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Subject: Team Building Exercise #1 rss

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Bill Allen
Ngunnawal, Canberra
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At work, I manage essentially 3 teams of 3 staff. As a team building exercise, I am running each of the teams through a game of (3 player) Pandemic.


I set the board up and explained the various rules. I handed out the Dispatcher (to the team leader), the Scientist and the Medic. The game was to be played open-handed.

[Aside: I chose those three as I find the researcher a bit trickier to play an the operations expert of less value in general (particularly for less experienced players).]

The players quickly got the hang of trying to keep cities off the '3 cube' limit to avoid outbreaks but were still hit by a early outbreak in Chennai (at which point I enjoyed watching them comprehend the impact of its spread as Kolkotta was moved to 3 cubes).

The Medic got caught running around South America (1/2 cube treatments), while the Dispatcher and the Scientist focused on the red and black diseases ... but they were losing some ground. A well played forecast managed to help them negotiate their way after the 1st epidemic before another black outbreak (Kolkotta ... which was the beneficiary of a nice government grant for a research centre).

Finally the medic accumulated 4 yellows and the dispatcher headed over to join him and give him his 5th yellow. Then the medic cured yellow with only 2 nearby yellow cubes on the board. After a small hiccough as the yellow disease spread to Africa, the yellow disease was eradicated! The outbreak count was at two at this point with outbreak in Kolkotta, so things appreared to beign doing well, especially with the medic on his way to India.

Then, before they realised it, the Scientist had accumulated 4 red cards and was on his way to curing the red disease. The disease was cured and then after a 4th outbreak (Osaka), the medic eradicated it!

There were still quite a few black cubes on the board which they focused on for a while, and then the black cure was found. Then, as they planned its eradication (they were enjoying the benefits of eradicating yellow and red), it was suddenly there were only about 4 cards left in the deck with blue still to cure!

Some quick discussions took place as all the option were ruled out. They were one move shy of a win.

Realising this, I allowed a 1 action change from the previous player which meant the scientist would be in Washingtom rather than Atlanta.

Suddenly the medic moved to New York (with the New York card in his hand).

The dispatcher moved to the scientist and gave her his Washington card (so she now had 3 cards) and moved the scientist to New York. (A quiet night was played).

The scientist took the New York card from the medic in New York, moved to Washington and then Atlanta, finally curing blue and winnign the game with no actions to go!

Lessons from the exercise

1. "Communicate, communicate, communicate" (from the medic player)
2. Teamwork makes a huge difference in achieving objectives.
3. While everyone have some skills in common, we also all have our own special talents. Not using those talents makes things a lot harder!
4. Just like in our work, there needs to be a balance with addressing the immediate problems (i.e. treating diseases) and addressing the longterm issues (i.e. curing diseases) ... and some people's talents can make them more suited to one over the other (but no-one can focus on just one!)

Key quotes after the game

"I liked the game because I don't like being competitive [against each other]" - the medic

"It's better than Monopoly" - the medic

"I love my team" - the scientist

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Neil Ikerd
United States
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That's awesome that you found a way to work that into a work setting as a team building exercise. Nice way to introduce your co-workers to better gaming as well.
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Manuel M.
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very nice idea they should introduce it in my work as well
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