Performance Management Blog

On Collaboration and Decision-Making

Games like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine can make some really difficult concepts much easier to dissect and discuss.

Collaboration and decision-making tend to be pretty intense activities in so many situations. In the team building exercises we deliver, the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing acts all get accomplished in a 15 minute planning period.

Normally, not everyone agrees at the start of the exercise, since people have different viewpoints on things like risk or have thought about resource management differently. Some want to get more information and some people are just unsure

Not all the players on a team will share the same ideas about how things should be played. These discussions are valuable — they help generate alternatives.

But, within that time period, it is evident from observing the behaviors of the team members that they are now a team, sharing a goal and working together to prepare for the journey forward.

Pressures of time and clarity of goals / visions will help teams perform the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing steps within the Planning Period of 15 minutes

Now, that team can get to work and get things organized. What has NOT been resolved is that team’s role in the larger picture of the exercise. Watching the teams interact and the Collaborator being labeled a “Spy” is enlightening. The different tabletops still view the others as:

We hear about “THEM” all the time, but often they are really made up of “US!”

The goal is clear, the resources are defined, the possibilities are limited and the decisions being made are pretty critical. But teams bond to the exclusion of the other tabletops unless the Expedition Leader does some extraordinary things.

“My Team, My Team, My Team” focus can cause more competition than collaboration

One way to play the game is to stop things after Day 5 of Day 10 and discuss performance relative to goals and objectives. After all,

The Goal is to Mine as much Gold as WE can!

But ALL of us Know More than ANY of us, so sharing information and maybe the trading of resources and ideas can have big overall benefits. People collaborating generate better results than people competing, that is for sure! We play the game to get into serious discussions about issues and opportunities to clarify existing or new visions and goals as well as address the fundamental issues of poor planning and competition.

After all, we are in this together,

For the FUN of It!

Scott small pic

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

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Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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