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FYI Solutions Blog

Jan 27, 2015

Lessons learned from the Subarctic Survival Situation

(By Human Synergistics International -

Recently the FYI Solutions internal team undertook a very interesting learning experience in the form of the Subarctic Survival Simulation.  This was a simulation that highlighted the dynamics of team work and building a group consensus.  The general scenario is as follows: you and your group are crash landed in a swamp filled subarctic location in Canada, the pilot is dead, and you have 15 survival items.  What are you and your group going to do to survive?  I won’t go into many of the details, as I believe this is a scenario you and your team should try and I wouldn’t want to ruin it.

The challenge requires you to work as a team and come up with the best ranking of the survival items from most to least important.  But this requires a plan of action and the group must come to a consensus.  Your survival item team rankings are then compared to your individual rankings and the rankings of the experts.  This brought to light some very interesting observations:

  • On average teams scores were better than individual scores – this shows the value of working together and taking others opinions into account.
  • Teams came to a consensus, but sometimes it was a consensus that proved “fatal” for the survival party – this shows that consensus does not always mean success, if the group consensus is in the wrong direction.
  • Thinking outside the box and challenging group consensus could have proved useful and helped the teams be more creative – if you have an idea, speak up. You never know if it could be helpful.  It may also spark new ideas for other team members.
  • Some groups got caught up in the details, without taking the time to form an overall effective strategy – the details don’t matter if the overall strategy has not been effectively formulated.
  • Some team members did not have knowledge of survival. This made it critical for those team members to figure out the strengths of the other team members to ensure their survival – If you don’t know something, find out who does.  If you do know, make sure to communicate that with the team.

I would recommend this experiment highly.  It does a great job of showing how to improve team work and communication.  It is also a great way to get to know your team better!


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