Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Month: January 2013

Team Building and Learning – How to make changes

Experiential exercises have significant impacts on individual and organizational learning. Participating and practicing is 15 times more impactful than sitting in a classroom, based on a good bit of research. Being involved and engaged is, well, being involved and engaged. The visual, auditory and kinesthetic anchors for memory are all hooked up and operating.

Motorola University in 1996 published an interesting chart that I reproduce here not knowing how to get permission for use:

Learning Pyramid

Me, I would have built it upside down, so that Teaching Others was at the top. But that is MY learning and memory preference showing up, I guess.

Learning, linking and understanding are neurologically determined — the brain is what controls the process and it is good that it is semi-automatic since if it required much thinking or typing, not a lot of us would ever get it! Our brain uses chemical and physical changes in proteins and membranes to build the electrical circuits that make all this “living large” stuff possible. It works pretty seamlessly, and when it doesn’t, we all realize the consequences (Alzheimer’s, dementia, coma, and the like).

What our brain does is encode our experiences. If there is some boring lecture going on, guess what is probably not going to be recalled? If you are energetically participating in some challenge, doesn’t it make sense that more things will be remembered? Knowing that something might be useful later adds a personal touch — helping someone hang a backpacking hammock works quite well when you know that you will be hanging your hammock the next day. Learning to start a fire with fire sticks or a flint striker is remembered when you know you will head off on a survival venture that afternoon.

It is about storage and retrieval. It is about encoding and categorizing and accessing the meaningful information later.

In some of my deliveries, the group might have been through a course or a series of lectures on something or other. Let’s say that the subject is Project Management and the participants are shown a methodology for gathering information prior to planning a program. When we play The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, the funny thing is that these skills are often NOT transferred to the information gathering required to produce high levels of game performance.

So, in the debriefing, we review the choices made, generate discussions as to how the tools could be used, and then often project future scenarios or even do some problem solving whereby those tools are used. This kind of process generates a motivation to learn and the kind of VAK needed to anchor the skills in place. We also encourage a diversity of ideas and reinforce differences in thinking styles, since these generate better options so often. The debriefings often focus on divergent thinking and questioning ideas.

Most people in most organizations are not observed to actually apply things they learned into workplace performance change and improvement. This is a pretty common problem with classroom training — people KNOW how to do things but choose to keep doing them as they did before. Implementing change without changing feedback and measurement systems is pretty hard. Coaching can work, but coaches are often not available immediately after training has occurred.

What we suggest is a game activity to involve and engage people, one that sets up a solid discussion of behavioral choices made along with thinking about possibilities. That activity might include projection, team-based agreement on desired future behaviors, some discussions about how improvements might be measured, personal commitment to doing things differently combined with some level of followup and coaching, and other things to help to anchor in the learning as well as generate new, sustainable behaviors in the future.

Generally, people remember their own behavior, and they tend to remember their mistakes and bad choices a bit more easily than all their good reactions and responses. In Dutchman, we try to generate energy and emotion in our activities by adding pressures of time and scarcity of resources or some level of competition. Ideally the competitive situation has a balance of collaboration and cooperation built in.

If organizations can better use these kinds of engaging activities, they can expect more learning to occur and more commitment to change to result.

Some ideas:

non-agreement bliss poem

Thumbs Up teamwork poem

My team, My way poem copy

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

The View from The Front and the View at The Back – some illustrations and poems

Ah, the beauty of cartoons to stimulate some thinking of how things really work in most organizations.

A few weeks ago, I started coloring the cartoons and doing some poems, limericks, Haiku and just simply annotating some of them. Might as well make a few of my ideas “more visible,” right?

Here is the motivating view from the front of the wagon:

View Front color poemBut the reality of how things work is that we also have part of the team working at the back of the wagon. There, things might just work a little differently:

How motivating is this reality View Back redTo answer that question, here are some thoughts:

View Back red poemBut we know that the above is not the best reflection of reality. THAT looks more like this:

View Back Handcuffs red 1 poemSo, given that we all understand that the reality of engagement and motivation and performance improvement is a real issue. we might do something like this:

View Back Suggestion The Answer poem

Because that reality really seems to operate like that below:

View Back Suggestion Trash limerickAh, the sheer fun of playing around.

But in my own reality of how I think about the above issues, I see a simple solution, one based on that key word: Communications.

If we are really committed to making improvements, consider this:

View Back Mission color poemSo, how am I doing with all this?

And how about this as a leadership reality. What to do, what to do, what to do…

Balance Easy Peasy poemEasy Peasy.

Scott SimmermanHave FUN out there!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

“In The Beginning” — Thoughts on Communications

For some reason, the issue of upwards communications of information and filtering keeps coming up again and again as an organizational improvement issue. Since I have used a fun little tool to address this over the years, so I thought to post it up again since it might be helpful or at least generate some thinking and consideration about alignment. (Gee, wonder if there might be some ongoing issues with this in organizations… Yeah, there are!)

My general thought, backed up by lots of data from dozens of sources, says that things seem to work somewhat like this:

Square Wheels LEGO Mission Poster image by Scott Simmerman

You can find our simple Mission Statement Development Toolkit here

The following piece is a document that you can use in different ways. Sometimes, I will simply give this out as a handout while other times, I will read it aloud myself. But I think the best way to do this is to have the group read it, one person and one line at a time. It seems to be much more humorous that way. Or, give it out and ask for a volunteer — often, the volunteer is one of the ones who knows that they have issues with this.

Most of the time, I simply have some copies in a “presentation contingency file folder” so that I can pull it out and distribute if there is that kind of opportunity. And, it seems to work with all kinds of different organizations and levels of management. A group of senior engineers had quite a challenging time with it one evening because they were laughing so hard — I wish I had that on video to upload to YouTube!

Anyway, here it is in words. I will have a link to download a pdf file added here, also:

In the Beginning was The Vision

And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without Form
And the Vision was without substance.

And Darkness was upon the faces of the Workers
And they Spoke amongst themselves, saying:
“It is a Crock of Shit, and it Stinketh, badly.”

 And the Workers went to Supervisors and sayeth unto them:
“It is a Pail of Dung, and none may abide the Odor thereof.”

 And Supervisors went to Managers, and sayeth unto them:
“It is a Container of Excrement, and it is so very Strong that none may abide it.”

 And Managers went to Directors and sayeth unto them:
“It is a vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its Strength.”

 And Directors went to Vice Presidents and sayeth:
“It contains that which aids plant Growth, and it is very Strong.”

 And Vice Presidents went to Executives and sayeth unto them:
“It promoteth Growth, and it is very Powerful.”

 And Executives went to the President, and sayeth unto him:
“This powerful new Vision will actively promote the Growth and Efficiency of our departments and the company overall.”

And the President looked upon the Vision and saw that it was good.
And the Vision became The Reality.

I see this as pretty darn funny. Here is the link to the pdf version, which is at the bottom of the page.

Motivation and engagement are about involving people. If things are really bad, the above can come in handy to get people to start laughing at reality and considering things that could be done differently.

Eventually, the pin will hit the balloon and generate a strong negative reaction

Change the environment and recognize reality,

For the FUN of It!

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

I just added http://scottsimmerman.brandyourself.com/ to help my marketing and branding of this site.

We all impact everything. Your impacts on the Space Time Continuum of Work

We impact others. Butterfly wings and all that. Connectivity. Dealing with chaos in the workplace as performance improvement opportunities.

And enlightened (and unenlightened) people everywhere seem to agree that, “The Square Wheels are everywhere!”

Thus, we take our discussion to another dimension, connecting our current reality to that of how things really work in most organizations as well as The Universe.

Wikipedia does a nice job of explaining the basic physics as a mathematical model that builds space (3-dimensions) and time into a single concept of connectivity of everything. From the model, one can imply a large number of theories about impacts on performance of sub-atomic particles, super-galactic interations and people and performance (ya think?).

As written in Wikipedia, in non-relativistic classical mechanics, the use of Euclidean space instead of space-time is appropriate, as time is treated as universal and constant, being independent of the state of motion of an observer. But in relativistic contexts, the notion of time cannot be separated from the three dimensions of space, because the observed rate at which time passes for an object depends on the object’s velocity relative to the observer and also on the strength of gravitational fields, which can slow the passage of time.

In PMC’s cosmological luminous model, we see things operating in a single universe where there is an inter-relatedness of all things where events are all connected, so it looks like this:

the connectedness of things in the workplace

Your thoughts?

  • What can you choose to do to differentially impact YOUR workplace universe?
  • What can you do to involve and engage people in change and improvement?
  • What Round Wheels already exist that people can choose to change?
  • How can you better motivate the wagon pushers?
  • What can you do to share a perspective on your journey forward?

Need tools for engagement? Take a look at our Square Wheels illustration toolkits and our team building games, such as, Lost Dutchman. Let us know how we can help your organization better manage your space time continuum.

Square Wheels are Everywhere.
But the Round Wheels are already in the wagon.

Have FUN out there!

Will we be remembered in 50 years? Is that important?

I’m not looking forward to a tombstone with some chiseled words. It is not at all important that I wind up somewhere in the dirt under a tombstone where people once knew who I was. I’d rather my ashes were spread on one of the rivers I have boated or at the top of a mountain or something like that.

As I wandered in the cemetery where my father and other relatives were buried, I understood that I knew nothing about them or what they did during their lives. Each led a life, interacted with others, contributed to their communities, etc. My step-grandfather was mayor of my home town, but his stone is really hard to find out there among the others…

At lunch yesterday, I was speaking with another training business owner and we hit on the legacy thing kind of discussion. The fact that some of our old friends had died and were not remembered (he did not know Gene Calvert who wrote a great book called High Wire Management) nor was he aware that my friend, Mel Silberman, had died (see my comments on Mel on my blog here).

He and I were discussing my intellectual property (aka my business, Performance Management Company), and what kinds of things had that staying power. I have high hopes that some of my team building games, such as, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine will “stay in play” but my biggest hope was that the Square Wheels metaphor would continue to be known and used long after I’m gone.

I’ll never have a park or a bridge named after me and those would probably be gone after a while, too. But wouldn’t it be nice to leave something behind that others saw as valuable and useful? Wouldn’t it be neat to know that you somehow helped to positively change someone’s life in some way through something you did?

I think a lot of us live through our children, which is certainly an interesting process at times! And most of us are quite proud of our grandchildren or, in my Mom’s case, her great-grandson. I hope she is around long enough so that he will remember her in his future.

My goal is to have some impact and leave some footprint – some would say, “Yeah, like those dinosaur prints in Texas,” thereby inferring that I am a dinosaur and maybe stuck in the mud a little. (True)

dino_longtracks_t

It is about leaving a footprint, in so many ways. It is about making the world a slightly better place and doing some good.

main-px82-u3-12c

So, I guess I am asking for your help in that regard.

What should I be doing with my Square Wheels themes so as to maximize their impact? Do I engage some sculptor to do a massive Square Wheel Wagon in granite kinda like Mount Rushmore? But really? A 60 foot head?

rushmore

How do I get there from here? What are some of your ideas?

SWs One - How Things Work

Scott

Strategy Implementations, like most other initiatives, Mostly Fail. Some thoughts…

My good friend and associate, Robin Speculand, has been working closely with organizations on the implementation of strategy. His research is clear:

MOST STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATIONS FAIL – 9 OF 10

It’s as simple as that. There are a lot of causes but it mostly is a failure to integrate the strategy with the desired behavioral changes throughout the organization. It is easy to talk about it; it is hard to accomplish it successfully.

Robin recently completed his international survey and shares some interesting results. I just got the email announcing its publication so I share it and some of his key findings here and will comment more extensively on it in future posts when I return from my travels.

Key Findings include:

  • 80% of leaders feel their company is good at crafting strategy but only 44% at its implementation and only 2% are confident that they will achieve 80-100% of their strategy’s objectives
  • Most leaders allocate more time to implementing strategy than creating
  • An overwhelming number believe that their bonus should be linked to the successful implementation of the strategy
  • 70% of leaders spend less than one-day a month reviewing strategy
  • Leaders believe that only 5% of employees have a basic understanding of the company strategy

This year’s survey, the 12th year of his research, continues to show that things could be done differently and better.

Implementation Success

It has involved online responses for the first time as well as over 130 interviews. The majority of organizations have over 10,000 employees and their headquarters are predominantly in the US and Singapore, with 62% of the companies being multi-nationals, 21% were from the Public Sector and 17% local (Singapore).

The main industry this year was from IT followed by Financial Institutions, Government and Pharmaceutical. The main participants in the survey were middle and senior managers with a handful of supervisors.

You can see a slideshow of the results at  http://www.slideshare.net/SpeculandRobin/strategy-implementation-survey-results-2012
until the end of February, 2013.

Robin has been using my flagship team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine as an integral part of his engagement and alignment process for a dozen years. As George Peppard said in the old A-Team TV show, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

What is the best corporate team building game?

Today, you can access a wide variety of team building activities free and online. There are simple interactive designs from the “low ropes” kinds of suppliers as well as more formal simulations and packages that you can purchase.

On our Square Wheels website, you can find a variety of different (and free) game frames such as The Egg Drop Auction and a number of LEGO game designs, complete with debriefing frameworks. And that site is one of hundreds of similar places. You can also join groups and networks focused on gaming and simulations on LinkedIn as well as from people like Tom Heck at teachmeteamwork.com

Some companies sell their team building products. We offer, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in a variety of formats for different sized groups. We offer rentals as well as outright purchases with no per-participant costs or annual licenses or certification fees. We will even rent the game for large group events at what is a very reasonable cost.

Expedition Leader's Role

Other programs for team building exist and a simple search will turn up dozens of vendors, worldwide.

We get feedback saying that our combination of low costs and the focus on collaboration allow for a great deal of real-world behavioral change. Dutchman offers measurable results and tracking of lost revenues when collaboration is not optimal. Other games allow less of a business focus and depend greatly on the facilitation skills of the leader to link behaviors to desired future business outcomes.

We think Lost Dutchman is the best game there is, based on this combination of business relevancy, business challenge, congruency of leadership to issues of organizational support, the links between collaboration and improved outcomes, and the effective, simple and constructive debriefing possibilities.

At this location, you can find a direct listing of benefits of Dutchman as well as a comparison of features and benefits to a commonly known exercise called, Gold of the Desert Kings. You can contact Eagle’s Flight directly for more information about that exercise, its costs, etc. They requested that I not provide a link to their website.

We are more than happy to host a discussion of issues and opportunities and values of different training programs and processes here.

For the FUN of It!

Scott banking LD

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

non-agreement bliss poem

My short rant on HR and relevancy…

On one of my LinkedIn group discussions, I contributed a post a week or so ago and then just completed what even I would refer to as a rant. I did it with good intentions, but I am just so tired of seeing all these REAL problems with people and engagement and motivation and then seeing these issues addressed with seemingly little or no importance by the people who should be actively working for the people to support performance. Arghhhhhhhhh…

The discussion question was:

Hi, We are planning to start a initiative where one full day is dedicated to listening to employee problems. As this is a HR initiative I am looking for some catchy names. Any suggestions?

I think this was asked with some serious intention, but many of the responses felt a bit goofy and lightweight so I posted up this on Friday:

Scott Simmerman, Ph.D. • Catchy Names? How about “Ideas about Improving our Organizational Reality” or “A Desk is a Dangerous Place from which to View the World — We NEED your feedback and thoughts.” 

The issue is that people talk but no one listens. Since Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled (Frank Navran), the reality is that all that talk generating no ACTION is a deadly thing. Engagement has been reported to have dropped from 23% to 14% in one year because people are only talking about it. 

HR cannot do this. HR cannot IMPLEMENT squat. People are tired of talking about problems and seeing nothing change. 

VERY tired.

Since no one actually seems to look at the posts in any detail to get the good ideas — and there were some good ideas — the lightweight stuff continued. So, with the Pin hitting the Balloon,

Motivation and Employee Dissatisfaction

I just now posted up this:

Scott Simmerman, Ph.D. • Most of these are very softball names for what is a hard-core problem. They SOUND like they are coming from HR and that is great if that is how you want to position it.

But if YOU are an employee who feels that you have been treated badly and your ideas for workplace improvement are not listened to and you are under-trained and under-paid and that your Boss is an idiot who should be fired and you have no clue as to what you do helps the company accomplish anything and you think that you sell a bad product to stupid customers, do you REALLY think that these are good names for this initiative?

  • Hear we are! 
  • HR Hears!! 
  • E-day 
  • You speak, We respond 
  • Ear 2 Hear 
  • Do U Want to Say Something

(I do NOT mean to pick out anyone or any particular examples, only to make the point of the SERIOUSNESS of this issue / opportunity to the people working and the Most Senior Managers (who generally do not have a clue as to what people really think).

We have people who feel that they are working in awful situations and personally frustrated. Use the Chinese manufacturing examples where the workers are jumping off roofs because of how they feel and you are going to use “Ear 2 Hear” as the name of the program designed to SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS?

Really?

“A Desk is a Dangerous Place from Which to View The World.”
   (John LeCarre) 
and there are Most Serious Issues and Problems out there.

I posted up some thoughts around this a year ago: 
http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2011/12/26/in-the-beginning-thoughts-on-strategies-and-motivation/ 

and I have some other thoughts on engaging and motivating the middle 50% here:
http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2012/12/03/simple-thoughts-on-extrinsic-motivation/

This is a Most Serious Situation for millions of workers, so do not treat this as some sort of “HR issue” and come in thinking that nothing is wrong with how most organizations really work. That is clearly NOT the case.

(Sorry for my rant, but I am tired of HR being continually seen as irrelevant, bureaucratic paper pushers for most organizations.)

I will simply let that stand on its own, with no additional comments. But I am seriously concerned about how organizations motivate their people and listen to their ideas and HR could do so much more in so many organizations. Wish that would change…

Scott Simmerman, team building facilitator

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

The Search for the Treasures of Göbekli Tepe – a new team building game

We are well along with the main design of our newest team building exercise, The Search for the Treasures of Göbekli Tepe, an exercise focused on engagement, collaboration and implementation. It is a fascinating story to become the basis of this new exercise.

Göbekli Tepe means “hill with a belly” in Turkish, noting that this hilltop gave a full view of the surrounding countryside for many miles. We are polishing the metaphors, enhancing the design to capture some of the optimized features of our other games, and looking to release this soon in a number of languages.

Modeled after many of the main design features in PMC’s flagship team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, this new simulation will be set in the ruins of the forgotten people of Göbekli Tepe , a neolithic hilltop sanctuary thought to have been constructed around 14,000 years ago in southern Turkey.

Numerous websites describe this location, which is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, but that contains intricate carvings and animal depictions and an pillars. Many of the pillars found weigh over 20 tons with some more than twice that large and archeologists have estimated that it took a work force of at least 500 people to cut them from quarries up to a kilometer away, and bring them to the site. And then there are the exquisite carvings and depictions.

The Search for the Treasures of Gobecki Tepe

The site predates Stonehenge by 10,000 years and is far older than the pyramids and the ruins in Egypt. It appears to be spread over an area of 22 acres, although new information is being understood almost daily and little has been excavated thus far. It is speculated by its discover and chief archeologist, Klaus Schmidt, that hunter / gather bands met here periodically over man decades. If you have read the Clan of the Cave Bear books, the gatherings may have taken on some of that flavor of worship, competitions, and sharing of information and even resources like seeds and tools.

In play, teams will leave civilization for an excursion to the site of the dig, where we have information that can lead to the discovery of some new and as of yet unseen treasures that depict the life of the people. To succeed, teams will have to plan, share information, and work together under the normal pressures of time and seasonal changes in weather. The isolated nature of the area and the oftentimes difficult climate will make for a fun and educational event along with a solid exercise in organizational improvement.

Contact me for more details and some delivery timelines,

For the FUN of It!

Scott banking LDDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Excuses for Poor Teamwork and Poor Performance – Find Your Own!

Dan Rockwell posted up a short blog on his LeadershipFreak blog about getting past excuses. The gist was that we make excuses for why we do not do what we are capable of, this for ourselves and for others.

Well, sure. ALL of us are capable of doing more than we do, in some cases a LOT more! I do not think that there is anyone who performs to their maximum potential on anything like a consistent daily basis. Some are frustrated by this, some take the gap as motivational, and some just roll along normally.

Who couldn’t work more hours, engage others in more better teamwork, run faster, eat less, and on and on. And I want to also differentiate the anchor of excuses from the issues of failure. Not getting everything done perfectly is not failure, it just might represent expectations that may or not be too high.

Setting achievable goals is an important issue. If the goals are too low, reaching them is not rewarding. If the goals are too high, trying to achieve them may be frustrating or may cause some kinds of cheating for their achievement. It is about overall balance, I think. Achieving good goals is a good thing for a lot of reasons.

Much of my organizational focus is on engagement, collaboration, and teamwork as they relate to optimizing performance results.

In the case of teams, the players will often throw a Blame Frame around things. I have written about that before in this blog on Trial and Error.

In my Lost Dutchman team building game, for example, we tell the tabletops that the goal of the game is to maximize ROI and to “mine as much gold as we can.” But, often, the phenomenon of “My Team, My Team, My Team” gets in the way and teams compete instead of collaborating and thus sub-optimize the gold that could have been mined. They then make their excuses like blaming the Expedition Leader for not being clear (it is always clear — it is their choice to compete).

After all, it is easier to put blame on others and make excuses rather than focus in on reality. So, the Dutchman game is really a tool to get the tabletop to begin to discuss behavioral alternatives and the requisite variety of options in the game and then make the leap to dealing with those same issues in the workplace. Teams in the workplace are often facing a lot of the same kinds of blame frames and individual choices that do not lead to collaboration and improved results.

Getting people to generate their excuses for performance flaws is often a very good idea since it gives the other members of the team a chance to discuss these and even put peer pressure on each other to not let those get in the way.

In teaching a class on consulting skills a few years ago, I assigned final group projects to triads of 3 people — in nearly every case the individuals came to me fearful that they would individually contribute more than the other two on their team. These were adults with workplace experiences probably paralleling this. So my simple solution was to take 30 minutes of the next class to ask what kinds of excuses there might be for a lack of teamwork and collaboration on these projects. Funny thing– how well that worked to generate solid levels of cooperation and shared effort.

It seems to be a lot about choices and perceived alternative solutions. Too many of us get too close to the wagon too often and fail to step back and see different possibilities. Having different alternatives for change is a key. Requisite variety is the word. If you think that all you have is that hammer, you may use it in different ways but you will still have only a hammer. I think that we can also see that there are different tools in our toolkits and that many of these tools can be applied in different ways.

Teamwork offers an anchor point to excuses, for example. Lots of us choose not to fully participate in teams because of “others.” We either think that we will contribute too much relative to the choices of others or that no one will listen to our ideas because they failed to do so in the past. But much of it is simply driven by how we think.

If you have good excuses for your personal lack of accomplishment, that is fine. Just take a moment, every once in a while, to see if those are still working well for you. After all, you cannot push the wagon at 100% of your effort 24 / 7 — that is just an unreasonable strategy. Step up and push as hard as you can. But also take some time to step back from the wagon every once in a while. You might see some things you could do differently and better.

View Back not motivational words

Me, I am tired and I think I will go take a nap. After that, I might sneak a peak around and see if I can find some new ideas to play with, like continuing my series of poems about performance.

View front Motivational words

I will plan to get back to work later. Heck, I should probably edit this later, too.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, team building facilitatorDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Two Miles of Ditch for Every Mile of Road – Thoughts on Teamwork and Collaboration

There is that old joke about when you are up to your axles in alligators, it is hard to remember that your job was to drain the swamp. Sometimes the tasks at hand simply overwhelm the possible improvements. Organizational improvement is a lot like that, it seems.

Mud has been a most useful metaphor for me around the concept of dealing with Square Wheels when the cargo are round ones. Mud represents the organizational glop, or as I define it, “the stuff that is hard to get a grip on.”

Mud is the goo, the cement, the grinding paste — basically the stuff that is hard to deal with but that directly slows performance. It might be the culture of the organization or the tendency to not reward improvement / punishing failure. It is often the bureaucracy that gets in the way of generating change. It could be one person who tends to simply make everything more difficult for any number of reasons. If organizations had personalities, it could be that, too.

Dealing with the mud of team building

My comments tend to be around choice and choices and defining possibilities. Often, people simply choose to keep muddling along like they always have and not much will change. You just keep plugging away, hoping to make progress.

But it is often useful just to step back from the wagon and look for some ways to “Get out of the ditch and up on the road!” Doing the same thing will generate the same results. And, understanding that there are a lot of miles of ditch to deal with in most organizations is just a thought on reality. Nothing makes sense, and neither does anything else so much of the time. Knowing what needs to be changed and even building a good case for it does not necessarily translate into an organizational improvement initiative.

These situations take group engagement and a sense of shared focus and teamwork in order to generate the energy to change the course of what is happening. One person, no matter how powerful or skilled, will find it very difficult to deal with the glop and get things moving more effectively. There is just too much to deal with, most of the time. Change is difficult. And peer support and teamwork and collaboration are helpful.

Me, I just got up on the road, I think, by doing these little ditty things using the cartoons and illustrating the issues with Haiku and poems and maybe some limericks on occasion. I have a bunch of clients and friends sending me their poems and word changes and the like, so I think I will keep going down this path and see what results.

YOUR thoughts and words would be appreciated, and if you want a couple of cartoons on which to permanently and forever post up your thoughts (attributed to you, of course), pop me a note. I can assist and you can be the poet or wordsmith forever anchored to one of the themes of improving organizations.

Remember:

Caterpillars can fly lighten up round

Or, from The Waterboy:  “You can do it!”

Have fun out there, too. Have a most wonderful New Year!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén