When Teams Thrive

Working collaboratively together, when apart, requires a Constructive, inclusive team culture. Teams make better, faster decisions when they tap into the diverse views of every member while engaging in a process that ensures clarity and commitment for outcomes.

The Digital Subarctic Survival Situation™ is a team-building experience that helps participants understand and practice behaviors and skills that contribute to effective decision making, which are applicable to most organizational team situations. The exercise requires team members to engage in two critical cohesive behaviors – allowing healthy, productive conflict and creating buy-in for decisions.

From Conflict to Common Ground

A diverse team is not necessarily an inclusive team. Team members need to feel connected to one another and trust that everyone’s intentions are good. Optimally, members assume positive intent and believe they can be completely transparent with one another. Additionally, all need to believe that their individual contributions are desired and valued.

Subarctic helps to level the playing field as one’s status or tenure is not relevant to solving the problem. It allows team members to be creative and share perspectives based on their individual experiences, knowledge, and backgrounds.

Conflict occurs when team members realize that not everyone sees the situation the same way. Success in surviving the situation is enhanced when team members embrace their differences and seek common ground. They can disagree without being disagreeable.

100% participation is essential, just as in their day-to-day work lives, to increase the quality and acceptance of a solution. Everyone offers their perspectives with no fear of rejection or repercussion. All understand they are smarter together than alone.

Inclusion to Buy-in

Rational thinking and interpersonal skills help the team to engage in healthy, productive conflict. Establishing a shared goal, keeping facts and assumptions separate, and bringing forth multiple alternatives help align the team and keep members focused, working efficiently and effectively together. 

Humble listening, asking probing questions, building on one another’s ideas, showing appreciation for all input, inviting others to disagree with an idea or observation, being present, and ensuring that all members have the opportunity to contribute increase buy-in for the decision. Weigh-in = Buy-in. All need to feel heard, considered, and understood.

“Consensus does not require 100% agreement. It does, however, demand 100% support.” –Gale Mote

Consensus does not require 100% agreement. It does, however, demand 100% support. This means being individually and mutually accountable for the decision – no blame, no excuses. Testing for commitment is essential during the decision-making process to assess how team members think and feel. Using a technique such as five-finger consensus allows team members to show their level of support for a proposal or decision within the group.

For example, five fingers means that one strongly agrees with the proposal in front of the group, three fingers say “I can live with it” while two fingers indicate disagreement. When all team members agree or can live with (support) a decision, the team can move on.  It is also possible that some team members may need to “disagree and commit.”

For Exceptional Success in Virtual Teams

As teams navigate in a virtual world, it is imperative they learn how to build trust, engage in healthy conflict, and create alignments for decisions. Lack of engagement, the “meeting after the meeting,” and second-guessing decisions lead to poor performance.

“There are precious few Einsteins among us. Most brilliance arises from ordinary people working together in extraordinary ways. –Roger Von Oech

Subarctic is an exceptional way for members to experience what is necessary to be an effective team. The simulation provides timely feedback on how well all members worked together to identify a problem, agree on a goal, analyze the situation, create and evaluate alternatives, and decide on a solution that all can support. When combined with Human Synergistics’ Group Style Inventory™ (GSI), the team can assess, more clearly, the behaviors that helped/hindered their group decision-making process.

As Roger Von Oech said, “There are precious few Einsteins among us. Most brilliance arises from ordinary people working together in extraordinary ways.”


VideoWatch this video highlighting the Digital Subarctic Survival Situation with useful practitioner tips and suggestions from Gale Mote and Mark Richards. A PDF is provided.

Live Demo – If you’re ready to introduce a Survival Simulation to your organization, a demo of the exercise can be informative and useful. To schedule your demo, contact us here.