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Tag: corporate team building

Delivery Tips for Lost Dutchman Teambuilding Exercise

While delivering The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine game is straightforward, new users often have simple questions about how that game works or how it can be enhanced. Two customers were asking me similar questions yesterday so I thought that a blog post might allow a little more leeway for an explanation and also allow those interested in the exercise to learn a bit more before they make a purchase decision.

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

There are different versions of the exercise that handle different group sizes, with the LD6 version handling up to 6 tabletops of players. If you are running a session with 20 players, you might choose to play with 4 teams of 5 or 5 teams of 4, for example. How do you decide?

  1. Having more players at a single tabletop will make the actual teamwork of the players a bit more challenging. Even though each player will have an assigned role, the more players, the more discussion and the more difficult the decision-making might be. Getting 5 people to agree is slightly more difficult than 4, in our experience.
  2. With more tabletops, you tend to generate more competition between the teams. Even though the goal is, “to mine as much gold as WE can,” teams will often compete rather than collaborate. So, if your desire is to focus on improving collaboration among the tabletops so that you can demonstrate that collaboration positively impacts results, you might play with more tables.
  3. If the focus is on personal communications and decision-making styles or similar in the debriefing, we might suggest the larger tables; you might play with 3 tables of 6 players if you only had 18. And we would suggest you never play with more than 6 players, since there simply is not enough work for that extra person and they often then become disruptive to the group overall. It does not generally seem to improve collaboration.

This same kind of design decision disappears in larger deliveries of 50 or more people, since there will be plenty of tabletops! And, with very large groups and the play in “pods” of 10 tables in each pod, you will often see competition happening between pods!

Weather plays a role in the game because it makes the resource consumption during play a variable. If a team chooses The Low Country Trail to go to the mine, they encounter wet weather which creates mud and increases consumption of Fuel. And the number of Arctic Blast that might occur, using up more Fuel and also Supplies, is also unknown. So, for a Battery, a team might choose to get one of the Weather Reports.

These Weather Reports are accurate, but only available on Days 5, 10 and 15 and are essentially useless since they are not available during the planning time before the game starts and play begins. While it is good information, it is not worth the cost. Each Weather Report COULD be shared between ALL of the tabletops if teams ever chose to do so — in my experience, they are very seldom shared. and teams often keep batteries and then do not use them during play. And they are ONLY available on those Days, not earlier.

The Videos are an essential part of the game design. Both are only available during planning time before the start of play and each contains resource cards and information that directly influences results. With 5 teams, we might play with 3 of The Mine videos available and 2 of Tortilla Flat. Thus, not all teams could directly acquire the resource cards and information about play.

Teams acquiring a Mine Video get resources that can replace Tent Cards, and thus relieve some of the limitations. Each team gets $750 worth or resources in their Grub Stakes, which is “limited but sufficient.” Adding Cave Cards allows a team to get more Supplies and Fuel and to even be able to share resources with other teams if they are fully collaborating. (Sometimes they will trade/sell another team a Fuel for a Gold if that team needs fuel to survive!)

Teams acquiring the Tortilla Flat Video get Turbochargers that allow them to move twice as fast for the rest of the game, and they get Turbos that could also be shared with other tabletops with the same effect. With two TF Videos in play, you would have one available for every team if they are shared.

Gold Cards have a couple of uses.

Most often, facilitators are choosing to use painted gold rocks along with gold mining pans for the tables to use to acquire gold when mining in The Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Teams like the heft of the rock and the gold mining pan adds a nice touch to the theme of gold mining at the tabletop along with the toy jeep and bendable figures and similar. But especially with a very large group, moving about with a large quantity of heavy rocks and the bulk of the mining pans is a delivery choice. The option is to give each team a Gold Card to symbolize the gold being mined.

The gold cards can also be a simple discussion aid. I will often distribute them as:

  1. A reminder of the main theme of mining as much gold as WE can, the cards being something they can take with them.
  2. A communications tool where they can choose to put their name on the back and then writing something that they could choose to do differently after the workshop, which can then be returned to them a week later.
  3. A communications tool where they can write another person’s name on the card with a signed commitment of what they could try to do differently to support that other person’s efforts post-workshop. I might tell Bobby that I will have two of my people join two of his to solve some interdepartmental glitch or similar…

We designed The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine to be a flexible experiential team building exercise to generate powerful debriefings focused on improving organizational results. It has a variety of clean metaphors about behavioral choices that players and teams make and generates measurable results showing the benefits of collaboration versus competition.

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Some thoughts on Scarcity

One of the new purchasers will run her first game with senior managers in a workshop about Scarcity and how that mentality can affect things like collaboration and the optimization of overall results. We see that same kind of “hold the cards tightly” thinking after downsizing efforts and similar organizational trauma where some self-preservation thinking might come into play that overrides a collaborative culture.

We often refer to this as, “My Team, My Team, My Team” thinking, which is not focused on interdepartmental collaboration or helping overall performance of the organization.

Scarcity Mentality can be seen when teams get Spare Tires and Batteries before they leave, just in case. Spare Tires are a form of security for a “just in case” mentality and anyone asking the Expedition Leader if they might get one would find them advised they are not needed.

Scarcity mentality in the play of the exercise can revolve around the acquisition of Tent Cards and how any surplus Supplies and Fuel are treated by the teams. If one team is in dire need of a Fuel Card, they might trade one Gold Card (worth $2500) for a couple of $10 Fuel Cards. It is not uncommon and occurs when the survival of the first team is in question at the end of the exercise.

Of course, since the role of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful, that same team could also simply ask for assistance and you could give them a $10 Fuel Card to insure their survival and the contribution of their gold to the overall results.

If the teams are fully collaborative, they could share some of their Cave Cards and two of their Turbochargers if they had a video. With a scarcity mentality, they would most likely hold on to all of those cards and NOT share them with the other tabletops. This dramatically and measurably sub-optimizes your overall results.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman

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

 
You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Mini-Survey: What Presentation Technology do you have available?

We are looking to make some “technological improvements” to some of our team building simulations and would like to know if those changes would impact your capability of delivering them.

For those of you with The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, for example, we are going to add the ability to use a video to present The History of The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine along with a tight presentation of how to access and use The Videos by a tabletop.

My questions are:

  • Do you have TWO lcd projectors?
  • Do you have a Document Camera?

Explanation and Background:

We will give users the option to use ours or do this themselves as they explain the exercise. As many of you know, accessing information and resources available in The Mine and Its Gold and the Tortilla Flat videos allows for improved play and results.

Users of our Professional Edition of the exercise know that we suggest that the presentation use a map of the territory along with colored dots to represent the location of each team each day. This feedback allows for more information to go to the tabletops about the decisions made, relative progress, and might lend them information about the availability of Turbochargers.

In the past, we have suggested the use of overhead projectors, which can be purchased for $50 and used reliably to show progress and also share a pod’s results. In the larger games of 15 or more tables, it was very inexpensive to use that OHP to show the map and share the results for the teams.

We are thinking about suggesting that every person delivering the exercise use a Document Camera to capture movement and to share the results summary but those would also require a large monitor (for smaller games) or an lcd projector for larger sessions. These can be purchased for $300 or less but they do require projection onto a screen or monitor. Rentals of these are often $1000 or more, so there is a potential cost issue.

For big corporations and large training departments, these are probably very simple questions. For an individual consultant using the game as a profit center, these can be considerable capital expenditures.

Thanks for any comments and suggestions, either in this blog or directly back to me. Have fun out there and note that we are making significant improvements in ALL of our team building games,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman

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

See our 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.

Extrovert, Introvert, and the Power of Quiet

Brian Remer sent me an email years ago with a connection to his neat online newsletter and I thought to kind of reprint some of that again with some of my own comments, ideas, and resources. Brian starts out discussing Susan Cain’s book called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, abstracting the contents and going on to add a few of his personal perspectives, productive frameworks and exercises.

Reading it, it seemed that it related nicely to our team building work using the Square Wheels images and our various team building simulations.

The basic idea is that everyone has ideas and perspectives and something to add, but that the dynamics of a group may be such that people appear to be uninvolved or non-contributory, even when they have great ideas that would be beneficial. They simply have a different style of working with other people’s ideas and working in a group, often when they do not have sufficient time to thoroughly consider ideas.

Some of these same concepts and thoughts appear in a different article, “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…” that focuses on the benefits of better engaging the 50% of the middle of any organization. (Click here to download that article.)

I Quit Article Icon

Brian’s abstract can be seen on his newsletter page at http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2013/February%202013.htm, focusing on generating the more active involvement of the more quiet people in the workplace. He reviews Susan Cain’s concepts of introverts in the workplace. What I somewhat disagree with are these comments:

Cain criticizes what she sees as an excessive use of teams in education and business saying it puts introverts at a disadvantage and reduces the number of creative ideas. She recommends giving people time to work alone, providing private space for contemplation, and using online brainstorming in which sharing ideas by text slows everyone’s thinking to a more thoughtful rate.

Is there really an excessive use of teamwork in education and business? (Wow. I did not see that coming.) My 30+ years of working with people and performance would suggest that many of the “teambuilding” and “Icebreakers” are simply delivered with a lot less focus on “team” such that the more effusive extraverts and faster information sorters tend to simply conversationally overpower the others.

My approach has always been to use smaller groups of 5 to 6 people and to give “quiet contemplation time” to the tabletops, to help those participants to consider ideas before they are discussed within a larger group. This provides people with more thinking time as well as allowing more generative solution and processing. We also use facilitated exercises such as, “What are some Square Wheels that our organization needs to address,” as discussion templates for these group discussions.

In my view, not everyone wants to be The Stand-Up Presenter of the tabletop’s ideas — most would rather have someone else do it.

But I do find, and my observations support, that everyone in these small groups will participate without much prompting — and it is natural for everyone to contribute. The reality that everyone with part of the task will participate to contribute to the group’s successes.

In our Lost Dutchman team building exercise, tabletops have assigned roles and tasks for each of the players and, with these small groups, it is impossible for people to not be involved and engaged. Each person does feel that they contribute to the tabletop’s efforts and our debriefings are more powerful because of this. We simply need of this active involvement and participation in more of our organizations.

Check out Brian’s writings and read some of his suggestions about how to approach the issues and generate some productive silence. Solid stuff, for sure.

And, you can see our newly created pictorial overview of how The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine works to involve and engage everyone in the effort to Mine as much Gold as WE can! Find that Pictorial here.

 

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.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

 

 

 

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