The Desert Survival Situation™ Team-Building Exercise: An Overview

The Desert Survival Situation™ (by J. Clayton Lafferty and Patrick Eady with Alonzo W. Pond) provides a unique opportunity to quickly and objectively measure whether your groups are achieving synergy—as well as demonstrates this otherwise elusive concept. Synergy occurs when the interactive efforts of two or more people produce a solution that is superior to the sum of their independent solutions. By measuring the quality of both individual and team performance on a single task, the 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.

How It Works

The Desert Survival Situation can be used to:

  • Establish a Constructive, team-oriented atmosphere
  • Teach the interpersonal (people) and rational (task) behaviors that promote successful teamwork 
  • Demonstrate the impact of Constructive group styles on performance 
  • Improve group problem-solving skills and decision-making effectiveness 
  • Strengthen cooperation and communication among group members

The Desert Survival Situation™ team-building exercise can be used with intact or new teams. The simulation can be administered using a Leader’s Guide and one Participant’s Booklet for each group member. The Desert Survival Situation is also available online for use with virtual teams. Optional videos bring the simulation to life by showing the outdoor scenario followed by the expert’s ranking and rationale.

Language Availability

The Desert Survival Situation is also available in the following languages for international use:  

  • Chinese (Traditional) 
  • Italian 
  • Korean  
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Russian 
  • Spanish (Latin American)