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  • Steve Sweeney

You or Me: Prisoner’s Dilemma for Team Building


The prisoners dilemma is a scenario that puts one’s self interest against the good of another person or people. It is a concept that has been around for a while. Serious Fun has adapted and tweaked the dilemma to create a fun and revealing team activity that helps to encourage attention to others and discourage selfish perspectives. It was especially useful recently with a team dealing with a certain level of conflict amongst team members. Goodin Ground Maintenance is located in Greenfield, Indiana and services properties all around central Indiana. The work is hard and projects are challenging. Weather and time constraints add all kinds of hiccups and pressure. It is natural for tension to arise in their efforts to continue to do exemplary work under difficult circumstances and with, well, other people.

The management at Goodin Ground Maintenance has put in a great deal of time and work to develop the leadership team in an effort to improve the business, improve results and most importantly, to build up people. Goodin set “Team Tuesdays” in place several months ago as a primary leadership development tool. Steve, facilitator with Serious Fun, has had the opportunity to attend several of their leadership team meetings. For one meeting, Steve created an adapted Prisoner’s Dilemma activity called “You or Me?” This was specifically to address human nature’s tendency to look out for oneself and the way that oftentimes plays out poorly for all involved. It is a fun way to look at how we might throw someone else, even a friend, under the bus if it means less pain or more gain for ourselves. It also addresses trust in others, should they be given the same opportunity.

It was a fun morning and seeing the team recognize that self interest needs to be tempered for the good of others, the good of the whole, and our own good in most cases.



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