Category Archives: executive team building exercises

Herding Cats and The Moose Joke: Moving 50 feet further than last year…

It really IS like the EDS commercial years ago about Herding Cats!

And it is hard to maintain attention and do good follow through when you have zillions of distractions and tons of details.

A long time ago, I put together a slideshow that illustrated my Moose Joke. This is a session closing story that I have been using to end most of my workshops for the past 30 years. It is a really great story. And, as I do fewer and fewer executive team building sessions or workshops these days (by design!), I thought to use the internet, the website and the blogs to share the storyline.

So, I created a powerpoint and then finessed it into a slideshare program that I also used for a screencast, which I narrated and edited and put into YouTube.

You can find that video narrative here:

Moose Joke 50 feet yellow icon

The video is not me simply telling the joke but is designed to teach you how to USE the story to make your key learning points. You can also find the slideshare program that offers up a good bit of detail by clicking on the following image:

The Moose Joke Story for Closing Presentations

These are two solid resources that I hope you find interesting. I will simply say that I have not once ever seen a session close with anything as powerful as a metaphor. You make all your key learning points on your desired outcomes and you reinforce the reality of implementing change and the need to feel successful to keep things going. It is also about teamwork and commitment.

Have FUN out there!

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Lost Dutchman – Thoughts about Day One of the exercise

One of my new users ran The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for the first time and had a question about the design of the game board and how it all plays out with the weather. I thought that my thinking about how this should work and why we designed it this way might be useful for other users. Here is what he said:

If you look at the first cell after Apache Junction, it is connected on all three routes!

  • This will allow a team to move from one route to the other without having the teams to come back to base – Is my understanding correct?
  • In that case, shouldn’t the weather pattern be the same on day one for all the routes?

I understand that this is a bit tricky, especially when teams can move out on Day 1, 2 or 3 based on them taking the videos and I would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

Here is the game board and the area in question:
Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine Apache Junction Map

And here is my thinking about how this works and why:

YES, if they leave Apache junction, the start up point, they go into a block that surrounds AJ and that connects to all three routes.

Leaving on Day One, with the rainy weather pattern on that day, they get punished for not planning and getting a Video. They use up an extra Fuel Card and they can see that will happen before they commit to actually leaving.  There is no way around that weather — they are OUT and in a block that is “muddy” in how it is drawn with the light brown dirt and the squiggly lines.

The rules say that this Mud does NOT occur on the High Country or Plateau Trails. But if you look at the map, the signs marking those trails start on the NEXT block and not this one.

Having one large surrounding block enables a team to take ANY route on Day 2 — they can change their mind at no cost and simply go a different way. If they had planned to go on the Low Country Trail and Day One is MUDDY, one might expect a logical team to question that decision (they just got some new negative data!!) and take another route. This, of course, never happens!!

They could also get information from teams that get The Videos and choose to go up to the Mine using the High Country or Plateau Trails on Day 2.

The weather for Day One is the same for all three routes — Yes. Day One is Day One and they are in a block that is colored muddy, lined as muddy, and is clearly their first step out of AJ. If they stay at AJ, they consume 1 and 1. If they leave it is 1 and 2.

PLUS, there is Rule Number One — The weather and the consumption of resources IS what you TELL THEM it is! Some might argue. Some might simply be confused. Some might try to cheat and save a fuel. But it is simple: If they leave on Day One, the cost is an extra Fuel Card!

There is nothing “tricky” about any of this. It is very simple and straightforward. It is highly congruent with my thinking and the benefits of planning to their individual team success and to the overall success of the group…

There are a number of similarly elegant little nuances to the map, like the movements around the Supply Depot near the Mine and the use of a Turbo for movement there as well as the actual number of days from AJ to the mine with the other resources available. Some of these features were simply the result of luck on my part and some were thought out — this one with the design of the block surrounding AJ was a planned one!

We think that this game is pretty tight and easy to deliver. Over 20 years, we think that we have very congruent rules that make it easy to tie to themes of project management, strategic planning, team collaboration and inter-departmental collaboration, and to all sorts of issues around organizational alignment, leadership development and strategy implementation.

It also seems to generate the same kinds of play and debriefing discussions. The above was from a user in India, but it could have been Germany or Dubai.

Oh, did I mention that a major goal is to also have fun?

You can find more about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine by clicking on this link that takes you to our overview on Slideshare.

Slideshare Dutchman icon

Clicking on the link that is the image below will take you to an overview of the games on our website.

LD What did you learn

You can also see the many articles in the blog about the game by clicking on my image below.

For the Fun of It!

Scott LDDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

TeamBuilding – We judge ourselves by our intentions

Inspiration is a weird thing. I was cleaning out a lot of image files last night and earlier today and I came across a folder I called, Animal Giggles. I have no recollection as to where they came from since the file names are all things like these:

Google ChromeScreenSnapz003

Having been reasonably productive all day, I decided to open them up and see what they were. On inspection, they are from icanhas.cheezburger.com/ so I will ask them permission to post by posting a couple here. It is a site of funny cat pictures and similar (I linked them).

from http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/

“Do I look like the bluebird of happiness?”, “Go on, without me,” and “Clyde never suspected the local pigeons would have Tasers”

So, of course I immediately made the link from those silly cartoons to the real workplace issues of teamwork and collaboration, to leadership and trust and to the alignment of work groups to desired organizational results. How you might ask?

Because we are attributing desired behavior in the cartoons to others, in this case small animals.

In the workplace, we routinely make all sorts of assumptions about others including themes of motivation and competency and collaboration. But those are simply guesses. One of the quotes I have liked for a long time is this one that I recall derives from the NLP literature:

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
We judge others by their behavior.
*

That bridges me over to team building. The above quote is the mental key. Understanding the issues of personal intentions versus behavior towards others is where the above cartoons pushed my thinking…

In our exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, we set a goal of “Mining as much gold as we can” and of maximizing ROI. The game is about the different tabletops planning and executing those plans. It is about optimizing results with available resources, with a very obvious situation where collaboration would be of benefit to generating results. Teams can choose to share information and resources, as well as ideas, as an integral part of the design. They can choose to collaborate in many ways.

But what they often choose to do is compete. We tell them that
the game is about collaboration but they choose to compete.

In order to win, they will intentionally withhold resources from other teams so that they can beat them, sometimes seemingly encouraging that other team to perish.

You can see more about Lost Dutchman and how it works by clicking on the link below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

The name of another one of our team building exercises is The Collaboration Journey. It says so right on the game board. And new users are often concerned that showing “Collaboration” on the board will negatively influence results. Well, my comment is that you can be rest assured that they will NOT pay a whole lot of attention to that and will often not collaborate but compete to win!

10

People in the workplace, like in our schools, most naturally tend to work toward competing to win, even when it serves to sub-optimize overall results. And they will often use Darwinism and “survival of the fittest” to help explain those choices, even though social societies benefit so much more from collaboration. Survival of the fittest is a concept that focuses on benefits to the social group much more so than to an individual.

All I can say is that it sure is fun to run a game and then focus on the results of that game as driven by the choices that people make, especially when it is totally clear that inter-organizational collaboration will offer a much more positive impact overall. Our organizations are ALL like that — collaboration is key.

And reflection is likely to help generate some improvements; that is why we play the games!

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Fore the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

(* I actually tried to look up a source for this and the web is apparently attributing this to Ian Percy, but I’ve heard this for a lot longer than he could possibly be speaking on these issues. More likely Robert Dilts or one of the other key people in the NLP community, I might guess…)

Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled – An Update

My friend Frank Navran once quipped that,

Trust is the residue
of promises fulfilled

and that quote has stayed with me for 20+ years. So, in my work on designing a new team building game that will anchor to trust, Frank and I reconnected and he pipped me over to Barbara Kimmel, who is the Director of Trust Across America. You can click on the link below and pop over to her website.

Trust Across America Logo

Like me, Barbara likes to use statistics and logic to link from these touchy-feely things like “engagement” or “trust” to real issues of organizational results. Some data she shared were of interest to me, so I reproduce some of that data here so you can head over to her blog — this section is called:

The Hard Costs of Low Trust

  • Gallup’s research (2011) places 71% of U.S. workers as either not engaged or actively disengaged. The price tag of disengagement is $350,000,000,000 a year. That approximates the annual combined revenues of Apple, GM and GE.
  • The Washington Post reported that, “the federal government imposed an estimated $216,000,000,000 in regulatory costs on the economy (in 2012), nearly double its previous record.”
  • The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JP Morgan and B of A have piled up $103,000,000,000 in legal costs and fines since the financial crisis (Bloomberg, August of 2013 — which also probably did not pick up a good bit of those recent settlements!)
  • According to The Economist Intelligence Unit (2010), 84% of senior leaders say disengaged employees are considered one of the biggest threats facing their business. (Only 12% reported doing anything about this problem!)

You can read more about this issue and go to her blog by clicking on this text

There are lots more statistics and I refer to bits and pieces of much of the literature and statistical proofs of impact of building trust and involving and engaging people in a wide cross-section of my blog posts about people and performance. Many of the key phrases below link to my blog articles on people and performance. For example, you can read my article on Building Trust clicking here.

This trust gap negatively impacts so much of the workplace. It directly impacts morale and increases employee turnover and decreases engagement. It is an issue of management and leadership. And it is not an issue of adding more extrinsic rewards to generate desired performance or improve results — those actually just work against you and often make the workplace LESS collaborative.

One of the potential tools you can use is the approach of building more collaborative teams and generating more alignment to shared goals and missions. Those kinds of initiatives tend to pull people together and generate improved morale, peer support and intrinsic motivation to improve.

You can see our Slideshare presentation and find out more information about our team building simulation for improving organizational performance results by clicking on the Lost Dutchman icon below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

And if I can help you frame up or discuss different issues and opportunities around your organization’s performance improvement and trust building, please contact me directly. I actually answer my own phone!

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com or at 864-292-8700

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Slideshare Overview of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building game

In the past few weeks, people have been asking me for a fast overview of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, something more than what is on the PMC website and a fast and clean overview that they could share with their prospects who are interested in teamwork and building collaboration or integrating an exercise into their leadership development materials. They wanted a descriptive overview and not a sales piece, which they would do independently.

The result was a Slideshare program that has just been uploaded, one that covers the basic setup and framework, and includes the key goals and desired outcomes, and goes through a solid overview of some of the key debriefing themes and tabletop questions we use.

Slideshare Dutchman icon

The play of the Lost Dutchman game is really designed as, “an excuse to do a debriefing.” By design, we put metaphors in the game that would easily link to issues within organizations in any debriefing of the behaviors and outcomes resulting from playing the simulation:

  • Turbochargers represent Best Practices, better ways to do things than what are in general use now.
  • Mud represents the organizational glop, the bureaucratic goo, the cultural practices that tend to take more energy to deal with.
  • The Goal is to Mine as much gold as We can,” with the “we” referring to the entire group led by the game’s Expedition Leader and not the more competitive “My Team, My Team, My Team” approach for a tabletop.
  • The Role of the Expedition Leader is to Help Teams Be Successful, so that the game leadership can act to help and encourage, with the reality that teams generally do not ask for help.

Overall, we designed the exercise so that players can make mistakes but continue in their play until the end. All teams are successful, but some are more successful than the others. We show the results randomly instead of ranking tops down, simply because ALL the results contribute to the overall total ROI — and we also task the top performing teams with questions about why they chose to not assist or support the lower performing teams.

We’ve got tons of testimonials about the effectiveness of Lost Dutchman in a wide variety of organizational settings on a global basis. Feedback from our many users supports our belief that Dutchman works elegantly as a most powerful and easy-to-deliver team building game that addresses the issues of strategic planning and collaboration  within and between teams. Below is one of many testimonials and others are also, here, on our website:

Stamm LD testimonial

Thanks for taking the time to read through this. You will find dozens of other Dutchman articles in my blog  around the general themes of improving teamwork, working with large groups, ideas for debriefing and similar.

Energize and positively impact future performance of your own teams, organization or clients with this worthwhile game.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Annotated Abstracts of Management Team Building articles

Many of my posts are descriptive of ideas for business management team building exercises and posts on how to use training events to impact engagement and involvement for workplace improvement. This seems especially true for those focused on executive development, since the actions at the top have so many impacts as they cascade down through the organization.

One of my basic beliefs on these kinds of motivational team building exercises is that these events can be fun but that they can also be inexpensive and tightly linked to specific organizational objectives. One of the things we do is to deliver such sessions and then sell the client the simulation to run themselves through training or other kinds of developmental initiatives. They are really good when bundled into a strategy rollout kind of strategy.

What I did for this blog was simple: I searched my posts on “Motivational Team Building” and came up with about 20 different articles among the 275 in the blog. Then, I selected 5 that seemed most relevant to someone searching for that kind of information.

LDGM 1 80

1 – In Lessons from The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a game on teamwork and collaboration, we focus on some of the key learning points in our teambuilding exercise. One is that collaboration, even when it is encouraged, is really hard to generate. People choose more often to compete even when it sub-optimizes results. It is also easy to see that the three most important resources are Time, Information and Each Other. We also then talk about the issues of My Team, My Team, My Team and how we can help organizations improve overall collaboration and engagement.

My Team My Team haiku

2 – The post, “Maximizing Team Building Impacts with Senior Managers,” addresses how to involve and engage the top managers of an organization with the goal of cascading the teamwork and alignment down. In many organizations, the phrase interdepartmental collaboration is an oxymoron, and it exists because of exclusive measurement systems and the competition between leadership – causing the silos. This article focuses on working with senior management and shares some thinking about how to implement this initiative throughout an organization.

3 - Innovation, Strategy and Motivation is focused on my thinking about the overall effectiveness of a program I did in Mumbai, India for a group of very senior managers. It was focused on my friend Robin Speculand’s approach to strategy implementation and wrapped around my Square Wheels illustrations as tools for generating alignment and engagement. I include links to Dan Pink’s materials on intrinsic motivation and also relate to other resources for impacting people and productivity.

Rat Cage More Better Faster

4 - Does Teamwork Work? Issues and Ideas for Improvement is about the basic design of team building programs and their linking to organizational improvement. There are a lot of activities out there representing themselves as team building that may or may not be truly effective in linking to real organizational improvement initiatives and business process improvement. Many might have aspects of collaboration or team thinking involved, but are they really designed to facilitate a powerful debriefing? Dutchman was designed to link to issues of optimizing performance results.

5 – In Workplace Motivation – “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…“, there is a solid review of the data and statistics on workplace motivation, which anchors really well to what we can do differently to better involve and engage individuals and teams for performance improvement. The data show that there are just so many people going through the motions of working, and that they could accomplish a lot more if the workplace was more situationally engaging. People can do more, and they will if you allow them. It is a lot about Intrinsic Motivation.

These are a few of almost 300 articles in my blog, ON PERFORMANCE. I hope that you find some of these ideas of use and benefit as you move things forward in your organization or for your clients.

Plus, I am just starting up a blog of poems, quips, one-liners and other illustrated cartoons with captions and slogans. You can check it out at http://poemsontheworkplace.wordpress.com/

SWs One - things you will see border copy 2

We believe that we have some of the most useful tools for communications and organizational development that exist. Our team building games are simple and effective and our Square Wheels toolkits easily involve and engage people to share and implement their ideas for improvements.

Have FUN out there!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Thoughts on Teambuilding and Aligning an International Business Group

The situation is a company program for 50 directors and above who operate globally. Grown through innovation and acquisition, the various operations within the business all work well, but collaboration and synergy could be improved. The opportunities around a fun, interactive team building exercise focused on optimizing overall business results is high, and this event can be used to lead off their entire business conference.

Gold Hand Magnet 1

The Goal is to produce the best overall results that we can for the success of the entire organization and not just one group or team. The goal is to generate alignment and collaboration throughout the organization.

The issues are around improving planning and collaboration to drive a better overall result, one that could be linked to a variety of organizational alignment and communications issues and help the organization improve its customer service.

Sound familiar? Well that was the context of a phone call I got this morning. It is a Most Perfect scenario for The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for a variety of reasons so I thought to work up a short proposal into a longer blog, since many of my game users will see similar kinds of scenarios in their use of the exercise.

Please note that a sister article to this, entitled, “Maximizing team building impacts with Senior Managers,” can be found be found by clicking on the title.

This client wants to bring people from all its global operations to Dallas. These include locations in Europe and Asia so having a business simulation that works well with these cultures is important. We have associates running the game throughout these regions and I know from my personal facilitation efforts that the different cultures tend to make similar decisions and play with a similar level of competition versus collaboration. For the most part, my debriefings are identical, differing more between different kinds of organizations more than different cultural perspectives.

This will be a multi-day event, with the overall desired outcomes still to be set, but with the idea that their team building event should be fun, but also be a powerful learning tool for these executives. The metaphors in Lost Dutchman link beautifully to themes of planning versus executing, competing versus collaboration, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and other aspects of organizational alignment and communications. Thus, it can be tied metaphorically to many of the overall goals and tactics of the program design group.

I am predicting that the Group President will also want an active role in the game, so we will encourage him to play and then engage in helping with the debriefing. One very favorite way to do this is to help him facilitate a discussion of, “What does Mining Gold mean to our organization” and allowing the 10 different tabletops to first engage themselves and then to share their business improvement ideas with the entire group. This should set up some distinct actionable outcomes for the rest of the program, ones that we can align to as they get determined through the planning process.

12040

My thinking is that we will set the tabletops with the straw cowboy hats and colored bandannas as part of the “paraphernalia” and the get-ready to play aspect of the exercise. It helps to energize the group for fun.

At the end of the play and the conclusion of the debriefing, we do a fun “awards ceremony” and give each of these senior managers a nice, white, crushable felt cowboy hat to take home to display in their office.41Mlj2mS6FL._SX385_

These white hats will be awarded as a symbolic activity, with the most senior managers giving a hat to each of their direct reports and cascading these awards down through their line operations. The idea is to celebrate the success and to reward the good ideas for things that could be done differently.

There might also be a “cowboy hat dinner event” at the end of the conference to celebrate the changes and new ideas that they will choose to implement after their departure. At this point the event planning has not been completed.

Change and strategy implementation is difficult to accomplish and  having something visible and tangible is often really helpful. I think of the “White Hat Award” that Western Electric used to give to a couple of their managers from the thousands in their organization — to use the word “coveted” does not even come close to how much those were valued by the most respected and accomplished senior managers. They were proudly displayed in their offices when I was consulting with that organization long ago. They were a point of pride.

Rollout – Post Dallas Event Possibilities

It is obvious that the costs of this program, with hotel and airfare and the other related activities is quite high. Thus, senior management is looking for tangible issues and opportunities to impact the business and improve operations. It is clear from our years of supporting the exercise for change management and strategy implementation that a wide variety of issues will rise up for discussion and that ideas for improvement will be a natural result of play. Thus, the company should be prepared to document and plan tactics for addressing them.

Normal business operational tactics are often optimal because they fit smoothly within business operational practices. Changes in expectations, feedback and measurement systems are often used to drive the strategies. But companies can also use effective tools within that rollout program. One of them could easily be Lost Dutchman, done at each location for those management teams.

It is our experience that anyone who went through a delivery of the Lost Dutchman exercise would be somewhat capable of delivering that exercise in the future. PMC could support those global organizations with trained consultants to help them run the game locally in their organizations or we could supply various training people with Dutchman games so that they could run them locally to cascade these ideas about collaboration and optimization of results in each of the workplaces. The guys with the White Hats should be a visible part of the facilitation and leadership team pushing for improved workplace engagement and collaboration in their organizations.

At this point, we are prepared to help the client organization identify its potential issues and opportunities and define some strategies and tactics that would be helpful for rollout and implementation. Improving the interpersonal relationships of the senior management team will be helpful to improve overall collaboration. But there will be some structural changes that will need to be done to insure that these good ideas become institutionalized best practices.

Please note that a sister article to this, entitled, “Maximizing team building impacts with Senior Managers,” can be found be found by clicking on the title.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Overview on The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Dutchman is delivered as a team building exercise and debriefed on the basic principles of improving interdepartmental collaboration and generating opportunities for improvement. There are strong ties to leadership, engagement and communications. For management development, it is a superb situation to engage participants on issues of optimization, motivation and performance. As a team development exercise, it is used by an impressive list of multinational organizations and international consultants and trainers.

The debriefing helps shift the focus from the game play and results to the realities of organizations working together, improving collaboration, sharing informational resources: “Mining as much Gold as We Can.”

The exercise focuses on the motivating impacts of shared missions and goals and common issues surrounding culture, teamwork and planning. We have hundreds of testimonials and a long list of clients, including corporate users and colleges as well as consultants and trainers. An exceptional amount of information is found on our user-oriented website at http://squarewheels.com/ld/ldindex.html   –  (To see testimonials from users worldwide, collected by an independent survey company and others, click here.)

The main theme, Mining as Much Gold as We Can, is generally linked to the celebrations of past successes and new ideas for teamwork and collaboration within the organization. In addition, debriefing discussions can focus on the future impacts of teams contributing their individual results to the overall outcomes for achieving goals.

The exercise is designed to take 3 to 3.5 hours to play and debrief thoroughly. It has tabletop teams sharing best practices and information about the game to help other tabletops be more successful. Everyone succeeds but teams that collaborate and plan succeed more than the others. This tends to mirror the collaboration opportunities of most organizations and is a valuable learning lesson from play to link to issues of change.

We played the Dutchman game with our sales staff and the simulation was quite successful, which is a difficult assignment since we sell training games to clients and our staff can get picky and critical. The debriefing was an excellent surprise — the way questions are prepared, the flow and the links to desired outcomes makes it the best prepared simulation debrief I have ever seen or delivered. Congratulations and Thanks!

Training Consultant, international training company

This highly interactive board game team building exercise was initially developed by Dr. Scott Simmerman, in 1993 and is being used worldwide by a wide variety of multinational corporations, government agencies, consultants and various other organizations. The main PMC website shares a detailed client list and links to individuals who have agreed to offer their testimonial support.

Technical and scientific users of the exercise include Microsoft, Fluor, Institute of Nuclear Power (INPO), Infineon Technologies, Ingersoll Rand, GlaxoWelcome, Michelin, Nokia, Lucas Technologies, Nortel Networks, Sony, Dupont, Intel, Pacific Gas & Electric, PayPal and others. Government users include the Census Bureau, Air Force Intelligence Command, HUD and many others. Sold since 1993, we have a long and very extensive list of clients and active users and Scott has delivered Dutchman programs to companies and organizations in 38 countries.

And while there are a few other games of a somewhat similar nature, testimonials from active users of the exercise suggest that we have an incredibly effective tool for generating active engagement and discussion of individual and team choices when it comes to improving performance results.

As background, Scott is Managing Partner of Performance Management Company, a Taylors, SC company in the training and consulting business since 1984.  He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a great deal of experience in delivering this exercise in all sorts of situations and with differing desired outcomes. Scott is a Certified Professional Facilitator and writes extensively on organizational improvement and people and performance themes.

Updates to our Lost Dutchman Handouts – files you can download

I occasionally get “The DO The Update Bug” which commonly starts out with me doing one small and simple thing that bubbles and percolates into me needing project management software to make sure that it all gets done!

That just happened when I went to update one handout for a particular customer’s Lost Dutchman Debriefing session. I wound up doing updates of everything, adding color images, expanding concepts and then adding them to the master files of my 4 different versions of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

The updates were all done in .doc format, so those are available and editable and customizable as the set shown below. I also saved them in Acrobat format to maintain the look and the use of fonts, so those are in the same bundle.

You can find those materials hereHandout cover LDGM

To keep order and tracking of who is downloading, and to give me a small payback on the effort, we are making the set available to all past purchasers of our team building exercise on our shopping cart for $5 for the zip-compressed file.

This is a very extensive set of materials designed for maximizing impacts of your team building events and performance improvement workshops.

This is a pretty significant set of materials and forms that you can use for getting things aligned, identify issues and opportunities and for generating action plans for implementation and followup.

LD Handout doc compendium image

We share the pdf versions of these and also a couple of powerpoint-based masters for Notes and for creating booklets with color covers and supporting pages. These are all modifiable and easily converted into workbooks with the included files above:

Handout Cover Summary

The idea is to share the best of our materials and ideas to maximize and optimize the outcomes of your deliveries. I have always seen this team building game as an excuse to do a really good debriefing, and here are some additional ideas and frameworks that you should find of benefit.

To keep order and tracking of who is downloading, and to give me a small payback on the effort, we are making them available to all purchasers of our team building exercise on our shopping cart for $5 for the bundles. This is a whole big bunch of stuff that is useful if you use Dutchman or are simply looking for debriefing ideas and frameworks.

Fore the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Implementing Changes after Team Building Events

As I have written elsewhere, companies are spending around $200,000,000,000 annually on “training” based on analyses by the American Society for Training and Development. And a variety of posts in discussion threads on LinkedIn indicate that the “team building game delivery industry” remains fairly robust. Lots of companies are doing events to improve teamwork and collaboration.

But are they really generating successes?

Dissatisfaction with the impacts of team building seem high when companies analyze the impacts of that spending. People may remember all the fun they had or the awful weather they endured or the dangers they faced with the paintballs, but few of these activities tightly link to organizational change back at the workplace. The buzz about Firewalking claims that it is life-changing, but few organizations can demonstrate improved workplace productivity as a result of such events.

Performance Management Company’s approach to team building exercises has always been different (since 1993). We focus on themes like project management or strategic planning or interdepartmental collaboration through metaphor and tight, easily facilitated game design. In The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine,

  • we provide people with limited but sufficient resources,
  • force people to analyze information in a challenge to optimize results,
  • make tabletops evaluate and share risk, and
  • then to execute a plan of action within time limits.

The exercise rewards sharing of physical information between tabletops to optimize measured results and links choices and behaviors directly to measured results, much like what occurs in the workplace.

Where Dutchman differs from most other activities is in the debriefing, where we can discuss and evaluate issues like the emotions that result when a challenge occurs, the tendency to compete rather than collaborate, the measured impacts of not sharing information on ROI, and other business factors related to how people and teams perform in the workplace.

shared goals

(actual worksheets have smaller illustrations and more room for capturing ideas)

The Dutchman game is loaded with a variety of debriefing questions and worksheets that help any facilitator make serious connections between ideas and implementation. The question compendium allows one to easily customize the debriefing to focus on specific desired developmental outcomes.

Mining Gold Means

 

What Energizes

 

The main goal in Lost Dutchman is to drive the implementation of new behaviors that will better support improved performance results. Yes, it is fun and challenging, but it is tightly anchored to real-world behavioral change themes for teams and departments. No fluff.

(And it can handle very large groups, elegantly and effectively.
More on that here. And some testimonials are here.)

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

IRS needs Large Group Team Building instead of $27,000 Innovation Speakers

Lessons Gained from the IRS about Team Building, Training and Development

On hearing that the IRS is coming under scrutiny for the high price of its various and, perhaps in this case, probably not effective, team building programs and outrageously paid speaker presentations, one can’t help but reflect on why these kinds of things come about. 

Two links to news shows that detail some of what I am referring to:

I’m not one for piling on, but seeing that the IRS spent ALL that money for speakers standing there talking about things like innovation or talking about leadership while demonstrating how to paint pictures of Michael Jordan, Abe Lincoln and Bono for $17,000 – I wonder who got the pictures? –  sure seems like a waste. (And I am a MJ FAN!)

The planners actually took people off the job to “train” them how to line dance and to do the skits, that were professionally recorded and packaged. You can even find the IRS videos online (!)

Google ChromeScreenSnapz003 http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/irs_dance_video.m4v

with the people participating actually complaining on the video about the waste and irrelevancy of it all! Amazing! And the woman with the broken leg? They infer it was dance-related!!

Ya think that maybe the IRS might sell those three pictures at auction? I am guaranteeing that they would fetch a huge price, especially now! Boehner would love the one of Lincoln, I am sure, but maybe not the one of Bono…

Years ago, Burger King did a Firewalking team building program and it made headlines because one of the participants in the event was burned and hospitalized. As I read about this IRS leadership conference stuff and also learn about the IRS and its many issues now coming to light, I can’t help but reflect on why it’s always been a crucial point to me to develop team building games and do presentations that are more than just fun and engaging but give something of value to the participants while also adding value to the workplace.

In the case of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise, for instance, I designed it to include a debriefing that would give the players an opportunity to see how their method of playing the game could impact how they perform their jobs within their organizations. People come away from this game feeling that they actually learned some important behaviors toward increasing workplace performance and outcome. For about one third of what they paid the painter, they could have bought and run the game for ALL of their people and then discussed the real issues and opportunities they face. Think that happened with that presentation?

All told, the IRS spent $135,000 on 15 speakers for their  Leadership Development event and you have probably seen the Gilligan’s Island skit that they had produced for $50,000. They have reportedly spent nearly $50,000,000 in support of these “developmental conferences” with no accountability or even any defined outcomes, from what one can gather. I mean, a “happiness speaker” for $11,000? They could have just given out chocolate bars!

Not sure how much their line dancing lessons cost but for $10 including food, you can go to a place locally and do all of that you want. I am guessing that the senior leadership and the conference design people’s underlying thinking was, “We cannot spend too much money on having fun, can we?” 

Well, it appears that they can. And to a great degree of overall embarrassment to one and all. And I wonder what outcomes they got from all this; what documented ideas and opportunities for action resulted from these sessions and all that spending?

When doing presentations using my Square Wheels illustrations, yes, there is humor involved but the bottom line is that people are given tools that they can take back to the workplace and actually use to make a difference in how the people they manage, perform. This is good for both the individual and the organization.

Anyone who is interested in doing a team building program or having a speaker present at an event, should want to receive value for the cost involved. Another pet peeve I have regards the cost of doing a workshop or program. A company can pay high prices to get what they might perceive as an interesting program or speaker. To me, high prices do not have to be part of the mix to getting a solid program in place. This is another reason that I have designed products that are reasonably priced, especially considering that users feel they are a great return on their investment.

Team building games and exercises should be high quality and high impact, certainly, but not all are. Many are simply fun events that cost a lot of money (can I hear “Golf at Pebble Creek?” for example?)

When a situation occurs where we hear about the seemingly ridiculous scenarios that happen out there with companies using programs that seem to have no benefit, what it does is hurt the credibility, in general, of programs that are worth the investment.

Not all team building is bad at all… Some can really focus on organizational change, engagement and involvement in people,  spark new ideas and improve actual job teamwork and collaboration.  Unfortunately, the IRS seems to have not prospered so well with choices they made.

Have Fun out there, but also learn something!

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ - you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>