The Desert Situation

“It is approximately 10 o’clock in the morning on a mid-August day and you have just crash-landed in the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States.”

Your task is to rank 15 items salvaged from the plane in the order of their importance to your team’s survival.

Set in an unfamiliar location, this simulation takes the participants outside of their organizational roles and areas of expertise to a situation where only their synergistic problem-solving skills will help them to survive.

How it works

The Desert Survival Situation provides a unique opportunity to quickly and objectively measure whether your groups are achieving synergy—as well as demonstrate this otherwise elusive concept. Synergy occurs when the interactive efforts of two or more people produce a solution that is superior to their independent solutions. By measuring the quality of both individual and team performance on a single task, this simulation allows groups to quickly calculate the extent to which they are fully utilizing their resources—and doing so in a way that achieves synergy.

The benefits for your organisation

  • Establishes a Constructive, team-oriented atmosphere in the workplace, at conferences or workshops, and in classrooms or training programs
  • Strengthens members’ rational and interpersonal problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrates and promotes synergy within groups
  • Improves the efficiency and effectiveness of individual and group decision making

Make the Desert Survival Situation part of your team-building initiative

As an Accredited practitioner, I offer a range of Human Synergistics assessments and products.

If you would like to know more about the Desert Survival Situation or any of my services, please get in touch and I will be happy to assist you.

Source: Human Synergistics International

2 thoughts on “Unlock the secret of team synergy with one of the most widely used exercises for team building and group development in the world. Do your teams have what it takes to survive?

  1. Hi Karl,

    Yes, this is a good exercise to go through. I first encountered it decades ago when it was based on the theme of astronauts who are stranded on the moon 200 miles away from a mother ship. Their survival depended on their ability to determine which items recovered from their crashed lander could and should be employed to get them safely to the mother ship.

    Whether or not this exercise was actually developed by NASA or some other entity is an open question. Whatever the case, the notion of being stranded on the moon made it quite exciting and seemingly more compelling for the participants to work together.

    1. Hi Jay,

      I use it together with the Group Style Inventory™ (GSI) and Interest Based Problem Solving to support the development of high performing teams.

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