We can start this blog with the simple thought that:
Motivation and collaboration require improvement in most organizations and making those improvements offer Big Impacts on actual results.
Even in the very good, highly collegial workplaces, one can always make additional improvements or re-energize things, generating even more alignment to shared goals and objectives.
This post is about how EASY it is to facilitate a real team building program, not some (oftentimes silly unfocused) team bonding process. There is a big difference: team building will impact organizational results and help to change actual behavior and commitment to doing things differently. Bonding activities can be fun, but change nothing.
Let’s talk about teamwork and apologies for the length and breadth of this post, but I felt that clearly stating the details would enable better understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it:
It is clear that workers and supervisors and managers are basically un-involved and un-engaged in so many workplaces, worldwide. Management effectiveness AND the workplace environment / culture that are behind this problem. Better teamwork and alignment are solid solutions.
These are NOT some “senior management leadership issue” that can be corrected by doing more engagement / motivational surveys or skill assessments or by doing more senior executive development. These are problems at the shop floor, at the interface between supervisors and workers, that drastically needs improvement to really impact performance.
A few statistics and bullet points:
Rick Bell shared some statistics in the March 2017 issue of Workforce magazine about how badly workers are being supervised that are truly mind-numbing:
- 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired
- 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job
Gallup added a somewhat different framework supporting these same issues related to performance and teamwork
- only ONE IN FOUR employees “strongly agree” that their supervisor provides meaningful feedback to them, that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.
- Only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
The solution involves improved communications, collaboration and teamwork. Helping people focus on a shared mission and vision with appropriate expectations, and basic leadership at the front lines can have broad impacts. We need to do something differently in the workplaces to make positive impacts and generate the momentum for organizational improvement. Having a pot-luck lunch or going go-kart racing will do nothing to generate change.
There is a simple, bombproof, inexpensive solution to many of these issues, and that is our proven team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. It is inexpensive and dynamic and it focuses on collaboration to impact measured results. Here is a 2-minute video from a session with Dow Chemical:
This “game” neatly models a collaborative organization and a Selfless Leadership approach to involving and engaging people. It gets players to make choices and then allows for a discussion and debriefing around what really needs to be done differently by the group to improve results. The play generates real opportunities to discuss and resolve real workplace issues, creating “considered alternatives” to what has been happening.
There are also powerful links to workplace motivation and communications themes.
People that are uninvolved and frustrated need solutions that involve Dis-un-engagement and Dis-un-empowerment. Those problems need to be discussed, changes made, and new solutions implemented. The Lost Dutchman exercise allows for real discussions about choices and possibilities because dealing with team problems is what makes teamwork effective in the workplace.
So, we think every organization needs to have a go-to team building program they can use throughout the organization to set up shared goals and common expectations about collaboration and innovation. And unlike most such exercises, we sell this exercise with a one time cost and a satisfaction guarantee.
My colleague in India, Mr. Solomon Salvis shared some good reasons why people have bought the Dutchman simulation and will continue to run the game:
- To develop the internal capability of the Learning and Development team. Most organizations are not equipped with an awesome experiential learning tool like Dutchman, which makes their training dull and boring, or probably sub-optimized.
- Most programs conducted internally in an organization are classroom training sessions. There is no fun element. Dutchman creates awesome personal and team-based learning and is awesome fun as well.
- Most senior managers in an organization do not want to sit through a long and dragged-out training session. Our Dutchman’s simulation which is just a half day, works very well to keep the engagement and energy levels high for the seniors and demonstrate the many positive impacts of alignment to shared goals and plans. Senior managers can readily play in mixed groups of management, too, which has a variety of positive impacts.
- Most classroom training sessions can take only 20 – 30 participants at a time, beyond that the program/training becomes ineffective. Dutchman’s is one of the rare simulations which can accommodate 50 / 100 / 200 / 300 + participants at one go and still have the engagement/excitement levels as high as possible.
- The scalability of Dutchman allows for sessions that can contain front line workers as well as managers and even senior managers as active participants in an effort to optimize results. This IS a reality in organizations and these kinds of interactions are impactful, but few take the time to build this kind of overall collaboration and shared goals. These debriefings are powerful.
- Most training teams / trainers / training leadership who have used Dutchman in the previous organization tend to buy the game kit when they move into a new organization, since they know the product and its impacts very well. They are comfortable with the many flexible designed outcomes and it is tried and tested. The exercise is 100% bombproof (and it is 100% satisfaction guaranteed!).
- Lastly, apart from just the fun element, Dutchman debriefing brings incredible learning and reflection for the participants, making the transition to implementing improvements more likely. This kinds of discussions should be part of any debriefing:
Solomon also added:
Yesterday, we conducted the simulation for 125 participants of Sapient, a leading IT consulting company. The participants haven previously gone through many training sessions and various simulations, but when they experienced Dutchman’s Gold Mine, they gave us an awesome testimonial and acknowledged this was by far one of the best sessions they had attended and that it was quite different and unique from all the other simulations they had attended.
For most organizations, one of our versions supporting 18 or 24 people should make solid economic sense. Dutchman is sold at a one-time cost and can be used repeatedly. It’s easy to learn how to deliver and has a variety of expected outcomes:
- Tabletops choose not to plan very well or use all the information available to make their choices and decisions
- Teams generally choose to compete against each other rather than to collaborate. Collaboration optimizes overall group success while competing generates a winner and losers
- Nobody asks the Expedition Leader for Assistance.” Teams choose not to ask for help or perspective or advice, even though that is one of the key themes of the introduction. They essentially choose to sub-optimize results and not keep leadership involved in their work
- Tabletops come to agreement quickly on their strategy and they are not very open to changing their approach if new information becomes available.
The flexible debriefing focuses seamlessly on the benefit of planning to improving results and the choice of collaboration with other teams and leadership to optimize results in the exercise and the results in the workplace. It is quite easy to use the examples from the play in the players discussions about what workplace improvements can be made and how supportive leadership can help improve impact and results.
The exercise is packaged with extensive training and orientation materials, so much is included that very few purchasers ever bother to contact us for the free coaching that is available to support the delivery. New users tell us that about 2 hours of preparation is needed for their first delivery.
For an organization, the very most senior leadership might have a team building program for all of their direct reports. Issues of communications, collaboration and alignment to missions and visions would be made clear. PLUS, this would be fun. It does NOT require outside facilitation nor the involvement of organizational training staff. (And you can see the obvious advantages of developing ownership involvement.)
Those players would then be able to run the game with their staffs. The transfer of training is straightforward and the desired outcomes for their debriefings can directly result from the top management team and their discussions.
Lost Dutchman is a very inexpensive, high impact organizational tool that translates neatly and effectively into any organizational improvement and communications / alignment process.
Coaching support for delivery is freely available and our 25 years of experience with supporting organizations globally would be beneficial and impactful.
Click on the image below to see a 2-minute video about how most senior managers think about the exercise (this one delivered for Kaya Limited by SimuRise and Solomon Salvis). It is but one of hundreds of examples about how people feel the exercise can impact their organizations:
This is my game, one first played in 1993 and continually updated and improved through play and debriefing and continued redesign. I personally believe that every organization should experience The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.
And many of us think that every organization should OWN their own exercise for internal use. (The cost/benefit to you would be outstanding and it can help organizations accomplish so many of your goals around active involvement and engagement of your people toward collaborative accomplishments, shared objectives and active ownership involvement, which translates to motivation and teamwork.)
We will support you in that, for sure, and we have been at this for a very long time. Teamwork and support are what I do,
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools focused on people and performance. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is a globally experienced presenter and consultant.
Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.
Also published on Medium.