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You miss the whole point of the game...


You can be greedy in life or not. You can created win-win situations so that everyone wins. Our class had 8 patrols and 7 members in each. If everyone would have trusted the other the entire room would have collectively made $64,000 dollars and everyone would have won.


I have taught this exercise in team building and self-help type settings. The BSA calls it the game of life but they do not explain the meaning.....you re to reflect and find the meaning yourself. The answer is that "The way you play the game is the way you play your life." Think about it....think about the way you played the game.


John Denver wrote a song about this game after he played it at the same place I once played it. It's called "It's About Time". It's a full moon over India and Ghandii lives again.....who's to say you have to lose for someone else to win. In the eyes of all the people the look is much the same....for the first is just the last one when you play a deadly game.


Take from it what you will but look back and examine the way you felt and reacted while you played. Better yet, are you trying to justify the way the played it?

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This game is nothing new. My college did something similar back in the day, and I was required by one of my teachers to attend the 3 hour time-wasting exercise as a part of one of my classes. He would

We did a debrief in my course, but I wasn't a fan of the direction it took. Rather then the lessons that REALLY WERE relevant to this type of game: "How do you establish trust and cooperation between competing groups?" "How is the Scouting organization or ANY non-profit organization different from for-profit business"?


Instead, the discussion was focused on the Scout Oath and Law and how the competition made us feel. But it was an inter-patrol competition! Does this mean out patrol should throw the rest of the competitions in order to be "good scouts"? I'm not sure our staff got it. Or maybe they were religiously following the syllabus, I don't know.


In my opinion, it should have been tied back to a real example where Scouting differs from competition and capitalism. For example: "A benefactor offers your troop $700 OR he will split $1000 between two troops. What do you do? How does that differ from what we do in the business world?"

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As I recall, the game is presented later in the evening on Day 2. Folks are tired, and the added value of the game, as we've seen anecdotally, can go South really fast.


It's an easy game to lose control of... as we've heard in other threads, to the point of having participants consider leaving the course ... is this game really worth the learning value?

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"But it was an inter-patrol competition!"


No, you assumed it was an inter-patrol competition.


Part of the lesson of the game was to try to get across that each 'patrol' (could be any subgroup in any organization) is just part of a larger organization. When the different groups within a larger org are competing with one another (or in-fighting) the WHOLE org loses.


"WIN ALL YOU CAN" is also "YOU ALL CAN WIN", which was a point make clearer in the NLS-version of the game.


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Part of the lesson of the game was to try to get across that each 'patrol' (could be any subgroup in any organization) is just part of a larger organization. When the different groups within a larger org are competing with one another (or in-fighting) the WHOLE org loses.


Which is the root problem of the game.


The game comes at the end of 2 days of pushing the major importance of the sub-unit (in this case, Patrol) on the learners. Then, on a dime, without preparation, and under some degree of tiredness, the focus of the learners is changed without warning. Heck, right before WAUC is Scouting Jeopardy, which IS an inter-patrol competition.


I've done an awful lot of leadership psych and team-building in the past 30 years. Multi-echelon training and team-building is one of the harder skillsets for a trainer to master. It involves being able to take the whole apart and look at the contribution of each element to the whole. It also involves making sure each element knows how the others contribute to its own success.


That's what I see missing from WAUC: No one has the rose to make sure each element knows how the others contribute to its own success, and this "game" is a bloody failure of an attempt. That we hear anecdotes of failure is enough for me to say... discard this piece of excrement from the curriculum!




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"Part of the lesson of the game was to try to get across that each 'patrol' (could be any subgroup in any organization) is just part of a larger organization. When the different groups within a larger org are competing with one another (or in-fighting) the WHOLE org loses."


Yeah, I get that. To a anyone familiar with the concepts of a non-zero-sum game and the Prisoner's Dilemma, it was immediately obvious the outcome that was hoped for. I was expecting (and looking forward to) a discussion of how groups can establish trust in the absence of adequate communication or about optimizing group benefit by looking at the "bigger picture".


The staffer leading the game had us recite the Scout Oath and Law before the last round. Is that meant to imply that playing to win for our patrol was inconsistent with Scouting ethics? Were we supposed to feel bad for assuming that this was another patrol competition, when they had been encouraging patrol competition all day? That seems like training a puppy to roll over and then punishing when he starts to obey!


There could have been valid discussion about "trust" or "identifying what the 'you' in 'Win all you can' meant" or "the virtues of cooperation versus competition". Instead, we discussed how the game made us feel. Well... it made a lot of people feel like the above mentioned puppy. We were trying to please our leaders by doing what we had been trained to do... and then had our noses rubbed in it.


Unlike John-in-KC, I don't necessarily think the game needs to be scrapped but I think the right lessons need to be derived from it. I'm not sure if it was a failure in leadership or a failure in the curriculum. Or, I guess it could be a failure on my part to "get it"; maybe the rest of the troop came away with a valuable lesson. I just came away from that session disappointed.

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To elaborate on my earlier post - I "got it," passed it along to my fellow Bears, we passed it upline, and I still came away feeling used, especially after observing the other half of the troop that didn't listen and didn't "get it." Left me a little bit more cynical than when I started (and I started out pretty cynical - I learned "trust no one" at my daddy's knee, with my mother's milk - pick your metaphor).


As a staffer, that feeling was only magnified as I watched another troop go through the same thing (although nobody "got it" and nobody had the really extreme reactions as happened in my original troop).


It either needs to be completely revamped or done away with.


Vicki(This message has been edited by Vicki)

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"I don't necessarily think the game needs to be scrapped but I think the right lessons need to be derived from it. I'm not sure if it was a failure in leadership or a failure in the curriculum."


Kind of my feeling.


As noted, my first exposure to the game was as a participant in NLS. I thought it was well run, but then I know the staff for NLS spends about a week learning the course. I could tell that if the staff don't run the game right, there can be problems.


Then, when I staffed WB, I discovered we were going to do the game. I was a bit concerned as how they were running the game didn't match with how I saw it at NLS, and I felt it wouldn't go as well. The response I got was 'this is how we were told to run it at WB CDC', so I kept my mouth shut. We had problems with the game, and I didn't know if the issues were how WB does it compared to NLS, or how well they prepare the CDs or staff to run the game.


Later, I found my Fraternity had incorporated a version into our course on conflict resolution. Having seen the game go well and not so well, and IMO, the preparation of the staff was to me a vital element in its success, I was a little leary. One things that is different is that we actually don't split the group up into the team for the game UNTIL the game, so the participants are organized into patrol-size groups during the course. This avoids the built-in idea of patrol competition that can exist in WB. I have seen it done 2 now in this course, and overall they've gone well. I think is due in part to the absense of the use of groups thru the course. FWIW, we call it the 'red/green' game, and dispence with the "win all you can" terminology.


I don't know the ultimate basis for the game, but here is one website explaining it: http://peacebuilding.caritas.org/index.php/Win_All_You_Can


Note that the purpose is "To explore how sub-groups in a larger team can balance their desire to win more as a sub-group with their desire to win as a team". This, to me, is the point that is too often lost or not clear in the de-brief.




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Note that the purpose is "To explore how sub-groups in a larger team can balance their desire to win more as a sub-group with their desire to win as a team". This, to me, is the point that is too often lost or not clear in the de-brief.


There is a significant breakdown between other groups and Scouting right here. In Scouting, we're trying to emphasize the bonds of the Patrol. We create a miniature representative democracy, and empower the PL to represent the other 7 at PLC meetings. There, the PL is looking somewhat out for the interests of the Troop, but must balance the Troop decision with what is good for his Patrol.


Only the SPL and ASPLs among elected leaders of the Troop are looking out for the troop as a whole.


That's where dilemma games like this break down for Scouting. The best of the order is not necessarily what the good of the subunit needs. Frankly, a lot of the time a "satisficing" position is as good as it gets (that's a win some lose some/win some lose some result set).


The game supports neither the structure nor the dynamic of a healthy, functioning Troop.


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I have no idea if this is a standard way of delivering the game, but our version had us separated by patrols and individual tables had "WIN", "ALL", "YOU" and "CAN" placards on them. The host would have us yell what our placards said when he pointed at the signs (just like "WHEEL" "OF" "FORTUNE", I guess).


At first we were yelling, "WIN ALL YOU CAN", but then as time went by, he kept switching the order, so we were yelling "CAN YOU ALL WIN", "CAN ALL YOU WIN" and "YOU CAN ALL WIN."


Then again, some people still didn't get it.



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Regarding the placards.


they were used in the NLS version of the game, but the changing of the placards was done by the staff. As you note, some participants caught this, some did not.



They were not used in the WB version of the game, and this was one element I thought was missing that was important.



We don't use them in my fraternities version of the game (and we don't call it the 'win all you can' game'). I think this unfortunate, but can't be helped.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I actually attended NLS this weekend, which I first have to say was a great course! All though I think it covered alot of things I have learned in the past, it was great going with the youth of the order and seeing what they think "leadership" is and how they react to the syllabus, I think it will help me relate better to the youth as an advisor. The staff did a wonderful job, very well prepared. We had about 80 participants, 90% youth, 10% adults....originally there were more adults, but there were youth on the waiting list and some were moved to NLATS.


The Game of Life/Win All You Can was on the syllabus, and the staff pulled all the WB21C attendees off to the side and asked us not to participate. There were about 10 total, both "youth" and adult.


During the game, a few of us in the back were discussing how the NLS version was so much better than what we experienced in WB. In between rounds the staff would yell "WIN ALL YOU CAN", and then the "host" broke the teams in to four groups, "WIN", "ALL", "YOU", and "CAN". He ran around the room pointing, and in about the sixth round or so he changed the order so it was "CAN YOU ALL WIN"...and then eventually "YOU ALL CAN WIN".


It was great to observe the participants, many 16 or 17 with a couple adults thrown in, start to get it! I have to agree with EMB, that the NLS course's version is so much better than WB. Yes, some emotions ran high, but in the end, there weren't any hard feelings and the team that was trying to win all they could, actually felt bad and spoke out about it.


I also have to give a shout out to the "youth" staff of NLS, participating were the National Chief, the Southern Regional Chief, and I believe 8 of the Southern Sectional Chiefs, and many others. They are a bunch of well prepared, dedicated, and just all around good group of men. It was great seeing them work with some of the youngest OA members, and help cultivate these young men in to future leaders.

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If the game was played as someone had listed above "Your troop gets 700, or two troops get 500 each" I would have easily made the decision to dock mine by 200 to Increase another troop by 500".


Why? I LIKE other boy scout troops and other good organizations to get money to run a good program, especially when the money comes from a benefactor and not from me.


But if it was between me and another regular working guy, I could care less If I got half of his paycheck. I had the good idea that made my boss pay me more -- not him, why should I not take advantage of my resourcefulness? I am not going to improve company efficiency by 7%, be offered a raise (due to the money they saved laying off nonneeded workers) and give it away.


Finally, I don't think I mentioned this before, but I didn't like the way that the instructors tried to play the audience.


They had a suggestion board at the front of the room you could leave suggestion notes or questions on. They would answer them after each activity.


After the activity was over, they instructors claimed they "found" a note on the board that says that they "forgot" to open the WB training the night before with the scout oath and law, and that they we were going to do them now to adhere to policy.


I knew something was up with this, as no one had left a note on the board. I found their syllabus the next day, and this is what it said to do after the game...


This is just plain manipulation of us by the instructors. If they wanted us to say those, fine, tell us that. But don't make up a reason why, we aren't little kids.

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  • 2 months later...

XLpanel - thank you for commenting on your opinion of how woodbadge can be updated and changed.


Like other posters, my first experience with the non-zero-sum game at NLS and I think it was done better there. After going to WB21C I recalled how funny it was to me that the youth I took the NLS course with handled the Game of Life much better than the adults of WB21C. They "Got it". When I was a troop guide later, the staff made sure that we tried our best to pull this off in the way it was intended - but I have to admit, it is not always so.


As has been exhaustively explained- the Game of Life has a specific purpose. It is supposed to bring about an AHA! moment - that not all is as it seems - Adults have so many years of conditioning behind them that winning is everything, but the cost of personal win is not always seen by us. You are correct in your observation that "we are not kids". I'm assuming the follow-up thought you may have is something like, "We're not kids, don't treat us like kids".


The founder of our movement always looked for ways to get adults to think like kids, and in many times, to act like kids. He himself was described as a "Man-boy".


When you attended WB21C you were in fact treated like a kid from day one. Woodbadge is supposed to give you a new perspective - that of the scout. Bbecause so many leaders were never scouts themselves, they cannot relate to what happens in the heart and mind of a scout trying to make the patrol method work.


We want scouts, and scouters, to understand that one has to think outside the patrol, for the betterment of his troop, and the world brotherhood of scouting.


Just my 2c worth.



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