I was asked about using the Lost Dutchman game for working with large groups a few minutes ago so I thought to share some ideas. These days, I do only a few training events and presentations a year, mostly for when I go to kickoff a new exclusive contract with a collaborating company in foreign lands or when I see a good challenge or high impact event. I love this stuff and it has been 28 years in the business, now. It is hard to believe but we first started presenting The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in 1993 — 20 years ago and it is better than ever!
There are few interactive, participative and engaging team building exercises that work really well with large groups. (I will note that I can deliver Square Wheels sessions for large groups, interactively and with a great deal of participation, but those sessions are just not as FUN and Memorable as the Dutchman ones…)
And I will admit that I really do like using the game with large groups, since it works really so well with large groups and I will often be able to get the most senior leaders actively involved with me in its delivery.That tends to generate their level of ownership involvement and commitment toward both the delivery as well as the required followup needed to actually implement the ideas that are suggested and the impacts that are discussed.
I guess my most favorite “trick” is to get the organization’s Most Very Senior Manager (see pictures below) to actually lead the post-game discussion of:
“What might mining as much gold as we can mean to our organization? What things can we choose to do differently?”
The responses to that from the direct reports are usually right on target and meaningful and they would not even bubble up if the participants did not think that they were at least somewhat doable and that they would obviously need the involvement and active support of that senior leader. It is the perception of roadblocks and impediments that seem to be the most common roadblocks and impediments!
Plus, I like working with the senior managers most of all, and if we are doing a large group team building event, let’s say 150 to 200 people, I can often get the senior leadership team to actually go through and debrief the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building training event with me before we actually do the training on how to co-deliver and support the game in the venue and then afterwards.
Followup is the breakfast of team building champions!
Doing these kinds of sessions also has a certain level of challenge for me and it does leverage my time pretty nicely. Often, my simple credibility as developer of the exercise seems to lend itself to having a good deal of impact on the issues that the organization faces to improve collaboration and performance.
When you can get the senior leader of the organization up front and asking what people can do differently, that is really neat:
Or when you can get the President of the organization on the floor, in a cowboy hat (below drinking coffee), trying to “Help Teams be Successful and Maximize ROI,” that is great to reference in the debriefing as well as when he wears his cowboy hat to management meetings to talk about optimizing organizational performance results:
Since we sell our Professional Version of the game to organizations and consultants, they also find the game easy to play and useful for engaging participants in discussions of issues and opportunities for improvement. Many of our user-base runs the game with large groups and one client company (Wipro in India) ran one session with 870 people in one game! The testimonial we get are routinely excellent:
You can read more about delivering the exercise to large groups in other articles on our blog. This one shares some ideas about actually delivering the exercise for large events and was written to support owners of the exercise.
My role is to help team be successful and maximize Return on Investment!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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