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Category: executive team building exercises (Page 1 of 5)

The Square Wheels Controversy – LEGO or Line-Art?

Since 1993, I have been presenting workshops internationally using a series of line-art images around the concept of Square Wheels. They can represent things that work but that do not work smoothly and they beg the question about what round wheels can replace them. Users and audiences consistently tell us that this is the best metaphor for organizational improvement or personal growth that exists anywhere.Testimonial on Square Wheels metaphor use

Generating the understanding that Square Wheels represent how things really work is incredibly easy and people get the concept readily. Cognitive dissonance then becomes one of the driving forces underlying the subsequent generation of Round Wheel Ideas for Improvement. The gap between the impact of the SWs provides motivation to decrease dissonance and improve the idea.

The controversy exists between our use of the old line-art drawings by Roy Sabean and the newer LEGO scenes, as you can see below:

Square Wheels metaphor for organizational improvement

We did a short online survey of users and the reactions were split as to which image was preferred. We asked our LinkedIn network as to their reactions and the feedback was also split. Some people prefer the old image and some prefer the new one, and there are a number of factors that underly this split.

People who prefer hands-on kinds of experiential exercises might prefer the LEGO, since they can bring the metaphor into connection with other elements or frameworks like LEGO Serious Play®. Others prefer the line art for its elegant simplicity. Other people’s reactions are mixed.

I do not think that there would be actual differences in application and usages, which can include facilitating innovation and creativity, aligning goals and values, generating active involvement and for coaching workplace improvements. We have extensive experience with both and they work seamlessly.

Facilitating discussions of issues and opportunities can also function as a team bonding or even a team building process if one then uses the discussions as an impetus for planning and then implementing new ideas.

The LEGO versions make generating stop-motion animations an easy and interesting process and we have a workshop design to use phones and inexpensive animation software to capture storylines around process improvement. The LEGO scenes make for more colorful posters and worksheets.

We would love to have your comments on the different approaches and we will send you one of our LEGO animations in exchange for a comment and signing up to our blog. Your input would be valuable and useful,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

See the powerful new Square Wheels-based teambuilding game,
The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

Square Wheels metaphor about performance improvement

Results Analysis of Typical Lost Dutchman Team Building Debriefing

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.

Results of teambuilding game Lost Dutchman

  • 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 SimmermanDr. 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.

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.


Find more information about Lost Dutchman at
https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/the-search-for-the-lost-dutchman

Read more about Lost Dutchman’s team building game at:

Lessons from The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a game on teamwork and collaboration

 

 

Flyers that Overview The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Jeff Simmerman heads to the International Business Learning Games Conference in Lisbon today and he created flyers about the Lost Dutchman team building game and our Collaboration Journey Challenge exercise to share with judges and conference attendees. Both exercises are finalists in this competition and we are hoping to garner some recognition and feedback for their design and impact.

I thought that you might find a quick overview of Dutchman to be of interest and that it might be useful for you if you are an existing customer or user and need something explanatory to share with your decision-makers. We are in our 25th year of international distribution of this exercise and our other corporate team building products. Current owners can request a Word document if they wish to customize this for their own use.

The images below are reduced in size. Download full size pdf files using the link at page bottom.

A flyer about The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building gameA flyer for The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building exercise - back side

It has been a great pleasure to distribute, support and deliver this team building exercise over the past 25 years. It is also great that Jeff is coming on board to continue this process as well as develop some powerful new exercises and revise some of our older simulations. This is his first international conference and we are hoping for lots of positive impacts.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact me directly,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

See our powerful and newest teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

Full size game flyers:

LDGM Flyer Front A4

LDGM Flyer Front A4

TWO PMC Team Building Games are Finalists in International Business Learning Games competition

Twenty-five years after we first started delivering and selling The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, we decided to submit it as an entry into the Business Excellence Institute’s 2018 International Business Learning Games competition. After reading how carefully a panel of gaming and OD experts would be reviewing the exercise, we thought that the experience and the reviews might be informative and useful.

And we were even more excited when we found that we made The Finals, with more evaluation to be completed at the 2018 conference in Lisbon in September.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine makes the finals of the International Business Learning Games competition

Dutchman has a tremendous track record as one of the very best team building simulations in the world that focus on leadership, alignment and collaboration. Our customers continually share some amazing stories about organizational culture change and impacts on leadership development.

The other great surprise was that our newest exercise, The Collaboration Journey Challenge also made the cut and will be in competition with Dutchman and the other game entries. We do not yet have a lot of feedback and reactions to this product so the feedback from the judges and attendees will be of great interest. CJC is designed to play and debrief in 90 minutes, and is anchored to LEGO scenes and images to make it into a very flexible team building simulation to integrate with LSP (LEGO Serious Play) kinds of deliveries.

Collaboration Journey Challenge is finalist in International Business Learning Games competition

And, even better, my son Jeff will be able to go to Lisbon to support both exercises and then also present CJC at the Play14 conference in Porto that next weekend, something that will be a great experience for him and that will be his first international business experience. We are also working with the Play14 staff to support both events.

Collaboration is a great thing, and we look forward to the friendly gaming competition at the BEX conference, also. We hope to find some collaborators for some new game designs down the road.

If you are interested in LEGO and gaming and the use of metaphor in organizational development frameworks, please also consider visiting and becoming a group member at the Serious Playing with LEGO Facebook page. You can join up here: www.facebook.com/groups/227462904498264/

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

 

What do Users think of The Lost Dutchman’s Team Building Exercise? It’s The Best!

We asked our customers a really tough True / False question about our team building exercise, an experiential learning exercise with a primary focus on collaboration and improving organizational performance:

LDGM is the best exercise I know of to work with senior managers on issues of strategy, alignment, and organizational collaboration.”

Fully half (53%) said this was TRUE! (We found that amazing! Read why.)


A bit of background about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and the survey:

Over the past 25 years, we’ve gotten a lot of comments from the consultants and trainers who have experienced or purchased the Dutchman teambuilding exercise. And many purchasers shared really outstanding testimonials as well as support for new spins and ideas. We decided to do a survey to try to get some quantifiable numbers as well as some across-the-board consistency in perspective. The results we got far exceeded our expectations, even though we know that the exercise is quite solid.

Let me add that, as a one-person design and development shop located in South Carolina, I cannot do the kind of global competitive analysis that would tell me who all the competitors are and what their products do, how they are priced and distributed, etc. I know that the costs of many of them are extremely high (compared to us) and that most require licensing and train-the-trainer fees for certification and that many have per-participant costs to use.

We sell our games at a one-time cost and have people who have continued using them after 25 years. Based on phone calls and email conversations with satisfied customers and interested parties, we feel we are a quality player in this competitive business gaming marketplace.

A survey was sent to our customers asking for their feedback and thoughts and comparing Dutchman to other tools they use for leadership development or team building. Responses were solid and there were numerous useful comments and clarifications. As a result of the survey, we are deciding to do NOTHING differently.

What users relayed through the survey was that the exercise was Most Excellent. There were no real suggestions as to desired changes, other than some requests for a follow-on exercise currently in development. And the impacts on desired results and outcomes still continue to be important and relevant in today’s organizational development initiatives.

You can download a full summary of results by clicking on the link below:
Dutchman Survey Results Summary

Our users are a highly experienced group, with 70% of respondents having experience with 6+ other team building exercises over their organizational development work. Most users (89%) have run Dutchman multiple times and 36% have run it more than 10 times. (One customer has run it with 50,000+ participants and the largest session of 870!). Half reported that their very first delivery was “wonderfully successful” while nearly everyone else reported success. (And I really do wish they would simply call me before that first delivery!)

We asked a really tough True / False question:

LDGM is the best exercise I know of to work with senior managers on issues of strategy, alignment, and organizational collaboration.”

Fully half (53%) said this was TRUE! (Only 9 people said this was False, which given the highly experienced and global nature of our users, is pretty fantastic. (We are NOT the slickest nor most expensive exercise out there but, apparently, the best value!) And comments were all supportive of the Dutchman’s design, packaging and pricing.

Another tough question was about being the best exercise for OD and 30 people (55%) responded that LDGM is “the best overall team building exercise I have used.”

Awesome! Fully 100% would recommend the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine game to others for purchase and use, with 63% saying they would recommend it to ANY trainer or consultant. It seems to be that useful and that powerful for people’s toolkits, given its price and flexibility.

As to value, 64% strongly agreed that the purchase of the exercise represented an excellent value to their organizations and 11 merely agreed, with 5 people sharing a neutral response. Purchasing LDGM seemed to represent a good decision, in their view. And remember that these are all active internal trainers or consultants using the game to generate organizational change, collaboration and engagement. Many use it for general leadership development or implementing strategy.

The exercise was specifically designed to be useful for organizational development, strategic alignment, communications, leadership and team building. It was designed for impact.

  • Fully 7 in 10 agreed or strongly agreed that the simulation was effective in generating observable, “desired changes in behavior after the session ended, back on the job.” One person disagreed.
  • 96% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that, “the exercise linked well to our issues of workplace collaboration and performance management” with two people being neutral.
  • As to, “representing the Best Value for a team building exercise in the global marketplace,” 21 people strongly agreed and 16 others agreed of 52 registered responses, or 71% of our users.

Overall, we framed questions to be a real test of perceived  and actual value and even the neutral responses were supportive in their comments! It seems we are doing well out there, and no one would actually name an exercise they thought was better than ours.

We asked some tough questions and we got some great answers.

If you are looking for a really solid team building business simulation, one that does real building (rather than focusing on “bonding” like so many other exercises in the marketplace), check out our Lost Dutchman.

It is powerful and yet inexpensive. After all, fully three quarters of our users shared that it represented a Best Value in the global marketplace of tools for organizational improvement and communications.

a team building simulation exercose

If you call the office, you are highly likely to reach me directly. If you want to chat about the exercise, I really love doing that. If you have any questions at all, please bring them on!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

+1 864-292-8700

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

Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

Here is an example of reactions from the delivery of Dutchman to a client’s organization, run by my colleague Solomon Salvis from SimuRise in Mumbai:
Dow Chemical playing The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine testimonial video

Note: we would love to engage in a discussion about team building simulations, costs, and all that so please feel free to comment.

—————–

The specific wording of the questions on value appeared as follows:

10 – The purchase or rental of the exercise represented an excellent value to my organization.

11 – I saw desired changes in behavior after the session ended, back on the job.

12 – The exercise linked well to our issues of workplace collaboration and performance management.

13 – As far as I am aware, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine represents the best value for a teambuilding exercise in the global marketplace for business simulations and designed exercises.

14 – If I moved to another company, I would consider purchasing the exercise if they had the need for improving teamwork, communications, engagement or leadership.

Every Company Should Own One – The Bombproof Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine Teambuilding Exercise

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.

Team BUILDING exercise generate change and improved results. Bonding does 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:

Teambuilding with interactive experiential exercise, Lost Dutchman

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.

Team Building with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!).
  7. 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:
Teambuilding debriefing questions for implementation

These are some of the transitional debriefing slides to improve discussions about accountability.

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.

Sapient Technology Lost Dutchman Team Building Video

Sapient’s game testimonial – 120 players

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 SimmermanDr. 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.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.comRead Scott’s blogging on people and performance improvement

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

 

 

 

 

Servant Leadership and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine – ideas for owners

We have a great global network of people who own and deliver our Lost Dutchman teambuilding exercise as well as tens of thousands of managers and leaders who have been through the game and understand what the basic themes and anchors represent. If you want to see a bit more about Servant Leadership and links to the exercise, read on, and apologies if some aspects of this do not make sense, since our primary audience are those experienced with the simulation. This post is about how we are altering the basic design to better link to servant leadership development and organizational cultural change.

The goal of this post is to share some of the thinking we are doing around the simple reframing of the simulation to mesh better with implementing Servant Leadership / Selfless Leadership behaviors. The theme is about involving and engaging people to optimize everything!

Let’s start here with a basic understanding about what we are doing:

Our focus is on breaking the old “command and control” leadership model and causing real reflection and change in leadership behavior. The Lost Dutchman game models seamless game facilitation behaviors and allows us to discuss game behaviors in the context of workplace collaboration and the optimization of results. This careful reframing of the basic Dutchman delivery will focus on meshing selfless leadership into team building training to generate real changes, to help leaders really understand the impacts of their behavior and choices on improving the performance of their people.

I will share some ideas and thoughts about using the Lost Dutchman game in a slightly different delivery mode, adding more collaboration, integrating delivery around the SL model more clearly, and providing ideas for better implementation of desired behaviors. This latter thought is obviously the most difficult; People will TALK about doing SL kinds of things, but then revert back to their regular behavior, the normal command and control model, if people let them. The idea is to build in more followup after the session to better install these behaviors into the culture.

Most of you know that talking about the behaviors comprising the Servant / Selfless Leadership model is pretty straightforward. The ideas are not rocket-science and the desired cultural beliefs are pretty straightforward, including:

  • General teamwork and trust among the teams
  • Understanding of normal competitiveness in the desire to collaborate
  • Collaboration as a driving force for teamwork and engagement
  • A focus on doing good works and shared success with accomplishments
  • The belief that helping others achieve their goals is important
  • Having a shared perspective and a compelling mission and goals
  • Aligned beliefs so that there is some Cognitive Dissonance about the normal kinds of extrinsic motivation and general disengagement
  • Selfless reflection and congruence on expectations and desired behaviors
  • Openness to new information and willingness to entertain new ideas; generally decreasing overall resistance
  • Disruptive bottoms-up, active dis-un-engagement and sharing of Best Practices between individuals and across departmental lines
  • Understanding of the operational culture and a focus on building a community and improving an organizational culture
  • Persuasion and recruitment to shared goals, rather than authority and control
The above are all great ideas, and few managers would disagree with items on the list as being important to their workplaces. Along these same lines, Dan Rockwell of the Leadership Freak blog shared these 15 praiseworthy behaviors:
  1. Honesty when mistakes are made.
  2. Receptiveness to negative feedback.
  3. Staying focused on tough issues while avoiding drama.
  4. Finishing. Notice when someone reaches a goal or completes a task.
  5. Positivity. When someone energizes others, notice it.
  6. Kindness.
  7. Trying again.
  8. Reaching high. The pursuit of excellence inspires.
  9. Going the extra mile.
  10. Taking action without being told.
  11. Strengths. “You are really good at … .”
  12. Positive impact. Notice how one person’s actions impact other people.
  13. Transparency. Be grateful when someone reveals their heart.
  14. Solution-finding.
  15. Sincerity.

Imagine that workplace! How would it feel to be working amongst people with those shared values and behaviors. How might it impact your personal growth and development if you really felt that the manager and the organization really cared for you? How might that workplace perform of you and teamwork among the people?

And note that there is a ripple effect of a leader demonstrating such behaviors. It can be a kind of pay-it-forward impact, generating a broader spread of such desired behaviors and allowing positive behaviors to pass through and making the workplace a better workplace.

My colleague Bob Jerus has framed things with a great model that we are working to better integrate into our LDGM-SL Delivery Framework:

A model for Servant Leadership implementationSo, how to we get there from here?

The Introduction to the LDGM exercise is easily modified to add SL themes and ideas. Plus there are ways to alter the workshop design, in general from a pre-workshop and post-workshop perspective.

Colleague Scott Knutson has been using a pre-course reading assignment about SL and key leadership behaviors that can be seen within his organization. The idea is to make these basic themes clear and understandable. He and I will write more on this and share some specific ideas in a later blog.

Scott also posts “posters” on these key themes around the room as reminders. And, we are altering the actual Introduction itself to carry some of these ideas; that is a work in progress. The basic idea is to minimize surprise and to prompt players to consider using these themes in their play of the exercise.

My suggestion is that we also use the Assay Office Version of The Mine Video within the play. I explain this change to the basic strategic planning metaphor in a blog. The initial idea was a “high profitability” version of play but the adding of an extra ounce of gold availability when mining if tabletops improve their sharing of information and resources is a powerful addition to the play of this LDGM-SL version. The teams can choose to collaborate and we can measure and show that choice in our debriefing.

Since we make all these SL themes and possibilities for choice available to the players, it is very interesting that most simply choose to do the more normal kinds of competitive behaviors, working well with their own tabletops but not collaborating effectively with the others. The competition is measurably shown to sub-optimize results in the debriefing, also. Dutchman does a wonderful job of generating those behavior gaps and causing really solid discussions about what they should be doing differently to improve their actual leadership performance and results. And using this Assay Office framework simply makes these gaps even more evident.

The impacts of improving collaboration and having more of those selfless behaviors noted by Dan (above) show themselves clearly as performance improvement opportunities. The elegance of LDGM is how cleanly we measure results and the optimizing impacts collaboration and resource sharing can have; it seems pretty unique to our design.

What other changes are possible in the normal design of LDGM that can add to the SL model?

The exercise is designed as, “twenty days of two minutes each.” That sets up play as roughly a 40 minutes of delivery time. But the reality is that the last 6 days are simply spent returning to home – there is no challenge and the last 10 minutes are simply an ending of play. So, the question was about optimizing the discussion and minimizing wasted time. The answer was a third Arctic Blast!

Given the overall design and the “limited but sufficient resources” that we give to tabletops, a third Arctic Blast would generally kill off all the teams. THAT would certainly stop play, right? So, if we showed that third Blast, we could then stop the game. We could also very accurately project final results of all teams and the group overall, showing them how things would end if they kept doing what they were doing.

So, why not end the game, show them how they would have done and then use that time to reframe their choices, change their competition to collaboration, share the information available and redistribute resources so that results were optimized and so they could see the actual impacts of more of the SL behaviors on the group, culturally and measurably.

At this point, we will help the players “do the numbers,” giving them coaching and the job aids needed to help them calculate new results based on the changes they can make. We can ask them the questions necessary to alter their culture.

  • How many tabletops have the $30 Spare Tires and could use more Supplies and Fuel ($20 and $20, respectively)?
  • How many unused Tents and Batteries are there? ($10 and $10)
  • How many Cave Cards will not be used and that can be shared?
  • How many Turbochargers are not being used? Which teams do not have Turbos?
  • How much more Gold can be mined if more teams had more resources?
  • Given that Rule Number One of the Expedition Leader is that, “they are always right,” what do you need them to do to assist you in generating improved results?

We are working on how to design this new game ending so as to mesh optimally with our SL viewpoint, to get the teams at all the tabletops to optimize collaboration and generate more of the SL desired behaviors. From those choices made and the overall desired outcomes, we envision some of our discussions to focus along these lines:

Servant Leadership Debriefing Ideas for The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding

Lastly, we are designing activities to followup on these key themes and the choices and commitments that the individual players will make about what they will try to do differently after the workshop. There are any number of design features for improving followup using our Gold Cards, twitter hashtags, etc. Designing small implementation work teams as part of the debriefing and post-workshop planning for culture change is pretty straightforward.

There are a variety of things that individuals can do to earn their White Hats.

Let me add one last thought. A new book by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, Jeffrey Pfeffer, is sure to generate some discussion about leadership and oganizations. Dying for a Paycheck, published by HarperBusiness and released on March 20, maps a range of ills in the modern workplace — and how these workplace environments are literally killing people. There is an interesting overview by Dylan Walsh at
https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/workplace-killing-people-nobody-cares .

Expect more on how using The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine can be linked to workplace improvement as things roll forward. We are focused on generating selfless, collaborative, engaging and empowering workplaces,

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine uses LEGO Scenes for energy and engagement

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

Joan’s 2017 Santa Poem and Haiku about Teamwork and Improvement

Every year, Joan writes and illustrates a poem about the pressures on Santa Clause to improve and sustain his teams’ performance. This year, we chose to create some LEGO scenes to share how we have built those creative toys into our experiential exercises and metaphors. We’ve been publishing this through our emails but I thought to also share it within the blog.


How Santa Plays for Improvements

For the FUN of It! –

How Santa Plays for Improvements  🎅 - For the FUN of It!

As the holiday season rolls in, our best wishes to you for special moments of peace and fun. Each year at this time, we play with our Square Wheels images (now using LEGO), hoping you might sit back and enjoy them along with some homespun thoughts from Santa about solving some issues around people and performance, including the elves and the reindeer…

Santa has involvement and engagement issues in his organization too, you know!

How Santa Plays for Improvements

As always, Santa’s all set for Christmas Eve!
That he makes it happen is hard to believe.

We asked Santa if he’d reveal, really quick,
how he gets it all together; what’s his trick?

 

In Santa’s words:

Teamwork and happiness make us productive!
That’s why I look for ideas that are constructive.

I involve the Elves and Reindeer however I can
then they’ll know they’re part of the entire plan.

Discussing Square Wheels is the best way to start.
Improvement ideas flow and everyone’s taking part.
Square Wheels and collaboration
Enthusiasm thrives as support comes from all around
for finding ways to get improvements off the ground.
Next up, we play The CJC, quite the clever game
showing why collaboration is way far from lame.
Santa teambuilding
Players see their actions having consequence;
Planning and alignment certainly make sense!
Learning games create crucial insights and fun,
increasing camaraderie that wins for everyone!

As our work increases teamwork must shine,
so then I facilitate Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

 

teambuilding with Santa and elves

It’s a business simulation that’s really a hit,
it’s memorable and we learned quite a bit.

All these exercises work to help us improve
by addressing issues so we’ll stay in groove.

On Christmas Eve, we’re Up, Up and Away;
Top teamwork gets us going without delay!

Off I go with Season’s Greetings to You,
leaving you with some thoughts in Haiku:

 

business haiku Santa

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.comRead Scott’s blogging on people and performance improvement

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Copyright © 2017 Performance Management Company, All rights reserved.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

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Taylors, SC 29687

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The Square Wheels Stupidly Simple Toolkit is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/STUPIDLY-SIMPLE-SQUARE-WHEELS-FACILITATION-TOOLKIT-p73093722

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/the-search-for-the-lost-dutchman

The Collaboration Journey Challenge is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/collaboration-journey

Santa Claus hat ©: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_solerf‘>solerf / 123RF Stock Photo

Teamwork, Collaboration and Engagement – A tool for motivation and leadership

We continue to be impressed and rewarded by the impacts of our exercise on the issues of people and performance in the workplace. As more and more users experience this teambuilding exercise, it continues to confirm that the intended messages from our business simulation are being received and that participants become more aware of the available choices the have for motivating their people.

Solomon Salvis of SimuRise continues to capture these impacts in the videos taken at his development sessions. This 2-minute video is from DBS Bank and you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKjRDzHeSG4

A video of Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine in play at DBS Bank in India

Involving and engaging managers in ideas for workplace improvement is an essential part of any leadership development program and Lost Dutchman does a great job at generating more openness to the issues and opportunities around collaboration. Competition is the norm in so many workplaces and this exercise opens up communications about what can be done differently to impact performance.

Dutchman is unusual as a teambuilding exercise because so much about the exercise is measurable. People can make choices which optimize overall results and the impacts of choosing to compete or win demonstrates the downside when viewed overall.

You can reach Solomon by clicking on his image below:

Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

 

 

 

We are in our 25th year of supporting this exercise globally and just completed a full edit and revision of the training and delivery and support materials that come with the purchase of this exercise. Find out more at:

https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/Team-Building-Games-c21200522

And if you have any questions at all, we would love your comments.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Great new Lost Dutchman Teambuilding Exercise Updates

One of the world’s very best teambuilding simulations just got better. And we guarantee satisfaction.

We know that this exercise, focused on collaboration between teams and themes of leadership, motivation and alignment, is outstanding. Surveys of our customer users — primarily senior trainers in large corporations plus a network of independent consultants globally – continue to confirm its effectiveness for building teamwork and inter-organizational collaboration (see survey results summary here).

From their view, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a premier, polished and respected team building simulation, now in its 25th year of global distribution.

So, it generated a lot of interest when we started building LEGO scenes similar to those of our upgraded Square Wheels® tools into the basic Lost Dutchman introduction slides like those here:

Slides from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine 2018 Introduction

The real impacts come from the Debriefing slideshows and the effectiveness of the images and metaphors for engaging people in the debriefing. The idea is to add more color and context to the tabletop discussions and to the group summaries about perceived issues and opportunities. The images will also allow us to share Workplace Improvement Posters and other ancillary materials to reinforce key learning points in workplaces, something we can customize with our customers.

The use of Lego in both Dutchman and Square Wheels allow an easy sharing of ideas and metaphors between the two concepts making these tools integrate better and allowing for easy links to other content and information.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slidesand

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slides

While we are not using any LEGO® in the actual play of the game or on the tabletops in our deliveries, it certainly adds that possibility to the play for our customers, especially if they are integrating with LEGO® Serious Play® kinds of tools or using our Square Wheels tools within their workshops.

The Updates and The LEGO scenes:

The primary edits involve the addition of our Square Wheels LEGO images into the Intro and Debriefing materials. We have moved from line-art materials in our Square Wheels® frameworks to using Lego images to represent our Square Wheels® concepts and by integrating the games with these new materials, we feel it adds another layer of interest and helps generate more active involvement with the metaphors. Some of the scenes look like these:

LDGM LEGO Images of Alignment and Teamwork
and
Images of teamwork and organizational alignment using LEGO
 Nearly every training file of each version of Dutchman (LD Pro, LD-6, LD-4, LD-3) has been rewritten and updated and folders reorganized to improve the learning process. Reports are that the materials themselves are bombproof. Understand that a unique quality of Dutchman and other PMC products is that none of them require certification nor support fees nor licenses. Most users simply buy the materials, work through the training and start delivering their programs with little or no need to contact us. NONE is required!
 If you want to see more about these materials, we uploaded a Slideshare Overview of about 30 slides.

• The benefits of updating are simple: You get a better game!

• The benefits of purchasing are simple: You get a great exercise at a one-time cost with no licensing or certification or annual fees and you always get the direct support of me, the game’s designer.


How to Receive the Updated 2018 version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation:

If you are a new customer, we are shipping the updated 2018 version so you will benefit by our network’s 25 years of using the exercise

if you are a current owner and you want to update what you have or get a larger version, we will give you full credit for the smaller game you own toward the purchase of a version to handle more participants. (this is a limited time offer, expiring on December 1, 2017.) Please contact us for details.

Current owners can receive the Updated Dutchman files by informing us of the version you own and choosing to complete either # 1 or # 2, below:

  1. Pay $125 for Pro; $75 for LD-6; $60 for LD-4 and $45 for LD-3 updated files.
  2. Receive the updates for FREE after completing these two requests:
  3. Emailing Scott a short, personal testimonial for Dutchman that we can use in our marketing efforts,
  4. Going to the Dutchman Facebook Page, “Friend” us there and “Like” the page.

Once you have completed either #1 or #2, above, we’ll send you the new upgrades, electronically, for your specific version, it’s that simple!

Let’s hear a YEEE HA!    

LDGM Team shoudting Yee Haa Celebrating

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

 

 

 

The Contagion of Desired Behaviors – Some thoughts on Collaboration and Leadership

Workplace behaviors can be contagious, which can be a highly useful thing as we try to change organizational cultures. And this can be directly emphasized and supported when the leadership aligns those desired behaviors to the organization’s goals and objectives in an exercise such as The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.


A survey of 2000 employees by ILM revealed that nearly three-quarters of U.K. professionals emulate attributes seen in their colleagues, with roughly 20% improving communications and 10% on problem solving, both behaviors that align nicely with improving teamwork and collaboration.

If we can generate improved leadership and collaborative behaviors within a workshop setting and anchor those behaviors to organizational expectations, we are more likely to change those behaviors over time in the workplace, especially if those desired behaviors occur more frequently among the leadership team. If we can get increased collaboration, and discuss why such behavior is a contributor to an improved organizational culture, we are more likely to generate changes in behavior that are congruent with those discussions.

Surprisingly, the researchers reported that people are not influenced by traditional hierarchies when it comes to who they emulate, with almost half (49%) of respondents revealed they replicate behaviors from people across their organization. And a similar number (46%) say they copy behaviors from people of all levels of seniority, even their peers. So, building a cross-functional and more collaborative team and leadership structure can contribute to this modeling.

“One of the key things we found from the research is that employees don’t just copy senior people, they copy their colleagues,” remarked John Williams, director of digital strategy for ILM. “We recognize that leadership doesn’t just happen at the top of the organization. It permeates throughout an organization. If people are learning behaviors from colleagues and seeing their colleagues getting ahead and those behaviors aren’t great, then they will copy those behaviors.”

John Yates, Group Director at ILM, commented: “People are looking to their colleagues to demonstrate how they can work effectively, particularly when it comes to facing up to challenges in the workplace. Whilst it’s inspiring to see that professionals are motivated by those around them, it can also be dangerous, as people indiscriminately adopt the behaviors of others regardless of experience or expertise.”

Despite the prevalence of U.K. workers learning by example from their colleagues, the research found that most employees (58%) would prefer more formal training and development when it comes to acquiring new skills and capabilities. Driving such desired collaborative and motivational behaviors from a team building workshop like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine simply makes good sense when it comes to generating improved teamwork and optimizing results. It is also something that can be run inexpensively at all levels of an organization to communicate missions, goals and expectations.

ILM researchers also noted that bad behaviors can also be emulated and spread within an organization, which is why an effective workshop focused on organizational improvement simply makes good sense. You can define desired goals and objectives and clearly discuss and support the desired behaviors that will lead toward those goals. You can refine expectations and develop peer support for the changes. You can focus on implementing change and improvement.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is about team building and collaboration

We are in our 25th year of selling and supporting Dutchman and we encourage you to reach out to us should an exercise such as this could support your organizational development initiatives.


For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 (from Forbes Magazine article by Karen Higgeinbottom: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2017/10/03/the-dangers-of-contagious-leadership-behaviors/ )

 

Servant Leadership – Two Great Quotes

My partner sent me two quotes by Max De Pree, who published one of the most excellent books on leadership that I have ever read. Heck, we gave signed copies of it to all of the people in my Leadership Greenville class, which was a really classy thing for him to do. (And, I remember interviewing with Herman Miller because I was so impressed with their company, back a few years after I started Performance Management Company back in 1984.)

So, I got into my powerpoint file of Lost Dutchman LEGO scenes and thought to illustrate them. A team of us are moving forward with our efforts to repackage the exercise to mesh congruently with a full-day training program on Servant Leadership and the kinds of supporting behaviors that are inherent in our exercise.

A ax DePree quote using Square Wheels and teambuilding

and

Max Depree quote on leadership and followers

Working up the links to the approach of improving perceived support of managers and workers and of senior managers with their support staffs is an important part of how we view the focus on collaboration and teamwork in organizations. There is simply too much competition and too many people feeling like losers to really generate collaborative optimization. Mining as much Gold as WE can is the main theme of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

The Servant Leadership model offers us some solid links and we are moving forward with this packaging framework,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Is it teamwork that falls flat in most organizations?

My friend Brian Remer posted up a short article he entitled, “Two Team Elements for Instant Success,” and in it, he writes of the issues of shared Identification and Interdependence. You can see his thoughts on his newsletter.

In it, he says:

A sense of shared Identification refers to the positive ways individual team members relate to one another. The more interests and experiences they have in common, the more affinity they feel to each other. These commonalities can be associated with culture, history, experiences, interests, beliefs, language, and so on. The more unusual the examples of Identification, the stronger the ties within the group are likely to become.

Interdependence refers to the way a team works together to accomplish its goals. Group goals should match individual goals so that the efforts of everyone are integral to team success. The team needs to see the value of being a team; that their work could not have been accomplished by disconnected individual activities; that it makes a difference to be a member of this team.

To foster Interdependence, emphasize cooperation and recognize each team member’s contribution to the shared goal. Provide opportunities for the team to work together and be successful. Talk about the importance of their efforts and describe how their goal could not have been accomplished without every person’s input.


I think Brian makes good points. But I also think that this thinking is somewhat short-sighted and narrow when applied to an organization, which tends to be my focus. Sure, teamwork is important within a workgroup, but I also think that these two dynamics only work with small groups. That is the focus of his writing, work teams, but it should not be the focus of organizational leadership.

A Transaction:

With an old consulting friend who is now internal and senior with a large bank’s leadership development organization, I just shipped her my Professional Version of my team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. She has a session planned for tomorrow, so getting her the materials to her quickly was important.

THREE MONTHS AGO, we started positioning the sale with Purchasing. She had the approvals and the requisite information. I sent my details, tax structure, etc. And nothing… A week ago, I shipped her all the materials. I am STILL not set up as a vendor and they have NOT paid me for the exercise.

She has emailed and called Accounts Payable a number of times over the past months, and they finally sent her forms that she forwarded to me on Friday, including a number of materials relevant for non-US companies, a registration for sales of personal services, a non-vendor payee for direct deposit, a minority business registration, and yes, a W-9. She simply wants to purchase a GAME, with no personal services or related. It has a fixed price and I am the sole-source vendor.

After three months, no one is Payables has contacted me, even though I “registered” on Saturday with them and they have had my email address for months. It certainly feels like they are treating me (and her) as adversaries, even though all she wanted to do is buy a team building exercise that she had used for years with her former company. Ironic, huh? But it is actually not that uncommon, from my past experiences. There are many adversarial dynamics in large companies.

It is this common lack of collaboration between her training and development organization and different groups within the bank that reaffirms that:

Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron.

And it is that kind of choice and focus that causes a great deal of lost productivity and friction. She HAS the authorization from her boss to purchase the materials, and they have the budget. But a group like Purchasing plays its own games and focuses on its own processes to even actively block other groups from being productive. WHY?

My Big View says that the top managers are more likely to be competitive more than collaborative. Departments compete against each other as much as they work together to get things done.

The irony is that we clearly smoke this out using Lost Dutchman, the exercise she is trying to purchase, Dutchman gives teams the opportunity to collaborate with each other to optimize the overall results. It is about a shared focus on, “Mining as much Gold as WE can,” with “we” meaning the group, and not each tabletop.

The tabletops play great. There are seldom issues of shared Identification and Interdependence in how they plan and play. They bond up right away and operate reasonably effectively together. They process and handle the transactions pretty well. Their teamwork is good and it happens fast because of the nature of the challenge they face. It is this choice of working with the OTHER teams that is always the issue — and the real opportunity that is available for performance improvement of the entire organization.

Brian is right, but it is small group thinking. The bigger context of how organizations really work would suggest that shared organizational visions and goals, that are clearly understood and evidenced in organizational behavior, that are the keys to real teamwork and collaboration.

And maybe my friend needs to do some sessions that involve these Accounting people along with other departmental leaders and managers. It would probably have a wide variety of impacts on overall performance results,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

 

 

 

Why I HATE Outdoor Teambuilding after 30 years

“Outdoor Teambuilding.”

For me, this phrase represents an oxymoron, two words that simply do not go together. Classic oxymoron examples include “jumbo shrimp,” “crash landing,” “found missing,” “student teacher,” and, being an old rock and roller, my personal favorite, “Country Music!”

Why do I hate outdoor team building events? Because outdoors represents a basically impossible environment to do much actual team building yet companies choose to do those things, get no results and then think that no team building is actually possible. And they waste money, time and energy and cast a pall on good, impactful programs.

With training outdoors, there are simply too many distractions and dissociations in how people are reacting to make good connections to workplace issues. Outdoors is simply a place full of distractions making it is hard to hear and easy to lose focus. Sure, who doesn’t like to go whitewater rafting*, but other than remembering the fun and a few crazy things that happened to a few people, does it apply to workplace improvement or innovation or discussing changes in expectations or alignment?

And let me note that a lot of “indoor team-building focused experiential training experiences” are often simply outdoor-type activities moved indoors. I do not include any of those in my framing of business simulations and business teambuilding events. Running around indoors is the same as running around outdoors, in my view and I would also not consider paintball and firewalking to be indoor activities.


The ROI on most of these activities simply cannot be measured. Sure people have fun and will talk about the experience afterwards, but will they really do anything differently to impact the organization? And isn’t that why we are doing team building in the first place?


(Okay, an outdoor adventure or some fun and games IS better than listening to a senior executive share critically important data using powerpoint. I will take a climbing wall over a slideshow on last year’s results for inventory turnover… But I am talking about team building activities here…)

Organizations spend a LOT of money on team building events, with the expectation that they will get some return on that investment and see some changes in organizational behavior such as increased collaboration between departments or better alignment to the organizational mission and goals. (And, yes, “Interdepartmental Collaboration” is another favorite oxymoron!).

Post program, you will find the attendees talking about the activity and the structure and not a lot about the debriefing or the business links. Navigating that high ropes challenge is a solid accomplishment. And, sure, solving The Acid River is an interesting challenge – now how does that relate either to solving interdepartmental issues? And, often, the solution comes from ONE individual and not the team – there is no real teamwork involved in the strategy and those not involved are often those same people who resist the changes being done to them. Being directed as to how to perform is NOT teamwork and will not improve collaboration.

Click on the image above to see another article on outdoor learning and change

CAN Outdoor Teambuilding work? Sure. But DOES it represent the BEST environment for involving and engaging the broad diversity of people within the group and generate sufficient critical thinking or shifting of perspective that could drive changes in behavior? Organizations pay for this stuff, but I am not sure if they are looking for “great fun reactions” or actual impacts and changes. Only you can make that judgement based on your personal experiences, but my direct and indirect experience would say, Nope. No way.

  • Generally, those kinds of activities offer no possibility of measuring or measurement of behavior of individuals or groups, unless you focus on timing, which is a focus on competition more than collaboration.
  • They make it difficult for the older, less athletically-able people to compete on equal footing (that is a pun because I have a bad foot in actuality). The older workers simply cannot run and jump with the younger ones.
  • The events are often exclusive to those with some kind of disability or infirmity, such as a bad back or shoulder or knee and, frankly, being an observer is simply reinforcing that they are different (and not included with the others).

Doing a Dragon Boat Race is seemingly pretty unrelated to improving customer service or implementing the new strategy to involve and engage everyone in a workplace innovation project. Going go-kart racing is a fun thing, but who wins is often the most common discussion along with who had the fastest kart or who cheated so they could win. Do you have a different perspective?

And there is Paintball. Paintball as a business exercise. Shooting at other people with hard projectiles with the goal of doing them harm (killing them out of the game?) but also demanding some high level of motor skills coordination and physical activity of running and dodging to succeed creates an unfair playing field.  Grandmother Susan in accounting is probably going to find it somewhat physically challenging to lie in the dirt and shoot at people.

This 30-second advertisement for Booking.com is an especially good one, I think. Click on the image below to watch it on YouTube – it is well worth the time (30 sec)!

Annual company paintball teambuilding retreat booking dot com

And I also still laugh at the Firewalking “training event” paid for by Burger King back in 2001, with 100 marketing employees participating in this “team building and personal growth” session. The result was that 12 people got their feet burned and Burger King generating a great deal of publicity — yes, even Dave Barry poked fun at them in an article and there were a ton of posts around “naming the event” in a couple of training discussion threads, as well as suggestions for potential theme songs like, “Light My Fire” by The Doors (grin) ).  You can read more about firewalking here.

(Dave Barry’s really funny article is here!)
(The organizer blamed the burns on people with incredibly sensitive feet!!)

Firewalking can be a legitimate (and costly) experience growth experience (www.skepdic.com/firewalk.html).
but does it really impact teams and help to improve company results?

One who suffered injury was Burger King’s vice president of product marketing. But, hey, she had no regrets, for she was filled with the corporate rapture. Walking across searing coals, she exclaimed, “Made you feel a sense of empowerment and that you can accomplish anything” (and she could accomplish that with only a few casualties and hospital and ambulance bills). (And one wonders how she is doing these days…)

…so the Big Benefit of Outdoor Training:  You do not have to rent a hotel room.
(Well, Booking.com suggests you do as the one main benefit in their ad!)

Sure there are things like whitewater rafting that need to be outside, but I encourage you to watch White Mile with Alan Alda (trailer is excellent!) about his mandatory whitewater trip and the death of some of his executive team. Sure, it is a movie, but being on the water is not really the cat’s meow for many people.

I can go on and on about the personal experiences (generally failures and mediocre learning situations) but those have been done in prior blogs. What we are talking about is team BUILDING activities and not the team BONDING kinds of things that might improve friendliness or improve personal interactions but that have only remote connections to organizational development.

You have alternatives. There are a lot of good team building simulations out there that focus discussions on issues and opportunities, programs that present actionable behaviors and cultural shifts in how things are done.

So when someone is suggesting an event, ask questions about what might result from the expenditures. Define the desired outcomes and frame up with the ROI should look like. Good events can generate a lot of positive outcomes and impacts.

See this post for how those discussions might be addressed in a conversation of two senior managers trying to impact their organization:

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman


Alan Alda’s movie, White Mile, was released in 1994: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8DIGIr8SiU

Booking.com’s advertisement on rewarding hotels after Paintball is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZTgKU5KNTM

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation can be found at: http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/corporate-team-building-games-the-search-for-the-lost-dutchmans-gold-mine/

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

My teams don’t want to attend a training program or offsite meetings; the programs aren’t exciting enough and they hardly learn anything from the programs. In fact I haven’t come across many effective programs that can keep my people engaged and make offsite meetings interesting!

This was part of a conversation between two heads of an organization in India with my colleague Solomon Salvis. They were together to talk about a management development retreat and focused on teambuilding and one of these heads was quite reluctant to send his teams for any training sessions. He did not see value; he did not see impact. It was apparent that many of his past experiences showed such meetings to be fluff and low on the aspect of driving real change within his organization.And it is really too bad that such reactions are common with some many team bonding exercises that are presented as team building tools.

We designed The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine to be different, to make this business simulation challenging but also to change the behavior of participants. The difficulty comes from addressing the senior manager attitudes that events cannot be effective in driving new strategies or building real collaboration.

A very senior operations manager, who personally leads Dutchman, said this after one of her deliveries:

I’ve received tons of positive feedback about the exercise – that it was the best one that they’ve ever done, it was fun and they learned something, etc. While I’ve always had an open door policy, people are using it more now – I have heard about more issues unsolicited in the last ten days than I had in the previous five months, which of course means I can do something about them.  It’s been great.

With Solomon’s explanation, the learning head from the above conversation invited his team to conduct Dutchman at 5 different offsite venues to focus on strategy, implementation, taking calculated risks, decision-making in short periods of time, trust of leadership and teams, and collaborating internally and externally for optimizing results. He then had the opportunity to debrief with the two business heads on impacts and outcomes.

The Learning head had received a lot of praise for introducing simulations in the organization and thanked Solomon for putting in the effort to make offsite meetings interesting. The other head informed that the feedback from the participants has been highly encouraging, the participants were completely engrossed throughout the entire exercise, they loved the energy, the learning and the set up. Their teams are now more collaborative than ever before and are ready to take on big challenges at work.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building exercise

If properly focused and delivered, a well-designed team building simulation can provide measured results that can be compared to optimized potential performance and support a discussion around key learning points and the choices that were made and that might be made differently in the future.Testimonial about Lost Dutchman Team Building Exercise

In many deliveries, the teams choose to compete with each other, which is energizing and fun but which actually sub-optimizes performance results. This same dynamic is why “interdepartmental collaboration” remains an oxymoron in many organizations. So, one goal of a powerful debriefing and program delivery is to discuss considered alternatives that could lead to improved outcomes. This can drive real change.

If you are interested in learning more, contact me or Solomon for more ideas and information. One of us can certainly support your teambuilding and organizational improvement efforts with an effective half-day event,

 

For the FUN of It!


Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

You can reach Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore.


Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

 

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