A few weeks ago, I posted up a 35-slide Slideshare compendium of some of the main debriefing themes we use, anchored to our teambuilding exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. The goal was to share how the exercise connects to organizational development issues and opportunities as well as to illustrate how we feel team building exercises of ALL kinds should work.
Dutchman focuses on aligning teams and players to shared goals and on generating collaboration between the tabletops as some of its unique competencies. It also links to leadership, motivation, strategic planning and project management themes.
Once I uploaded that file to Slideshare, I sent the link out to some of our existing consultant and trainer users of the exercise for their comments and reactions. All were positive and a couple of people offered up some good frameworks. Raju Madhaven, who used the game to train thousands of people when he was with Wipro in India (and who is now out consulting and training with his purchase of it) shared some good comments that stimulated me to blog about this:
- You can consider including the Tuckman model of Teaming – Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing (slide 21/22)
- Asking the question – Does your organization reward collaborative thinking? What are the ways in which it can reward? (slide 20 & 26)
- Slide 23 – While the poem is great- I wish the readers don’t misinterpret the visual! (it shows a driver and his vehicle on a mountain flat with no way to go up/down!
- I use the text in slide 33 a lot- very effective
So, let me embellish his comments with some of my own:
1. The Tuckman Model of Teaming is a very simple expressive model of four stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. It is often useful in describing how people feel when they are challenged as a group to make a decision but it is not a tight model nor one that has proven itself as an organizational tool.
In referencing that model, Raju was referring to the slides that I use to express the common reactions of teams to the challenge and the need to go from differing ideas to a shared consensus in order for the team to operate efficiently and effectively:
The tabletops do move from discord and disagreement to a readiness to operate, and they accomplish this in the 15 minutes of allotted Planning Time before the start of the game. That simply demonstrates that people CAN reach a decision and work as a team under time pressures, if the goals and objectives are shared and the mechanics of how to operate are known.
2. Collaboration – Raju likes to ask questions about how organizations deal with the culture of collaboration — is it supported or is the culture more competitive. Much of the Dutchman game design supports the measured benefit of collaboration, since we can track how sharing information and resources helps to optimize overall results.
The issue of rewarding collaboration is a difficult one, I think, since the addition of extrinsic rewards generally increases complexity of the interactions (do you reward all team members for the extra efforts of a few of them or do you reward all the teams participating in an organizational improvement initiative when only some of them were major contributors and some may have faced legitimate roadblocks like a lack of funding for their work. I am a Big Believer in using intrinsic reward and self-satisfaction to push behavior rather than the extrinsic rewards to recognize success. Some balance is certainly needed!
Collaboration is an obvious benefit to organizations, but the way that we often structure measurement and feedback systems is to generate competition rather than teamwork. In many cases, the term “Interdepartmental Collaboration” represents an oxymoron (words that do not go together) and we even call different operating units “Divisions” in many large organizations, somehow expecting divided organizations to function together.
The consulting and alignment and leadership development of these aspects of organizational structure are a difficult issue to address in many organizational cultures, simply because they have always been competitive in their orientation. Dutchman accomplishes this better than anything we are aware of…
We have a number of consultant users framing the Dutchman exercise into one for strategy implementation and restructuring and similar massive organizational change initiatives.
3. Intrinsic Motivation – I have long used this illustration, along with a body language physical exercise, to stress the important feeling of success that comes from accomplishment.
So, I am using the concept of pinnacle or reaching the top as the anchor point for the image, not the fact that they are “stuck” or any such thing.
In my trainings, I sometimes have people stand up and then raise their arms over their heads. I ask them how that feels and responses are uniformly positive. Then, I have them droop their arms down and round their shoulders forward and put their heads to look down and I ask them how that feels. Routinely, they will say things like “low energy” or “depressing” or “heavy.” Then, I repeat the arms over their head, have them cheer or jump up and down or similar and then tell them that they always have a choice in terms of how to react to situations!
So, for me, the cartoon illustrates a success state, a state of accomplishment, and I discuss things from that perspective.
I am not thinking that anyone would not see that from the way I debrief that slide! You can use that kind of framing in most any training, I would guess. You might also note that the vehicle in the image has round wheels, but that is a whole different conversation!
4. My two simple ending or closing statements:
I like to anchor my sessions in the concept of choice and choices. We all get to choose our reactions to things and having a more diversified set of choices or considered alternatives helps us to choose better. Ownership is important, since
All of our games and toolkits are designed to generate active involvement, a sense of ownership and commitment from the resulting discussions, and a set of considered alternative choices for future decisions.
I hope that you have found this framework useful and that maybe a new idea has been generated about improving the impact of your training and organizational development initiatives,
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.