Jeff heads off to Portugal to demonstrate The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise at the International Business Learning Games Conference and he asked me to send him a typical “final results” summary. What I thought to do was to also share that as a blog post herein, for the benefit of our many users who might find a quick review to be of interest.
The game is about measured results and how collaboration, communications, and planning can work to optimize outcomes in the game and how those ideas can be implemented in the workplace. One or two teams can “beat” the game but it is also the overall results that are of interest to the Expedition Leader. It is great to have one team “win” but ALL the teams contribute to final outcomes. Collaboration is a key learning point from the deliveries.
So, below is a fairly typical analysis with a delivery for 5 tabletops (30 players). The critical factor, of course, is to link these game results to the behaviors that occurred and to debrief around considered alternative behaviors for their workplace after the workshop.
- The final result was that the 5 teams collected $92,500 in Gold, averaging $18,500.
- IF they chose to collaborate more and if they planned better, these teams could have collected $122,500 in gold and improved their average score to $24,500 with NO increased costs.
- Note that this 32% increase in gold mined is accomplished with NO additional resources. It results simply from better play by the teams, who are free to ask for help from game leadership but who generally choose not to do so. (“Nobody ever asks the Expedition Leader for advice!”)
The top team, Blue, spent 10 days in the Mine, mining $2500 in gold each day. The lowest team mined only 5 days because of their decisions and resource management. Ideally, ALL teams should have all returned on Day 20, but three teams returned earlier because of resource management and not asking for help.
The Lime and Yellow teams acquired Turbochargers at the start of the exercise by choosing to get “The Tortilla Flat Video,” presented to them as costing them to spend an extra day at Apache Junction before leaving but finding that the information in that video that, “teams find helpful.” One Turbo would allow them to move TWO blocks per day for the whole game; they received three of them and could have shared them with two other teams. (Only the Blue team got one of the extras, as noted by the dot on the far right side of the summary.)
The Yellow Team did what we call A Perfect Play, getting both of the videos and leaving fully informed on Day 3, returning on Day 20 and mining 9 gold, an optimal result for a single team. But they did not share information or resources, what we call “My Team, My Team, My Team” behavior…
But the Blue Team got the benefit of a shared Turbo without it costing them a day, so they were able to leave on Day 2 and return the last day. This gave them 10 gold.
But what of the Green and Pink teams? With all the information and resources available to Yellow and Blue, why were none shared with them? They could have mined more gold if they stayed in the mine more than their 5 days.
The results of teams NOT collaborating and competing to win is the sub-optimization of organizational results. Teams trying to WIN will often not help those teams trying to succeed; they will not freely share information or resources that other teams would find of benefit or that would help optimize the GROUP’s overall results.
- The teams returned with $210 in inventory, enough for 7 more days of mining.
- And only 3 teams used one of the 6 Turbochargers that were available.
This IS just a game. But it allows us to get into solid, substantial discussions about workplace issues of competition versus collaboration and to anchor to the idea that the goal is, “To Mine as much gold as WE can” in the workplace. Teams effectively choose to sub-optimize overall results because they fail to collaborate across tabletops and because they choose to not ask for help from leadership.
I know that this fast overview leaves a lot of questions unanswered and that it is not a complete description of how the results of Lost Dutchman can be debriefed and linked to real workplace culture ideas. More complete explanations of the scoring and debriefing can be found in other materials in the packages we sell and in other blog posts.
In an earlier blog, I included a much more detailed overview of how this works. You can download “Linking Measured Game Results to Organizational Development Opportunities” by clicking on the link.
This blog post shares a good overview of how the results are captured and how they can be debriefed (https://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2014/01/24/optimizing-profit-through-collaboration/).
Dutchman is fairly unique in the team building / team bonding world because it does have Measured Results, that capture the team’s choices and behaviors and that relate directly to improved workplace results and ideas for improvement. It is a fun and fast-paced exercise, but one that is not simply fun. It lends itself to powerful debriefings about organizational cultures and issues of expectations and feedback.
Contact me if I can help clarify any of the above or provide more information,
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful learning tools.
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