Debriefing Experiential Team Building Exercises - Overview using Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine


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Debriefing activities is both an art and a process. Many games and challenges can be linked to the realities of organizational improvement and workplace engagement. In this overview, we link some of our questions on leadership, collaboration, strategic planning and communications into the context of discussing the behavioral choices of players and teams in our organizational development simulation. These same general questions and frameworks are also applied to our other developmental exercises like Seven Seas Quest and Innovate & Implement.

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  • A compendium of ideas about debriefing in general and about debriefing The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in particular. Debriefing is about involving and engaging people for change and improvement.
  • Dutchman has been sold to individuals and organizations since 1993, and it has been continuously improved.
  • Unless there is a good debriefing to make the links, you are just playing games and having fun. Nothing wrong with wasting a good opportunity, I guess…
  • There are a variety of different themes to discuss and impacts of the game on the way people manage projects, make strategic decisions, interact with each other, and focus on goals. A main focus is on inter-team collaboration, something that can be improved in so many organizations with so many positive impacts.
  • There are a variety of ways to use the exercise, depending on your desired outcomes and training needs.
  • .
  • THIS IS AN EXERCISE FOCUSED ON MEASURED RESULTS. Unlike almost every other game we know of, this simulation is most assuredly a BUSINESS and organizational development exercise. Leadership gives teams information and resources and provides them challenges. Teams make choices about what to do based on their understanding of the goals, their tolerance for risk, and their desire for collaboration with other teams. Goals are clear, but often misunderstood. Teams can collaborate, but that is their choice based on their beliefs. The Expedition Leader is there to help them optimize results, but few teams ask for help or guidance and few teams collaborate with others. It is a powerful way to generate debriefing ideas on real issues.
  • One of the challenges is to select an optimal route to and from the mine, one that increases the likelihood of success.
  • Note the “WE” as part of the goal - plus the working together. These are the general GAME goals and we sometimes modify them to align slightly better to the desired outcomes of the client. A word or two, maybe, about a shared vision or something along those lines. These are the game goals, for sure.
  • Those few moments at the end of the strategy and planning time and the beginning of Day 1 are generally pretty wild, because no one really knows what they are actually doing, but they know that they must do something.
  • We have used this cartoon over and over and over in the Dutchman as well as our other tools. MY TEAM is a good concept, a really solid and necessary component of working. But, at the same time, too much internal focus prevents collaboration from occurring with any other team that might exist. Often, other teams have non-aligned performance measurements or different feedback systems that measure behavior in competing ways. This is one of the issues that we see when there are problems between departments. And it is always funny when companies form DIVISIONS and then expect them to work together!
  • It is about choices and about behavior, about the balancing of competition and collaboration. Information sharing, strategic planning and other aspects of The Collective are important to overall success. Often, you find pieces of what is needed, but seldom the whole pie.
  • Here are a few of the more common questions and frameworks that we use in the exercise debriefing discussions…
  • Discussing the different game design aspects which generated energy and motivation is an easy way to get managers and workers talking about what kinds of things motivate people in all situations. We have a good bit of support material around this question including three slides of key factors.
  • Alignment to missions, visions, goals and expectations is a key issue for optimizing organizational results and generating collaboration.
  • What are some of the high payoff activities that would best impact the overall organization? What are the key performance factors we should be managing more effectively?
  • How do we improve collaboration and teamwork between different parts of the organizations?
  • And we had to make decisions about what to do and how much risk we should take before we got things rolling.
    Not everyone agreed and it was important for the team to reach a consensus about what to do, where to go, what to take and how much risk should be managed. The disagreement is good, in that it insures that we have looked at things from a variety of perspectives.
  • And we NEED agreement! We need everyone on board and people have to feel that their ideas have been considered.
    Once we got agreement, we could focus on getting things done, planning, trading, and executing.
    Yeeee Haaaaa!
  • The motivating goal was for people to get to the Top. We all want to be successful. We all want to have accomplishments.
    The challenge was to successfully manage the journey and work together as a team.
  • We could have been aligned and supporting between teams. We could all share the same goals and move in the same direction. We could have made some really good choices about working together and optimizing results.
  • We sometimes tend to make this a “They” situation, where “They” are not “US.”
  • Goals are necessary for engagement and alignment. Most workers in most organizations do not know much about organizational goals, based on many years of survey work. Goals help direct behavior.
  • Yes it is.
  • Choice and Choices, considered alternatives, peer pressure to meet commitments and many other things can result from a good debriefing.
  • This slide and the next one contain quotes about engagement and empowerment and moving things forward, step by step.
    You might find these to be useful, quick anchor points. They are optional. This is the world’s longest sentence of 2 letter words, maybe.
  • I use this slide in many different situations. It is about personal responsibility and choice. It is about asking for commitment.
  • If you republish this material anywhere, please give PMC the original attribution and please reference our website at
    Thank You!
  • If you republish this anywhere, please allow PMC to retain the original attribution and please reference our website at
    Thank You!
  • Debriefing Experiential Team Building Exercises - Overview using Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

    1. 1. Please note that the purpose of this slideshare is to share some ideas about the Debriefing of this exercise and other experiential games in general. We include a number of slides to frame up the basic aspects of the game, but if you are looking for more of a description of the exercise itself, look at our “Marketing Ideas” slideshare. Search: “slideshare marketing ideas dutchman”
    2. 2. A tabletop map shows the key location of the mine as well as possible routes. There is a lot of information teams sort and manage. They have possibilities to discuss, risks to assess, and resources to manage.
    3. 3. Our Goals: • Work Together • Get to the Mine •• Mine as much GoldMine as much Gold as We Canas We Can • Return to Apache Junction • Have Fun!
    4. 4. The exercise generates behavior, lots of goal-oriented collaborative and competitive behavior focusing on risk management, resource optimization and the sharing of information in a fast-paced challenge.
    5. 5. A sense of competition and the natural competitiveness commonly caused by a “My Team, My Team, My Team” focus measurably sub-optimizes group performance results. Collaboration rather than competition is a key factor for success and a focus of the debriefing.
    6. 6. The play of the game is the basis for serious focused discussions about the choices made, alignment, goals, communication and teamwork. Collaboration offers much higher payouts than competition, but players often choose to try to win rather than optimize overall results. This allows for great discussions about your workplace improvement!
    7. 7. Here are a some of the key themes for our debriefings: And any good experiential learning exercise…
    8. 8. What did you learn from your experience?
    9. 9. What kinds of Mud must we deal with? Mud is our “cultural and bureaucratic glop.”
    10. 10. What motivates people for workplace improvement?
    11. 11. What can we do to better align our teams to our goals?
    12. 12. What can weWhat can we change to allow forchange to allow for better overallbetter overall collaborationcollaboration within ourwithin our organization(s)?organization(s)?
    13. 13. Some amount of discord and disagreement is what generates better overall decisions. • How did your group decision process influence the quality of your decision-making? • How did you involve and engage everyone in decisions? • Did having team roles help structure your thinking?
    14. 14. How did group decision-making generate a better sense of team involvement and active ownership for results?
    15. 15. Employee engagement is an experience to be lived not a problem to be solved. It’s really neat, getting to the Top, one wonders if success will ever stop. Collaboration is one real great key as is planning things, it seems to me. We see the goal, we see the top. What pushes us to never stop? We can easily talk about Motivation and Success
    16. 16. We can readily discuss issues of organizational alignment and our need to have shared goals and objectives.
    17. 17. We hear us talk about THEY. And we hear us talk about THEM: Note: They and Them is Us!
    18. 18. Benefits of Collaborating are obvious. Why do teams compete?
    19. 19. Expedition Leaders can help teams be more successful. Why don’t teams ask for assistance?
    20. 20. Improvement is about making different choices!
    21. 21. Why are Clear Goals needed for effective leadership?
    22. 22. What might I consider doing differently? It is all about choice and choices; we generate considered alternatives.
    23. 23. Have FUN Out There! …and maximize your impacts!
    24. 24. Scott Simmerman, Ph.D. 864-292-8700