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Google "the prisoners' dilemma"

 

The game used by BSA was originally modified for BSA by Blanchard and Associates.   You can google them too.  The leading management consulting firm in the U.S. if not really all that Communist - nor run by Hitler.

 

AT&T used the game to weed out people who abandon integrity to win a meaningless game.  

 

BSA uses it to illustrate how easy it can be to abandon integrity.   If we lie to win a game that has no real benefit, what do we say to kids whose "friends" tempt them with drugs?

 

I have been fortunate enough to see the WB version four times, once as a participant and each after I attended Blanchard's Situational Leadership course, and no one ended the exercise angry.  It is very dependent on good staff.  I have heard a variety of horror stories that all sound like poor staff.

 

The money collected is planned to pay for the course.  In one of the four courses I mentioned, there were storms that destroyed gear, and the Council took a bath.  The others generated "profits" under $100.00.

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Google "the prisoners' dilemma"

 

The game used by BSA was originally modified for BSA by Blanchard and Associates.   You can google them too.  The leading management consulting firm in the U.S. if not really all that Communist - nor run by Hitler.

 

AT&T used the game to weed out people who abandon integrity to win a meaningless game.  

 

BSA uses it to illustrate how easy it can be to abandon integrity.   If we lie to win a game that has no real benefit, what do we say to kids whose "friends" tempt them with drugs?

I don't get the abandoning integrity part. If you are playing poker, are you abandoning your integrity if you bluff? There are a lot of games where bluffing, trickery and other forms of dishonesty are part of the rules. In the Prisoners Dilemma, dishonesty is an important part of the game (without it, there isn't much of a game). It's wrong too present such a game and then too criticize a player for following the rules.

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There is no bluffing in The Game of Life - unless the staff took it upon themselves to abandon the syllabus.

 

Read more about The Prisoner's Dilemma.  Think about what "winning" means.

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There certainly could be bluffing (lying would be more accurate).  Administrating the game can be difficult, as can the debrief.  There's a lot that can go wrong, and that can be disastrous.  It's risky, and I'm not a fan.  To me, the most significant thing is still the attitude of the staff.  If they think it's fun to watch people squirm, or they want to see some drama, then they totally don't understand what being a staff member is all about.  Servant leadership requires empathy with/for the patrol members.  In Scouting, we're accustomed to having fun.  This game isn't fun for those playing it, and it shouldn't be fun for those watching it either.  The game is awkward in a Scouting setting, and if it doesn't go well, it serves no purpose.   

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Interesting.

Was this exercise designed by a communist?

So cooperation is inherently communist? 

 

Strange world we live in today. 

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Depends on the game and what's at stake.  I may be a registered scout living the Oath and Laws, but if I'm mugged with a weapon, all bets are off, all rules ignored, and no bluffing or warnings will be used.  I am conceal carry and I will defend myself and cheat if I have to in order to win.  If I have to pull my weapon from the holster someone's going to have a bad day.  Might be me, might not.  But that's the game of life.  I'm surely not going to try and cooperate with such threats.  

 

In light of servant leadership and watching out for the others around you, might it not be a good idea to review BSA's weapons policy?

 

Like the OP suggests, when one doesn't understand the rules of the game, people get hurt.  What about the real world where certain situations don't have rules..... or at least none that make any sense.  Check today's news and tell me how this works so people have a chance to win.

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I don't get the abandoning integrity part. If you are playing poker, are you abandoning your integrity if you bluff? There are a lot of games where bluffing, trickery and other forms of dishonesty are part of the rules. In the Prisoners Dilemma, dishonesty is an important part of the game (without it, there isn't much of a game). It's wrong too present such a game and then too criticize a player for following the rules.

 

Yeah I really don't see how operating within the rules of a game is abandoning integrity. If I cheated sure but just doing everything within the rules to win I really don''t see a problem. I mean we certainly don't say that of football players and they regularly hit others as hard as possible.

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I have been reading about this "game" for years in this forum. I have never had direct contact with it as I have never attended Wood Badge - which I have never felt any compelling need to do in the Scouting roles I have held. But if I had ever seriously considered doing it, what I have read in this forum (including this thread) certainly wouldn't push me in the direction of doing it. I have attended various retreats and other meetings and courses (mostly in connection with my past service on my local school board and on various school committees to which I have been appointed over the years) where there were other kinds of what I would loosely call "games" - such as "team building exercises", or exercises designed to show everybody the important of looking at things from the other person's point of view and/or emphasize that different people may perceive the same thing differently, etc. etc. I have never been impressed with any of it and have always considered these things a big waste of time, and every time I have to do it (technically I never HAVE to do it, these are all volunteer activities (if I were getting paid, none of this applies) and I could just walk out or not participate, but I don't) I resent it more than the time before. I guess my attitude is, I am an adult, if you want to tell me something, tell me something. If I'm there to learn, start teaching, and if I am there to provide input or to discuss or engage in study or research, let's get on with it. If I want to play games, I'll choose them for myself.

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There is no bluffing in The Game of Life - unless the staff took it upon themselves to abandon the syllabus.

 

Read more about The Prisoner's Dilemma.  Think about what "winning" means.

It's a game (an incredibly well studied one). Now I haven't taken Woodbadge, so I haven't played "The Game of Life", but it sounds like a version of The Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. The mechanism of the game is the choice: cooperate or defect? Take out the choice, and you don't have a game. 

 

There are Prisoner's Dilemma tournaments, usually done entirely in software. You can find multiple papers about optimum strategies. This is from the Wikipedia article:

The optimal (points-maximizing) strategy for the one-time PD game is simply defection; as explained above, this is true whatever the composition of opponents may be. However, in the iterated-PD game the optimal strategy depends upon the strategies of likely opponents, and how they will react to defections and cooperations. For example, consider a population where everyone defects every time, except for a single individual following the tit for tat strategy. That individual is at a slight disadvantage because of the loss on the first turn. In such a population, the optimal strategy for that individual is to defect every time. In a population with a certain percentage of always-defectors and the rest being tit for tat players, the optimal strategy for an individual depends on the percentage, and on the length of the game.

As for what "winning means", it means you got the most points. At least when playing Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma (Chess isn't really a points based game)

Edited by Rick_in_CA
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I never have cared much for the game because my observation is about 1 out of 10 people really get much from it. From my perspective, it's the really competitive people who get sucked in and drive others to win it all. And they are usually the ones who are defensive when they figure out they got dooped, or so they think at first. It takes them a while to settle down enough to move on. Our council is pretty smart in that we have team who leads this game for all the Wood Badges. They are pretty good at administering the game properly and explaining the meaning after. 

 

I can't remember the details (because I'm old), but the old Wood Badge course had something like this where an adult had to move to another Patrol for some reason. The intent was teaching the participants what it is like for a new scout to join a patrol. It had the same kind of controversy and resistance. 

 

Barry

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The moving a person is from a long time ago (pre 1990).  If you took the course since then, it would have been a 'local tradition' that was carried over by someone who still saw value in it. 

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The concept and execution of this game saddened and upset me when I commenced WB about a year ago.  The same holds true today.  In fact it makes me think we need to completely reconsider the purpose of WB, although I will comment principally on the game that is this thread's intended topic.

 

For background:  I am approaching 30 total years of youth and adult Scout service, completed Sea Badge 20 years ago, and recently retired from the military.  So this is not my first rodeo.  

 

Regarding the game:  I think it is not worth the risk to administer what amounts to a psychological experiment run by people who generally don't have the expertise to deal with or properly debrief the thorny issues that participants in this forum indicate arise not infrequently during the course of this game. The syllabus that I was able to find online said that some participants would sink to the depths of despair.  

 

What makes BSA think it's a good idea to create a situation that they predict will do that, and what makes them think that all of their many trainers will uniformly be equipped to manage that very negative outcome?  

 

Beyond the intended self-scrutiny, at least in the instance of my class, our staff believed that all groups had to go through Tuckman's Form-Storm-Norm-Perform stages of group development--and that "The Game of Life" would force us through an accelerated storm phase.  And, further, that all patrols required equal storming pressure.  A quick look at references on this theory reveals that the storm phase is supposed to be closely managed by a knowledgeable team leader, and they counsel caution and team support--and even suggest using part of the form phase to establish group values or ground rules and to warn the group that storming is a natural stage in group maturation and likely to be encountered.

 

In my class, our gameshow host acted as if he were a drill instructor:  yelling the rules, aggressively advancing on people selectively and shouting them down--once when he was yelling at someone near me, he was shouting with such force that I was hit with his flying saliva.  I understood exactly what was going on, and my team and I behaved cooperatively at every turn.  Yet, I found it so repugnant that they were setting up some of our more enthusiastic classmates to lie, that I walked out of the game.

 

So, you see that for me, my "depths of despair" moment did not come upon realizing that under pressure I can exhibit duplicitous behavior, rather its basis was that I realized that BSA in general--and our staff in particular--believe that many of the Scouters who come to WB will lie and stab other people in the back at the drop of a hat.  The net result is that I, with a heretofore lifelong love of Scouting, have developed a strong distrust of the BSA training system from national all the way to my council and district.  

 

Further, relationships among some people in my district and council--the kind of people who care enough about Scouting to go to WB, attend roundtables, run Cub Scout day camps, etc.--are now permanently marred because a few people don't know if they can ever again fully trust a few others.

 

As to the rest of the course:

  • My patrol mates are awesome.
  • There were a few new games that were fun.
  • The guy who played B-P at our campfire was awesome.
  • The first half of the course with management theory death-by-powerpoint was an inelegant rehash of things I've seen many times before.

WB seems to have been designed by committee--or to be a sort of reverse engineering derived from the old story of the blind men and the elephant:  Is WB supposed to be a tree, a snake, a fan...?  If we can carefully refocus on what the macro mission of Scouting is, then step it down to the unit level, then to the role of adults in that unit, I think we will have a clearer picture of what we need WB to be, and therefore how it should be refocused. 

 

See you on the trail!

Blaze

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I liked this lesson because it got to the truth much more readily than all the other activities. Competition gets the blood going. Conflict is a big part of being human. Leadership is a lot about working with personalities within conflict and competition. This game brought all this up so much better than a floating hydrogen stick game. I've been talking to each of my patrols about problems and personality conflicts are one of the biggest issues they have. The scouts can read the personalities of the other scouts just fine. The challenge is how to deal with those problems. The first thing I tell them is to cool things down. If they try and win they will lose. So I see a benefit to this lesson even if it could be cleaned up and better tied back to a purpose. Some of the other sections were not too helpful. The {f,st,n,perf}orming sequence has more to do with personalities than arrows on a chalk board.

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"The {f,st,n,perf}orming sequence has more to do with personalities than arrows on a chalk board."

 

Small wonder.  BSA's rewrite of the syllabus reveals a lack of understanding of Tuckman's work and conclusions.  He was interested in stages more than sequence since where a group "was" provided direction to what the leader needed to do to help the group progress.  

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Well this discussion has sure convinced me of the value of this 'game'...NOT. It seems to have produced an effect that is the opposite of what is intended. If this is supposed to cultivate team spirit I'm not sure what I'm reading indicates much success. But if the goal is to demonstrate that 'the collective' approach is how to best succeed, when I see individuals set aside their selfish interests for the benefit of the collective of cooperators, there seems to be a Marxist similarity.

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