UCLA Extension

Card Games for Soft Skills

Course No. C6, Period 3

Soft skill development is crucial as a separator between success and failure as your career
progresses. Sadly, some skills (such as conflict resolution, hiring/firing, or negotiation) can only
be practiced “in the moment”, and unless your job is fraught with these types of situations, you
may not advance your skills in these areas as fast as needed.

This course focuses on providing fun, repeatable activities that help improve these “hard to
train” skill sets. Each one creates a safe, repeatable situation where each player can try, fail,
and learn. Along with the activities, we’ll take a look at the core behavioral patterns for these
soft skills and introduce connections between the activities, how the circumstances change, and
how this relates to your career and goals.

Along with all the lecture, attendees will walk away with copies of the games so that they can
facilitate them with their own teams at work.

Day 1: Intros and The Chaos of Teamwork
The “Too Many Droids” activity helps immerse the team in highly stressful, simulated chaos to
accomplish personal activities and help the team accomplish its goals. In this activity players will
realize that their strategies for “getting things done” falls apart once the stakes get high enough.
As a team they will have to come together, develop a plan for communication, resource sharing,
and what to do when things go from bad, to worse.

Day 2: Stress, triage and better teamwork
“Unicorn or Bust!” is an activity that builds resilience against the day-to-day chaos of projects &
problems. In this activity players take the role of a new startup company trying to go 52 weeks
from startup to IPO. Along the way, the team will have to share resources, agree on strategy,
and try to solve problems before they run out of funding.. or worse!

Day 3: Communicating with Empathy and Intention
“Ship it!” is an activity that helps develop empathetic communication. In this activity, players will
quickly have to realize that their team members don’t share the same mental model about how
the game should be played, and will have to take it upon themselves to modify their
communication process. Giving the wrong information, worded in the wrong way, could spell
disaster!

Day 4: Negotiation
“Floor Plan” is an activity that focuses on developing individuals ability to negotiate, reach
compromise, and make sure that both the projects’ needs, as well as their own, are
accomplished. Your company is growing, and you are in charge of trying to fit all your
employees in the right configuration. The catch is that you’re sharing this responsibility with
others, who each have their own goals & priorities. Learn how to bargain, negotiate, and
compromise to get the highest scores possible.

Day 5: Dealing with transitions
“Re- org” activity that helps players move through planning their impact- focused work, while
dealing with unexpected consequences from an administrative level. Your goal is to become the
most valuable engineer at your company, which you do by taking on and completing projects.
The problem? Every year a re-org happens, and you’ve got a new manager who changes the
company priorities. Learn how to adapt to chaos in the workplace, changing design
requirements, and how to build a career that can withstand any re-org.

 

Colt McAnlis
Senior Staff Developer Advocate, Google

Colt McAnlis is an industry expert on Performance systems & Data Compression across Web, Mobile and Cloud platforms. Before that, he was a graphics engineer in the games industry working at Blizzard, Microsoft (Ensemble), and  Petroglyph.

He’s been an Adjunct Professor at SMU Guildhall; Pioneered Google’s approach to MOOC courses (twice), and is a Book  Author (twice). He’s also defined Google’s approach to developer relations through video content, having created over 300 pieces of content for 4.5 million combined views.

You can follow him on G+, Twitter, Github, Linkedin, or his Blog