Specifics of Dutchman Play - Some Twists & Metaphors

Here are some details you might find of interest about how the simulation really works. Please note that there are many other linkages, twists and applications. We've included over 200 possible debriefing questions in the Support Binder as well as a lot of engaging cartoon illustrations. In this case, "Even with teamwork and personal strengths, it's hard to make progress when you're up to your axles in mud!"


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Expedition Leader and Leadership

The expressed role of the group's facilitator is, "to help the teams be successful and maximize total return on investment (ROI)." Teams are given $750 worth of a mix of resource cards (fuel, supplies, batteries, cash, spare tires, etc.), a vehicle, a map, the guidance of the Expedition Leader and other materials.

And as in all organizations, leadership is there to provide support and information.

But a reality of this game (and most organizations) is that, "Nobody Ever Asks The Expedition Leader for Advice." Teams generally do not ask for assistance or help, only for clarification of the rules and permission to do things. They prefer to behave as "My Team, My Team, My Team!" as shown below:

My Team, My Team, My Team

So while the leader could give them the advice of getting the videotapes (see below), or not to get a Spare Tire, or even provide them with a few additional resource cards to help them optimize overall results, teams only rarely ask for any assistance. You can use the debriefing to discuss some of the realities and benefits of getting management more involved in the organization's activities. Leaders can often provide guidance to maximize ROI and should be involved in leading!

The Videotapes - Best Practice and Strategic Planning Metaphors:

Before leaving the starting point, teams are told that they may take the opportunity to view "videotapes" about two locations in the region. (This is not actually a videotape, but a plastic dvd case containing information and cards -- one is our metaphor for planning and the other is a best practice / collaboration metaphor.)

We tell them that one "video" is about "The Mine and Its Gold" and the other is about "Tortilla Flat."

And while this information is accurate, useful, informative and free, it will cost a team one day of their total of 20 days to get either of these two pieces of information or two days for both.

Teams getting the Tortilla Flat Video discover they can find Turbochargers at Tortilla Flat. Turbos enable them to move two blocks per day on one Fuel Card, double the normal distance. The result is that they can reach the Mine at the same time as the other teams (Day 7) but they can leave the Mine 3 days later (Day 17 as opposed to Day 14), thus mining 3 more days! And, they can do this with no additional resource cost. It is a better way to do the same job! So, they might mine 9 gold as opposed to only 6.

This is the Best Practice Metaphor. It links to collaboration because we give them THREE Turbos and they can only use one for themselves. The printed support materials in the Video tell them that theIn addition to more gold, they also get three Turbos with the instructions that the other two can be shared, traded, bartered or sold to other teams. Otherwise, these resources are useless and of no value to any team or to the group as a whole. The only benefit comes when they are shared, where they allow another team to mine 3 more Gold! If they are shared, they can add SIX additional gold to the overall result. Hoarding them serves only to reduce the potential overall Return on Investment (ROI). And we can measure this impact to show it clearly in the results.

Most of the time, teams do not share the Turbos with other teams, thus denying two teams the opportunity to mine 3 additional days each. The impact is to reduce the Expedition's total gold mined. Often, measured results in Lost Dutchman will show teams sub-optimizing results by as much as 40% because they compete when they might collaborate and share ideas.

The Video of the Mine and Its Gold comes in two versions. The normal one shares that there are Caves in the Mine and the team does not need to carry Tents. They get 12 Cave Cards and can trade their Tent Cards in for more Supplies and Fuel. This reallocation of resources helps them be more successful. The Assay Office Version of The Mine Video tells them that a Cave Card allows them to mine an extra ounce of gold each day -- we also give them 16 of them. They can only use 10 at maximum so they could share the extra 6 and allow the group to mine 6 ounces more gold. At least that is what they could do -- in reality, these get unused and the group mines less gold. In larger sessions, I will often use a mixture of Assay Office and regular Mine Videos and tell them the the information in these is different and they need to check with other teams to understand the difference. Generally, they are too busy to do this.

Overall, there are ample opportunities to plan and collaborate as play continues; the focus on "My team, My team, My team." however seems to work to sub-optimize the results -- and the Expedition Leader is looking to maximize OVERALL ROI on this investment.

In sum, there are really strong debriefing possibilities insofar as how teams play, the choices they make and the possibilities the have. When we debrief with a project management framework, it is easy to talk about the assumptions being made. When we talk about performance, it is easy to talk about the impacts of better teamwork and communications. When we talk about thinking styles or risk taking, the tabletops have a wealth of information to discuss as to how personal preferences and styles showed themselves. Leadership discussions I lead are from the motivating others and the "getting people to ask for help and assistance" and rather than just clarifying rules perspective. It is a rich game for debriefing.

It is our common finding that better ideas for getting the job done usually exist in the workplace and that these ideas can have significant impacts on overall economic performance of the organization.

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Motivating and Energizing Teams and Teamwork

One of the debriefing themes of many of our workshops is focused on motivating people. Since there are few tangible rewards in the Dutchman exercise yet teams get quite involved, we will ask groups to discuss some of the structural factors involved in motivating adult performance. These factors include things such as time limits, clear goals, sufficient resources, leadership support, clear roles, peer support, measured results and a number of other themes that can be the focus of discussions about potential workplace changes that would increase motivation, teamwork and results.

"What does Mining Gold mean in our organization" is one of the many interesting discussion themes for debriefing that will stimulate a discussion of real issues of sub-optimizing systems, processes and procedures as well as opportunities for improvement and implementation. The energy generated in the exercise is thus directly transferred to real issues and problems. They see the impacts of excessive interdepartmental competitiveness and the sub-optimizing effects of not sharing information and ideas.

There are other metaphors and structures involved in the exercise that make it a powerful discovery tool. The metaphors are "clean" and useful. The simulation's thick Support Binder includes a set of our Square Wheels themes (with metaphors of mud, alligators, spectator sheep, etc.) as transparency masters as well as more than 100 proven debriefing ideas.

How to Motivate People - NOT! Do this? Or Intrinsic Motivation

Teams want to get to the top, to succeed. In The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, we supply them with sufficient resources and all the information they need to plan the task, manage the activity and reach the top. It is motivational and engaging and many of the principles of high-performance teams can be easily demonstrated:


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Customizing Options

Organizations can adapt Lost Dutchman in many ways. Our Artist Roy Sabean (reach him directly at 864-244-3415) can characterize your organization's leadership into the cartoons you use in the debriefings. Scott, Expedition Leader

For example, we have Scott's picture as the Expedition Leader -- that could be you! This adds a bit of fun as you position yourself as the group's leader. When you make the point about asking for leadership advice in your debriefing, you could show a similar picture of the Division Leader or company President.


In our picture of the six players shown below, these could be customized to reflect leadership in your organization. We have done this for a wide variety of organizations ranging from Real Log Homes to Hongkong Bank with great positive reactions.

Decisions, Decisions

Or, we develop specific illustrations for clients that portray part of their business. Here is one done in August of 2001 for a brewery in Singapore and China.


The simulation can also be linked to your long-term organizational development efforts. Numerous corporate universities are using the simulation as a basis of a two-week program, linking the various metaphors of play into the other content. You can easily link to the various personality and style inventories by matching the play in the game to the profiles, for example.

It's our goal to have an easily customized structure that will take advantage of our proven metaphors with your local themes. Dutchman is readily customizable by design and an ideal exercise for large groups at destination resorts or corporate universities worldwide.

Click below to find out more about our other team building simulations:

Seven Seas Quest


Military Might!

We also have connections to a number of organizations that have developed excellent simulations on a variety of areas of organizational behavior. Contact us for more information.

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