Performance Management Company Blog

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

Month: January 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

Square Wheels go Thump. Round Wheels already exist.

Some recent conversations convinced me to do one more post about the basic theme  of Square Wheels and how the whole situation can be improved. It is not rocket science and the solutions are pretty straightforward. This seems to be a common reality:

Square Wheels One How Things Work ©

Things thumping and bumping. Nobody talking. Leader looking ahead from an isolated position. Pushers cannot see what is happening nor where the are going. Lots of issues including one of trust.

Square wheels image Trust Bubble Front

And my simple solution would look something like this:

Square Wheels One - Things I need to do more celebrate 100

It is not really rocket science as it is truly amazing how many wagon pushers immediately understand how this would look in the workplace and what their managers could choose to do differently.

Square Wheels images of how things work

Can I make this any more simple? Can you think of why direct communications, involvement and engagement would not work?

We sell these simple tools for involvement, innovation, change and invite you to look at our products:

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

PMC – our Square Wheels and Lost Dutchman logo

PMC SWs LD logo for WordPress1

Leadership: A Square Wheels View of What It Is

What is Leadership? There are tons of books and models about many different ideas. My approach is to keep things straightforward and simple, so I guess things simply look like this:

Square Wheels One Leadership words green

And people CAN be easily involved and engaged. Try this: ASK them. They will have thoughts about issues and opportunities for improvement. The exemplary performers actually choose to do things differently than the average ones. Why not find out what they are and have them share those ideas?

Square Wheels Intrinsic Motivation - people can be encouraged

Simple stuff that needs more elaboration, for sure. But certainly a way to think about moving forward.

Here is a simple haiku to set the stage for your efforts to make improvements:

Square Wheels One Haiku the thump

We sell these simple tools for involving and engaging people for workplace improvement, which has all sorts of impacts on intrinsic motivation, innovation and productivity.

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Possible Potential Possibilities and Continuous Continuous Improvement

Ron Richard, a quality consultant up in Canada, and I have been co-publishing some ideas and he is going to publish a short “eBook” called, “It’s Possible.” So, he sent me a draft and I bounced some ideas back and forth and we are now moving toward pushing out an illustrated book of ideas, poems and haiku around the themes of possibilities and choices.

So, from that conversation, I generated a quote to summarize my thinking about my thinking, and it comes out like this:

“Possible Potential Possibilities are like Continuous Continuous Improvement. They make us more better faster, if we only stop to reflect. Is that even possible?”

Illustrated, the above idea looks something like the following:

Square Wheels One Haiku outside the work teamand

Square Wheels One Haiku wagon not just empty

which is a thought on choice, which leads us to the idea of motivation and the recognition that comes from accomplishment:

Square Wheels Intrinsic Haiku Motivation Good Ideas

and peer support

Square Wheels Celebration Haiku good ideas

There are Lots and Lots of possibilities out there for personal and team and organizational performance improvement and change. The keys are to recognize that possibilities are actually possible and that continuous improvement is really a continuous process.

But it is critical that you, “Step back from the wagon,” in order to see the issues and the opportunities.

See my slideshare program on change, caterpillars and butterflies by clicking on the image that follows:

Square Wheels Slideshare Teaching The Caterpillar icon

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

 

 

Leading – Some Simple Ideas on Engagement

There are thousands of books on leadership, so we seem to have the definitions and understanding of the concept anchored down pretty well.

Surveys, though, show that leadership is not good and people do not feel that they are working for such a great bunch of leaders.

Where does this unhook? Maybe around the issues of involving people in workplace improvement and engaging them in the implementation of new, improved or simply better practices to make working less punishing.

Square Wheels One Leadership words green

So, I simply offer this up as a simple framework for what I think happens, with the possibilities for change and improvement being more than a little obvious.

If you have not seen the above illustration before, take a minute and consider how this image might represent how most organizations really work. Then take a moment to consider what might be done differently.

I’ve been working around people and performance my whole working life and have had the opportunity to work for a couple of really good bosses. When the values and goals and expectations and feedback are all in alignment, it goes really well. When there is isolation and a lack of communications and what is demanded is out of alignment, then I get out of step and dis-engaged.

I have always been fortunate to be able to pick up and walk away. Not everyone seems to have that kind of opportunity. Some feel that all they can do is just continue to push and maybe have some hope that something might change. When it gets really bad, they make other choices (see this post on sabotage and engagement here).

Defense wagon yellow 70

At PMC, we sell tools to help improve teamwork and communications and to help engage and involve people in workplace improvement. They are designed to be flexible and easy to facilitate.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

For the FUN of It!

Scott DebriefDr. 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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Learning – What it really is, illustrated

I was reading an article about education and the thought struck me that I can illustrate and define learning a bit, at least how I see it through the lens of my Square Wheels illustration.

Square Wheels One Learning definition words green

After all, what good is learning if you simply choose to continue to do the same things the same way over and over. I think learning has to do with having more choices about options and ideas. But it is really all about implementation, and stopping and stepping back from the wagon long enough to consider them.

After all, continuing to do the same things when you could be doing something more better faster is simply silly at best and dumb when it negatively impacts the world around you.

Square Wheels One Don't Just DO Stand red border(click on the image above for a really funny post on perspective.)

Seriously!

Facilitate involvement and engagement:

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Yeah, Seriously!

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Positive Possibilities – Square Wheels for Performance Improvement

A few people have recently written that the Square Wheels One image is a negative view of how organizations really work and that it portrays the leadership in a negative way. And they seem to say that my haiku posts are also somewhat negative about how things work, too.

I guess that this reinforces my key concept that it is all about perspective — the fact that people see things differently and only through discussion can then better understand each other. That this perfectly illustrates the power of the tool is actually most wonderful. It generates different perceptions about things and allows for discussion!

As a “possibilities sorter” and a “future-focused sorter” of information and a performance improvement consultant starting back in 1978, I would simply suggest that my purpose of using the Square Wheels cartoons (back in 1993) was much more about looking for ideas for improvement than a focus on any negatives. What we do can always be improved.

The basic cartoon that started this all was framed up like this:

Square Wheels One imageand we asked, “How might this illustration represent how organizations really work?

We then allow people to talk about what they see and that is projective, it works much like an inkblot or Rorschach Test where people look at an image and then share their thoughts about what it represents. These are “projective instruments” in that people project their perceptions and beliefs onto the tool. And the use of the cartoon helps us get LOTS of ideas. What also happens is that the general thinking about the cartoon often becomes attached to how they see their organizations. They see real issues and opportunities in their own workplaces.

(you can see a post about just how many ideas result from such brainstorming and open discussion by clicking on this link and going to another post.)

Sometimes, if they are management, they see themselves in the front. More often, they feel that they are pushing someone else’s wagon, based on their responses. They also think that the ideas for improvement already exist but that communications between front and back are tough to accomplish.

Negative? Well, maybe.

Maybe if the phrase,
continuous continuous improvement”
is negative… I personally think it represents
possibilities.

I do frame things up with poetry and similar, sometimes taking managers to task for not fixing things that need fixing, those improvements that would make things better for all those involved… I see organizations doing more to generate intrinsic motivation and engagement.

Square Wheels Brainstorming Haiku Tomorrow is today

I think all we are doing through the illustration is anchoring to the existing reality and with the hopes that things can improve, be that about systems and processes, ideas for improvement, leadership involvement, communications or some other aspect of people and performance.

We sell tools for involving, engaging and motivating people and for leading all sorts of organizational involvement initiatives.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Have FUN out there, for sure!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly – A Slideshare program

Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly is the theme of my ideas on managing and leading change. I have presented worldwide on the theme and even developed a complete Square Wheels Change Toolkit that has metaphors, exercises, jokes, illustrations, quotes and all sorts of resources for presenting on the topic and involving and engaging people for change.

Part One of my Slideshare program illustrates many of my key learning points with images of caterpillars and butterflies and a variety of poems and haiku about the issues and opportunities to involve and engage. It is about fun and perspective and the issues of understanding the process of change.

Caterpillar butterflies are more than me simple poem

You can find Part One of the three part overview by clicking on the image below:

Square Wheels Slideshare Teaching The Caterpillar icon

I hope you find it fresh, fun and interesting — and your comments, reactions and suggestions would be most appreciated.

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

Optimizing Profit through Collaboration – Ideas for Lost Dutchman Deliveries

We designed and sell The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building exercise focused on planning and collaboration, among other key outcomes. A recent purchaser sent me an email this morning with a simple question but one that I thought merited some elaboration, since there are any number of design features and delivery spins that impact the desired outcomes of the client.

Hello Scott,

I am thoroughly enjoying facilitating the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building.  🙂

So far I have had groups between 40 – 50.  Next week I have a smaller one (4 teams).  How many videos do you suggest I have on hand of each?  

Thanks so much!

Warmly,

First, it is nice to get the positive feedback (testimonials) and to know that she is making money from her investment in purchasing the exercise. Secondly, it is a very good question that I somewhat address in the training materials included with the exercise, but something that obviously could use some additional explanation and some awareness as to issues and opportunities.

So, I sent her a brief overview of my thoughts and promised that her questions would generate a more complete blog post from me today, one that expands on a number of ideas around this simple question. Like my post yesterday, where I discuss the philosophy around the game board design as it relates to my goals of generating more planning and  collaboration (found here), this post also discusses themes of how the available resources can link tightly to desired outcomes.

The Videos are a metaphor and game accessory that ties to strategic planning and best practices. The Mine Video is about the gold mine and contains Cave Cards that teams find useful. Getting that Video costs one day of time and the team getting it leaves on Day Two of the 20 day exercise instead of Day One. (See more on this on the other blog post if that is of interest.)

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine Video Covers

The second video, on Tortilla Flats, contains best practices resources and one video can actually support three teams if the resources are shared across tabletops. I choose not to expand on that here.

So if there are four tabletops playing, her question is how many Videos should she make available for play?

The answer is that it depends on the desired outcomes for the session. Allowing the teams to all get both videos would mean that there are wasted planning days and a bit of analysis paralysis… They do not NEED to spend that much time gaining information and they are losing days of Mining Gold because of it. Plus, with all that information available to every team, it takes away some of the excitement and risk and all that.

Having too many resources is NOT motivating. Having sufficient but not excessive resources to accomplish something adds more challenge. People are not motivated climbing stairs but they are when using ropes and climbing gear to make that ascent!

Having only ONE of each Video available is a scarcity model. The Mine Video resources and information are not as available to the others and there would be little incentive for a team that acquires that to share it — the competitive aspect of it would play in. Having one Tortilla Flat Video would enable 3 of the 4 teams to optimize their performance if – and only if – those resources were shared. If one team got both videos, they would see all the teams leave on Day One and they would leave on Day Three. They would also mine more gold than any of the other teams and they would have an easier time of it, overall.

So, one needs to balance resource availability.

Generally, for a group of 4 tabletops, I might play with three Mine Videos and two of Tortilla Flat so that resources could be shared with all teams.

But there is another option that I really like to do with smaller groups and one that emphasizes the issues around inter-team collaboration even more than the regular design. That involves what we refer to as the Optimizing Profit Performance Option or what I refer to as The Assay Office Version, since that was what it was originally called. There is a long history as to how it evolved but here is what it is and how it works:

Assay Office Mine Video Cover IconThis Assay Office version of The Mine Video contains extra Cave Cards, more than one team could possibly use. So, the design is that the team acquiring this Video would absolutely know that they have extras that they could share with another tabletop. And, this Video also contains information that by using a Cave Card, a team could acquire an extra ounce of Gold each day, 11 ounces rather than 10.

We tell the teams getting this “new edition” of the video that it is different than the old ones — we generally use only ONE of them in a delivery. We tell other teams getting the “old editions” that they should check with that other team to understand the changes that were made in the new edition. WE TELL THEM TO CHECK; WE TELL THEM TO SHARE; WE GIVE THEM EXTRA CARDS!

If a team reaching the mine uses a Cave Card, they can ask for an extra ounce. ANY team using a Cave Card can ask for an extra ounce. Thus, if they got the Assay Video, they should remember to get the extra gold and if they heard about the Assay Video and used Cave Cards given to them (or if they got their own Mine Video with cards), they could also get the extra ounce.

We now simply use a spreadsheet to track when the team asked for the extra ounce and we know which team got the Assay version and which teams could have benefited.

Assay Office spreadsheet

In the above example, the Yellow Team got there a day later (staying home and getting both Videos) and they got the Assay Office version of the Mine Video. We know this because of the day they arrived plus the reality that they used the information to acquire the extra ounce the first day of mining. We know that they got the Tortilla Flat Video because they did not leave on Day 14. (this is information that only game owners would understand!) The Yellow team optimized their results and mined the most gold, contributing the most to the overall gold mined. Remember:

The Goal - Gold Hand gold

You might guess that the Red team got an older version of the Mine Video and spent that extra day at Apache Junction and never did find out about the extra gold. They left on Day 14.

The Blue team got there on Day 7 so they did not spend a day planning — they acquired Cave Cards (or at least started using them on Day 9) and someone shared the Assay Office information with them. Only on Day 13, the day  before they left the Mine, did the Purple team actually use a Cave Card.

(These are actual game results, by the way. This version is harder to administrate than our regular one because there is more tracking. I also think it would be really confusing in a large group environment and harder to debrief.)

If the different teams would all share information and collaborate, they mine more gold and the goal of the game is to mine as much gold as we can, not to compete and win as your own team! If the teams asked the Expedition Leader for advice or assistance, we would also help them to understand how this works. We explain this only to the team getting the first Mine Video, the Assay Office one.

This blog is written for users or those about to facilitate and support a delivery of the exercise so apologies if you got this far and remain a bit confused. For those of you familiar with the normal delivery, I trust that this will make some elegant sense. If you click on either of the two icons above, you can go to the order page for the exercise to add this to your toolkit. It comes free in our Professional Version of the Lost Dutchman game.

You can read more of my thinking on collaboration versus competition at this blog post of mine – click here

You can find a nice screenshare overview of the complete exercise by clicking on the image below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Business Haiku – Possibilities for Organizational Improvement with Square Wheels

While there are problems with employee motivation and performance improvement, it is not always the employee. A lot has to do with how they are being led and managed and supported and trained. The words include innovation, involvement and engagement… And you can click on any of the icons below to go to Part One of the slideshare package I just uploaded on Teaching The Caterpillar to Fly, some haiku on managing and leading change.

Square Wheels One Haiku Slacker working hard

It raises a number of key questions, like these:

Square Wheels One Haiku round wheels kept off

This raises the question about what we might choose to try to do differently to involve the work team into sharing their ideas. Obviously, telling them to work harder will not generate much involvement and yelling will only generate compliance, not motivation for productivity.

Square Wheels Brainstorming Haiku Tomorrow is today

and also:

Square Wheels Brainstorming Haiku Ask for ideas outcomes

In reality, the ideas for performance improvement already exist. Trust is one issue — can the management team be trusted to not claim ownership of the ideas of the individuals so that recognition can be fairly shared? Can the boss actually stop long enough to listen to ideas? Will there be sufficient time and resources to implement suggested changes?

The round wheel ideas are already implemented into the behaviors of many of the exemplary performers. They simply do things differently.

A client years ago had one exceptional salesperson and a lot of good ones. A stupidly simple conversation discovered that “a secret to his success” was that he spent his own money taking his clients to lunch. There was not company budget for that and most salespeople simply ate cheaply on their own — he chose to do things differently. Adding a budget and essentially requiring all the salespeople to spend their monthly lunch budgets on at least some client lunches improved sales and perceived service incredibly! A return on that investment of 500%!

There are zillions of similar examples out there in the minds of top performers everywhere. They do things differently. Share the ideas! Implement better solutions. Involve and engage everyone in the performance improvement initiative. Just do it!

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Lost Dutchman – Thoughts about Day One of the exercise

One of my new users ran The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for the first time and had a question about the design of the game board and how it all plays out with the weather. I thought that my thinking about how this should work and why we designed it this way might be useful for other users. Here is what he said:

If you look at the first cell after Apache Junction, it is connected on all three routes!

  • This will allow a team to move from one route to the other without having the teams to come back to base – Is my understanding correct?
  • In that case, shouldn’t the weather pattern be the same on day one for all the routes?

I understand that this is a bit tricky, especially when teams can move out on Day 1, 2 or 3 based on them taking the videos and I would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

Here is the game board and the area in question:
Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine Apache Junction Map

And here is my thinking about how this works and why:

YES, if they leave Apache junction, the start up point, they go into a block that surrounds AJ and that connects to all three routes.

Leaving on Day One, with the rainy weather pattern on that day, they get punished for not planning and getting a Video. They use up an extra Fuel Card and they can see that will happen before they commit to actually leaving.  There is no way around that weather — they are OUT and in a block that is “muddy” in how it is drawn with the light brown dirt and the squiggly lines.

The rules say that this Mud does NOT occur on the High Country or Plateau Trails. But if you look at the map, the signs marking those trails start on the NEXT block and not this one.

Having one large surrounding block enables a team to take ANY route on Day 2 — they can change their mind at no cost and simply go a different way. If they had planned to go on the Low Country Trail and Day One is MUDDY, one might expect a logical team to question that decision (they just got some new negative data!!) and take another route. This, of course, never happens!!

They could also get information from teams that get The Videos and choose to go up to the Mine using the High Country or Plateau Trails on Day 2.

The weather for Day One is the same for all three routes — Yes. Day One is Day One and they are in a block that is colored muddy, lined as muddy, and is clearly their first step out of AJ. If they stay at AJ, they consume 1 and 1. If they leave it is 1 and 2.

PLUS, there is Rule Number One

Rule Number One and Rule Number Two

The reality of being in charge is that the weather and the consumption of resources IS what you TELL THEM it is! Some might argue. Some might simply be confused so you explain the rules again. Some might try to cheat and save a fuel. But it is simple: If they leave on Day One, the cost is an extra Fuel Card!

There is nothing “tricky” about any of this. It is very simple and straightforward. It is highly congruent with my thinking and the benefits of planning to their individual team success and to the overall success of the group…

Note that you can always simply do what makes the best sense for the expedition at any time. That is simply good leadership of any expedition in any workplace – do what makes sense. Having a Rule Number One is certainly helpful! (grin)

There are a number of similarly elegant little nuances to the map, like the movements around the Supply Depot near the Mine and the use of a Turbo for movement there as well as the actual number of days from AJ to the mine with the other resources available. Some of these features were simply the result of luck on my part and some were thought out — this one with the design of the block surrounding AJ was a planned one!

We think that this game is pretty tight and easy to deliver. Over 20 years, we think that we have very congruent rules that make it easy to tie to themes of project management, strategic planning, team collaboration and inter-departmental collaboration, and to all sorts of issues around organizational alignment, leadership development and strategy implementation.

It also seems to generate the same kinds of play and debriefing discussions. The above was from a user in India, but it could have been Germany or Dubai.

Oh, did I mention that a major goal is to also have fun?

You can find more about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine by clicking on this link that takes you to our overview on Slideshare.

Slideshare Dutchman icon

Clicking on the link that is the image below will take you to an overview of the games on our website.

LD What did you learn

You can also see the many articles in the blog about the game by clicking on my image below.

For the Fun of It!

Scott 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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Business Haiku – Square Wheels thoughts and ideas

It is well known that images add to imagination and that poems and quips often anchor ideas to make things more memorable. I have a lot of Square Wheels and Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine images and have done a LOT of poems, quips and similar with the image as a visual anchor.

More recently, I started playing with Haiku and the images and will paste up a few of them here and lots more on my poem blog. To spring over there, click on any of the Haiku below and you will go over to the main poems on the workplace blog of mine.

Here is one on continuous continuous improvement:

Square Wheels One Haiku working together

and this one on possibilities for improvement:

Square Wheels One Haiku Boss views the path

and this one on being frustrated with nothing changing:

Square Wheels One Haiku tender resignation

Sometimes you feel like you are just getting nowhere with all your efforts.

Rat Cage Haiku work hard

Yeah, frustration with nothing improving and no one listening is a real problem generating un-engagement and other reactions:

Pin Balloon Haiku Mad Pin hit balloon

So, eventually we reach a point where we can play with ideas. Often, a new good ideas really prevents one from going back and doing things the same old way. We make personal improvements.

Square Wheels Twaining Haiku wagon on blocks

I hope you like reading these as much as I like doing them. I want them to be reflective, to generate some alternative thinking about possibilities for organizational and personal improvement. Inspiration!

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Teamwork takes too much time. NOT

I just wrote a blog response to a LinkedIn post that I read as saying the one needs time and networking and collaboration and coordination and all that in order to build relationships and to get things done over time. This was in a thread about an article about the goal of the workplace is NOT to make workers happy (written by a lawyer, so that is self-explanatory…).

Pop - pin hits balloon words borderAnyway, I will admit to being a little frustrated overall by that whole thread. And I personally know that some things take time but that going too slowly is a real problem in most organizations.

So, I pushed this out as my contribution to the thread:

Thinking a bit about Samantha’s post, I guess I “disagree” a little.

Reading the literature on organizational change and strategy implementation, it reads clearly that it generally takes 2 or more commonly 3 years to fully cascade a strategy or process from top to bottom in the large organizations. There is a lot of literature on this for the quality improvement initiatives (like ISO 9000) because they were so common a few years ago and often supported by college professors interested in publishing that kind of literature.

We see the same thing with strategy implementation today.

I often see that read as if ANY kind of teamwork or improvement initiative takes a whole big lot of time to generate any result. The simple Tuckman Model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing implies stages of group process and development and the requirement that lots of time and understanding and collaboration and networking and personal styles inventories and decision-making style inventories and all that are a requirement for any teamwork to occur.

Sweat the bullets. Be prepared for lots of spending and time investment and demands for more and more corporate support and organizational resources is the operating belief. You must generate full organizational commitment from top to bottom in order to expect any results.

Yeah. But as a direct result of a lot of the above kinds of thinking, a lot of people will choose to try nothing or to wait for clear supportive directives from above or to delay doing anything until it is proven safe to participate. The term “Early Adapter” is certainly an accurate one for the small percentage of people who choose to actually go out and TRY things!

On the other hand, though, I can present groups of people with a difficult challenge of managing limited resources and solving problems to optimize measurable results. I can present the systems and processes and give them 15 minutes of planning time to put a whole lot of things together so that they can take planned actions to succeed in a new initiative. And they do. They do put plans together and make decisions, take actions, and operate as an effective team of 5 to 6 people.

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing? They simply do not have time for all that stuff. They are challenged and they must work together to generate actions and implement those decisions they made.

I see it in my Lost Dutchman team building game and we have great debriefing discussions about choices and resources and how to collaborate between tabletops back in the workplace. We see people make bad choices and get the immediate feedback needed to help correct decision-making errors.

And I can see it in workplace performance improvement initiatives when a small, engaged and motivated group of people define something problematic and then take the considered actions to address and solve that problem.

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled, and it CAN take a long time to build. But I also think that we can generate a lot more workplace improvement than we do by simply finding problems and addressing them in work teams.

Engagement sucks. The vast majority of people are NOT engaged in their workplaces. And many are somewhat actively un-engaged and may even work as saboteurs (see http://is.gd/UMnEbe which is my blog post on sabotage and statistics and ideas).

So, why not Just Do It sometimes and build trust and collaboration forward as you go forward. Too much time seems to be spent taking too much time…

I can only think of how many people could be more involved and engaged and how many more problems in the workplace might be solved through teamwork and involvement.

We offer simple tools for identifying and solving problems, creating actions and activities that can help build trust and foster continuous improvement.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Have MORE Fun out there, too!

square wheels author

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

TeamBuilding – We judge ourselves by our intentions

Inspiration is a weird thing. I was cleaning out a lot of image files last night and earlier today and I came across a folder I called, Animal Giggles. I have no recollection as to where they came from since the file names are all things like these:

Google ChromeScreenSnapz003

Having been reasonably productive all day, I decided to open them up and see what they were. On inspection, they are from icanhas.cheezburger.com/ so I will ask them permission to post by posting a couple here. It is a site of funny cat pictures and similar (I linked them).

from http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/

“Do I look like the bluebird of happiness?”, “Go on, without me,” and “Clyde never suspected the local pigeons would have Tasers”

So, of course I immediately made the link from those silly cartoons to the real workplace issues of teamwork and collaboration, to leadership and trust and to the alignment of work groups to desired organizational results. How you might ask?

Because we are attributing desired behavior in the cartoons to others, in this case small animals.

In the workplace, we routinely make all sorts of assumptions about others including themes of motivation and competency and collaboration. But those are simply guesses. One of the quotes I have liked for a long time is this one that I recall derives from the NLP literature:

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
We judge others by their behavior.
*

That bridges me over to team building. The above quote is the mental key. Understanding the issues of personal intentions versus behavior towards others is where the above cartoons pushed my thinking…

In our exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, we set a goal of “Mining as much gold as we can” and of maximizing ROI. The game is about the different tabletops planning and executing those plans. It is about optimizing results with available resources, with a very obvious situation where collaboration would be of benefit to generating results. Teams can choose to share information and resources, as well as ideas, as an integral part of the design. They can choose to collaborate in many ways.

But what they often choose to do is compete. We tell them that
the game is about collaboration but they choose to compete.

In order to win, they will intentionally withhold resources from other teams so that they can beat them, sometimes seemingly encouraging that other team to perish.

You can see more about Lost Dutchman and how it works by clicking on the link below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

The name of another one of our team building exercises is The Collaboration Journey. It says so right on the game board. And new users are often concerned that showing “Collaboration” on the board will negatively influence results. Well, my comment is that you can be rest assured that they will NOT pay a whole lot of attention to that and will often not collaborate but compete to win!

10

People in the workplace, like in our schools, most naturally tend to work toward competing to win, even when it serves to sub-optimize overall results. And they will often use Darwinism and “survival of the fittest” to help explain those choices, even though social societies benefit so much more from collaboration. Survival of the fittest is a concept that focuses on benefits to the social group much more so than to an individual.

All I can say is that it sure is fun to run a game and then focus on the results of that game as driven by the choices that people make, especially when it is totally clear that inter-organizational collaboration will offer a much more positive impact overall. Our organizations are ALL like that — collaboration is key.

And reflection is likely to help generate some improvements; that is why we play the games!

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Fore the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

(* I actually tried to look up a source for this and the web is apparently attributing this to Ian Percy, but I’ve heard this for a lot longer than he could possibly be speaking on these issues. More likely Robert Dilts or one of the other key people in the NLP community, I might guess…)

Moron the Issue of Trust – The Residue of Promises

Interesting conversations, we can have online and even occasionally on the telephone (Yes, I still have one of those things that other people seem to only use for texting these days!)

On talking on the phone about my Square Wheels Puppies Cartoon with an associate, the cute little puppies totally distracted her from the issue at hand, and that was the main thought about people and performance and about things that do not work smoothly.

Square Wheels One Puppies Cartoon about people and performance

She likes puppies so much she missed my key point, which I will spell out since probably more than half of the people who see this cartoon will also miss it!

The wagon leader is isolated by the rope. The wagon pushers cannot see where they are going. The wagon is thumping and bumping along, just like usual. I mean, can’t we make some changes to improve how things work?

This all started with a discussion around Frank Navran’s quote,

Trust is the residue
of promises fulfilled.

My same puppy-loving friend also thought that maybe the word residue might be kinda bad and that maybe the word results might be substituted.

Trust is the result
of promises fulfilled.

Really? Result? Nah. That is just too bland, too vanilla. I think cotton candy and merry-go-rounds. I think “Barney.” I think soap bubbles. Nah, I don’t want some softball association between trust and promises and behavior — it is just too darn critically important. We want Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry impact here — not some Teletubby character:

teletubvy characters

We want Guns ‘N Roses, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and Bruce Springsteen, not Lawrence Welk or John Denver. We want IMPACT — we want to anchor people’s attention and focus. We want Heavy Metal, not casual listening…

So, I think residue is a great word. It’s got emotion and character, like an old bathtub. It’s got visual kinesthetic association to something real and tangible:

residue

Trust is easily wiped away; and workplace trust is probably far easier to dissolve than the ring on a tub.

It doesn’t take a lot of special cleanser or elbow grease — all it takes is a careless moment when behavior misaligns with the expectations. Poof!

Trust has huge impacts on the results of organizations. Results are dramatically affected by trust and behavior. You can see some of those statistics on The Hard Costs of Low Trust or even this blog on organizational sabotage and some of its causes and solutions.

What do you think? Results or Residue?

And it is also good to remember that it IS about behavior. Remember that we judge ourselves by our intentions but we can only judge others by the behavior we observe.

I also thought that this one was cute:

Beware of Dog and Cat

Anyway, DO what you can.
And have FUN out there and get things DONE!

Santa ScottDr. 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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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