Diversity, Stereotypes, Teamworking, Communication
In BaFa' BaFa' participants come to understand the powerful effects that culture plays in every person's life. It may be used to help participants prepare for living and working in another culture or to learn how to work with people from other departments, disciplines, genders, races, and ages.
Companies use BaFa' BaFa' to reinforce the positive aspects of cultural diversity, to prepare employees for overseas assignments, to build sensitivity towards cultural differences within the work place, to introduce corporate culture to new employees, to help employees adjust during mergers or right sizing, discuss conflict management, or to encourage discussion between groups that have never worked together before. The whole point of the BaFa' BaFa' experience is to help participants understand that having a diverse work force contributes to the bottom line of the organisation in very direct ways.
Simulation Learning Outcomes
Here are a few of the ways BaFa' BaFa' has been used in the hundreds of thousands times it has been run around the world:
- To increase insight into diversity
- Build awareness of how cultural differences can profoundly impact people in an organisation.
- Motivate participants to rethink their behaviour and attitude toward others.
- Allow participants to examine their own bias and focus on how they perceive differences.
- Examine how stereotypes are developed, barriers created, and misunderstandings magnified.
- Identify diversity issues within the organisation that must be addressed.
- To identify issues surrounding - communication, sexual harassment, gender differences, effects of power
- As preparation for employees with overseas assignments BaFa' BaFa' initiates immediate, personal change.
This simulation makes participants personally aware of the issues around culture differences. Participants feel the alienation and confusion that comes from being different. BaFa' BaFa' shakes participants out of thinking in stereotypes of anyone who is different. They learn the value of all faces in the workplace in a safe, stimulating environment.
How it works
Participants live and cope in a simulated "foreign" culture and then discuss and analyse the experience. There are two cultures in the simulation. The Alpha culture is a warm, friendly, patriarchal society with a strong in-group, out-group identity. The Beta culture is a foreign speaking, task oriented culture.
Once the participants learn the rules, customs, and values of "their" culture they visit the other culture. The visitor is generally bewildered and confused by the strangeness of the foreign culture. Bewilderment often turns to intolerance and hostility once the visitor returns home. "They're strange, really strange, that's all I can say. They're making funny sounds and weird gestures. Just be careful when you go over there." But in the post-simulation discussion they come to understand that there were reasons behind the behaviour they observed. With this realisation their attitudes change from one of hostility to understanding. Through discussion this experience is then generalised to attitudes towards other groups in the real world.
Bafa Bafa is often used to introduce the concept of cultures then follow up with a discussion and analysis of specific cultures and the way they are formed. For instance Betans speak a "foreign" language made up of a combination of vowels and consonants. It is easy to learn and use but difficult to understand if one doesn't know the rules governing its use. When Alphans come to the Beta culture and hear the language, they are often intimidated by it and withdraw from the culture creating an impossible communications barrier. Others are able to make themselves understood very easily with gestures, sign language and facial expressions.
Each of these reactions creates excellent opportunities to discuss and analyse the particular communication process under scrutiny. For example, what is the effect of the specialised language used by data processing people, engineers or finance people when people from all parts of the company come together to achieve a common goal? Is it possible to work with people from another culture without understanding their language? How should the salesperson react when clients use acronyms, initials and words that he or she doesn't understand.
Many trainers use Bafa Bafa to help delegates understand how stereotypes of other cultures, departments, companies or occupations get formed and perpetuated. "They're cold, greedy, all they do is work" are some of the words which Alphans use to describe the Betans. The Betans on the other hand, come to believe the Alphans are "lazy, unfriendly to outsiders, and don't like females". As in life, such stereotypes make it difficult for people to work together effectively. Unlike life however, the simulation gives participants an opportunity to analyse and discuss how stereotypes are formed as well as methods for overcoming their negative effects.
Probably the most unique feature of Bafa Bafa is that the interest and involvement reaches a climax in the discussion after the simulation, rather than during the simulation itself. It is during the discussion that the mysteries of each of the cultures are unravelled and the participants compare perceptions of one another's culture.
The Bafa Bafa Kit includes all of the materials needed to facilitate including facilitator training guides. Each participant needs a set of participant materials which contain all the cultural artefacts and discussion questions.
Who is it for?
People who must work with people from other organisations, departments or other cultures. For example, salespersons who must interact with other companies; marketing people who must work with engineers; or managers, students, or volunteers who work in foreign countries. In other words, it is useful for any situation, which requires an experiential understanding of another culture, corporation or department.
We know that games and simulations can bring fun, learning and challenge to the programmes you deliver. Therefore, we would welcome the opportunity to talk you through any of our wide range of activities to ensure that you obtain the maximum benefit from your purchase. Please contact us call us on
+44 (0) 1202 729823.
Need Help Facilitating?
From as little as £500 we can send you an experienced consultant to help facilitate this simulation game. Contact us
to find out more.
Duration: 3 - 4 hours
Number of Participants: 12 - 40. It has been played in groups as large as 300 with special accommodations