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Category: large group team building events (Page 1 of 4)

Best Value for Big Team Building Event Simulation

This is about RENTING the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise for a single large event. It has to be the Best Value Ever for such a situation.

Collaboration and Teambuilding with LDGM


It is common for my network of users to run highly interactive experiential team building events with very large groups of 200 people or more. Presenters purchasing Dutchman have the goal of doing events over time and making money from supporting performance improvement initiatives and we have supported people in this business for 25 years.

Dutchman is one of the very best games on Earth focused on organizational culture change through collaboration and alignment to shared goals and visions. It is a game designed for debriefing, with measured results and outcomes focused on optimization of overall results. (We have user surveys that are highly supportive of this view.)

We designed it to scale up for large groups and events from the very beginning, for it to be very straightforward to deliver and debrief and to generate significant positive outcomes.

Originally developed in 1993, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise has been polished and fine-tuned to generate active involvement and alignment to key issues around leadership, teamwork and communications, with a major focus on collaboration between teams.

It has developed into a very unique program, delivered worldwide by consultants and trainers, some of whom have run more than 30,000 people through the exercise or who have used it for more than 20 years.

I will share some links to user-generated video testimonials at the end. What I wanted to accomplish here is to show you why the RENTAL of this exercise would make very good sense for your next large team building event. This is a full-blown business simulation with measured results and exceptionally clear debriefing frameworks unlike most things in the marketplace. This is something that YOU can deliver with our free support; the reality is that few people who get our delivery and support materials find it necessary to contact me for free support, which I would prefer they do so I can confirm some details. And it IS free! 

You will not be able to approach the low cost or the high likely impacts of such an event on the culture of your organization and the links to themes of alignment to shared values or to strategy implementations and communications.

This is fun, and easy to deliver. But it is an extraordinarily powerful team building event, one that can change the levels of collaboration within large organizations.

Why rent the game?

  • Very LOW per-participant costs as viewed against the marketplace
  • Very HIGH probability of reaching your desired outcomes of improving teamwork
  • Very HIGH likelihood of any negative outcomes or problems from a very controllable timeline for delivery and environmental issues.
  • There is no need to hire an outside facilitator and it is often better when one of your actual leaders plays the role of Expedition Leader.
  • There is no certification fee or licensing fee or per participant costs and ALL the necessary training materials are included with the rental, plus there is free direct support from ME, the developer of the exercise!
  • There are no long-term obligations or annual fees, but you DO have the option to purchase a version of the exercise for future use at a discounted fee.

The Benefits of Playing with a large group

  • Very few simulations support large groups of people and are easy to deliver
  • There are no “winners” and every team’s results count toward the goal of, “mining as much Gold as WE can.
  • Just as there are no winners, there are also no losers. Each and every team contributes to the overall results (as they do in the real world) and all the teams are engaged and have fun. These factors make the debriefing more engaging and all players are much more likely to be actively involved in tabletop and group discussions.
  • Some teams are more successful than others and you can talk about the underlying reasons for those successes as well as question them as to why they chose not to help some of the underperforming teams. It is a realistic but extraordinarily powerful dynamic for workplace improvement.
  • Debriefing is structured for tabletop discussions around issues and opportunities, and there can be sharing of key ideas if desired.
  • Ideas about improvements and implementation are a natural part of the discussion process and these ideas can easily be incorporated into strategic and communications plans.
  • Teams very often do not ask for any help or assistance of the Expedition Leadership team, which is a fundamental reality in most organizations. It is a really good connection to issues like Selfless Leadership and to overall organizational cultures. We generally want players to ask the leadership team when they can benefit by that help, right?

Here is a matrix offering prices — yes, we do publish actual prices! — and some thoughts on needed support based on number of tabletops of 6 people each.

Costs and staffing requirements to rent The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

If you are running a large program, we can also support that. Our preference would be that you have already played through a delivery. Often, for very large deliveries, we will run an exercise specifically for the senior leadership team as a planning and team building program. Those senior managers then form the basis of your delivery team for your larger session. You can give them special white hats and all those kinds of things that increase the likelihood of them following up and implementing the best ideas. You can read more about these ideas in this blog post. We would package and price those frameworks on a special basis, so ask us for details if that represents an opportunity.

The largest delivery for one group at one time in one room was 870 players!

The above chart is for illustrative purposes only, insofar as how to staff the delivery support. The price is inclusive of all necessary delivery materials – you get what you need to deliver the program one time, plus extensive training and support materials. Online and telephone support is free!

Optional accessories like hats and bandannas can be purchased separately.

You are not purchasing the game for continued use and all rights regarding the Intellectual Property remain with Performance Management Company. You are acquiring the materials for a single session (plus any training of support staff) and ALL materials must be returned to PMC immediately after delivery. Purchasing options are also available, since this exercise is outstanding to integrate to ongoing team development and leadership training.

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.

 

The landing page for the rental of Lost Dutchman is here: https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/RENTAL-OF-THE-SEARCH-FOR-THE-LOST-DUTCHMANS-GOLD-MINE-p73093716

View the overview and the details of our survey of LDGM users here:

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine Team Building Exercise – Survey Results

Read about how to actively involve senior managers and the benefits of doing that in this blog:  https://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2015/04/01/engaging-senior-managers-in-large-group-events/

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Every Company NEEDS a team building exercise – Here is Why

It’s beneficial, cost effective and brings home what every business desires:
a wise investment yielding a solid return (ROI).

We are talking about PMC’s teambuilding exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise. Its value lies within its proven ability to:

  • increase collaboration and communications
  • improve strategic planning
  • create alignment to missions and goals
  • enhance employee experience
  • strengthen leadership and organizational performance

For 25 years, Dutchman has been appreciated by all kinds of worldwide organizations thanks to its bombproof use in aligning with desired results and in creating awareness of how behaviors impact overall organizational outcomes. And through it all, participants enjoy it for its fun framework, its strengthening of camaraderie and its valuable learning they take back to their workplace.

Dutchman is a tabletop board-game simulation set in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona with players sent on a mission to mine gold from The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and return with as much gold as they can.

What ensues is an energetic, solidly-designed learning experience paired with a highly acclaimed, flexible debriefing session combining to leave participants with a clear understanding as to how their behaviors during play link to real workplace issues and attitudes and how these impact overall personal and organizational performance.

Essential Reasons and Outcomes for Using Dutchman:

Proactively Initiating the Change that Needs to Occur: Every organization has reasons for wanting their people to be more aware of changes, ideas and behaviors that need to happen but knowing how to create the “ah-ha’s” that support the reasons and efforts for doing so is where progress forward often stumbles.
  • The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine elegantly works to showcase organizational issues and behaviors that tend to sub-optimize overall performance and outcome and provides a hands-on learning activity that is really an excuse to set-up a powerful Debriefing session that links the play and behaviors within the game to real and actionable issues within the organization.

Ensuring a Collaborative Environment : It’s crucial to the success of an organization that everyone, management and employees alike, understands that a collaborative mindset creates better productivity and more overall success than competing for the same cause.

  • Even though teams playing Dutchman are told that the goal of the exercise is to “Mine as Much Gold as WE can,” thousands of deliveries demonstrate that the tendency to compete most often occurs causing less than optimal game results. During the Debriefing session, teams will recognize the folly of competing over collaborating when they are shown how their behaviors caused them to mine less gold than if they had worked together. The facts are presented and discussed with “ah-ha!” moments happening!

Strategic Planning: Strategic planning is necessary to successful organizations but many people are uncomfortable asking for help or feel too much pressure to just get the job done. Therefore, they move ahead without considering all available options with end results usually being less than optimal.

  • In Dutchman, teams will be faced with decisions and choices that will impact their game performance and during the debriefing it will become clear as to why planning is imperative to achieving the best results possible.

Alignment to Missions and Visions: Are your teams aligned to your organizational core values?

  • Through the play of Dutchman there will be active involvement and teamwork, a focus on a shared mission and vision with appropriate expectations and basic leadership at the front lines. Teams will understand how all of this comes together (or doesn’t!) and affects the bottom line.

Improve Employee Experience: Decades of research shows that most employees in most workplaces are experiencing low levels of motivation, alignment and engagement. They are disgruntled with their bosses, disengaged and uninspired and often have one foot out the door, be it in reality or an on the job mindset.

  • When your people play Dutchman, they’ll not only enjoy being part of a fun and energizing program, they’ll also learn through the play of the game that they are a crucial part of the overall organization.
  • Communications, teamwork and leadership are all vital to organizational success and the exercise sets up scenarios that showcase how all of these behaviors work together to benefit the individual, the team, leadership and the organization as a whole.

Connections with Leadership: A crucial part of leadership is to help teams be successful but too often, teams neither ask their leadership for advice nor involve leadership in decision-making around a task or project. The links to themes such as Selfless Leadership are truly excellent.

  • Dutchman’s Expedition Leader is put in the supportive role of  “helping teams be successful,” and in doing so, models good leadership skills that emphasize working together for the benefit of all and being easily available for assistance and advice.
  • Participants will come away recognizing the benefits of supportive leadership and inclusion which can lead to modifying future workplace behaviors for a more positive interplay between leaders and employees.

The Price is VERY Reasonable: Unlike so many team building exercises or consultant-led deliveries, Dutchman is easy to deliver and is sold a one-time cost with no participant fees, annual licenses or certification costs. It is designed for unlimited use and comes in several versions (and can also be rented).

  • For most organizations, one of our versions supporting 24 or 36 people should make solid economic sense. The cost is the total cost, there are no other costs involved.
    • LD-4 is $1695 for up to 24 players;
    • LD-6 is $2895 for up to 36 players.
    • The Professional Version is $9995 for unlimited players and unlimited deliveries.
    • Rental starts at $1200.
  • Dutchman does NOT require outside facilitation nor the involvement of organizational training staff. (And you can see the obvious advantages of developing ownership involvement.)
  • 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.
  • The above-mentioned 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.
  • The exercise is packaged with extensive training and orientation materials with so much 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.
  • This 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 have made Dutchman a bombproof exercise.
  • Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back!

What else might you need to know to be convinced that Dutchman will make an advantageous difference for your organization?

You can email me or call (864-292-8700) and I will gladly answer any questions.

Or, just purchase the game here to start making positive cultural changes for your organization!

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.

(apologies to Medium readers because of formatting – my wordpress blog does not port neatly to the Medium page format with issues of fonts and spacing.)

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Simple Bad Teambuilding

My associate in Singapore posted up his comments in a LinkedIn group post and I got copied. The posting consultant in India put it up for thoughts comments (and there are almost 200 comments!). He initially said:

Client: We are having an offsite for our leadership team. They all work in silos and there is a trust issue. We want to communicate to them that they should all trust each other and work together. Only then we would be able to achieve our roles.

Me: Why do not you tell them that?

Client: We want a facilitator to bring these issues subtly and indirectly. Our CEO does not want to address this directly. May be you could do this through some games or activities. We are also talking to couple of other organisations like yours and want to see who offer the best solution.

Me: I took leadership team of a client three times in two years to Rishikesh and to address trust and silo issues I made them do whitewater rafting. They enjoyed the rafting. After two years I learned that they became very good in rafting but the trust issues remained. So no indirect approach to the trust and silo issues.

I will pass this opportunity. Lets work together some other time.

If you did not notice this, let me point it out again:

“…to address trust and silo issues I made them do whitewater rafting. They enjoyed the rafting. After two years I learned that they became very good in rafting but the trust issues remained.

Well, duh! Really. People on this executive team actually expected that a consultant-led raft trip would improve corporate functioning? Why do we experienced consultants somehow believe that a paintball or lasertag event, or a Firewalk or go-kart race is going to transfer anything to the issues of improving organizational performance results? We see people learning how to crew an 8-oared rowing shell, or learning how to climb and rappel, or even going parachuting or hang-gliding. Neat! Fun!! But real teambuilding?

These kinds of team bonding activities are actually expected to change organizational results? Seriously? (And how is it going to drive that change, through cognitive dissonance or improved leadership or impacts on intrinsic motivation to do something differently?)

Why not choose to do team building to accomplish team building?

We just reached our 25th anniversary of selling The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding simulation. You can see a Press Release with details here.

And we will guarantee that using the exercise as designed will generate solid discussions about what specific changes need to be generated it one follows the suggested line(s) of debriefing to link to issues and opportunities. You WILL generate discussions — and what you choose to do subsequent to that program will drive the implementation of results.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding simulation

 

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. He is also known for his Square Wheels® approach to innovation and engagement.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

Continuous Continuous Improvement and Team Building

Dozens of years ago, when I chaired our local ASQC group, it was common to hear these quality managers say that they had done continuous improvement, as it it were something they had completed and that it was OVER.

It was so common that I resolved never to use that phrase and to start using the term, CONTINUOUS Continuous Improvement, which STILL gives my grammar checker fits, as the WordPress editor is doing right now…

I mean, how can you complete something that is continuous?

And why isn’t continuous continuous improvement a better overall goal for organizations? When does stopping improvement make any sense?

So, let’s shift to the issues of workplace reality, team building and continuous continuous improvement of people and processes, focusing on collaboration, alignment and communications. It is a subject worthy of a few minutes of time if you are a manager and have people in your pipeline.

Winemaking is often the art of nurturing grape juice through a process of continuous incremental improvement until it ends up as a spectacular product, if that is the winemaker’s goal. Sure, you can make a million gallons of wine that all tastes the same, but the artwork and artistry of this vocation is not focused on consistency but on excellence, much like we should be striving for with our workplace improvement initiatives.

In the case of developing a team building game, one can also devote 25+ years to learning the art and substance of teamwork and collaboration and to continually fine-tune one’s ideas to optimize desired outcomes. And I can honestly say that I think we have reached that point with The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building exercise that has been continually improved since its first deliveries back in 1993.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding exercise

We reached the point to actually enter it into a business learning games competition and are pretty pleased to say that we are a Finalist, with the judging in Lisbon in a month or so. We want to see how we compare with other great products in the global marketplace for experiential exercises for organizational development.

Lost Dutchman is finalist in International Business Learning Game competition 2018

Selling and supporting a game was never my main objective; designing and refining an organizational development exercise to deliver consistently excellent results and have widespread positive impacts on people in organizations was always my goal and hopefully my legacy. Surveys of users say we have pretty much optimized our impacts from this single framework (see a supporting article here or download the results here.)

Dutchman’s existence grew out of dissatisfaction with a “team building game” that I represented as the first USA selling agent back in the late 1980s. That game’s play and its debriefing supported competition among teams – it’s program design allowed teams to quickly die because of their decisions, claiming that this was a reality of teamwork in most organizations. And the focus on competition was a distraction from the expressed objectives of building teamwork, something that I didn’t feel created a better Return on Investment than what a Collaborative approach would do. (Read more about that here)

When I tried to collaborate with that game’s developers, they resisted any ideas from any of us who were representing their product, ideas that would strengthen the game’s outcomes and impacts. So, over 24 years ago, Dutchman was created because there was a need in the team building marketplace for an inexpensive exercise that would support a serious learning framework for how collaboration beats competition in getting the best ROI.

We wanted a design that linked to real workplace issues, but also an exercise that could be easily facilitated by trainers or consultants and didn’t have a bunch of restrictive licensing and continual payment requirements attached to it. I wanted to sell Dutchman as a one-time cost game with a money back guarantee that could be used by virtually any type of organization and I soon found that this was a much appreciated concept compared to the typical way that team building products were put into the marketplace.

Once this exercise entered into the playing field, it immediately received accolades for how it drove home the concept of collaboration better than anything else out there. Through a much stronger debriefing than the other game provided, I was able to show how teams could have increased their ROI by the simple act of collaborating. We MEASURE the team and group results and can clearly show where and when collaboration would have had significant positive impacts on results. (If you own the game or are interested in performance metrics, you might find this detailed results analysis to be of interest.)

It is our belief that leadership, communications and strategic planning were all essential to creating a collaborative environment and Dutchman set this up well. Active involvement and engagement are also important for the success of any implementation, so the game plays really well in a situation where you want to better implement tops-down change and strategy.

The funny thing is that competition is a compelling force for players and they end up sub-optimizing their gold intake because of this, which is also a very common workplace observation. Therefore, this further indicated that a solid Debriefing was necessary to the game in order to get people to realize how choices around Collaboration brings in a better ROI.

Behavioral flexibility also became an important addition to the game and its debriefing because organizations have different reasons for using team building games and as Dutchman’s debriefing continued to evolve over the years so did its flexibility for creating different outcomes. Within its first year of use, Dutchman became a worldwide product that easily worked in various cultures and countries. And it is really neat when people working in one organization change jobs and buy the game for their new company. THAT is good evidence that the game holds high value and relevancy for them (and is a safe move to make!).

Today, we sell a variety of different Dutchman games, with LD-4 for up to 24 players (4 teams), LD-6 for up to 36 players (6 teams) and our LD-Professional Version for any number players.

These various versions and their scaled prices were well received and our idea of making a Rental Version of the game available for those who weren’t ready to invest in one of the other choices or who had a one-time delivery requirement. We have training consultant users who purchased the game to use in small classroom settings who can now profitably do that large organizational retreat (100+ people) for clients.

Throughout the years, I’ve continued to improve upon the game play not only from my own ideas but also from collaborating with Dutchman owners who have given me great ideas to incorporate into the game. The game materials have evolved over the years, the Debriefing presentation and slides have expanded, the training materials have evolved to now include videos of how to work the game, etc. Even the original game board has changed into a different version.

My colleague, Solomon Salvis, facilitates a lot of BIG Dutchman games for multinational companies. He shared this video with me today, one that I thought did a great job of overviewing the exercise:

People purchasing the game 24 years ago can still play with the materials they received at that time while those presently purchasing any of the game versions will have an updated set of materials — All versions will work exceedingly well to create a session worth facilitating because the outcomes of the game are like a fine wine in that the depth of appreciation for Dutchman and it’s return on investment continues to grow as it ages.

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

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.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

We rent the Dutchman exercise to consultants and trainers in North America. See more details here about its play and its outcomes. It is a very good scheme to run a powerful, bombproof program with your own leadership serving as the Expedition Leaders. And it is easy and straightforward to deliver.

ASQC – American Society for Quality Control is now the ASQ /AQP, the American Society for Quality and the Association for Quality and Participation. I was actually a member of both groups and much more aligned with the frameworks of AQP – And I spoke at a couple of their international conferences.

12 Great Strategic Board Games – by Joe Cole (with Scott Simmerman)

Entertainment is as important as work because it keeps your life balanced and in this manner you are able to work in a more effective way. In this modern technological world where we can find everything on our mobile screens – ranging from video games to social media services – sometimes we want to escape from the glittering mobile screens and demand something that is truly different. Most of us cannot even imagine that entertainment also exists outside our mobiles even if we want to play games, and these games are called board games. Board games are interesting and people still play these games because when you play board games, you take some time off from your mobile screens.

Guest blogger Joe Cole and I have collaborated to talk about our collection of what we think are 12 of the best strategic board games for business performance improvement.

Collaboration Journey game icon for teambuilding and Square Wheels

Collaboration Journey – a Square Wheels game

CJ comes in two versions, a simple and a complex one. In Simple CJ (CJ1), tabletops of 3 to 4 people plan a journey forward to collaborate and move through a series of constraints. While there can be a winner, the game is about getting ALL of the teams to move forward efficiently and effectively. Teams use dice to replace their Square Wheels with round ones so their wagons can roll faster. In Complex CJ (CJ2) teams must move their Wagon Pushers on and off wagons in order to gain round wheels in a fairly complex series of events. It is designed to take about 90 minutes to play and debrief.

Innovate & Implement – a Square Wheels Game

Innovate & Implement teambuilding game using Square Wheels

In I&I, teams speed around the game board gaining access to problems and using their resources to solve them. The idea is to collect all four round wheels so that they can implement change in their organizations. Training is an option, and the Trainer and the Manager chase teams around hoping to get them into the training class, while players tend to try to avoid that (just like they do in the workplace!). It is designed to take about 90 minutes to play and debrief. A speedy replay can also be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of practice and learning on quality of performance.

7 Wonders

It is a very interesting and strategic game which is also very easy to play. The game won’t take more than 30 minutes to complete one round, in case you are a busy person. The overall theme and gameplay are very simple, but you will have to learn the rules of the game first which are bit difficult and confusing, but as you play on, the rules become more and more obvious.

Coyote

It is a bluffing game and is very simple. 6 people can play the game at the same time, and one round won’t take longer than ten minutes. The game is based on numbers; each person carries a number on its head, and the only number he can’t see is his own. The game is not as linear as it seems because there are other puzzling cards like negatives, multipliers, and zeroes etc.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is a very difficult and complex game when compared with the other board games, but its difficulty also makes it very interesting. If you have watched the TV series, then there won’t be any difficulty in playing it because the game truly captures the essence of the TV series. The real charm of the game is that it is a cooperative game, and in the game, two or more people aren’t on your side and you don’t know about it until they reveal themselves.

Balderdash

If you have played the game Dixit, then you will know the rules of Balderdash instantly because both games have almost the same rules. The main theme of the game is that one person reads a word from any card aloud, and all the other members are asked to write the mock definitions of the word. The person who has announced the word then reads all the mock definitions aloud including the original one.

Smallworld

This game is all about tactics, if you play tactically you win; the game is as simple as that. All you have to do is get more and more gold on the board by controlling different areas which are mentioned on the board. You can only take different areas under your control only if you have greater army than your opponent. Special abilities, as well as different pairings, also make the game really interesting.

Dominion

It is a very simple and straight game and lacks any complexity whatsoever. Two main things in the game are coins and kingdom cards. You start playing the game if you have both these things. The main theme of the game is to get as many kingdoms as possible.

Agricola

It is a very interesting game with agricultural touch. The main theme of the game is that you own a house and some land as well. You will have to grow different things on the land you possess in order to feed your growing family. What matters most in the game is planning; if you don’t plan properly, your opponent will snatch all your resources.

Atlantis

It is a strategy game which 2-4 players can play at the same time. The main theme of the game is that you have to get off the sinking island of Atlantis. The game is highly imaginative and you can place the card patterns in what way you like.

The Golden City

It is a game for 3 or four players and features many adventures. When you start the game, you play as a settler on an island at the center of which there is a golden city. The primary goal of the game is to get the golden city by establishing a trade. This game can be purchased from Groupon, use Groupon coupon at checkout to save.

Set

The rules of the game are very simple, yet the game is very puzzling. The game is all about pattern recognition and you will have to find different patterns.

 

a team building simulation exercose

Lastly, let me add a short note about our flagship team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. You can find plenty of blog posts about it and we note that it is recognized as one of the best teambuilding simulations in the world, based on user comments. Dutchman focuses on collaboration, leadership and alignment and can play with hundreds of people in tabletops of 5-6,

This guest post is written by Joe Cole, he works at Coupon Goo.

Some additional comments were added by me,

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 Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Bad Teambuilding and BaaadTeambuilding

I don’t really think I have to say too much about this and let the image speak for itself. As most of my readers are aware, I do corporate team building and organizational development using business simulations to generate discussions about what can be done differently to improve organizational results. Most of my work comes from focusing on collaboration rather than competition and doing things that offer the possibilities of measuring actuals against possibles to discuss alternatives.

If you search “Dutchman” within my blog, you can find dozens of articles about how to improve RESULTS and how to avoid doing things that are possibly team bonding rather than team building. (Here is a short compendium of related team building articles)

We also have twitter threads on #badteambuilding and #baaadteambuilding where a few of us try to illustrate some of the really awful ideas. I use examples of go-kart racing or firewalking or paintball as the kinds of things that offer little real measurable impacts and I will often ask purveyors of such events to share how they think those activities actually accomplish their stated purpose of team BUILDING.

Anyway, I guess my email is out there related to the teambuilding keyword and I was smacked in the head earlier today with this offer for “InflatablesUSA PonyHops for Team Building Events” along with their image of young adults apparently doing teambuilding. I am not going to ask them about their implementation and debriefing design and I am left wondering how they will then discuss issues of collaboration or leadership development or similar.

pony-hop-boy-scoutimage from unsolicited email to me from marketing department

I am NOT against having more fun in the workplace. And I am not about hoping that InflatablesUSA can make a lot of money from these “Pony Hops.”

But I do question the kinds of expensive initiatives suggested in such marketing efforts that will generate no perceivable ROI. I am guessing that this is some kind of competition or race and I continue to wonder how doing competitive things is supposed to generate more collaboration.

Interdepartmental Collaboration continues to be a workplace oxymoron.

If someone wants to enlighten me about the ROI of these efforts shows itself, fine well and good. Until then, I will simply consider these kinds of events as #BadTeambuilding.

And h0w are we going to change organizational cultures and workplace environments if we keep doing things the same way?

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.

He wonders, at age 68, if an event sponsor would allow him to play on a Pony Hop if he did not sign a waiver for any possible injury. There are now 5 generations of workers in many workplaces. Are us old people supposed to be excluded? Can we do this with most exec teams?

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 Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

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