Inflation: An Observation During Team Building

Recently I was invited to join a weekend training at Semenyih Eco Venture. The training was designed for team-building purposes. As expected there were many activities conducted during this training session.

On a personal level, I’m no longer excited about these activities. (I can’t say the same about the participants though. What a cool bunch.) I’m not saying I don’t see any value in it. On the contrary, there is so much to gain. However, after working years in the IT field, constantly firefighting during odd hours, and having the stakeholders breathing over your shoulder all the time, you naturally appreciate team effort and quickly realize the different skillset each team member possesses.

With my lack of enthusiasm, I wasn’t expecting much but to my surprise, I managed to observe inflation firsthand during this training. I guess there is always something to learn. It was quite surreal. I have read about inflation, I have some knowledge of it and I’m aware the price of one “pisang goreng” today is far more expensive compared to 10 or 20 years ago. However, experiencing it live, or rather bluntly was something else altogether.

Fake Money

At the end of almost every team-building session, there will be a winning team. The winning team usually will be the team that accumulated the most points by coming in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd position for each activity. This training I attended, in general, has the same concept but there was a new element thrown into it. The trainers used “fake money” as an instrument to incentivize teams with good actions, behaviours, and supportive gestures towards other teams.

If I remember correctly, there were only two amounts of fake money. One was RM200K and the other was RM1Million. In the very beginning, the first team that behaved accordingly was rewarded with a single RM200K note. The other teams noticed this and naturally, every other team wanted a piece of the action. Then came the second team to be rewarded with the same amount. Now everyone is trying to be supportive of each other to gain the RM200K.

This continued for a few more rounds till the trainer decided to raise the stake from RM200K to RM400K. This causes a massive cheer among the participants and it encouraged everyone to up their game. You could feel the euphoria in the room. The demand for RM400K started growing aggressively.  


It was at this very point I zoned out for a moment and started observing “inflation” in motion. Previously, it cost RM200K, but now it cost RM400K for the same piece of the action. And looking at the demand it generated by observing the participant’s reaction to the value increase was astonishing. To be honest, after a while, due to team spirit, herd mentality, or due to fear of missing out (FOMO), or maybe a combination of all three, even I got into the action.

There are two sides to this observation. From the participants’ point of view, they are earning more for the same amount of work. From the trainer’s point of view, in this case, best to be described as the banker, as it cost more for the same amount of output. In any case, it was the trainer/banker who created the demand by offering more money for the same amount of work.  


Most people discuss the effect of inflation; “harga barang naik”. In English, the prices of goods and services rising. Some claim their purchasing power is decreasing. Both statements are pointing to the effect of inflation. What about the cause of inflation?

Too much money chasing too few goods best describes inflation or the cause of inflation. To understand this term here is an oversimplified example. Imagine in a country like Malaysia, there is only one product to be bought and sold and the Central Bank (CB) prints RM1. What is the price of the product? It must be RM1.

What if CB decides to print RM2 instead of RM1? Well, the new price is RM2. Based on these examples, you could observe the quantity of product remain the same (in this case only one product) but the price of the product increased based on the money printed by CB. This is inflation, too much money chasing too few goods.

This doesn’t mean inflation is bad or that CB can or will print as much money as they please. CB usually monitors the demand and supply side of economics to gauge the amount of money required for the country’s economy to function efficiently.

I’ll end this post with some questions. What happens if the trainer starts running out of fake money? Will there still be demand for it? Will the output or action by the participants remain the same, increase or decrease? Will we still observe inflation or maybe start observing deflation? What is deflation?

A very big thanks to the trainers. If you ever read this, you found a way to keep things lively by introducing fake money.