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:
- Honesty when mistakes are made.
- Receptiveness to negative feedback.
- Staying focused on tough issues while avoiding drama.
- Finishing. Notice when someone reaches a goal or completes a task.
- Positivity. When someone energizes others, notice it.
- Trying again.
- Reaching high. The pursuit of excellence inspires.
- Going the extra mile.
- Taking action without being told.
- Strengths. “You are really good at … .”
- Positive impact. Notice how one person’s actions impact other people.
- Transparency. Be grateful when someone reveals their heart.
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:
So, 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:
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
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,
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
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