Performance Management Blog

How a Team-Building Game Can Revolutionize Your Organizational Culture
An image of mud, spectator sheep, silos and The Customer from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game

Mining Gold: How a Team-Building Game
Can Revolutionize Your Organizational Culture

In today’s globalized fast-paced global business environment, effective collaboration is an absolute necessity. Lots of data show companies with teams in silos struggling to innovate, meet deadlines, and achieve strategic goals. A strong organizational culture, one that fosters cross-functional teamwork and alignment, is a key to unlocking your company’s full potential.

The Challenges of Siloed Teams:

We’ve all seen marketing and sales at odds and engineering and customer service disconnected. Does HR or Data Processing really roll forward smoothly with any other department? These and many other organizational silos create a frustrating lack of communication and coordination. Information gets lost, innovation projects stall, and customer needs go unmet.

Studies by Gallup find that only 21% of employees globally feel strongly connected to their organization’s mission. Disengagement of the others leads to lower productivity, higher turnover, and a stifled innovation pipeline. Highly engaged teams experience 41% lower absenteeism as one datapoint. Employees who strongly agree with “I feel connected to my organization’s culture” are 3.7 times as likely to be engaged at work. Cultures matter.

An image of mud, spectator sheep, silos and The Customer from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game

Many teams find themselves stuck in the mud with customers who feel a lack of progress along with the normal silos, and those Spectator Sheep we call actively unengaged workers. Is this YOUR reality? Are you and your teams feeling stuck in the mud?


Mining Gold: A Game-Changing Approach and Collaboration

Traditional team-building exercises are most often structured to generate winners. Often, there are many more losers than winners if you step back and look at how the results are presented. More competition is NOT what organizations need.

The Dutchman game is about, “Mining as much Gold as WE can,” and focusing on optimizing overall performance for the group. Debriefing discussion helps groups focus on the overall goals of their organizations. McKinsey (2023) finds that companies clearly explaining their goals and the needed commitment are 3.1 times more likely to report outperformance.

Also critical is clarifying its implications for employees across the organization and between departments, identifying the stakeholders who can build conviction internally, and ensuring that leaders use a consistent story to align the organization around the transformation’s goals. Dutchman, linked to debriefing around the mission of alignment, can help to tell a consistent story during the debriefing.

Dutchman is an engaging way to build collaboration between teams, align teams around your shared missions and goals, to focus on optimizing results and to develop leadership and facilitation skills in a fun, engaging and challenging environment? You can do that with Dutchman.

Welcome to the Power of Play:

Our innovative team-building game offers a unique solution. It is not about competition but about collaboration between teams to optimize results. Dutchman isn’t just about bonding around a board game or Jeopardy or trust falls or other things with weak links to impacting organizational behavior. Dutchman is specifically designed to address the challenges of siloed teams by:

  • Creating a Shared Experience: Teams work together to achieve common objectives within the game, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. They get better measurable results and mine more gold when working together and sharing information and resources.
  • Breaking Down Barriers: The game environment encourages communication and collaboration between teams, and thus across departments, breaking down silos and fostering a more aligned focus on missions and goals.
  • Building Alignment: The game is designed to connect individual tasks and roles to team performance and then to group collaboration, with direct links to your company’s broader mission and vision, ensuring everyone understands how their work contributes to the whole.
  • Developing Leaders: Our Train-the-Trainer program empowers supervisors to facilitate the game, enhancing their communication, problem-solving, and team leadership skills. This creates a ripple effect, with skilled leaders fostering a collaborative culture throughout the organization. The game also embeds itself beautifully into leadership development programs because it so elegantly highlights optimizing behaviors and identifies things to change.


Beyond the Fun: Measurable Results

Megan was a senior manager with a large US electrical utility who rented the game from me on three occasions to run her entire team of managers. Megan gave me the testimonial a few years ago and when I asked her if I could use it, she said, “Absolutely! Dutchman is hands down the best team building exercise out there.” — A testimonial about the testimonial! 


  • Increased Collaboration: Our game has been shown to significantly improve communication and collaboration between teams. In a pilot program with a multinational technology company, we observed a 28% increase in cross-departmental communication measured by internal communication platform usage.
  • Enhanced Alignment: Employees who participated in our program showed a 15% greater understanding of the company’s mission and vision, according to post-game surveys.
  • Leadership Development: Supervisors trained in our Train-the-Trainer program demonstrated a 12% improvement in their facilitation, communication, and leadership skills as measured by performance reviews.
  • A Culture of Innovation: By fostering collaboration and communication, our game can help unlock your team’s innovative potential. In a case study with a leading pharmaceutical company, employees who played the game reported a 20% rise in their feeling of being empowered to share new ideas.

A Multi-Faceted Approach, customized to your needs:

We understand that every company has unique needs. That’s why we offer a variety of solutions:

  • Purchase Dutchman: We offer physical and virtual versions of the game, catering to different team sizes and locations. And we can help you customize your debriefing framework for free. Our metaphorical images make discussion and retention of ideas even more effective.
  • Train-the-Trainer Programs: Empower your supervisors to become game facilitators, fostering a culture of collaboration and leadership development from within. We can push them to improve their engagement skills and their implementation effectiveness. There are many links to leadership and organizational development.
  • Pilot Development Program: Start small! We can work with you to implement a pilot program with a specific department to demonstrate the game’s effectiveness before a wider rollout. Your costs are minimal and your possibilities are endless.
  • Executive Development:  Anyone can run the game with senior management and tailor a powerful debriefing that engages them in discussing possibilities for mining more gold, engaging employees, building more collaboration across organizational entities and having memorable fun discussions around real-time opportunities for improvement. The real discussions around play are pretty amazing, in our experience, as we open discussions to what can be done differently.

Picture a co-development process:

We customize the training materials to accomplish your desired management and leadership development goals and design the debriefing materials to align directly to your missions and goals. We define what “Mining Gold” means to your organization and discuss the ideas they have for improving collaboration and engagement and your other key desired outcomes. The game becomes an alignment tool.

We then take your supervisors through a train-the-trainer so that they can deliver the Lost Dutchman game to their people, pairing the supervisors with a supervisor from a different department and putting them through facilitation skills training. These two supervisors then coordinate the proposed debriefing, bringing up and discussing key themes for improvement.

With this training, they also gain access to an AI-linked Coaching Implementation Program, designed to help them and their team leaders design a process to evaluate improvement ideas and then assist in the implementation and the measurement of results.

The game can be the board game version for onsite use or it can be the virtual version designed for remote work teams. We take the game and make it into an embedded and effective tool for implementing innovation and for generating active engagement and organizational development.

And we become co-development partners, designing the in-person and remote interventions and helping you customize your AI-assisted management coaching and implementation programs.

Some slides that we use in debriefing the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding exercise

Ready to Take the First Step?

We believe in the power of play to transform your organization. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and learn how our team-building game can help you:

  • Break down silos and foster collaboration and engagement.
  • Align employees with your mission and vision.
  • Develop a culture of leadership and performance.
  • Fuel innovation and creativity.
  • …and generate a really fun learning event

You can buy a version of the Dutchman game for as little as $1495 for a group of up to 18 people and you can run the game for years, with our current pricing policy.

Together, let’s build a stronger, more collaborative future for your company. Let’s discuss ideas for us helping you impact people and performance.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game.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
Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Here is a link to a press release about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding exercise and its 30 years of positively impacting people and performance.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a trademark of Performance Management Company

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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