A Comparison of Team Building Simulations

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

with

Gold of the Desert Kings

 

(April, 2018): While this product comparison of Dutchman and GDK is dated, I keep it prominently displayed on the PMC website because it does overview and explain some of the wonderful design features of Lost Dutchman as they relate to the delivery of a powerful, engaging, collaborative team building event. (Please also note that we are creating a powerful new optional framework for the delivery of the exercise around the theme of Selfless / Servant Leadership, using the basic delivery but with many changes to its debriefing. Please contact us for more details (email Scott).

 

Customers and prospects are regularly asking us to compare our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine (Lost Dutchman or LDGM) to other products and approaches to building teamwork and improving organizational performance. We have already published articles on our blog about outdoor exercises and the general marketplace and will continue to build on this thread.

In particular, we are often asked about Eagle Flight's Gold of the Desert Kings (GDK) and how it and LDGM are different from each other and what we see as the benefits of each to an end user.

These are two different games from two separate vendors with two distinct approaches to organizational improvement, game design, pricing, marketing and organizational support. Your purchase decision should be made on the perceived value and benefits that accrue to your product selection.

People find that on a point-by-point comparison, LDGM offers a variety of advantages in terms of cost, ease of use, flexibility and impact. This article and the chart below will attempt to compare the two exercises and your comments and thoughts would be welcome so that we might offer further or more complete discussions and clarifications.

It has been years since we've had any direct personal experience with GDK but conversations with dozens of Dutchman users who have used GDK or experienced deliveries of both of these exercises still support this comparison. We actually got a confirming email from an European GDK licensee the day after updating this page -- he confirmed all of the key points made below, purchased  Dutchman and got my permission to translate it.

While we're not claiming that these going-forward comments are precisely accurate, they do reflect what we know with a solid base of available information and the comments are offered as an honest comparison. Should you find any errors or omissions, please contact us.

A variety of testimonials follow the body of this comparison.

A BIG difference is that PMC sells Lost Dutchman without a lot of encumbering restrictions on use or deployment:

 

  • We will SELL YOU THE GAME as a one time cost --you may use it as often as you would like.

  • You are not encumbered with telling us details about your deliveries, groups, participants, etc. You are simply expected to respect our intellectual property and copyrights.

  • There are versions for different sized groups, priced accordingly.

  • Certification or train-the-trainer or similar added expenses are not required

  • There are no per-participant costs or annual licenses, just the one-time cost of the exercise.

  • You may RENT Dutchman from us (USA and Canada, only) for a one-time delivery should it make more sense than purchasing.


The gameplay of LDGM does not punish mistakes by the death of a team. In Dutchman, all of the teams are successful and some of the teams are simply more successful if they do a better job of initial strategic planning and if they collaborate and share information between tabletops.

Dutchman was designed as a training game with the specific goal of it being used as a tool to improve organizational results. It has a fun theme but the theme is NOT the main factor in delivery. Dutchman was designed with 20 days of 2 minutes each as opposed to GDK which has 25 days of 3 minutes each.

 

This extra 35 minutes reduction in “play” time is much more useful as part of the debriefing time than as part of the theatre.

 

Lost Dutchman offers purchasers numerous benefits in delivery because:

  • Dutchman contains metaphors relating play to business themes with no factors included that are simply meant to distract teams from important issues. The metaphors are cleanly designed and implemented.

  • Scott Simmerman, Dutchman's creator, was the first USA representative of GDK (he developed Dutchman after Eagle's Flight continually refused to collaborate on making GDK a stronger game) and whenever Scott facilitated GDK, he felt that his debriefings of GDK were always difficult since the role of the Expedition Leader was intentionally not clearly defined as helpful and collaborative and the information that was available to teams was sometimes either confusing or meaningless, such as the Old Man or the Weight Cards in GDK. Teams could die, for example, which always complicated the discussions and gave unpredictable debriefing dynamics.

  • In the design of Dutchman, we wanted to focus clearly and cleanly on the debriefing outcomes and wanted the Expedition Leadership to model competencies. Leadership is focused on optimizing outcomes and results and in helping teams be more successful.

  • We offer teams access, for example, to Turbochargers, a best practice metaphor that allows them to go twice as fast during the journey. We also offer them extra Turbos that can be shared with other tabletops, much like a Best Practice can be shared. There is no such type of structure in most other games or in GDK.

  • The role of the leader in Dutchman is to help teams be successful by assisting the teams, encouraging them to plan and offering them resources when they are in trouble. “The Role of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful” is clearly defined and explicit in the introduction of the exercise as well as in the support materials. This is not the case in GDK.

  • Dutchman is structured so that teams can benefit clearly and measurably by collaboration.

  • Teams are encouraged to collaborate and results are measured. Some resources are designed specifically to be shared and to benefit other teams with sub-optimized and measurable results if they are hoarded.

  • The Goal to "Mine as Much Gold as We Can,” is the major theme of a program - it is not about one team winning and it is about optimizing and maximizing the results for the Expedition Leader, who furnishes the teams the information, resources, systems and processes needed to succeed. 

  • The focus is on optimizing overall results and accomplishments, on sharing information and resources and on asking for help, assistance and guidance from the Leadership. It is not focused on who is the winner and who are the losers…

  • It's flexible in its delivery design and debriefing. The game is packaged with extensive, flexible powerpoint debriefing materials.

  • Dutchman is easily used by consultants and easy to design into programs with other materials and content - we actively support such efforts and are open to new design ideas and features that can be incorporated into the game.

  • Its design has many excellent links to a variety of debriefing themes and the exercise easily integrates into other organizational development content. It is a favorite tool of organizational consultants, as you can see from the included testimonials.


Clients use this exercise as a kickoff event for a multi-day leadership program, or as part of a new employee orientation program where the corporate theme is collaboration and teamwork. It can be used in schools with students as well as faculty as a way of teaching the benefits of participative learning or for improving communications. While the design is simple and straightforward, that simplicity lends itself to using the exercise in many different contexts.

Dutchman has content that elegantly links to our Square Wheels® tools:

  • Lost Dutchman has the metaphor of vehicles (and thus Square and Round Wheels), Mud, and other themes that make it link seamlessly to our other materials. The training metaphors are clear and the debriefing can easily link to issues of workplace improvement, change, intrinsic motivation, leadership and other themes that are forefront in our Square Wheels approach to organizational improvement.

Dutchman has content that elegantly links to LEGO® tools like the LEGO® Serious Play methodology.

 

  • A wide variety of LEGO scenes and images are embedded into the Dutchman delivery materials to add color and build on organizational development frameworks, making it very easy to transition to the use of LEGO bricks in an expanded workshop.

The Square Wheels and the LEGO® add a great deal of flexibility to your program designs.

 

You can get information on GDK from Eagle's Flight by contacting them directly. You will not find much information online about their exercise, the design, the costs or the impacts as compared to what you can find out about other exercises in the marketplace.

 

Our approach at PMC is to openly share a great deal of information about the design features of our various products. An informed customer is a better customer and it makes sense that by our openly showing prices and other benefits in working with us for your organizational improvement, you'll be better equipped to make a sound decision.

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Testimonials:

Consultant and trainer experienced with both LD and GDK products:

“Lost Dutchman is a truly great design and builds on clear themes and components that allow for easy debriefing. It is tight but also flexible and the debriefings can go in many different directions. I know both “The Search for the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine” and “Gold of the Desert Kings” very well and the Dutchman simulation has better capabilities of dealing in a variety of different management initiatives such as Teambuilding, Leadership, Planning, Resource Management, Time Management and most importantly, Collaboration.

The Lost Dutchman Expedition Leader can truly model supporting and engaging participants in collaborating. In GDK, the role is much more about competition since the leader encourages winning as individual teams rather than the entire group working together to achieve productivity and profitability. Lost Dutchman's design is also much more pragmatic and realistic, where GDK approach seems to me to be much more limited in scope.

I have used both for over 20 years and most organizations that I consult with seem to prefer Lost Dutchman due to the concept of collaboration versus competition.

 

Testimonial from a consultant user in Greece:

Greatest value of the game is its flexibility and the ease in which it engages participants. Suitable for virtually any training objective since the feedback options are limitless and through the group dynamics any issue can be tackled from role conflict to leadership vacuum to poor communication patterns. Dutchman is flexible also in terms of adjusting to crowd size and time constraints. All in all a great (and fun!) tool for any trainer or company!

Comments from a consultant in Singapore:

I have been using the Lost Dutchman for 15 years and it never fails as a business simulation to stimulate the participants and create excellent learning.

Its close link to business reality makes it a winner as well as the energy it creates. I have run it at 8pm at night after a full day and the energy is just as good as at 8am.

Key uses of the game are for implementation of strategy, communication among teams, understanding indicators and ROI.

 

Comments from a consultant user in Raleigh:

This product is an essential resource for any team builder's tool kit. Experientially based, it encompasses just about every process issue a team encounters: planning, communication, risk taking, decision making, competition and collaboration just to name a few. It's one of my favorite team process tools!

Comments from a consultant user in Sydney:

Dear prospector--would like to share with you how we have enjoyed outstanding success with 'the Dutchman' in our Australian Tier One telecommunications provider. We initially piloted the activity across 30 senior managers as an icebreaker to a two-day strategic conference. Outcome? 

The activity highlighted how much we could improve through better collaboration, teamwork & communication via a competitive high-energy experiential exercise. We have now purchased a second kit and adapted it as our innovative cultural alignment exercise across 600 customer service people to allow them to live & breathe the impacts of ownership, teamwork & communication with incredible success. Highly recommended. 

 

Comments from a consultant user in Illinois:

Simply Superb! We use this program all over the country with our clients and it is ALWAYS rated as one of the best programs delivered. Works in all types of companies and drives organizations toward Collaboration and Teamwork! The debrief options allow you to fully customize the delivery to any audience. Well designed and easy to deliver. That, combined with all of the knowledge and support of Dr. Scott, and you have the best Team Building simulations out there... BAR NONE!

 

Comments from a consultant user in Australia:

I stumbled on Lost Dutchman some years ago and after quite a lot of research, invested in the package. I'm very pleased I did and it has become a very useful tool in my range of professional development offerings.

I've used it with Corporate, Government and Education markets.

The Gold is in the debriefing that you do after the exercise and if I had any criticism of the product, it would be that you are given so many options and alternatives for this, it can be difficult at first honing in on the best approach to take.

 

Comments from a consultant user in Florida:

We purchased this product for an offsite meeting to discuss Resource allocation and Collaboration. The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine was a breeze to facilitate. The participants loved it and more importantly walked away with lessons that they were immediately able to apply back at the office. The slides and materials allow you to guide the group in almost any direction imaginable. I am still getting comments weeks after the session about the impact it made on the business and the improved performance. Dutchman is a small investment that generates huge results.

We have dozens of such comments and reactions to our exercise. You can find the results of a user survey and a discussion of questions and reactions in our blog post summary below, plus a list of 38 user testimonials in a slideshare post:

A Survey of Users of Lost Dutchman

Testimonials about Lost Dutchman

Performance Management Company (PMC) has no affiliation with the LEGO® Group nor does it use materials or methodology from LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® or other related organizations. None of our images knowingly reflect any copyrighted or trademarked materials of any other organization. The LEGO Group does not sponsor, authorize or endorse any of these materials. 

 

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine™ is a trademark  of Performance Management Company and all materials produced by PMC remain the intellectual property of PMC.

Tel: 864-292-8700

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine™ is a trademark of Performance Management Company and all materials produced by PMC remain the intellectual property of PMC.