Convincing your manager to let you play D&D as a team building exercise: Project proposal

You reach the end of the hallway, the entrance to your boss’s office looming before you. As you extend your arm to knock on the heavy wooden door, you hear a voice reverberate from behind the closed threshold.

“Yup?”

Your hand turns the cold steel handle of the office door – your manager sits before you, leaning forward in their chair, studying the screen of their computer. Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

“Hey, um, I was wondering if we could play D&D as a team-building exercise.”

“Play D&D? No. When’s your code going to be ready for review?”

If you read our previous blog that goes into the theory of why D&D is the perfect team-building exercise, you might’ve had a similar conversation with your manager recently – and for that, we apologize.

Luckily, I have the best job in the world, so I get paid to come up with project proposals for D&D (well, just this once – but still). Not trying to sound braggadocios, it’s just when you work at NS804, you spend a lot more time smiling than frowning.

When our CBO makes the rounds every thirty minutes or so, it’s difficult to not keep a smile on your face – that, and our Thursdays are our Fridays, so our Fridays are our Saturdays, and we get this great day after Sunday I like to call I’m-actually-feeling-rejuvenated-day.

So anyway, here it is – your very own fill-in-the-blank D&D team-building exercise project proposal:

Executive Summary

Collaboration, cohesion, synergy, speed, unity – all qualities our ___________ Department / Team can achieve and improve upon in as little as two hours, and with virtually no spend – all by playing a session of Dungeons & Dragons. Below, you will find an outline of the information presented throughout this proposal:

  • D&D context
  • Player and game requirements
  • How D&D will improve our teamwork
  • Vision and goals for the session
  • Pre and post-session reporting
  • Session planning and implementation timeframe
  • Needed resources
  • Budget
  • Session ownership and responsibility hierarchy
  • Risk assessment
  • Session implications
  • Success criteria
  • Authorization steps

Our department / team has recently noticed we need to improve upon our ________ (communication / collaboration / criticism / deadlines / energy management / confidence / decision making) and in order to do so, we propose sending our team into the land of Codia.

This is a land fraught with many dangers and wonders alike – but tragedy has befallen the once pristine land of Codia. The once steadfast and robust Omnicron, the magical tome that brought order, law, and organization to the realm, has been torn asunder – its pages bereft of their bindings and scattered across the wilds.

Only the _________ Department / Team can deliver peace and unity to this once-proud land.

Our department / team must brave the wilds of Codia and the dangers that haunt them, journey to rediscover the pages of the Omnicron, defeat any who might stand in their way, and return the pages orderly, to their proper place. Once our ________ Department / Team has completed this dire quest, prosperity and unity will once again grace the land of Codia.

D&D Context

Sessions of Dungeons & Dragons have been promoting team-based skillsets since 1974, when Gary Gygax invented the game we now colloquially refer to as D&D. The game is classified as a pencil and paper tabletop role-playing game – it revolves around improvisational, collective storytelling, via acting out and imagining different scenarios that effect the players.

These stories can be followed to completion in one game, or over the course of many games. When a story takes place over many games, individual games are called sessions, and the entirety of the story is called the campaign. Campaigns are sometimes broken into story arcs if the scope of the campaign warrants it.

Player Requirements

There are two different player roles – those being the player characters, who together form what is known as the party, and the Dungeon Master (DM) who is responsible for narrating the world to the party – this consists of story-telling elements like the setting, supporting characters, antagonists, encounters, obstacles, and plot.

Players will create a single character through which they will experience the world that is presented to them by the DM. During the game, players embody their character, and should do their best to act using the mannerisms of, and in the interests of their chosen character.

The DM will both create the setting of the world and the denizens that populate it – and is responsible for telling the story to the party by acting out different characters, events, and encounters. The DM judges outcomes of events through dice rolls – mainly a d20. The lower the number, the lower the chance of success – the higher the number, the greater the chance of success. A “1” is always a critical and automatic failure, and likewise, a “20” is always a critical and automatic success.

How D&D will improve our teamwork

Unlike other team building exercises, D&D necessitates that everyone involved pretends to be someone else – making it much easier to self-reflect and be open to new ideas. It’s not them in the situation, it’s the character they’re pretending to be. It’s a game about working with what you have, rather than what you want – and how you can use what’s available to you in the moment, in order to solve the problem at hand.

It fosters the growth – and eventual mastery – of personal qualities and traits that make a great team player.

Visit Why D&D is the perfect team-building exercise for more information.

Vision and goals for the session

We envision our team-building session to bring about a noticeable increase in our department’s / team’s productivity and output. By taking on new team roles in our quest through the land of Codia, we will not only learn new skillsets under pressure, we will also practice our team’s task management and collaborative reasoning skills when faced with danger or adversity on our adventure.

We expect results to be both noticeable and quantifiable after one two-hour session of D&D – we also propose that the benefits brought on by a session of D&D can be compounded and mastered through repeated and regular sessions.

Pre and post-session reporting

We will provide you with both a report of Codia’s status before our session takes place, and a status update following completion of the session. Our preliminary report will give details as to locations of Omnicron pages, the dangers and obstacles that guard them, and the bios of the player characters themselves.

After the session has been completed, we will provide a report of the status of the three previously aforementioned details, those being: a) number of Omnicron pages recovered, b) number of encounters completed successfully, and c) status of player characters post session.

Session planning and implementation timeframe

We expect the planning stage of our proposed project to take no more than a total of ___ hours. We have come to this conclusion based on the following equation:

([1 hour] x [number of players] + [4 hours] = [total number of hours])

The reasoning behind this equation is as follows: 1 hour for each character created, and 2 hours of planning for every hour of gameplay. The gameplay planning is the responsibility of the DM.

The duration of the session is set to take no more than 2 hours. After, a post-session briefing will require a negligible amount of time.

Needed resources

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • 2 sets of gaming dice

Budget

$10.

Session ownership and responsibility hierarchy

It is the responsibility of each party member to create their own character prior to the session taking place. Each player is required to collaborate with the DM during this process – characters must fit within the confines of the world the DM has created.

Our project manager, _____________, will take the role of DM. It will be _____________’s responsibility to create the following elements of the campaign:

  • Setting (Biome, geopolitical setting, type of civilization, objects and items that can be found, etc.)
  • Plot (different encounters, obstacles, and “hooks”)
  • Characters (characters the party will interact with in order to further the plot)
  • Enemies (stats, skills, and motivations)
  • The DM is to make sure no player is made aware of any detail of the story before the session takes place – this is to ensure every challenge is truly solved using improvisation. It is also the DM’s responsibility to never break immersion – if a player decides to take a route that has not been planned previously by the DM, the DM must cooperate.

    Players are free to make whatever choice they want to in regards to how they interact with the world presented to them – as long as their actions fit the motives of the character they are role-playing. It is the responsibility of the DM to work with these unexpected detours, and get the party back on track in an organic, unobtrusive manner.

    Risk assessment

    There is virtually no risk to this project – all normal office injuries do apply, such as: carpel tunnel, paper cuts, getting dust in your eye, etc.

    There is about as much monetary risk as a lunch out.

    Session Implications

    If this project is not accepted, not only will Codia fall into disarray and chaos, our ________ Department / Team stands to lose out on an excellent team-building opportunity with little to no risk. Due to the incredibly low risk of the project, even small increases to team efficiency will provide significant return based on the initial investment of time and capital.

    Success Criteria

    Success of this project will be measured by the following criteria:

    1. Increased rate of achieving deadlines
    2. Increased successful implementations
    3. Increased team cohesion and collaboration

    Authorization steps

    Y / N

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