by Rollin Glaser and Jim Roadcap

There's one reason why training simulations are a popular choice for team development training. They work. That's because they're an effective way to introduce the concept of synergy and help team members quickly develop vital group-process skills such as consensus decision making, problem solving, communication, and conflict resolution in a nonthreatening learning environment. 

Each adventure simulation in HRDQ's Team Adventure Series starts with a suspense-filled scenario that challenges teams to work together to escape danger with only limited resources - and each other. While most people can rest assured knowing they'll never encounter these survival situations, they do experience the similar feelings of stress and conflict that accompany everyday organizational life. 

The Swamped Scenario 
Deep in the wilds of Northern Minnesota, a group of friends enjoys a serene paddle across a scenic lake. But on the second day of the trip, the weather turns stormy and dangerous. And before they can reach the shore, a strong wind gusts flips their canoes upside down. Everything - and everyone - is dumped into the water. Some items sink and others float away, including the paddles. With only ten salvaged items, the group must work together as they struggle to survive on the deserted shores of Lake McEwen. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Hone group problem-solving skills using a five-step process
  • Learn how to manage and resolve group conflict
  • Understand four techniques to improve communication
  • Discover the advantages of consensus decision making
  • Experience the concept of synergy

Swamped is an excellent training tool for any team, especially those in the midst of conflict or groups that struggle with effective problem-solving skills.

Following the introduction of the survival scenario, participants are challenged to rank ten rescued items - first as individuals and then a second time as a team. Teams compare their Team Scores to the Best Individual Score to determine if synergy was achieved. The exercise also includes an introduction to the concept of team synergy, a five-step problem-solving technique, four group-maintenance skills, and the importance of consensus decision making. 

The Swamped Facilitator Guide includes everything trainers need to lead a two-hour classroom training workshop, from comprehensive background information and expert rationale, to action planning, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and sample participant materials. 

Uses and Applications 

Swamped can be used as a standalone training instrument or incorporated into a more comprehensive programme on teambuilding. It's also effective as a component for problem solving and decision-making training programmes. Use the survival simulation to:

  • Illustrate the concept of team synergy.
  • "Break the ice" among new or conflicted teams.
  • Give teams a nonthreatening opportunity to work together.
  • Help teams practice consensus decision making.
  • Improve active listening, probing, and confronting behaviors in a realistic setting.
  • Train team leaders in team facilitation skills.
  • Open or close a learning session.
  • Introduce an organizational change.
  • Interject a fun activity into an otherwise serious agenda.
  • Supplement outdoor experiential learning.

Target Audience 
Team members at any level, especially those who work under pressure 

Product Type 

Consensus decision making and decision making under pressure 

Time Required 
Administration: 15 minutes 
Workshop: 1 hour and 45 minutes

What to Order

Facilitator Set: Order one per trainer. 
The comprehensive facilitator set includes everything trainers need to deliver Swamped, including background information, administrative guidelines, a step-by-step workshop outline, expert rationale, frequently asked questions, alternative training designs, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and sample participant materials. 

Participant Guide: Order one per individual or participant. The Participant Guide includes the adventure scenario, pressure-sensitive scoring, Boundary Waters Canoe Area map, and team discussion guide as well as information about synergy, problem solving, and conflict resolution.