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. 
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