creative hybrid method!

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Dynamic Duo
Here’s a quick icebreaker activity to energize folks around the conference table or, perhaps, the holiday dinner table:

  1. Divide into pairs.
  2. Assign each pair the names of a Dynamic Duo or allow everyone to come up with their own duo names.
  3. Then have each pair act out the duo such that the group can guess who they are.
We put our heads together to come up with some Dynamic Duo examples that may (or may not!) cross generation lines:
 
  • Batman & Robin
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Ben & Jerry
  • Simon & Garfinkel
  • Cheech & Chong i
  • Cain & Abel
  • Lewis & Clark
  • Mutt & Jeff
  • Captain & Tenille
  • SpongeBob & Patrick
  • Mario & Luigi
  • Mary Kate & Ashley

Who knows, if you really get into it, you might just make room for another piece of pumpkin pie!

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What Kind of Question is That?!
“What kind of question is THAT?” is a great way to get people out of their seats, interacting and sharing a laugh… or twenty!

  1. Give everyone an index card and pen

  2. Give everyone about 2 minutes to write down (legibly!) one question that they think would be fun to have everyone in the room to answer.

  3. NOTE: It is helpful to provide examples such as:

    – If you were given $10K and were told to pack your bags for a 2-week
       vacation, where would you go?
    – If you were stuck in a vat of ice cream and had to eat your way out,
       what flavor of ice cream would you prefer?
    – What is your favorite ride at the carnival?
    – What was your favorite TV show growing up?

  4. Instruct everyone that when you say “What kind of question is THAT?” they must:
  5. a) Find a partner
    b) Quickly ask them your question and get their response
    c) Listen to their question and give your response
    d) Switch index cards
    e) Move onto another person with this new card/question
    f) Repeat as many times as is possible in the allotted time

    NOTE: The idea is that every time you partner up and share questions with another person, you end up with a new card and, therefore, a new question.

  6. Let this continue for approximately 5 minutes. As a wrap up, you may chose to ask people toshare their favorite question that they heard while they were mingling.

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Mighty Motivating or Miserable?
Hey, leaders! Want a quick way to get feedback on team meetings and involve everyone in improving your meeting process? Try this simple meeting postmortem.

Make your team meetings more effective. After each team meeting, ask all participants to anonymously rate their satisfaction with the meeting on a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 is “Mighty Motivating” and 1 is “Miserable”.

  1. Have each person write their number on a card and pass the cards to one person to be collected.
  2. Ask a volunteer to write a list of numbers (rating scale) on a flip chart, starting with 7 and the words “Mighty Motivating” at the top and counting down to 1 and the words “Miserable”.
  3. Record and tally the ratings by writing hash marks by each number on the scale.
  4. Then, as team leader, open up the discussion by asking: “Would anyone who rated the meeting a 2 or a 3 be willing to share why this was an unsatisfactory meeting?”

You may be surprised by what you hear…

Perhaps an agenda item was skipped that was very important to one person, even though others may not have thought so. How much better to find this out immediately and address it than risk one person disengaging or undermining things over time!

Or, if you get feedback that the meeting was boring and contained nothing of interest, use it as an opportunity to actively involve everyone in setting future meeting agendas. Make everyone on your team accountable for good meeting process.

Once is not enough! Institutionalize these postmortems so that they become a regular part of your team meetings. Put rankings of the previous meeting right into the minutes of the next meeting, along with recommendations for what should be done differently. Over time your meetings—and effectiveness as a leader—will be mighty motivating.

Adapted from “Popular Postmortem” exercise on page 400 in The Fifth Discipline Field Book: Strategies and Tools to Build a Learning Organization (Authors: Peter M. Senge, Art Kleiner, Charlotte Roberts, Richard B. Ross and Bryan J. Smith; Copyright 1994.)

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The Great One-Way Communication Challenge
“Do you see what I’m sayin’ when I’m sayin’ what I’m sayin’?” Here’s an activity that helps illustrate challenges inherent in communication!

  1. Ask a volunteer (V#1) to leave the meeting room.

  2. Ask a second volunteer (V#2) to come up front.

  3. Draw the following design on a flipchart:

  4. Cover up the design.

  5. Ask V#1 to come back into the room and give her/him a marker and a second flipchart.

  6. Unveil the design again so that everyone EXCEPT V#1 can see it.

  7. Ask V#2 to walk V#1 through the drawing of this design to create an EXACT replica of the original.

  8. The TWIST? V#1 cannot talk at all AND V#2 cannot watch what is being drawn.
NOTE: You can vary the communication restrictions to suit your needs.

Some interesting learnings:

  • One-way communications often lead to misunderstandings

  • We often make assumptions that the person we are communication with understands us

  • Tell 5 people the same thing, get 5 different interpretations!

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If The Shoe Fits
For this activity, the more the merrier! We designed this energizer for a client organization well known for their line of high fashion footwear.

  1. Divide your participants into half.

  2. Line the participants up on opposite sides of the room, facing each other (‘Red Rover’ style....without the hand-holding!)

  3. Ask everyone to remove their right shoe and put it in ONE large pile in the center of the room.

  4. Ask participants to return to their side of the room.

  5. Explain to participants that when you say �GO� they must:
    • hop on their “shoed” foot to the pile of shoes

    • assist someone else with putting their shoe on completely (yes, that includes tyinglaces!)

    • do so without talking

    • They must not:
    • talk until their shoe is completely on their foot (placed there by another person)

    • allow their “shoeless” foot to touch the ground until their shoe is back on

  6. Say “GO!” start your stopwatch and prepare for a barrel of laughs!

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Peek-A-Who!
Try this at your next team meeting! This activity works best with between 10 and 30 people. It’s a great activity to learn names of new team members, but it works equally well with folks who have worked together for years.

Required props:
a blanket or tarp to use as an opaque screen.

Facilitation Steps

  1. Divide the group in half.

  2. ”Half of you stand on this side of the room; half of you on the other. My assistant will help me hold up this tarp so you can’t see the other team.”

  3. Facilitator instructions to the group:

  4. ”We will lift the tarp, and your team will pick one person to go and stand right in front of the tarp. We will count to 3 and then drop the tarp so that two people on either side of it are facing each other. Whoever first yells out the name of the person they are facing “wins” that round. That means they stay on the side they are on and their “opponent” comes around to join them on their side. Here’s the firstone…1,2,3…

  5. Drop the tarp and the players will yell out names. Shuffle the “loser” to the "winner’s" side of the tarp.

  6. Repeat steps 1-3 as long as the group's energy keeps building.

Often folks get creative naturally (or else you as facilitator can encourage it on the last round). One time a participant thought he was oh-so clever when he lay down on his side of the screen. But when the tarp dropped, he looked up from his vantage point on the floor to see the entire other team at the tarp yelling his name!

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Mapping Mob
This quick and easy energizer is guaranteed to shift everyone’s perspectives! Where do you belong and can you get “on the map” with your colleagues?

Requires:
A large open space

  • Ask everyone to stand up and spread themselves out around the open space.
  • Tell participants to “envision a map of the United States on the floor and keep that map in their mind”.

NOTE: if you have a largely international group, ask them to envision a map of the world instead.

Question #1:
Ask participants to “as quickly as possible, without talking, move to the point on their map that represents the one place they are MOST dying to go”.

Once everyone has settled into place, ask a few of them “where” they are standing on their map. You’ll notice that everyone’s map is slightly different in terms of size and orientation so if 10 people were thinking "Dallas", they could be all over the room.

Question #2:
Ask participants to “as quickly as possible, without talking, move to the point on their map that represents their favorite place in the country”.

Once everyone has settled into place, ask a few of them “where” they are standing on their map.

Question #3:
Prepare your participants for the last question by asking them to re-orient their map such that it takes up the entire room (or space that is available) and that north is the front of the room.

Now, ask participants to “as quickly as possible, without talking, move to the point on the map that represents where they spent the largest amount of time as a child/teenager”.

Once everyone has settled into place, ask a few of them “where” they are standing on their map.

NOTES: To acknowledge that not everyone was born in the States, ask those who weren’t born in the States to identify themselves and then pick a few to share where they were born.

As a wrap-up, it might be interesting to highlight the various perspectives in the room re: the various sizes and orientations of their maps.

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Human Pretzel
Here’s a “public domain” idea we use with great results and immediately applicable learnings!

  1. Ask a group of 7 -10 participants to stand in a circle facing in toward sthe center.

  2. Ask each participant to stretch their right arm out in front of them, palm up.

  3. Hang the end of one (1) LARGE rubber band from each participant’s right hand.

  4. Ask each participant to reach in using their LEFT hand and grab the other end of someone else’s rubber band.

  5. NOTE: The following two rules must be adhered to:
    - Do NOT grab the rubber band of the person who has grabbed yours.
    - Do NOT grab the band of someone directly beside you in the circle.

  6. Now, instruct the group that WITHOUT letting go of the bands, they must untangle themselves until they are one circle again.

  7. Time how long it takes them to unravel themselves!

You can vary the communication restrictions to suit your needs. You ay decide to have a participant or two play the role of Observers or Leaders. Sometimes this may take 1 minute while sometimes it may take 15 minutes!

Some Interesting Learnings...

  • When you’re in the middle of a problem, it’s sometimes difficult to see the solution.

  • Everybody needs to be part of the solution; as a team we’re interdependent.

  • Everyone has their own perspective from where they stand.

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By Ed on Friday 28 Mar 2008 08:30 AM EDT

Why do most (well intentioned) leaders miss out on engaging the next (well intentioned) generation? 
This was the provocative topic of discussion on a recent webinar hosted by Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry and Bill Benjamin from the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP) for over 1000 registrants and 600 actual participants from all over the world.  Clearly the topic hit a chord for many!  Based on their research, IHHP reports Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y and Boomer employees all share the same intent to be successful and do good work.  Workplace clashes between generations are not caused by differences in work values as commonly thought, but rather differences in expectations and expressions (work styles) stemming from different formative life experiences.  It's the impact of these attitudinal and behavioral differences in the workplace that often triggers emotional responses causing confusing communications and poor productivity.  What can leaders do to bridge the generational disconnect?  For starters, provide tools to managers and employees of all ages to increase empathy and communication for high performance.  We Leapfroggers whole heartedly agree.  Check out some of our tools to help you − including a workshop with content licensed from IHHP to help you develop the competencies of emotional intelligence.

By Ed on Mon 28 Jan 2008 10:00 AM EDT

Sign of the Times?
We’re getting more requests for community service as team building programs these days.  After all, working alongside your colleagues to accomplish a common goal with limited resources is a microcosm of work.  How often, though, do your work projects involve hands-on tasks yielding such immediate, concrete and gratifying results as when you complete the installation of a community garden or build a bicycle to give to a child?   Add the smiling faces of the beneficiaries of your efforts into the mix and you’ve got all the ingredients to emotionally connect people. Yes, community service work inspires leadership and teamwork.

We know.  Leapfrog has been partnering with clients for many years to craft the experience of community service projects into opportune professional development experiences – ones rich with ‘coachable’ moments. 

So we certainly aren’t surprised by the requests we’re getting for programmatic ways for large groups to leverage the time when people are already pulled out of work for an important meeting to work together to give back to their community. 

And when one of our favorite clients asked us to design a custom bike building program for 120 of their top people coming together later this year for their biannual leadership conference, we put aside the fact that basic versions of this particular activity are already 'out there.'

We began researching the possibilities.  Two quick stories to share. The first is really a refreshing reminder that “What goes around comes around” – the name we gave to our new bike building program.

 Bikes for Tykes is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to give bicycles to children of less fortunate families.  We noticed mention on their web site of a West Coast team building company, Repario – one of the first to offer a corporate bike-building activity. So we called Repario and spoke to their founder, James Carter, who shared lots of lessons he has learned in delivering bike building programs. Why, we asked James, are you so helpful to a potential competitor like Leapfrog? And, do you know what he said? Because what really matters is that more children will get bicycles.

The second story is about our own experience.  Rather than host a holiday party, we unanimously agreed that we would rather build bikes to give.  Call it research, but really our choice reflects our core values (Did you know that one of the benefits of working at Leapfrog is five paid community service days?).

Lori Tsuruda, the founder of  People Making A Difference, connected us with the Hawthorne Youth & Community Center in Roxbury, MA. Samantha Sadd, the center's director, graciously accepted our offer of four bikes and so next we turned our attention to designing an experience for ourselves.

A month later, on a very snowy, magical December evening, two of us braved slippery roads into Roxbury and presented the bikes to the children.  See the photo of the young girl standing in the snow by her new bike that’s loaded into the trunk of a car?  Her grin says it all – this feel-good team development program has all the right ingredients to inspire leadership and teamwork!

– Ed.




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by Ed on Mon 15 Oct 2007 04:25 PM EDT

What's it like to work for a moving company?
Not just any moving company but Gentle Giant Moving in Somervile, Massachusetts, recently named one of the top small workplaces in 2007 by the Wall Street Journal. Kate Harper, one of Leapfrog's Master Facilitators, knows. She's helped Gentle Giant earn this honor through her work developing employee leadership skills. "Gentle Giant stands out because they invest in their people, making them successful at work and in life."

Click here to read full article.

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by Ed on Mon 26 Mar 2007 08:11 AM EDT

Don’t you just love it when a creative workaround yields great results?
Here was the challenge put forth by one of our new pharma clients on the West Coast: help us deliver a top-notch collaborative experience
(Launch!™) for 400 folks at an All Hands department meeting within a limited budget.

What’s a frog to do? Well, we (figuratively) put our heads together across the Coasts and collaborated from the get-go, of course! Dubbing themselves “Secret Sauce West Coast”, the client Planning Committee executed many of the upfront logistical tasks locally. For example, they shopped ‘til they dropped for toilet plungers, laundry baskets, spatulas and more — a far cry from their day jobs collating and delivering data to the FDA. The creative problem-solving and teamwork did not end there. The Committee donned yellow Leapfrog staff shirts the day of the program and served a vital supporting role for our Master Facilitator and Logistics Captains. And, at the conclusion of the program, rather than trash or ship materials back to Boston, they were donated to a local shelter network and happily carted away. As whoever “they” is says, this collaboration was truly a Win-Win-Win!

– Ed.

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“Well here we are a month after the Leadership Conference, and the teambuilding session with Leapfrog is still the most memorable part. It quite literally "Rocked the house!"

The General Managers all commented on the fact that it was the best opportunity they had to network and now do actually pick up the phone to discuss sales ideas as well as operational issues. This never would have happened without Leapfrog.”
Sally Woodward
Area Vice President
Hard Rock International

 

 


“The Leapfrog exercise was the perfect activity for a group of technical people and managers to facilitate strategic thinking and leadership. Also, communication capabilities and time management were enhanced through this activity.

Highly recommended!”
Leo Colborne
Vice President
Worldwide Technical Support
EMC Corporation