Marc Chmielewshi was the guest speaker at our 2nd Metalog Webinar on the 7th of February, 2023. We’d like to thank Marc for his wonderful presentation and insights on the CultuRallye training tool.



Explicit and implicit rules are an expression of every culture. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the culture of a country or of a company or of a department within a company, rules regulate how we live with each other. Getting to grips with ‘foreign’ rules is the main issue at the heart of this learning project.


It begins very simply. On each table, the participants warm up by practicing how to play with specially developed dice and get to grips with the rules of the game. After a while, they are no longer allowed to speak, and the game starts. After a brief period, some of the participants change tables. But what they don’t know is that each table has different rules on how to play the game! Unable to speak, they must come to terms with the strange situation, i.e., either learn the new rules or ‘import’ their own. This ‘culture’ shock is a real eye-opener. The participants tangibly experience what it feels like to be in a new environment and what is needed to find your way around.

Question: What happens when one or two players run out of chips? Do they stay at the table and watch others play or are they removed from the game?

Marc: “This happens very rarely, and I’d say it depends on the kind of mood or environment you want to set for the group. I have had some groups that were more competition, so I preferred to move people out of the game and only allow them to observe. However, if the mood in the group is slightly different, I give them a rebate of another five chips, but only once.”

Shilpa: “To add to what Marc just said, one thing to keep in mind is everybody starts with 20 chips and the highest number on the dice is 6, so even if someone loses all three rounds that you play, the most they can lose is 18. They’ll still have two left, therefore the chances of people losing all of their chips only happens if you end up playing more than three or four rounds. The more rounds you play, the more people will end up finishing their chips.”

Question: I thought I saw a slide where Marc mentioned five rounds?

Shilpa: “The minimum was three rounds, so when you hit your minimum, everyone will still have chips. It’s then your call as to whether you stop or add more rounds. I echo what Marc said about the competitiveness, it is what drives whether you keep people at the table or not. You will notice that sometimes people who have finished their chips tend to become more dominant because they are nothing to lose, so they can create a fight between two people. You see a lot of these behaviours emerge if you keep people, that don’t have chips, at the table. This also contributes to a great debrief.”

Question: Do you keep the action sheets on the table all through the game or do you allow people to just memorise it and take it back?  

Marc: “I take it off the table after the training round so they must memorise the rules and they then must find a way to introduce these rules to the newcomers without speaking.”

Question: You mentioned that there is one leader who keeps moving across the tables, the winner. The other three would technically stay on the same table and they would probably be aware that they have not got the game right, because they haven’t moved around. So, what kind of learning would you expect them to have other than getting a new winner?  There are these three people on the table that are the “old ones”, so they don’t move around.  What is the learning for them?

Marc: “I think your phrase “the old ones” hit the nail on the head. They are acting in a way that they are used to acting and then they are confronted with somebody new showing up, displaying completely different behavior. So, the question here is how do they react to these behaviors and how do they find a way to also include and onboard somebody who obviously learned something different to their culture? The topic of inclusiveness is on their side, while the topic of coping with differences is on the winners’ side. If you can then combine both perspectives in the debrief, you’ll have the full picture.  It might also happen that because a winner from another table rotates into a new group, the three others that are playing with the known rules, could become the new winner for the next round and then they rotate to the next table. You can acquaint both perspectives within the three rotations.”

An observation: This is an excellent tool, for organisations interested in change management. It demonstrates how you react to change and how quick you are to adapt.

Marc: “Absolutely. My experience with change is one of the key challenges is all these unwritten rules. You can easily change an org chart but to adapt to the new environment, behaviour-wise, with your mindset and in establishing new routines, that is the key challenge in any transformation, and this is what is revealed with the simulation.”

Question: At the outset, when you give the rules to every table, do you indicate that the rules are different on each table, or you do you let the participants experience it and figure out what’s going on?

Marc: “Typically, I would prepare the room set up during a break and as I showed to you, this is exactly what each table would look like at the beginning. You have 20 plastic chips per participant, you have two dice on the table and one set of rules.  The verbal introduction at the beginning is just to explain your setup, that you have your set of rules for when the dice are rolled, and you then just introduce the general rules for the game. I do not mention that there are differences in each table’s rules. There is a trial run so everyone has one round to get familiar with the game and then I remove the rules from each table before they start the real game.”

Question: Once you’ve taken the rules off the table how do the participants know who got it correct and who got it incorrect?  

Marc: “They find out in the first round. We have four at the table who have all seen the same rules, as they are not allowed to speak, they somehow indicate to one another what’s right and wrong. It’s a silent discussion within the team. This is something that they or you can debrief.  It is likely that there will be misunderstandings, although they have all seen the same rules from the first round, they may remember different behaviors. What I have observed in this situation is that if 3 agree to the behaviour, they will try to convince the 4th.  I do not step in to correct them, I allow them to figure it out and sometimes they come up with or agree to a different behaviour than what was on the rules, but that is how, in the real world, a cultural behaviour emerges. This is what I like about all these Metalog games. There are a set of rules within every simulation, but at the same time if you don’t play the referee, but rather allow the group to just run by itself, you will always be surprised by the things that happen that you haven’t experienced before.  This from a trainer’s perspective is what I really like about all these tools.  I never get bored. In each application there are always twists and tweaks that a group comes across, especially if you play in an international context. There’s so much that that you can learn as a trainer that you haven’t thought of before. You can include this in the debrief by sharing your observations and asking questions. For example, ‘how did it come about that when you should have shown your hand on top of your head, you were clapping? How did that behaviour emerge?’”

Shilpa: “To add to this you can bring up conflict styles. These come out really well.  You see accommodating behaviour, avoiding behaviour, defending behaviour, or collaborating behaviour. There’ll always be one person that’s really trying to rally everybody on board and others that don’t want to participate. You will observe a lot of behaviours. As Marc was saying I have never come back from one of these sessions and thought ‘oh nothing happened’. “

Question (from Shilpa): I’d like to ask a question on behalf of everyone else… What could be some of the potential challenges in running this game? Do you see the challenges more from a logistics perspective or from an execution and instructions perspective, or a debrief perspective? Where do you see some potential pitfalls?

Marc: “I don’t think I’ve experienced any pitfalls during the simulation, because it’s a relatively easy game to play. What I find challenging is to really focus in during the debrief on all the different stages that participants went through.  It’s easy to recall the last group that they were in, but my tip for the debrief would then also be to really debrief it step-by-step. Start with the training round, how easy was it for participants to memorise the behaviours? Then the first round, and maybe as mentioned in the previous question, how did you handle the question of who’s right and who’s wrong?  Then go further throughout the rounds. What did it feel like in the first rotation for those who rotated or for those who welcomed a new member? What happened in the second rotation?  You guide them through the process but don’t ask any generic questions, like ‘what was it like?’. Then you’ll get a complete mess of a debrief and it will be your challenge to restructure it. I recommend trying to go through the simulation step by step, but maybe that’s just my German process-oriented way.”

Shilpa: “Whether you are process oriented or not, that is definitely a good tip for this specific debrief. As Marc mentioned, there’s so much that people feel and need to discuss.”

Question: In terms of timing, how long do you typically run the simulation?  

Marc: “I would schedule 25 minutes for the simulation and the debrief can easily take an hour, of course you can shorten it if you like. I usually also allow another 5 to 10 minutes for individual debrief in silence. After a great group discussion, you allow participants to step back and note their learnings for themselves and then if time permits, for 5 minutes, even encourage them to exchange these individual reflection notes with a partner.”

Question: Since you mentioned individual debriefs, what do you typically notice about people’s individual reflections? Especially from those who didn’t win a round.  What are the kinds of reflections individuals go back with?

Marc: “Honestly, I don’t know, because in most of the cases it stays with them. I would not force them to share these individual debriefs in the group. But from the partner discussions I’ve heard a lot of examples where they relate to and come across some of their behavioural patterns.  The question is what comes naturally to me and to what extent does this natural behaviour lead to success or not? In most cases I noted they were quite critical with themselves and challenge themselves to learn and educate themselves about stepping back and not acting immediately, but rather observing the established behaviour and then acting.”

Marc’s final thoughts: “I would say be prepared to be surprised.  This is something that comes with almost every Metalog simulation.  From a trainer’s perspective I think that the key is to compile a tangible story around the whole simulation that people can relate to.  Don’t call it a game, make it something of value for the parties to enjoy, whatever happens.”

We’d like to thank Marc Chmielewshi again for his time, wonderful presentation and sharing his insights with us during this Webinar. If you’d like to know more about CultuRallye or other Metalog Tools please visit and if you’d like to watch the whole complementary webinar click here:

Our 3rd complimentary Metalog Webinar will be on the 23rd of March with Priscilla and Preethi who will talk about RealityCheck. To register for this webinar, click here

Subscribe and get updates to The Learning Gym blog!