The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (LDGM) was designed to allow the Expedition Leadership, the people delivering the game, to act very congruently with game’s goals and shared values of collaboration and planning. User feedback says it accomplishes that elegantly and that Dutchman is the best leadership game on collaboration that exists in the world. Our initial design thinking was that untrained managers should be able to deliver the exercise because their choices in how to support it would be logical and straightforward based on the goals and the rules for play. They explain the rules (through powerpoint), allow teams to plan, support the play and then debrief around player and team behavior, performance, collaboration and engagement themes.
Generating real organizational change or aligning people to the new company strategies is always an issue – how does one generate real involvement and alignment and ownership among the management team and then among all of the key performers? Active involvement and engagement and understanding along with clear discussions about past and future choices for changes and behaviors is what generates impact and value.
The Design Idea:
- First, deliver a live session as a team building event for the senior managers, knowing that you will need 3 of them for each 60 people in your main event. Debrief as to their group issues as seen in the play and then define their desired outcomes for the large event.
- Spend 10 minutes on explaining the need for congruent behavior during game delivery, what constitutes how they operate to help teams be successful.
- Spend 30 minutes on how to “bank” the game, how to process the transactions of each team each day.
- Spend 20 minutes on how to “lead” the game from the floor, how to function as a co-expedition leader during the play of the main event itself, giving help, selling teams on the idea of getting a video, etc.
YOU can function as the large event leader and facilitator but the senior managers will play an active and visible role in the delivery of the game itself. The idea is to allow the exercise to be used by managers with their people, to clarify the real goals and visions and to enable people to play as they should perform in daily work and to model desired leadership behaviors. It is great to have a presenter (trainer or consultant) deliver the game but so much more can be achieved with the active support of the real management team.
Lost Dutchman is one of the truly great team building exercises, and one that works well with really large groups. My largest session delivery was with 600 people, but Wipro in India reported running a delivery with 870 people in one room at one time — and with a solid debriefing linked to their specific issues and opportunities.
The exercise scales up nicely, needing only 3 people for each 60 participants. And, if the managers are actually demonstrating their active support for the lessons being learned and leading in a manner congruent with improving collaboration and teamwork, there are even more positive outcomes. Behavior changes when we can change behavior; people’s beliefs and attitudes will become congruent with the choices they make and what they do. Getting senior managers to collaborate will improve collaboration.
Generating real organizational change or aligning people to company strategies is a common organizational issue – how does one generate active involvement, understanding and alignment among the management team and cascade that to the key performers?
Delivering a large group team building event using the Dutchman exercise actually represents a unique and unparalleled opportunity to build executive teamwork and real collaboration going forward:
- Senior managers generally love challenges, and what better challenge than having them learn to facilitate a program that generates alignment of their own people toward the organization’s goals and objectives.
- Senior managers often “talk team,” but they operate their own groups in a way to isolate them from real inter-organizational collaboration. We hear the term “silo” enough to know that it represents real organizational reality. So putting them into a situation where their teamwork together is required for effectiveness makes it easier to get these behaviors down the road. Working as a team generates teamwork, especially when there is followup and discussion about the impacts.
- Instead of some unknown people running around during a facilitated event, why not have managing managers walking the talk and supporting teamwork and sharing resources and behaving congruently?
In the Dutchman exercise, the expressed goal is, “To mine as much Gold as We can” and to generate an optimal Return on Investment.
We get the managers aligned and congruent with the above as part of the game they play together and as part of generating the debriefing on what changes need to be made to impact and optimize organizational results in their program. We then take these desired outcomes into the delivery, play and debriefing of the larger game.
Dutchman was designed to be easy to facilitate — As part of my initial thinking about how it should play, I did not want my company to need a staff of people to do licensing or certification nor did I want to make the exercise too hard for players to understand. I also wanted non-training people (managers) to be able to deliver the game — we have had many line managers run the exercise over the years with great success. (You can see 30+ testimonials by clicking on the image below.)
Dutchman has had 25+ years of polishing Dutchman to make it into a very straightforward team building program. It is easy to prepare for and to deliver, with minimal surprises. And we have extensive debriefing support materials:
Some of the images one can embed into the debriefing. Here we have the players working hard to mine gold and then having the opportunity to “sit by the fire” and debrief successes and missed opportunities. We can also recognize that THEY are generally and actually WE.
This design gives a consultant or trainer the ability to put an executive coaching hat on, debriefing the senior managers in the initial game with the goal of improving their teamwork with real purpose. It also enables one to run really large groups with only YOU being required for delivery. You use these senior managers as your delivery team.
Imagine the staffing needs to run a typical experiential exercise for 300 people versus the ability to deliver a senior manager team building session plus the large teambuilding event with only my active involvement and participation. Simplicity and effectiveness!
We generate a much higher likelihood of behavioral change and implementation of organizational improvement after the event, since the managers have a really powerful hands on collaborative experience in working with each other to maximize the results of the event itself.
The debriefing of that senior manager session focusing on discussing the kinds of behaviors these senior managers would like to see from the people at the large event helps tie things together. The focus on the shared missions and visions and the generation of alignment to goals, objectives and expectations becomes quite clear. This can be done internally or with a trusted outside facilitator or coach. We can support many different scenarios.
Having these real Senior Managers in this game delivery role is a perfect leadership learning lesson on how to implement change and support high performance. One cannot simply TALK about what leaders and players should be doing; they have to behave consistently and congruently to actually generate results.
I hope that this framework has been informative and helpful.
We sell the Dutchman game directly to end users looking for a high-impact, low cost training tool and it comes in different versions for different size groups. We deliver the game to companies wanting outside facilitation. And, we rent the game for one-time use.
For the FUN of It!
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 who is trying to retire!! He now lives in Cuenca, Ecuador.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.
Here is a 2-minute overview of the virtual team building game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6gDtZymwk