Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Tag: large group team building event

Team Building and Large Event Management Ideas

My network of consultant users is sharing the idea that the “large team building event business” which has been pretty sparse is starting to pick up once again. There seems to be renewed interest by companies in hosting effective team building events for their management teams to help refocus on issues of business improvement or interdepartmental collaboration. The theme of strategy implementation has inherent interest, as does general teambuilding to improve interdepartmental collaboration.

This is good for us because we offer one of the most effective simulations out there for helping to focus people in the theme of optimizing results through better communications, alignment and planning. We are also well-positioned to build on the successes of many of the outdoor training or challenge courses that set the stage for less work on individual learning and more work on organizational improvement.

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The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine fits a unique position in the marketplace. It is inexpensive to own and use, with only a one-time purchase price and no annual fees or licensing requirements or similar. A corporation like Wipro can run it with 30,000+ employees with the additional cost of printing paper, for example (true!). And I just got a testimonial from a consultant user who has had the game in continuous use for 19 years (that even shocked me!).

And people are reporting that their organizations have not been doing much with teamwork, sometimes for many years. They battened down the hatches on those kinds of developmental events a few years ago and just have not moved toward re-energizing their people or refocusing or realignment. The time seems to be approaching when some solid OD will have clear benefits.

If you might be interested in a solid developmental activity, you can rent the exercise from us, custom-packaged to meet your desired outcomes. You are dealing with the principle designer and owner of the company, so you get hands-on support at a high level.

Rent The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

Lots of people look to do team building within their organizations and Dutchman is one of those exercises that works well with small and large groups.

Normally, my conversations are generally with consultants and trainers who have been doing these kinds of things on a smaller scale and are looking for some new tools and approaches. Many of those conversations were with the, “been there and done that” crowd who were simply looking for some new and better tools than what has been out there in the marketplace.

We also just put together an agreement with Challenge Korea, an outdoor-based team building company who is going to begin using Dutchman, in Korean, and working to assist the larger companies there. It will be a good product addition to their current offerings, and will enable them to build more collaboration and followup implementation with their clients.

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman DebriefSo, it has been fun to put my Coaching Hat on once again, along with my Event Planner Hat, and offer up some ideas for optimizing impacts for these new clients.We just had one organization run Dutchman with 9 different groups of college accounting students all over the US, with sizes from 140 up to 250 — and with great reported successes.

The exercise is about getting help along with information and on collaborating and sharing information and resources to optimize results. But what leaders see are people choosing NOT to get available planning information, to compete rather than collaborate among tabletops and to choose to not get help from the game leaders who are there to help! The messages are pretty obvious and the debriefings are most excellent.

Anyway, it is really neat to see these kinds of large events start happening again, since they can be powerful events to engage people in change and improvement and to lead them out of the current “engagement doldrums” that we seem to find ourselves.

Have some FUN out there yourself!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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

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Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Implementing Changes after Team Building Events

As I have written elsewhere, companies are spending around $200,000,000,000 annually on “training” based on analyses by the American Society for Training and Development. And a variety of posts in discussion threads on LinkedIn indicate that the “team building game delivery industry” remains fairly robust. Lots of companies are doing events to improve teamwork and collaboration.

But are they really generating successes?

Dissatisfaction with the impacts of team building seem high when companies analyze the impacts of that spending. People may remember all the fun they had or the awful weather they endured or the dangers they faced with the paintballs, but few of these activities tightly link to organizational change back at the workplace. The buzz about Firewalking claims that it is life-changing, but few organizations can demonstrate improved workplace productivity as a result of such events.

Performance Management Company’s approach to team building exercises has always been different (since 1993). We focus on themes like project management or strategic planning or interdepartmental collaboration through metaphor and tight, easily facilitated game design. In The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine,

  • we provide people with limited but sufficient resources,
  • force people to analyze information in a challenge to optimize results,
  • make tabletops evaluate and share risk, and
  • then to execute a plan of action within time limits.

The exercise rewards sharing of physical information between tabletops to optimize measured results and links choices and behaviors directly to measured results, much like what occurs in the workplace.

Where Dutchman differs from most other activities is in the debriefing, where we can discuss and evaluate issues like the emotions that result when a challenge occurs, the tendency to compete rather than collaborate, the measured impacts of not sharing information on ROI, and other business factors related to how people and teams perform in the workplace.

shared goals

(actual worksheets have smaller illustrations and more room for capturing ideas)

The Dutchman game is loaded with a variety of debriefing questions and worksheets that help any facilitator make serious connections between ideas and implementation. The question compendium allows one to easily customize the debriefing to focus on specific desired developmental outcomes.

Mining Gold Means


What Energizes


The main goal in Lost Dutchman is to drive the implementation of new behaviors that will better support improved performance results. Yes, it is fun and challenging, but it is tightly anchored to real-world behavioral change themes for teams and departments. No fluff.

(And it can handle very large groups, elegantly and effectively.
More on that here. And some testimonials are here.)

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:

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Large Group Team Building Events – Using Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and Square Wheels

I was asked about using the Lost Dutchman game for working with large groups a few minutes ago so I thought to share some ideas. These days, I do only a few training events and presentations a year, mostly for when I go to kickoff a new exclusive contract with a collaborating company in foreign lands or when I see a good challenge or high impact event. I love this stuff and it has been 28 years in the business, now. It is hard to believe but we first started presenting The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in 1993 — 20 years ago and it is better than ever!

There are few interactive, participative and engaging team building exercises that work really well with large groups. (I will note that I can deliver Square Wheels sessions for large groups, interactively and with a great deal of participation, but those sessions are just not as FUN and Memorable as the Dutchman ones…)


And I will admit that I really do like using the game with large groups, since it works really so well with large groups and I will often be able to get the most senior leaders actively involved with me in its delivery.That tends to generate their level of ownership involvement and commitment toward both the delivery as well as the required followup needed to actually implement the ideas that are suggested and the impacts that are discussed.

I guess my most favorite “trick” is to get the organization’s Most Very Senior Manager (see pictures below) to actually lead the post-game discussion of:

“What might mining as much gold as we can mean to our organization? What things can we choose to do differently?”

The responses to that from the direct reports are usually right on target and meaningful and they would not even bubble up if the participants did not think that they were at least somewhat doable and that they would obviously need the involvement and active support of that senior leader. It is the perception of roadblocks and impediments that seem to be the most common roadblocks and impediments!

Plus, I like working with the senior managers most of all, and if we are doing a  large group team building event, let’s say 150 to 200 people, I can often get the senior leadership team to actually go through and debrief the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building training event with me before we actually do the training on how to co-deliver and support the game in the venue and then afterwards.

Followup is the breakfast of team building champions!

Doing these kinds of sessions also has a certain level of challenge for me and it does leverage my time pretty nicely. Often, my simple credibility as developer of the exercise seems to lend itself to having a good deal of impact on the issues that the organization faces to improve collaboration and performance.

When you can get the senior leader of the organization up front and asking what people can do differently, that is really neat:


Or when you can get the President of the organization on the floor, in a cowboy hat (below drinking coffee), trying to “Help Teams be Successful and Maximize ROI,” that is great to reference in the debriefing as well as when he wears his cowboy hat to management meetings to talk about optimizing organizational performance results:


Since we sell our Professional Version of the game to organizations and consultants, they also find the game easy to play and useful for engaging participants in discussions of issues and opportunities for improvement. Many of our user-base runs the game with large groups and one client company (Wipro in India) ran one session with 870 people in one game! The testimonial we get are routinely excellent:

Kyla LD testim 100 Brown LD Testimonial 70

You can read more about delivering the exercise to large groups in other articles on our blog. This one shares some ideas about actually delivering the exercise for large events and was written to support owners of the exercise.

You can find out a LOT about this exercise from my Square Wheels website by clicking here and more about pricing and purchasing the exercise at

Rent Lost Dutchman

My role is to help team be successful and maximize Return on Investment! 

How can we help YOU?

Scott Simmerman, wearing his Coaching Hat and preparing for Lost Dutchman

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:

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