Scott Simmerman

"About the Game"

This is a powerful exercise focused on how people, teams and organizations perform. It is about motivation, optimization and results. It sets up a wide variety of debriefing opportunities which make it a powerful event or the core of a multi-day leadership or teambuilding program.

The teams are to have fun, return home, and optimize results. Planning and collaboration are beneficial. The Leader is supportive. Motivation is high. And the goals are clear.

Yet teams often compete instead of collaborate. They plan to fail by not planning and using all the information and resources available. It is a powerful learning opportunity for teams and individuals that has been played worldwide for over 10 years.

Many people confuse Lost Dutchman with another vendor's product, Gold of The Desert Kings. We are told that we are better, cleaner, faster and cheaper and that our product offers many more frameworks and adaptations that allow it to link to different learning outcomes. You can also purchase our products simply. If you would like to see a comparison of these two products, please click here.


The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is a fast-paced simulation engaging teams in a journey to mine Gold in the Superstition Mountains of the American Southwest.

Participants join others at tables set for up to 6 people (3 to 6 play fine). On the tabletops are a Map, their Grub Stake of resource cards, planning tools and other information about the exercise. Putting on cowboy hats and colorful bandannas (which add visual impact and energy), the group settles in to hear the history of the Lost Dutchman Mine and to learn the mechanics of the challenge.

Teams have 20 days (of 2 minutes each) to manage their journey to the mine and back home. They can choose from 3 routes with varying length and risks, planning for weather and planning for optimal use of resources.

Once the introduction and explanation is concluded, teams have 15 minutes to create a plan. We then begin play (roughly 40 minutes), take a break and then begin what is a very flexible interactive debriefing. Generally, we deliver the entire activity in 3.5 hours but many users integrate the game into other training content on leadership, team building, personality styles, quality improvement and other themes. The exercise is metaphor-driven and these metaphors link beautifully to all sorts of other training paradigms.

For example: When mining, teams get 10 ounces of Gold for each day in the mine; thus, managing resources and information to maximize their days mining gold is a primary objective. Teams can maximize their results when they collaborate and share information and/or get the Expedition Leader involved in helping them. "Mining as much gold as we can" is a good metaphor for maximizing organizational effectiveness.

Actual play will find teams competing much more than collaborating; they find that they work together as a team quite well but that they want to act rather than to plan. Their team competitiveness minimizes planning as they rush to get started and win, beating the other teams. Many other factors serve to sub-optimize overall results. They focus on only their own team and its productivity rather than developing a collaborative and collective approach. This causes them to lose sight of the larger objective of maximizing overall results - the challenge put forth by their Expedition Leader. Missions and goals are clear, processes are efficient, information is available and the role of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful. All of these factors give us a great learning experience.

In debriefing, many issues relating to the workplace can be addressed, depending on specific desired outcomes for the session. I include a few of the debriefing slides below. We often spend hours discussing how this game parallels their need for leadership, clear missions and visions, and issues of teamwork and collaboration. A number of consultants and trainers are linking the experiences in the game to multiple-day leadership and team development initiatives.

sample slides from the debriefing

People have fun and share ideas that apply to their jobs. Substantive action plans for change are common outcomes.

Teams from all over the world have found Dutchman to be a dynamic journey and highly positive learning experience. The game works quite well with small groups as well as large conferences and retreats. We have lots of testimonials!

It's fast-paced and high impact -- a memorable experience for all!
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These and other options are included in The Professional Edition
of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.

Since we began selling this exercise in 1993, we have continued to add adaptations and modifications and reframes to the basic game to allow it to link more closely with desired outcomes of the trainer or consultant. The Pro Version of our game contains files and folders that describe all of these options, too numerous to mention here. One user got the game approved for continuing education credits from the Project Management Institute. Another built a whole strategic planning training program around Dutchman. Another framework readily allows performance coaching to occur during the game and there is another version that allows for a higher level of collaboration (and one that is measurable) during play. These options are too numerous to share herein with other than a few examples below. Rest assured that any good ideas that we have heard in all these years are reflected in these materials!

Generally, we do the game about themes of teamwork and collaboration. But some users, they focus on individual behaviors, thinking and decision-making that can be readily linked to debriefings of DISC, PSI, HBDI, MBTI or the other personality inventory instruments that are available. And note that our original game was designed specifically for more senior management and for technical people like engineers and software developers -- often a difficult challenge to engage in team workings.

Here are a few reframes:

The Assay Office Modification (also neatly linked to Profit and Performance) is a change in the exercise to add more collaboration during the play. Essentially, teams discover that using one of the planning resources, the Cave Cards, allows them to mine an extra ounce of Gold each day. They are also given extra Cave Cards so that they can share them with other teams, allowing the others to also mine extra Gold. As a result, we can generate more collaboration and show the impacts of that collaboration on overall team and group results. Teams thus have a measurable opportunity to contribute to the overall ROI - and we can also measure the impacts of NOT collaborating!

In the DIVERSITY delivery framework, one or more teams is randomly given privilege and power as opposed to the others. And this team has the opportunity to share this with other teams or keep it for themselves to "win the game" and get a higher score than the others. It represents a reality in the workplace that allows an effective debriefing about power and privilege without the emotion and defensiveness that often occurs. This delivery model can be used in all the versions of the exercise.

And the single TurboCharger version of the Video works to decrease the collaboration that is built into the overall design. This modification makes it even better to use with sales teams and other groups that are not, as a rule, expected to collaborate much between teams. This is also included FREE in all new shipments of Lost Dutchman!

Contact us for more details, since it is a lot easier to answer questions than share all the options:

Contact Scott Simmerman for a question or more information
at Scott@squarewheels.com or 800-659-1466 / 864-292-8700

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