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Training tools for developing great people skills.

Mars Rover Challenge

Experiential Games for Leadership and Teamwork

Third Edition

Eileen M. Russo, PhD and Matthew P. Eckler

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Leadership Games and Team Building Games by HRDQ

You don’t have to leave earth for stellar skill development.

Long gone are the days where collaboration served as an intermittent, as-needed approach to conquering company initiatives. Employers have become increasingly aware of its widespread benefits and have grown to value it as a constant in the workplace—encouraging collaborative behaviors and even going so far as to redesign workspaces to stimulate it. However, some people need to see it in action and practice it for themselves before they can fully embrace its benefits.

Mars Rover Challenge (formerly Mars Surface Rover) provides a powerful and unique hands-on experience that allows participants to connect with the concept of collaboration at a deep and personal level. Participants are immersed in a team construction activity, whereby they are tasked by the World Space Agency to build a prototype rover for traversing Mars' rocky terrain.

Two versions of the game are available. In the leadership version, participants work in teams to construct a rover, led by a team member who (unknown to the rest of the team) adopts one of three contrasting leadership styles—traditional (command-and-control), passive, and collaborative. Each of the three styles engenders very different feelings and emotions among team members. And together, they provide a very real demonstration of the effects different styles can have on morale, motivation, and performance. The teamwork version again calls for participants to work in teams, only this time the game is played in two rounds. In round one, participants simulate working in siloed departments as they build the rover. In round two, they work together collaboratively. The end result in each round usually is markedly different, and the process and outcomes make for lively discussion and usually quite a few "Ah-Ahs!"

Both versions demonstrate, in a very practical and gratifying manner, the power of collaboration and enable participants to cultivate the mindset and behaviors integral to effective implementation. The differences lie only in the lens through which collaboration is viewed—either from the perspective of leadership or teamwork. While each game has been designed to function independently, using them in tandem presents a more thorough, holistic picture of collaboration and the positive effects it has on employee engagement and productivity. To this end, both versions of the game are available in a single Deluxe Kit at a considerable saving off of the price of each individual game.