We strongly encourage direct comparisons of Eagle's Flight's Gold of the Desert Kings
with PMC's The Search for the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.

The following is our best guess comparison of these two team building simulations.
We have not seen their exercise in years and little published information is available from them, although we do get periodic feedback from former users and affiliates that allows us to update this comparison and they produced a marketing video that seems to confirm most of the conclusions reached herein.
We refer you to Eagle's Flight for more detailed information about their exercise and their prices -- they do not show prices for their products on their website, last time we looked
They can be reached at www.eaglesflight.com or 519-767-1747 (Canada)
They asked us NOT to hot link them directly to this information and website.

We also asked them to edit this comparison so that it would be most accurate but they chose not to do so.
We believe that this is still completely accurate since we had a discussion with a former facilitator in March of 2008.

 

Comments, Comparisons and Thoughts

In the late 1980s, when Scott Simmerman operated as one of the first US agents for Eagle's Flight and Gold of the Desert Kings (hereafter "GDK"), we shared with other consultant users any number of difficulties. There were encumbering, restrictive and detailed contractual arrangements, minimal sales figures, sales reporting, sales commissions based on gross proceeds and other issues. There were also what we perceived, after repeated use of this simulation, a number of design features that interfered with our desired outcomes for team building sessions.

Essentially, we felt that:

This dissatisfaction initially led to an attempt to modify features of the exercise, which was rejected by Eagle's Flight -- they saw nothing wrong with the design even though early users made many suggestions for improvement. This eventually led me to develop the Dutchman simulation and other exercises like Seven Seas Quest and Buccaneer, the Collaboration Journey games(1 and 2), and Military Might! -- as well as our still unpublished programs in various stages of readiness. From these, we developed games set in Japan (Zipangu) and China (The Silk Road Adventure among others) as well as some new ones like "Everest!"

Another goal was to establish a collaborative and supportive network of consultant users who could support each other in deliveries as well as the development of new game features and eventually some new simulations. We have certainly succeeded -- Dutchman is easier to use and easier to sell and ideas from these consultants have led to a variety of delivery options and a broad selection of accessories.

As we understand it today, Eagle's Flight games have per-participant costs for which participants get a workbook and other materials. Delivery materials must be purchased from Eagles Flight and/or their agents. There are restrictive covenants on usage (please check with them for details).

Dutchman is sold to consultant and corporate users (see consultant testimonials by clicking here) and materials are reusable; permission to reproduce is included in the purchase price. We charge users no per-participant fees, although some of our consultants add value to the delivery and charge fees of their choice. Our Pro Version of the game comes with a variety of worksheets that can be assembled into a customized workbook that can be given to participants for free. Consultants can make a lot of money delivering Dutchman in low-cost training programs, something of great interest in these difficult economic times. (see Jeff Taylor's results by clicking here).

GDK is much less flexible in both play time and debriefing. In our experience, learning metaphors were somewhat confused, making debriefing somewhat more difficult. For example:

Quoting from their webpage, they say, "The winning team in this high-energy experience is the one with the most money, or the highest return on its initial investment." This designed-in competition makes the debriefing on why all the teams should collaborate appear somewhat confusing or difficult.. And in their marketing video, they show teams celebrating the death of other teams -- I always found that a conflict as well as creating a great difficulty in engaging those embarrassed teams in the debriefing!

Dutchman is built around the metaphor of collaboration, teamwork and communications and teams that collaborate generate a higher return on investment. Metaphors in the game are clean and consistent. Square Wheels cartoons are also used to anchor key learning points.

If you have a "winning team," you of course have lots of losing teams. In Dutchman, we focus on the collective ROI for the group; Dutchman is about collaboration, not winning and losing. It is a team building exercise and not an exercise in competition and deception.

Dutchman works exceptionally well when linked to tools like DISC, HBDI, MBTI and other learning style and personality instruments. This makes it ideal for building into another leadership course.

Dr. Kirkland (Cat) Peterson, another early and former user of GDK had this to say:

As you know, I've used "The Lost Dutchman" now for almost 7 years with clients large and small. I remain impressed with it as a powerful consulting/training tool.

More than anything, it is a critical piece of much of the Leadership Development work I do. I use is as a planned exercise, often at the beginning of a long intervention.

And, I "pull it out of my back pocket" a lot for a team of leaders that needs to "get" something quickly, The Lost Dutchman not only hits many of the key leadership points required in these fast-moving and remote-working times, but it is an exercise of the right duration.

For my business, both for my reputation and financially, "The Lost Dutchman" is fabulous. Many, many thanks for all the development time you put into it, and for all your support.


Eagle's Flight games, if sold to companies, generally require an additional Certification Fee or Train the Trainer Certification simply to get the permission to deliver it to your own organization.

Dutchman is sold to anyone at a one-time cost. There is no annual licensing or other costs, ever. The game comes with an instructional video and a large Support Binder containing full instructions. We generally do not suggest that train-the-trainer is a necessity. We have had many line managers report good success delivering the game without formal instruction. An irony is that, even with free support, few people call us before using the exercise and report that they found our training and orientation materials very complete or maybe even too detailed!


Please contact Eagle's Flight for specific costs and pricing information or options for this and their other exercises. They have never posted pricing information.

Dutchman has a one-time purchase price of $6,995 or $995 for our smallest version. Most materials are reproducible and the needed supplies for use are included. A cd contains a wide variety of powerpoint and other files that explain the game, provide information for delivery, includes Introductory and Debriefing files as well as other support materials. We can also assist you in modification of the game for meeting specific desired outcomes -- we have a number of delivery scenarios that change various factors of play.


Other Benefits:

Dutchman plays FASTER. It has 20 days that are 2 minutes in duration and takes 40 minutes or less to actually play. GDK has 25 days of 3 minutes each. In sessions of 3.5 hours, having an additional 30 minutes in the debriefing is essential as well as more effective / impactful. The facilitators of Gold of the Desert Kings report not having much time to really debrief the exercise as one of the common complaints about using it in a training and development situation. There is little time for players to actually discuss what they did and the debriefing tends to be much more of a lecture than an interactive discussion; ownership is reduced and it is much less effective as a training tool.

The situation in Dutchman is straightforward and positive. The Expedition Leader's Role is to "Help Teams Be Successful" and the group is encouraged to work together and optimize overall results.

Leaders are there to Help Teams Be Successful. The group leader in GDK is positioned as somewhat of an adversary and teams are actually encouraged to compete against each other. This makes the leadership's debriefing on teamwork a bit more difficult and somewhat paradoxical.

We kept asking ourselves this question about Gold of the Desert Kings:
Why are teams encouraged to compete and then asked to discuss why they did not work together (in the debriefing of the exercise)?

All Teams are at least somewhat successful! Teams can and do DIE in GDK. As many as 20% will not survive until the end of the game. As a result, team members can get angry or embarrassed or both. In our experience with the simulation, we have had teams die, quit and then walk out of the session. This makes debriefing somewhat difficult, at best. One time, it was the top management group of our annual Chamber of Commerce Executive Retreat. As a result, they forced us to close the debriefing earlier than scheduled so that the group could spend its time on "more important things than talking about a game!" This was really Most Embarrassing! Fifteen years later, some people still remembered this...

Teams in Dutchman are successful! At minimum, teams will mine 4 to 5 days of gold and they can mine as many as 11 if information is shared between teams. Other fail-safes are built into Dutchman to minimize fear or risk of failure. We want people to take risks and learn from a positive environment with supportive leadership and the successful accomplishment of the task. Getting some gold is better than dying, for sure!

Learning metaphors in Dutchman are strong and clean; metaphors in GDK are somewhat confused. The Compass in GDK is one example: Is it useful to have or not? It depends on the specific path and strategy teams employ. Thus some teams find it useful and others find it a complete waste. In Dutchman, we share the fact that a Spare Tire is useful against Ice Shards but that, "Ice Shards are Very Rare." (And the facilitators and support group are told to tell the players, if they ask, that they are so rare that Ice Shards do not exist and thus Spare Tires are not needed!)

To model assistance and support, we instruct facilitators that teams are to be told accurate and helpful information if they ask appropriate questions or ask for help. We tell the teams that getting more information is something that, "Teams find useful, but that it takes some time." It is strategic planning and good project management to get information that is useful to the task.

Dutchman has a realistic planning metaphor. The Old Man's information in GDK takes a commitment of 4 days of the 25 to get all of the information, two days of which are only somewhat useful and two are not. In Dutchman, teams might spend only 2 of 20 days (as opposed to 4 of 25) getting information that is promised to be "accurate, complete and useful to teams."

We focus strongly on interteam collaboration. Teams are encouraged to "Mine as much Gold as we can" with an emphasis on the group maximizing total ROI. In the debriefing, we are thus consistently aligned with the overall goal of teams working together (as opposed to an individual team "winning" and suboptimizing group results.

Leadership is positive and supportive. In Dutchman, the role of the team leader is expressed as supportive. Teams are encouraged to share information between teams, rather than compete with each other. Note that teams still tend to compete, which gives rise to the origin of the competition and thus a better debriefing. Teams find that they cannot blame the Expedition Leader for their choices and thus get into good discussions about possibilities for improvement back at work. This is a key theme in our leadership training sessions.

Dutchman is very easy to deliver - Introduction Materials and Debriefing materials are shared in various forms, including paper, powerpoint, and video. Delivery can be via transparencies or multimedia projection. Supporting people have training packages that explain only what they need to know to help successfully deliver the exercise; this speeds your orientation and makes the game very inexpensive to deliver. (We sometimes take an hour to train hotel front desk people to assist us for $50 cash -- they do a great job of handling transactions and definitely appreciate the money). Not many exercises allow for that kind of inexpensive support.

One does NOT need a train the trainer session or any certification in order to master the delivery of Lost Dutchman and about half of all games are sold "unsupported" like this.

Dutchman materials are reusable. There is only a one-time cost of purchase. The average consultant user reported a 700% first-year profit from the purchase of our simulation. Some consultants have been using their original game for over TEN years (and some even refuse to update to our newer versions! They like the results they get and resist changing!!).

Click Here to see more about purchasing options for The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

(mailto:Scott@SquareWheels.com)

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