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Category: The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (Page 1 of 3)

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

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

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


How Santa Plays for Improvements

For the FUN of It! –

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

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

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

How Santa Plays for Improvements

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

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

 

In Santa’s words:

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

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

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

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

 

teambuilding with Santa and elves

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

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

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

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

 

business haiku Santa

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools focused on people and performance. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is a globally experienced presenter and consultant.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Copyright © 2017 Performance Management Company, All rights reserved.

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

Performance Management Company
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Taylors, SC 29687

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year – Simple Ideas for Reframing and Future-Focusing

Here are a couple of ideas to make your teambuilding exercise
more fun and more effective.

We delivered a Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise for a group of managers for an international corporation starting up a factory here in South Carolina. It was my task to do some team building with the entire management team to try to help shape the culture.

The workshop went really well. But improvements are also always possible.

Team Building Exercise with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Continuous continuous improvement is a mainstream belief about how things should really should operate, and there are always new thoughts on how to improve the impacts, even after 25 years of delivering these workshops. A catalog I got in the mail that evening gave me a new ideas that I thought to share about how to impact the future-focus on the participants even more.

We had spent some good time talking about how the managers in the session were going to be responsible for building a new culture, since this was a greenfield operation. And the focus of our game was about collaboration and leadership and the impacts on engagement and motivation. So, the catalog gave me an idea about what I will do on my next development program, and that is to focus the participants on the culture.

Happy New Year!

The things that these managers DO is what will determine how things operate, so why not celebrate in advance and also get them focused on their choices. The idea will be to distribute hats and clappers and have them first celebrate, and then engage in tabletop discussions about what they can do in the next few months that will positively impact their workplace.

We will have them put on the hats and clap the clappers and then say that it is January 3 and everyone at work is having fun and being productive and then to discuss what their management team did between now and then to generate such a positive workforce. What challenges did they overcome? What processes did they implement to generate collaboration and teamwork?

Another thing we did in the workshop was to give the participants cardboard finger puppets that they could play with, but that were also tools for them to have a good tabletop discussion. If they had something candid and meaningful to say to someone that was a bit uncomfortable for them, they could put on their finger puppet and let the puppet carry on the conversation.

We were playing with the idea of displacement and anonymity, but we were playing, making some fun about some reality and serious discussions that they as a team were going to need to have with each other. The finger puppet was simply a prop, a tool, and something to help lighten things up a little.

You can find all of these tools / toys at Oriental Trading / Fun Express, where we suggest you go to find tabletop fun schlock for your tabletops. There are a variety of inexpensive things we use such as binoculars, cowboy bendables, plastic badges and other things to add a bit more fun to the game materials.

Lastly, we just started distributing LDGM – 2018, a new updated version of the Lost Dutchman exercise. I just blogged about this in some detail.

You can see some of the key themes of the Dutchman game in a simple slideshare that we uploaded to show how we are now incorporating LEGO scenes into our materials to better integrate with our Square Wheels approach to organizational improvement.

 

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
®

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

The Christopher Columbus Award for Leadership

We were playing around with ideas for “Leadership Awards” a few years ago and I had my artist, Roy Sabean, craft up one for me. Since that time, there have been a lot of pretty negative articles written about this guy and a lot of discussion about removing his name as a national holiday. You can get into the history of why that day was named with a simple search…

Anyway, we have this award that you should find humorous. And it could certainly be a common one for a lot of people, but that is up to how you think about things.

So, here is the trophy and award and here is a poem for your enjoyment and edification!

and the poem to support the thinking:

Oh, and there is also another pretty funny thing about all this. There is a statue erected in his honor completed in 1888 in Barcelona, Spain. The belief is that he was born in Catalonia and thus Spain could claim him. At the top of the tall monument at the base of las Ramblas, he is pointing. People say that he is pointing to America, but that of course is not true. He is actually pointing south-east toward the city of Constantine in Algeria. Even in statue form, he is not sure where he is, apparently.

(I was there; saw the statue. And I should have taken a picture, maybe… Ah well.)

Have FUN out there, and try to do something to clarify where you are going, why you are going there, and how others can support you on your journey. Take some oranges along, too, and prevent scurvy!

At Performance Management Company, we play with metaphors and experiential learning tools such as our Square Wheels® images and toolkits and our team building games. Very solid stuff, very high rated and impactful, and relatively cheap.


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

 

 

 

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.

It was so common that I resolved never to use that phrase and to only use 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?

Now, those ISO standards forced organizations to go way deep into compliance and process management, which is an antithesis to innovation and improvement, and those issues still hang around out there in the world of manufacturing. And to see people put a Six Sigma framework around customer service still seems goofy, in that the processes are simply so far from rigid statistical control. But, whatever.

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.

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 20+ 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

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-3 for up to 18 players or 3 teams; 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.

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 exercise, with great testimonials, to consultants and trainers in North America. See more details here about its play and its outcomes.

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.

Intrinsic Motivation – It comes from having a goal

My friend Jimmy Jain posted up a picture of himself after running a race.

The images of him below should tell you all you need to know about motivation, if you spend a moment to consider individual performance and how things really work. You cannot get this satisfaction from some extrinsic reward system; it is all about Intrinsic Motivation!

Jimmy First Medal 2017In high school, I ran one year of cross-country on a team that included Leon Nocito and Lee Mallory. That was in 1965 and I did it to get in condition for playing tennis (Jay Einstein and I were a really good doubles team who could beat our number 1 and 2 singles players even though we sucked at singles, ourselves. We took great pride in our play and were 7-0 through the first matches of our senior year (1966) ).

We were cross country State Champions for the big New Jersey schools and I could run only 15th on the team, but there was constant improvement in my times over the season, with me finally reaching 15:15 for 2.5 miles on grass (Seriously. I have this stuff written down in my yearbook! I had motivation but not much talent for running! Not like those guys…)

In the picture above, you can see Jimmy is obviously taking great pride in his running success and he is most likely comparing his personal performance to his individual goals. I am also guessing that both Leon and Lee would run far faster! But that is NOT what motivation is really about. It is about self and team and you can see the peer support Jimmy has if you look at the others in the side pics!

Vineland High School state championship cross country team of 1966

Leon top left and Lee top right and the rest of the team.

Leon, undefeated for two seasons, almost always ran a course record each race. Lee, always finished second to Leon, ever race, with Lee also generally beating the course record each race. Leon would never let Lee beat him and Lee always pushed Leon to new records and they finished 1-2 in the State Championship. One time, Leon was really sick and he STILL would not let Lee beat him — he nearly died, but that was simply how things were.

Our Track & Field team was unbeaten in ’63, lost one dual meet in ’64 & was unbeaten in ’65 and ’66. Coach Cosh had records like 125 wins in a row in track as well as the cross-country successes. We beat everybody. Unbelievable!

And these kinds of motivations and accomplishments are really found in everyday kinds of things, from the Special Olympics kids running their races to the bicycle club events with groups of people all doing the best they can to the professional athletes who do it for money (but also for pride). When that pride of accomplishment disappears, so does the motivation to perform.

So how are you running YOUR organization? How important are those intrinsic rewards based on personal goals, measured improvements, and peer support for teamwork and accomplishments? Are your people supporting each other or competing to beat the others? Is it a team-based effort to improve group performance or one of competition, sabotage and under-cutting to allow one person to “win” and create failures if they don’t.

Coach Cosh knew how to get whole groups of kids working together to generate championship levels of performance. He knew how to get Leon and Lee and Don and John all running as hard as they could individually to generate that TEAM success. Can you do the same to generate peer support, or do you try to motivate people with extrinsic rewards that are ineffective for the bottom 50% of your organization?

If you want some insights into how this all plays out, ask me about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise, where the goal is to mine as much gold as WE can but where tabletops will often compete rather than collaborate. It is one of the top leadership and organizational developmental team building games in the world, based on extensive user-feedback.

Ask Jimmy — he is one of our long-time Lost Dutchman customers and he says he feels the same way after successfully delivering a client workshop! Or, click on the image below to go to a descriptive page on my website.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

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.

   www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

 

 

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

 

Team Building and Engagement Workshop at IAPPD-MENA in Amman in May, 2015

I am excited to have the chance to present in a new venue, Amman, Jordan at the International Association for People and Performance Development. The goals of the organization align closely with what I have been working on since 1978. The organization was actually started by my old friend and colleague, Geoff Cook, who was unfortunately killed in a car accident last year but who had invited me to be on the Board of Governors. So, I am really pleased to get my association with the association rolling along.

On May 4, I will be presenting a session using my Square Wheels development tools in the morning, running it as both a workshop and a train-the-trainer program (and giving participants a toolkit) and then delivering my team building game, The Search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, as the closing part of the day and an attempt to pull things all together.

Scott Simmerman presents at the International Association for People and Performance Development conference

There will be three presenters, each of us having one day. Paul will focus on leadership, I focus on teamwork and engagement, and Raed focuses on managing and leading change. It should be great!

You can see a short video of my overview by clicking on this text or the link below:

Scott_Simmerman_IAPPD_2015_MENA_Conference_Square_Wheels_and_Lost_Dutchman_Overview_-_YouTube

If you are looking for an adventure in learning, join us in Amman, Jordan in early May,

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.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

 

Simple, Powerful, Effective Team Building Simulation

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine continues to generate really positive feedback from customers. Since 1993, it has been continuously improved and refined to the point where it runs seamlessly, generates wonderful reflection, and clearly mirrors the organizational culture of the players.

We just had a situation where a senior line manager again rented the exercise for a team building and organizational development session she was leading for her team. The company is an electrical utility and she had about 50 managers in her new organization that she wanted to work with. The Lost Dutchman game was part of her overall goal of getting to know her people better and building some trust.

She had rented the Dutchman game in her previous assignment and had liked the outcomes and discussions it generated. This time, she liked it even more!

Testimonial on Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

The team building exercise sets up situations where players and teams have a variety of choices, and their strategic planning and collaboration within and between teams generates measurable results and a return on investment. When a team plays well, they generate good results. When the team chooses to try to beat the other teams, we generally see measurable sub-optimizing impacts on overall results.

Here are the comments from a young church leader, who had experienced the exercise as part of the DeVos Foundation work with leadership development and the inner city and who then used the game to impact his church and generate much better alignment and team building:

testimonial on The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game

People make choices, and we debrief on the choices made and how those same choices relate to their workplace, their alignment as team members of the group, and how choosing to compete impacts the culture as well as the customer. The goal of the exercise is to Mine as much Gold as we can and the role of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful. ALL of this relates very directly to workplace improvement.

We love to get this continuing stream of positive comments and testimonials about how the play of the game impacts people and performance. It is confirmation that our plans have generated positive impacts and changes,

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.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

 

Faster Play = Longer Debriefing

When initially designed 25 years ago,  The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine was to have a solid front-end that challenged teams to put together a plan of action managing their limited resources and to push players to work together to develop a shared strategy and plan of action. The Intro was focused on them making specific choices around collaboration and strategic planning.

(note: this post is actually written for users of the exercise, but it also speaks to our overall design thinking and features and benefits of Lost Dutchman over some competitive products which you might be familiar with.)

We also wanted this planning time to set the stage for play and the processes for playing out those team decisions to be clean, fast and simple. While some people have questioned the strategy of having a really simple “play” of the game, this has proven itself to be a good decision — faster play allows a longer debriefing time, and debriefing is where we generate commitment to change and manage post-exercise expectations and implementation.

We chose to use 20 days for play with a simple design that allowed the days at the end to be as short as 30 seconds each even in fairly large team events. It was the initial team decisions that either facilitated a lot of success and some low-stress play or some less-than optimal decision-making and planning that generated high-stress and scrambling for resources to succeed. By design, every team mined gold, but the teams with the better planning got better results and could also assist the others.

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

Basically, I found that it was best to give a detailed overview, with a good bit of redundancy, so as to maximize understanding. In this way, the players could make the best decisions possible to maximize the results and have the fewest mistakes. Heck, I even found that by adding “Most Common Questions” as a slide set at the end of the Intro to review the key points that I had already made saved me delivery time, since those were questions commonly asked of me that delayed getting started.

My thoughts were around optimizing play and minimizing the dumb mistakes and being detailed enough to enable players to get a good start in the 15 minutes of planning time given. It was also found that by shortening or deleting things, such as the time spent in generating the suggested Team Roles, the disorganization caused them to take even longer in getting started. Having roles enabled them to listen to the instructions more carefully and allowed them to get moving with the planning right away.

My associates in India asked how they could take the normally 45 minute Intro and set-up and reduce it to 15 minutes because their client had “a tight schedule.” Their thinking was that shortening it would have no impact on the team building, subsequent planning and play. They had this schedule for an upcoming session of 140 people:

  • Intro and briefing – 15 minutes.
  • Planning – 15 minutes
  • Play– 50 minutes
  • Break – 20 minutes and
  • Debriefing – 50 minutes.

Well, I like challenges… So here are some thoughts about the dilemma:

The actual team building process occurs during the initial stages of the game in the 15 minute planning period. A long, detailed and a bit redundant introduction gives every player all the details of play and even some tips for optimizing results. Everyone knows all the rules and details, thus the discussion is not about what but about how to execute. They all should be equal participants in the discussion of strategy and overall decision-making and therefore would all share in ownership of the end result.

There are no really good, simple ideas on speeding things up the Introduction. I played with this a LOT during the first 10 years of playing and selling the exercise and found this to be true: If you keep something out of the Introduction, it either generates a question that takes at least as long to answer or it creates a problem with misunderstanding and a playing mistake they blame on YOU.

My focus on delivery has been to generate an effective and efficient way to present the information so that players are clear about the details of the rules at the start of their planning. I have found it to be faster to go slower and be more redundant in the Introduction. This way, players and teams make better decisions and play with better results and have fewer questions and run into less difficulty at the end. (Or, at least they have all the information on which to make a less than optimal decision (grin) ).

My finding is that speeding up by shortening the Intro information can slow things down in different and unexpected ways or causes more mistakes and poorer play and all that… Plus, it helps in the debriefing if all the players understand all of the operating rules and have better understanding and perspective on the choices and the impacts.

(They all “get” the planning metaphors of The Videos, for example. They were all offered the opportunity to acquire one or both before heading out and it was their choice to get or not to get them. The Videos are not a surprise in the debriefing, just the information that was in them and the reality that it could be shared with other teams.)

Okay, some ideas for speeding play and saving time:

Start on Time –

Demand that the session starts when scheduled and that everything is ready to go. Generally, this means delivering the game the very first thing in the morning. If there is breakfast, ensure that the hotel or center staff is there to help clear away the dishes and that there are stands around the room where plates can be taken. Have the tabletops all set up, including the tables for the Provisioner.

It is scary how often these programs with known “tight timing” issues do not start on time. This is especially true if there is some manager that. “needs to say a few things to the group before you get started.” I have lost 30 minutes or more from these “few minutes” while the content of that introduction could have been in an email to everyone. Often, these managers are not professional when it comes to presenting in a timely and efficient manner so it is YOUR responsibility to get that part of the program done quickly.

If you are starting after lunch, be sure to have someone who works for you on the lunch floor pushing the timing so that people can come into the room. Make the room inviting, with music and a slide show of pictures or something similar. Get them in and KEEP them in until you are ready to go.

And, again, do not allow for a few minutes of “more introduction” by anyone other than a professional presenter who knows the meaning of “ending on time” for their part.

NEVER EVER play the game at night with alcoholic beverages. Those sessions are absolute disasters – and no one will remember anything the next day.

Team Roles
One idea might be to not assign roles during the Intro and let teams figure that out during the planning. That saves a bit of time, but the teams will be less organized. Thus, decisions might take longer if roles are not clear.

However, if you do that, DO stress the selection of the team Trader but maybe not the others. Having one person be accountable for bringing resource cards to the Trading Post is critical to efficient delivery.

The alternative is to assign teams and tables prior to the session, and you can also suggest team roles in that assignment, You can list table # and team member names with roles on the sheet. (Make the most senior manager the Team Trader, though — they do the most work and get isolated! See this blog for more information on players and roles and assignments.)

Pods
And DO separate the groups into distinct pods for large group events. If you have 120 people, you could play with 2 pods of 10 teams each or 4 pods of 5 teams each. It is certain that the pods of 5 teams each will play faster than pods of 10. You would also need more floor support, but that would help to answer questions and respond to problems more quickly. It would be easier for a Provisioner to spot a team that is having trouble with a smaller pod, and thus direct help toward that tabletop.

Team Size
In my experience, smaller teams play faster — if you can set up as groups of 4 players per table, the planning and the play will go faster. So, a session of 24 people would play faster with 6 tables of 4 rather than 4 tables of 6 players each. But that takes more support from your team of delivery people with larger teams. It depends on how many support people you have but the more experienced help on the floor, the easier to solve problems. (Note – I use senior managers to support my large group events! See this blog for rationale.)

(If you do that, use a different Team Roles Form than the one showing 6 job roles at the tables and in the slides.) Maybe have only the Leader, Trader, Analyst / Supply Expert and Collaborator…

Decisions of smaller tabletops will be faster and usually better — but they MUST understand all the rules and themes and issues.

For those of you with 24 people, having 6 teams of 4 will be faster than having 4 teams of 6, for example.

Floor Delivery Support
You can trade off SUPPORT PEOPLE ON THE FLOOR against covering things in PowerPoint Intro. The less you talk about, the more questions and the longer the “15 minutes of planning time” will take. This is especially true in a large group as in this session of 140.

If you do shorten the Intro, be SURE to have knowledgeable co-Expedition Leaders on the floor for each 3 or 4 teams. It will change the dynamics some…

Breaks
My way of speeding things up is to have NO BREAK at the end of play – telling players that team play should allow individuals to take a break for bathroom or drinks during play. Cookies and coffee and the like can be in the room or even served to the tables by staff.

A “scheduled 20 minute break” (with 140 people) can run out to 30 minutes or more, which is very common with large groups. And it is probably the people last to arrive back that need the debriefing key learning points more than the others.

Large groups are much less manageable from a time perspective if they leave the room. Make them Break during the Play of the game, not afterwards. Make it impact their team, not you and the rest of the group!

Results
Minimize the review of game results but use the results summary and overhead projectors to allow everyone to see all the results from all the teams. That generally reduces questions about “who won” and why and allows you to focus on the issues of optimization.

Focus on the differences between the high and low teams and ask if the higher performing teams had resources that they could have shared that would have generated MORE RESULTS FOR YOU — not a winning score for one team…

I often do NOT show the Perfect Play summary of woulda-shoulda, but do focus on the fact that there were 3 Turbos that could be shared so that 3 teams could have used the Turbo to return in 4 days, as opposed to less than 3 (look at total TF Videos to see the number of Turbos available versus the number actually used (get that off the Tracking Forms at the Trading Post). THAT is probably the most important number for the entire group — that plus the days back early because of resource mis-management and bad planning decisions.

The Turbos are the Best Practices that generate better results with the same effort and they represent the leverage generated by collaboration among teams in the workplace. There were sufficient resources, but a good plan of action with engaged and involved teammates helped maximize results for the team — why not for the group? What would they need to do differently in the workplace…

Debriefing
I deliver the game as a learning event, not as a fun activity. Thus, for me, “The play of the game is an excuse to do a debriefing on choices, behaviors and the issues of engagement and collaboration.” Thus, I will demand that I have the full time allotted to the play and that we start on time

And I try not to lecture nearly as much as I try to allow tabletops to discuss specific issues and opportunities. I facilitate the game much more than I “teach” from it – their thoughts are more congruent to their issues than any idea that the game Expedition Leader might have.

If possible, I try to coach the most senior manager to engage people in a discussion. This is sometimes dangerous since their preferred style is to talk at the people, not engage them. I have had to cut off such attempts at “training” more than a few times, generally with something such as, “Why don’t you spend 5 minutes and discuss that key learning point at your tabletop?” (And then take back the control of the debriefing…)

Turbos are best practices that can be shared – thus it begs the question, “What turbochargers are available that we could share with other groups within the company?”

(You can view a long slideshare on debriefing experiential exercises, framed around Lost Dutchman, by clicking on the image below:)

LD Slideshare Debrief cover

My debriefings generally focus on the dynamics of team interactions and desired collaborative behavior. My illustrations and questions anchor most of the debriefing to the desired client outcomes for the event. On occasion, they just want to have fun — I can usually persuade the leadership to get more value by increasing things like collaboration or sharing ideas around motivating others as part of a leadership development theme.

For large events, we discuss desired outcomes a lot prior to the event so that everyone involved in the delivery design is on-board with what we are trying to accomplish. In play, I most often end with tabletop discussions around, “What does mining (more) gold mean to us as an organization?”

corporate team building ideasLastly, do all that you can do. (You cannot do any more than that!)

Work as best as you can to meet the commitments that were set, but realize that you may not have all the control you need to make this optimal. Various things will decrease your available debriefing time. Senior managers may feel the need to espouse on certain issues they think are critical — and they probably are — but that can cut into your plans.

And have FUN out there with the delivery. If you have fun and work the issues, they will have fun and also work the issues.

If you have any thoughts or ideas about improving the speed of delivery, we would love to hear from you. Anything we can do to increase the debriefing time is a worthwhile alteration, in my opinion. Many of the changes suggested above will have impacts on the dynamics of delivery, I think. SO be careful out there!

YOUR thoughts on all this would be Most Excellent!

Note: Thanks for reading this far. To improve and impact our debriefing and make the exercise even more memorable, we are in the midst of adding LEGO characters to our Introduction and some of our Debriefing materials in all versions of the exercise, with the thought that the game can better tie in with our Square Wheels® approach or be more congruent with consultants using LEGO Serious Play tools or simply using LEGO in general. We have NO affiliation with The LEGO Group or any other organizations and we are using the “useful article” approach to issues around intellectual property.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, Surprised Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

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

Scott’s blog on People and Performance is here.

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

 

PMC's Team Building Activities – Comparison Matrix

The pressure is on — people want me to bring forth my new game design on strategy implementation, trust and collaboration. This is the one that focuses on capturing Slinks before they turn into Zombies and about gathering the things needed to start a new civilization. (And this scenario is sounding more and more like the real world every day!)

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is still our flagship team building game. We get testimonials like this one on its effectiveness every week.

LDGM Training Consutant Testimonial

The Seven Seas Quest exercise was designed to followup on Dutchman but it is also an outstanding stand-alone exercise in its own right. Innovate & Implement exercise anchors to our Square Wheels tools for involving and engaging people, as do our two Collaboration Journey exercises.

Play of the games is pretty straightforward and the designs solid, based on a lot of feedback from users plus my own propensity to put a LOT of informational resources and detailed delivery materials with each game. I do not think anyone has ever complained about not enough information about presenting and debriefing.

And, the reality is that ALL of my games are focused on simple and straightforward debriefing. The metaphors are always clean and easy to link to issues of organizational performance such as leadership or collaboration or planning.

To help explain the different products, our website has a  “Team Building Games Comparison Chart” that tries to outline the basic keys such as number of players, desired outcomes and applications, benefits and similar. We have games that work for 4 people and most games can scale up for hundreds.

And we even show the actual price (it’s interesting that so few of our competitors will actually post the prices of their games; they seem to be almost embarrassed by the costs) as we feel we have the best cost to benefit ratio in the world for the kinds of products we design, sell and support. Plus, we sell all of our exercises “unemcumbered,” without the per-participant or annual licensing fees so common in the industry for full-blown simulations like ours.

AND, we’ll often customize for free if we think that work will result in a better team building product that we can distribute…

You can see the full Comparison Chart on the PMC website by clicking here – a version is added below but I am guessing that it will not be readable because of its size.

We think the current products carry forward into a lot of different kinds of organizational development initiatives. If you have any questions or ideas, I am easily reached and I answer my own phone (which seems to surprise many callers but is the way it SHOULD be for such important decision making as product selection and team building).

More fun is in store for all as I work up some new designs and I love it that we can design and offer these games that link so well to workplace issues at a low cost and as a great value.  

If you have any issues that you might like to see addressed with an interactive and engaging exercise, please drop me a note. My friend Brad wants to build a game on corporate sustainability for an executive development program he conducts at Furman University. And we have also played with the design of an emergency preparedness exercise.

Comments and suggestions are always appreciated!

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.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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

Two new testimonials about The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding exercise

Most of my posts try to be informational and instructive and I love adding cartoons and poems and haiku and all that for spice. But occasionally, it is simply useful to me to post up some good testimonials that I can offer up to people who are interested in our products and services.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is our flagship exercise for building teamwork and inter-organizational collaboration. It works great at every level of an organization as a tool for leadership development and organizational alignment or even for implementing strategy and change. It is easy to deliver, inexpensive, reusable, and very effective.

Below are two testimonials, one from a long-term consultant user of the exercise and one from a client.  Clicking on the LDGM testimonial images will take you to different slideshare overviews of the exercise and its impacts – the top one is about pricing options and the second shows links to issues of organizational development and how the exercise can be debriefed.

Speculand Testimonial LDGM 100

and

TF Testimonial LDGM Helal 100

I will add this one, from a senior line manager who rented the LDGM exercise from us and who chose to rent it again after she changed jobs and had 50 new reports — she wanted to involve and engage with her in a session on alignment, one designed to demonstrate her leadership style and her organizational goals in a fun and engaging way:

Testimonial on Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

Rent The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

We are really proud of how well the Lost Dutchman exercise works for organizational development and alignment issues. Please contact me if I can offer any additional information or assistance,

For the FUN of It!

Facilitation tools and engagementDr. 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/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

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