Collaboration. Team Building. Competition. Empowerment. Servant Leadership.
The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a team building exercise where tabletops of people should align to the shared goal of optimization of results and mining as much gold as we can. And we are now focusing on how to more tightly link the play of the game with the teaching and implementation of a Servant Leadership type of collaborative supportive leadership model.
The idea is to be able to disrupt the normal behavioral patterns of individuals and teams to allow them some coachable moments in which to be more involved and engaged and allowing of the support of the leadership team. The norm seems to be that people resist active support, which we also hear in anecdotal comments about the implementation of a Servant Leadership Model within organizations. Building up trust and openness is a difficult endeavor and the exercise helps address that issue.
The basic Dutchman game design allows teams to make choices, define strategies, and collaborate with other teams to share information and resources. Each tabletop makes its own decisions and tends to focus on its own situation, rather than take the bigger picture of how the group can benefit. The sharing tends to be quite restrained.
Generally, we see some collaboration between tabletops but good teamwork within each team. And some tabletops do collaborate while others are focused on that competition and winning, even though that is never a defined outcome for play and those choices sub-optimize results.
Minimized competition directly relates to improved overall outcomes. It is that way in this exercise and in corporate reality. Few corporations excel when internal competition is the reality.
But occasionally, we see a group surprise “The Expedition Leader” and collaborate way more than normal. In that situation and the debriefing, the role of the EL is to capture the positive aspects and quickly spin that into what the group could choose to do differently when back in the workplace.
We are currently focusing on the theme of Servant Leadership as we construct some new spins on the delivery of Lost Dutchman. The tabletop team focus tends to create an us / them (situation, culture, expectancy) whereby the team isolates itself from leadership. There seems to be a desire to operate independently, and that sometimes feels like an adversarial situation where the team will actually ask the leadership to leave them alone!
This framework is for teaching leaders more about the skills, but we will be testing it with actual leaders working with their teams in a real-world mining scenario. The idea is simple:
Get everyone to make better choices and access support to help optimize results.
If you have some ideas for how you would like to see us consider or if you would like more information about how we are approaching this issue through the design of the delivery, please email me,
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.
One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter @scottsimmerman and @dutchmangame
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Originally published at Performance Management Company Blog.