Serious Fun: Experiential Learning Events

The Beer Game: this classic M.I.T. simulation featured in Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline’, provides an opportunity for a group to experience the typical pressures involved in trying to manage one’s own position in a multi-stakeholder system. Participants can see how system design strongly influences results, especially when its ‘players’ believe they are acting autonomously, prudently and with the best intentions. Lessons learned focus on the importance of designing systems that support success instead of hindering it.
(Minimum: 8 players, Ideal: 16-32; Time required: a half-day)

Strategy Survivor: based on the popular TV reality series, this simulation helps participants understand key principles of ‘stakeholder’ communication. Participants work in small teams to ‘solve’ a case study problem, but soon realize that there is more than meets the eye as they encounter both support and resistance in their efforts to ‘sell’ their solution to other stakeholder groups. The problem situation and stakeholder perspectives are customized for each client in advance of the training session. Lessons learned focus on the importance of inclusive processes and effective communication, especially when implementing change.
(Minimum: 12 players; Ideal: 24-32; Time required: a half-day, plus customization in advance)

The Search for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine: based on a true ‘legend’ from the American southwest, Dutchman engages participants in a race to reach a lost goldmine, mine as much gold as they can, and return safely home before running out of supplies. This fun, fast-pace simulation challenges participants to work effectively in teams in order to maximize everyone’s performance and results. Lessons learned focus on the principles of effective teamwork and collaboration, and illustrate the importance of wise planning, forward thinking and resource management.
(Minimum: 18 players; Ideal: 24-36; Time required: a half-day)

Square Wheels – The Collaboration Journey: similar to Goldmine (see above), but shorter, teams of 4-6 players plan and execute a seemingly straightforward journey with the goal of delivering products or services to customers as quickly as possible. They must make a series of collaborative decisions that influence each other’s results as well as overall outcome. Lessons learned include powerful insights into how organizations and individuals really work together, and how their thoughts and actions impact productivity and performance.
(Minimum: 18 players; Ideal: 24-36; Time required: 2 hours)

Knowledge Café, Six Thinking Hats, Open Space Planning: a variety of creative approaches designed to facilitate effective communication, learning and collaborative planning in medium- to large-size groups. Sessions, including skills training components if appropriate, can be designed to address a wide range of needs, and are customized to the particular circumstances of each client.
(Time required: varies)

Brief Experiential Learning Exercises: a large collection of brief learning exercises designed to illustrate a wide variety of systems thinking and learning organization principles. These exercises are scalable to almost any size group, and require minimal equipment and space (with some exceptions, where more space is required.)
(Time required: a half-hour to a half-day)

Drama, Role-play and ‘Flight Simulators’: a unique, creative approach to addressing typical organizational challenges through dramatic presentations, including improvisation, structured role plays, and ‘situational flight simulators’ – all designed with ‘real world feel.’ Participants are drawn into everyday situations, whether as observers or active participants, and gain insight into situational dynamics, thoughts and feelings of those who live with these challenges. This leads to rich discussion and the opportunity to learn new skills for dealing with common problems.
(Time required: varies)