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The Reality of Change, Innovation and Employee Engagement

Change is a constant in the workplace: there is always something…

Sometimes change appears to be happening too fast and sometimes it seems much too slow, given the business needs. Sometimes we are looking to make changes and sometimes we simply must make change to keep moving forward.

On my poems blog, I just posted up this illustration poster:

LEGO POSTER REALITY OF CHANGE

The simple idea is that the wagon wheel has broken, the team needs to get moving again, but the wheel needs to be replaced. With Round Wheels literally “at hand”, we put on a new Square Wheel simply because that is what we have always done. We roll on Square Wheels!

My “regular” line-art cartoons that we use in our toolkit on change, look like this:

SWs Reality of Change © yellow words

The related image that shows some improvement looks like this:

SWs Reality of Change 2 ROUND © yellow

Note the difference — the woman is now installing one of the ROUND wheels.

In the cartoons, overall, we see three people and some note the reluctance of the wagon puller to let go of the rope. Some viewers might comment that the guy at the far left is just lazy and not helping out. But you might also note that the wagon is up on the points of the Square Wheels, making it easier to install a new wheel but much harder to balance, which is the job of those two people.

One guy is lifting — we all know of those people who really put out the effort to help teams succeed.

Lastly. Many people simply miss the HORSE. The horse represents a completely different way to address the reality of moving the wagon. It is surprising how many people miss that aspect of the situation as they focus on the broken wheel. Heck, even the characters in the cartoon seem to have missed that!

What I have been doing for 20+ years is involving and engaging people to see things differently and teaching a VERY simple yet actionable model for understanding change, identifying leverage points and action plans and facilitating the process in such a way that the participants can identify things that they can do differently as well as engage others.

The key is to focus on employee engagement and ownership. If people are involved, they are more likely to be engaged and feel some sense of commitment to getting things done.

I use a simple tool, my Square Wheels illustrations and metaphor to set things up.

SWs One WHY USE © 2014 green
The wagon rolls on a set of wooden Square Wheels carrying a cargo of round rubber tires. The process continues this way because of a few different factors, such as the square wheels actually working (just like they always have), and the lack of perspective (“Don’t just DO something, Stand There!). 

The reality is that stopping the process and implementing improvement takes time and is not always successful. Plus, the round wheels of today will invariably become the Square Wheels of tomorrow.

The intent of this facilitation is to involve people in stepping back from the wagon and seeing the obvious – the round wheels already exist and should be implemented to make long-term progress and not simply to meet the goals for today.

Sometimes, I introduce the concept of Mud, the glop that gets in the way of moving forward. This can include organizational restraints (perceived and real), politics, culture or simply the difficulty in changing. I then show the wagon and the people up to their “axles” in this mess and how hard it is to make progress. For me, “mud” is a great metaphor and I use it with the theme, “Get out of the ditch and up on the road” to introduce the issue of choice and choices. We choose what we do. Deal with it. (“If it is to be, it is up to me!”)

(“Mud” can also be grinding paste, cement, and other things. On my website at http://www.squarewheels.com, you can also find recipes for making Gack out of things like Elmer’s Glue and borax – Gack is a gooey mess — a “colloidal suspension.”)

“The best “Mud Managers” do things differently. What is it they do?”

This is a great question to ask, since it generates alternative behaviors and alternative thinking in their discussions, often anchored on best practices of the exemplary performers in the room at that time. (Peer coaching!)

At some point in the design, we will move toward my model of change, involving the current level of discomfort with the way things are now, the attractiveness of the vision of the future, the individual or groups’ previous history with change and the peer support for improvement.


All four things are actionable and under control of the manager. Change can involve teamwork or simply group process techniques for identifying issues and opportunities. But once something (a process, generally) is anchored as a Square Wheel, it almost always generates an implementable round one — this nicely taps into the cognitive dissonance model of Festinger.

Change does not have to be done TO people and is best done WITH them, having them involved in the different aspects of environmental and social support. This is why the illustrations work. We get people actively involved.

If you want to read more about this, you’ll find my article that includes these ideas, “Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly” at:

http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/articles

Plus, if you’d like to make any comment or discuss any of this, it would be most welcome.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

Reflection and Innovation: Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There

This statement,

Don’t Just DO Something,
Stand There!

describes the action that we have been teaching as a basic tool of innovation and change since the early 90s. Only by looking at a situation from a dissociated perspective can one even possibly see that new ideas might exist.

Too often, we are so busy pushing and pulling the wagon, just like we have always pushed and pulled, that we seldom have the opportunity to step back and look at things from a displaced perspective. Once we do, we can often see that things are rolling on Square Wheels while the cargo of the wagon — round rubber tires — represent ideas for improvement.

A Square Wheels image from the tools of Dr. Scott Simmerman

Consider taking things apart to look for new ideas

The act of dis-assembly can identify issues as well as build teams. And new ideas will spring from that effort, along with improved teamwork.

Very often, people who perform better than others — the exemplary performers of any organization — will already be doing things differently than the others and can add those ideas to the mix. The round wheels in so many situations are already identified and tested and implemented and refined.

One of the series of Square Wheels images of Dr. Scott Simmerman

The more they play, the better it gets

(Note that the majority of the people, and especially the poor performers, just keep on keeping on and doing what they have always done and their Square Wheels remain in place. They need to get involved with new ideas.)

Innovations can occur quite naturally. Some of us are nearly always looking for ways to do things differently so that it is easier. Tom Gilbert expanded on a framework of “laziness” back in the late 70s in his book, Human Competence. I have always liked that concept: Because we are naturally lazy, we will always be looking for the easiest and most efficient way to do things.

Why not look for the downhill route instead of pushing and pulling the wagon uphill (and sometimes through the mud)?

By involving and engaging people in the identification of the things not working smoothly and through the sharing of best practices and round wheels, we do a better job of engaging and involving the workforce. Engagement is a key to motivation and sustaining high performance. Or, putting the Round Wheels to use!

People like to play with ideas and do things differently, if they feel that the team is behind them and the risk is low. It has all kinds of positive impacts and ramifications for continuous continuous workplace improvement.

LEGO Celebration of Changes Team

If you like this post, give us a like or a tweet or make a comment. Your reactions are always appreciated,

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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.

Team Building Followup – Maximizing Impact with Cartoons

This is our 20th year of selling team building games and we are pleased to have so many great customers. In particular, we get tremendous feedback about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. This focuses on leadership and inter-organizational collaboration as well as anything we have ever encountered. And we have the testimonials to prove it.

teambuilding image

Another one of our special tools revolves around our Square Wheels illustrations and the toolkits that we developed for facilitating organizational improvement. As many people know, we started up a separate blog just for cartoons and poems — that has been FUN!!

square wheels image of how things work

These two things came together when a good customer asked if we had used any of the Lost Dutchman cartoons as poems for followup with individual participants, since so many of the debriefing discussions focus on themes of, “What will you do differently when you get back on the job?” and similar questions. Good question, the result of which is me playing with illustrations and doing more rhyming. I never thought of myself as a writer, much less a poet.

The result is that I am building up a big base of poems around all sorts of issues of organizational behavior. My goal is to have a complete set of illustrations that users could grab to send in regularly scheduled followup with clients or that clients could use with the game participants themselves as a way of throwing some mud at the fence and getting people to continue thinking of the choices they make around collaboration and problem solving.

I thought to share a few of the ideas here. Research has shown that images are retained better than words AND that simple poems and phrases add to the impact. So, the idea was to combine the images and some poems into a graphic that users of the game would be able to embed in followup emails or use in other ways,

Here are some of the first of these illustrated poems:

Dutchman Game Followup 1

Dutchman Game Followup 2

Dutchman Game Followup Jeep 3

Dutchman Game Followup Teams 4

Dutchman Game Followup music 5

Dutchman Game Followup Top 6

Dutchman Game Followup Mud 7

Dutchman Game Followup Mud 8

What I want to get is USER feedback about the illustrations and what my customers would like to have as tools for improving their followup with participants to stimulate discussion and actions – let’s say they send one image and a question after the first week and another one after two weeks, etc.

Lots of times, we generate Action Plans and we can all be pretty assured that we can do some things to improve on the likelihood of implementation. I am hoping that cartoons, poems and questions might be another tool.

I hope that you find these of some interest; we are always looking to collaborate as well as to optimize the impact and effectiveness of our materials,

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.

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Scott’s Most Excellent Presentation Quotes and Quips

Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly

and other Square Wheels Workshop Quips and Quotes by Dr. Scott Simmerman, managing partner of Performance Management Company and author of the Square Wheels tools for improvement.

What follows are the main quotes and one-liners that I use in my presentations, with many of them linked to specific illustrations or serving as the names of the illustrations in the Square Wheels series. We also started up a new blog of illustrations and quotes and poems and similar that you might find interesting if you find these quotes of interest. We are calling that, “Poems and Quips on Workplace Performance” and want to make that a fun and interesting destination.

Any unattributed quotes in this list would be mine if you choose to requote it –don’t we all have some of these in our mind! And feel free to share some of yours in the comments.

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!
Get perspective and reflect rather than just continuing to do the same thing – this is usually linked with Square Wheels One:

SWs One green watermark

Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest.
W. Edwards Deming

Get out of the ditch and up on the road.
Jon Linder – we link this to our mud illustrations in both SWs and with our Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding game

LD Mud Jeep yellow

It’s relatively simple. If we’re not getting more, better faster than they are getting more, better faster, than we’re getting less better or more worse.
supposedly by Tom Peters

One wheely good idea can lead to more wheely good ideas.

How long can we go mean and lean before we become gaunt and dead.

It’s all about Continuous Continuous Improvement.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.
adapted from John Le Carre

We have a few illustrations that link to this concept. But it is basically about not being clear on what is happening or even having a bad idea:

desk is dangerous female yellow

Your brain works faster than you think.
source unknown

What you see depends on what you thought before you looked.
Eugene Taurman

We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.
Max DePree, Leadership is an Art

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.
source unknown

When you go from being a caterpillar to becoming a butterfly, you’re nothing more than a yellow gooey sticky mess.
Ted Forbes

If caterpillars were meant to fly, God would have given them wings.
anonymous Spectator Sheep

Nothing is ever as dangerous as having THE Answer.*
*That is THE as in DUH!

If things seem really under control, you’re not going fast enough.
Mario Andretti

A mission statement is defined as “a long awkward sentence that demonstrates management’s inability to think clearly.” All good companies have one.
From The Dilbert Principle, 1996

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly!
Diane Mashia

Even caterpillars can fly if they would just lighten up.

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
The Eagles, Take it Easy

We could be standing at the top of the world instead of sinking further down in the mud.
Meatloaf, from the song “All Dressed Up and No Place to Go.”

It’s a lot like throwing mud at the wire fence. The key is throwing lots of mud and paying attention to what sticks where. Expect some rain.

The Yankees are only interested in one thing. And I don’t know what that is.
Luis Polonia

Boss spelled backwards is self-explanatory 
(note – This is a US euphemism. Contact an American for further explanation!)

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.
Frank Navran

This may be a perfect opportunity to use common sense!
Bob Pike

Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple stupid behavior.
Dee Hock

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
Abraham Lincoln

Swedish Proverb*: God gives every bird his worm, but he does not throw it into the nest.

* Apparently not yet recognized in Sweden, based on workshop comments!

“It’s hard to care for customers if you don’t think the Boss cares for you. Boss spelled backwards is also self-explanatory in many cases.”

Hope you found these interesting. For more quips and quotes, view our blog on poems and quips on performance

SWs One - brain in your head border 2

 

You or check out the Resources page on our old Square Wheels website. That has tons of articles, jokes and other stuff.

I hope that you find these of benefit and possible use. DO have fun out there and keep people energized and the work more engaging.

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: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Does Teamwork Work? Issues and Ideas for Improvement

There are people who think that no teamwork actually works to improve performance and that the effort and expense are a waste of energy and time. Yeah, maybe. But it does require some planning and alignment to the real issues and opportunities of improving management team building for business improvement.

More and more, I see and hear about some exercises that really sound like mediocre ideas for impacting workplace performance and just do not understand how some of those activities are actually linked to performance improvement. Sure, tossing balls around in a circle with more speed the second time can demonstrate better coordination of a group’s activities and, yeah, seeing that improvement after people talk about how they could do it differently does indicate that teamwork works. But what the heck? How do you really make that activity bridge to improving interdepartmental collaboration when the bosses of those departments are not involved in the activity.

(And I DO think that paintball might be a fun activity to watch as the different department heads duel it out on an individual basis for Leadership Supremacy. But I really doubt that winning that exercise will dramatically improve trust and respect among each other or that is it is an optimal paradigm for building teams within an entire organization — paintball sets up, by design, competing groups with no possibility of collaboration. You know that they sell paintball mortars, right? Designed to kill lots of players with one well-placed shot.)

We know that there are many different kinds of troubles with implementing strategies and there are issues of organizational culture and divergent measurement systems that do NOT lend themselves to organizational team building or organizational alignment interventions. There are a lot of different intra-group and inter-group issues that can be directly addressed with interventions and team building, things that can be readily discussed and resolved once the issues are smoked-out.

PMC has a vested interest in the issue, since we design and sell interactive team building activities focused on resolving issues of engagement and collaboration between teams.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, for example, has proven itself in its ability to generate commitment for change and improvement since 1993. It’s about solving problems, strategic planning, and collaboration with others who have information they could share. It is about working with others under the pressures of time, with measurable results.

DSC03949

And there IS a lot of crap training out there calling itself teamwork, in my opinion. I have attended and participated in way too many to pretend that they do not exist. Some are just plain goofy!

Google ChromeScreenSnapz003

Yeah, let’s all cheer for the outstanding bag jumper while it is 105 degrees…

My particular pet peeves are around activities like Firewalking, Paintball and High Ropes — “training events” that have few links to issues of people working together to solve problems, interacting to define things to improve, etc. I just do not believe that “team bonding” is a sufficiently powerful incentive to change workplace business practives.

And Golf as team building? Really? HOW??– Sure, golfers are known as great teammates and team play is crucial to success (Not!). Maybe when the players are boozing it up at the 19th hole, but not during play, most certainly. It is one-on-one-on-one-on one, or maybe two pairs against each other. They cannot help each other, unless maybe reading a putt.

Bowling? Maybe. Cooking? Maybe, if one is running a big commercial kitchen in a restaurant or hotel and each of team is responsible for ONE aspect of that meal and they are collaborating on the overall timing… But just let one try to help another by offering some “help” in the way of advice.

Too many people ride as cowboys in their organizations – they are one-man bands, working alone and not in concert. There are too many workplaces that reward individual performance and then think they can expect their people to work together. In so many organizations — with lots of research supporting this — many of the people are not engaged and many are DIS-engaged. One might not expect much in the way of collaboration from those people.

A recent Fierce, Inc., survey found:

  • 86% of respondents blame lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
  • 70% of individuals either agree or strongly agree that a lack of candor impacts the company’s ability to perform optimally.
  • 97% of those surveyed believe the lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of any given task or project.
  • 90% of respondents believe decision-makers should seek out other opinions before making a final decision; approximately 40% feel leaders and decision-makers consistently fail to do so.

But we can motivate people and drive alignment to shared goals. People want to feel successful and not be scared by the risks of performing. We need to get them to a new place, mentally.

In high performing workplaces, you will also see a collaborative culture where people work together to handle issues and solve problems. Granted, that approach may not work too well in places like Real Estate, Mortgage Lending or Stock Market Sales, but we do see a strong need for collaboration and commitment where things like production or product design or customer service come into play.

Motivate Me poem

Take any group of people, give them some common goals, measure them on shared performance, and allow them the ability to help each other and you have the basics for a workplace situation where teamwork will arise. Then, do some activity that demonstrates the benefit of collaboration on the overall results — something like, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.”

Then, debrief that activity and discuss the choices that people made along with the choices they COULD have made, link it to the issues they see in their own workplace, and allow them to make commitments to each other (peer support) and you are highly likely to see improvement (if there is a bit of followup after the session).

Think of all the activities that we engage in where teamwork is absolutely essential to accomplishment — sports is but one endeavor. As my North Carolina Tar Heels demonstrated (yeah, I know about Duke winning the ACC Tourney), their improved collaboration and teamwork was visibly what enabled them to run out 20-3 for the last part of the season. Lacking that teamwork, they started at 6-4… Same players, but a different level of confidence, communication and effort.

And esprit de corps is most certainly higher in those places where people are involved and engaged and working together toward common goals.

Does Teamwork not work? I don’t think so. Teamwork is ALL about group performance. Teamwork always works if we don’t prevent it from working.

Sure, individuals can excel individually, but only through collaboration with others and if they are involved and engaged. Only with motivation can we get a group of people collaborating to high levels of accomplishment and performance.

It is about leadership. It is about identifying opportunities for improvement and then celebrating the successes that are gained.

Playing with Ideas

Have more FUN out There!

scott tiny casualDr. 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: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Military Team Building Games – some thoughts on alternatives

Good Governance, rather than autocratic leadership, is one of the keys to creating value and improvement for organizations and society.

Dutchman is Teamwork

Organizations of all types are looking for tools to help improve collaboration and teamwork and they sometimes are looking toward military models of operations, since we tend to view SEAL groups as highly organized and effective. Thus, many view the use of some kind of “military model of leadership” as a tool to improve performance in their own organizations.

And remember back in 1986 when everyone was going toward “Top Gun” kinds of training programs and employee improvement actions because of the popularity of the Tom Cruise movie and the apparent thrill of flying a jet fighter? Ah, if organizations could only work like that! Zoom Zoom! They were printing Top Gun Baseball caps for everyone, it seemed.  (But if you actually remember the movie, the leadership and congruence among the teams sure was not that smooth and everything was a competition, which sometimes nearly got people killed. There was constant conflict and often a lack of coordination, Boss-driven compliance, demotions and all that…)
Stealth SWs yellow

I am sometimes asked how our teambuilding and collaboration products can be used for a Military Team Building Game or similarly themed-exercise, either as a game with a military theme or one that can be used by a military unit to teach practical leadership and teamwork lessons. And there are a bunch of anchor points to generating good results and impacts.

Some of my client colleagues who do these kinds of team building events in various military organizations all say pretty much the same thing. Russ, for example, said, “The only thing I have to say is that military has the same issues as civilian, local focus, lots of distractions, different risk levels,…. Nothing jumps out as specific or different for Military applications.”

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine remains my flagship product and one that we are proud to offer to clients of all types, profit and non-profit, who are interested in generating more engagement and collaboration across organizational barriers. The focus is on the overall result of the group, not any one team. And the applications toward idealized Military Efficiency are pretty straightforward.

My personal beliefs are that an exercise themed on a military team building would tend to be too focused on competition / violence, something that might not sit well with a female audience or one that an objector might find distasteful. My “Military Might!” exercise, for example, is one that my son and I designed initially for his high school Air Force ROTC organization to teach the criticality of planning and attention to detail. As Corps Commander, Jeff needed to improve how things worked and improve attention to detail, as in taking inventories and similar functions.  But Might! game is about planning to kill terrorists – and I am reframing the design to become an oil exploration exercise with many of the same learning points; just a different message medium.

So far as generating compliance because or ordering people to do things, it is common that people commanded may not complain, they may simply do. But the distaste for being told will remain. And compliance does not generate a lot of desired outcomes in general.

And the basic theme of a “military game” may generate unanticipated consequences*.  I have a friend who still suffers from PTSD from his activities in Vietnam. He remains an out-patient in the VA hospital and attends group therapy. If he were one of the players of a military-style game, he would have fun, but there would be a residue left behind from such an event and it would probably trigger a lot of negative memories and emotions. The problem is that one can never really predict what will trigger what in other people…

* (My lawyer friends say that nothing is actually “unanticipated” but that due diligence would discover the unexpected problem and prevent it from ever occurring! “Saying” that it is unanticipated does not remove one from the responsibility for the unintended consequences…)

A colleague in the DC area and who regularly delivers programs for military leadership development and communications courses had this to say about military-themed team building and leadership training in general (in blue):

For decades there’s been a huge emphasis on collaboration information sharing across units and services (between Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy). Collaboration is an important and real issue today between these groups, not to mention between our security services like Homeland, NSA, FBI, CIA and local police forces. There remain a wide variety of teamwork and communications issues that directly impact public safety.

The phrase “joint operations” is used frequently (a similar phrase is “going purple”). This is about reducing the historic inter-service rivalries, and increasing effectiveness through the concept of one, joint fighting force. This kind of military team building exercise can also show up on the local level. It is also related to Emergency Preparedness, where interdepartmental and turf issues can show themselves clearly.

[As an aside here, my personal observations of such joint operations at a local high school among the fire, police, state police, EMS and Public Health Services was so inefficient and ineffective to be almost comical. A big laugh for me came when one of the demolition guys took a great deal of time and space to set off his “explosion” to mark the beginning of the terror-response activity. It was a real “guy moment,” in my view and had nothing to do with the exercise other than the fun he had blowing stuff up! Heck, they had difficulty choosing the radio channel to use for communications among the divisions!]

Dutchman also contributes to understanding these concepts and their power.

- Today’s military and government agencies face a variety of pressures to be more nimble, fluid, change on the fly as conditions change.

- And today’s military members fill roles they haven’t played before, in place like Iraq and Afghanistan – nation builder, mentor, friend, teacher, diplomat, as well as warrior.

Interdepartmental Collaboration is not good

Joint military teamwork can look something like this

Those are a lot of different roles, so feeling part of a team and developing one’s leadership and collaboration skills is a critical component of any developmental initiative. Getting groups to work together across natural competitive lines is a powerful tool to implementing new missions and visions and optimizing results.

So, to the extent that Lost Dutchman helps people see the importance of what I mentioned, in the above, it can help you convince folks in the military of its utility for them.

(You can see more of Russ’ thinking about things here: www.russlinden.wordpress.com)

We think that we have an excellent leadership development exercise in The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. It links to the real issues of aligning people to a shared mission and vision and it supports collaboration, even when teams choose to compete. And while it is not a military team building game, it accomplishes all of those things that such a design would need without resorting to attacking others or creating damage or some such thing.

Dutchman is about leadership and collaboration and sharing goals and objectives. It is about optimizing results with limited resources, planning and gaining strategic information that is critical for overall success of the team and the group.

Our many user testimonials say that Dutchman is a great team building game – see some of them here at our other blog

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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People, Leadership, Engagement and Implementation – Best Practices

Robin Speculand and I go way back — I do not want to count the years. He is in Singapore and we have collaborated and shared ideas from our different perspectives for a long time. More recently, however, we have been drifting closer and closer and his recent work is aligning more and more with my thinking about people and performance.

Robin is a leader in the issues surrounding Strategy Implementation. Like me, he runs a tight ship and a small leading-edge company. I publish a lot more of my ideas and he publishes books and gives presentations. And his recent work is such that I take the initiative of re-publishing some of it before he has even published anything!

bridges title

His recent work is titled, Implementation Best Practices from High Performing Leaders and it is based on his surveys and presentations and consulting. So, knowing that we start from the same place in our thinking of how organizations need to align themselves to implementing improvement, I thought to get a jump on things and publish some excerpts here before he even has it on his implementation website!

Robin’s model incorporates eight different segments, what are called People, Biz Case, Communicate, Measure, Culture, Process, Reinforce and Review. What he does in his paper is list some of the key traits and competencies that the outstanding leaders incorporate into their strategy implementation and improvement frameworks. It is a highly readable document so I read and reacted and summarized some of the content with a few bullets:

  • Without people engagement, implementation will fail.
  • Within the culture, leaders must identify the right activities to build awareness.
  • Leaders do not implement strategy, their people do.
  • There needs to be an understanding of what needs to change and why.
  • Successful implementation is about continued, visible support, Leaders don’t implement it, they oversee it.
  • While strategy is designed at the top of the organization chart, it gets implemented from the ground-up.
  • People resist change done TO them, not change in which they are participants.
  • Getting off to a good start is a lot better than trying to recover from a bad one.
  • Every organization’s culture is different and therefore their implementation is unique.
  • Strategy cannot be implemented if it cannot be understood and it cannot be understood if it cannot be explained.
  • Translating strategy into the business means examining what needs to change in the way people do their work.
  • When leaders don’t synergize between the strategy and processes, staff members end up continuing to work the old way, using old systems, structures, and processes that is extremely frustrating, annoying and even demoralizing. All the while they are expected to deliver different results!
  • It is not just any staff members who are part of a redesign team but it must be your top performers, as they are the ones who really know how the process works. The hands-on people know, the staff think they know.
  • The leaders are responsible for giving staff members the ability to implement, both real and perceived. They must create time, for example, by eliminating work that is no longer value added; provide budget to support the new strategy; create the space for individuals to discuss and reflect on the implementation; make it socially acceptable to participate and encourage individuals to break  old habits and adopt new ones.
  • Individuals pay attention to what their immediate boss pays attention to. Leaders must ask, “What have you done this week to implement the strategy?” in order to expect people to do things differently.

Robin and I are working together on a few things around improving organizational effectiveness and I hope that my ideas and frameworks will help Robin make his tools even more effective. He has been using my Square Wheels cartoons for “spot color” in some of his programs and presentations and he has been using my team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine for some of his executive awareness work.

My goal is to package up my new game, The Search for The Treasures of Gobekli Tepe, as more of an executive development exercise with a solid anchor to the strategy implementation side of things so that we can use Dutchman more for the implementation rollout and the Square Wheels for the specific tools to use to improve communications between the supervisors and workers, something to improve engagement.

Dutchman works and it is nice to have Robin as a friend and colleague who supports my work.

Robin LD testim 100

I am hoping that we can help organizations generate a lot more Dis-Un-Engagement / Engagimentation in the workplace and do a lot less of the Godzilla Meets Bambi kind of reactivity.

At some point, Robin will get all this work up and online. I will update then.

Scott Simmerman

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

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“Nothing Made Sense, and neither did EVERYTHING Else!”

Doing a wide variety of leadership and team building sessions all over the world for the past 30+ years, one of the most useful anchor points I have is that I do NOT know all the answers and should not be expected to. Heck, I should be able to even end sentences with prepositions and use dangling participles if that were the case.

Early on, though, I thought I needed to show my expertise, and have an answer for all things, but that is simply ludicrous.

I will share my opinions and thoughts when asked, but I also try to couch things in the framework that those are just thoughts and opinions… It is one of the reasons why I use my Square Wheels cartoons — they allow me to ask others for their thoughts and ideas. Yeah, I do have some anchor points and perspective, and I do use a variety of facilitation and organizational development frameworks and concepts.

SWs One - How Things Work

One reality is this one -
A Desk is a Dangerous Place from which to view the world.

I got that quote from a book of Jean Le Carre. I remember reading that in one of his hardback books and immediately writing it down. When trying to find it, however, it becomes impossible and I often think that others are simply repeating my reference as opposed to finding it on their own. But it is useful and it anchored the series of cartoons that I use to illustrate this concept:

Desk is Danger man + TriangleDesk is Danger Cost + Bump

IDEAS ARE GOOD. It is just that not every idea is a good idea. And one should not just go out implementing them without doing a little conversation, investigation and testing (“One Less Bump per Revolution” is one of my more favorite session punchlines!). I use this series pretty neatly in many of my leadership sessions. “A Desk IS a Dangerous Place from which to view the world.

Another quote I use often is the one that titles this writing:

Nothing Made Sense, and Neither did Anything Else!

I thought I read that one dozens of years ago in Joseph Heller’s book, “Catch 22.” Funny thing is that if you do go online, you will see LOTS of references to the quote, many linked to me, but many on the different quote pages that refer to the phrase coming from Catch 22. On this page, for example, the first 25 quotes are all ripped off directly from my website writings — they were shared on a page a long time ago. Heck, they even kept some of the ones that I attributed to myself! ( http://creativemovesbpo.weebly.com/quotes.html ) — they call themselves “creative moves” but they shoulda maybe named the page, “outright theft. com” — same thing with this guy: vncnrajesh@gmail.com and at http://rajeshn.com/.  Ah well…

I just searched again, thinking that some things DO change and found the quote on page 18 of Heller’s sequel to Catch 22 – “Closing Time.” I must have read it there and simply got confused. The link to that page is here. And the whole quote is embedded in a longish paragraph that goes:

“…Men earned millions producing nothing more substantial than changes in ownership. The cold war was over and there was still no peace on earth. Nothing made sense and neither did everything else. People did things without knowing why and then tried to find out.”

Ah: “Nothing made sense and neither did EVERYTHING else.” I had it wrong all these years (and will probably keep using it my way!). And I wonder how many years it will take for my wrong attribution to get corrected. I think it might never happen with the “Truth in Internet” reality…

My next Quote Quest is to find if Tom Peters really said,

If we’re not getting more better faster than they are getting more better faster, than we’re getting less better or more worse.

My quote of Tom Peters’ quote is on the above referenced sites that have taken  quotes from my site, with no reference to having done that,  in addition to others that attribute my quoting him to him. No chance of finding if it was actually his, and I heard that in another consultant’s presentation maybe 20 years ago…

If you go to those websites mentioned, you can see a lot of the quotes that I use. They did a good job of lifting them from my site. But at least they are not (yet) stealing my cartoons.

Caterpillars can fly lighten up round

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools like Square Wheels. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and international consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ -
Reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Simple thoughts on Extrinsic Motivation

Sometimes, I am not sure what triggers the motivation for me to pop into here and write up a blog. This one was triggered from “the holiday spirit” + some advertising on TV + a new LinkedIn discussion post on a similar topic + some of my own diabolical thinking and critical reflection.

This one is about motivating people through extrinsic rewards. Or, more about how that stuff actually demotivates people.

Extrinsic Motivation. What might make it effective? When might it not be effective and why? We really do know a lot about rewards, reinforcement and behavior and extrinsic rewards can control behavior in many ways — but some of them are somewhat surprising.

One is struck by all the ads on TV that suggest that viewers of football games and other TV shows will simply go out and buy someone a Lexus as a surprise gift for Christmas. I mean, really? Just hit the auto store and get that new car for a person who might be your wife or girlfriend simply because it IS Christmas (add theme of Jingle Bells here). (And you see the same kinds of ads for diamonds and other expensive jewelry — you are not a worthy person unless you spend lots of money on that other person on an extravagant or useless gift.)

Small Rant – Diamonds are always presented as a “very worthwhile investment.” one that holds its value. The gift that keeps on giving and that kind of thing. It is CARBON, people, and labs now can churn out truly flawless chunks of clear carbon (or colored clear carbon effortlessly)! The industry even suggests you give up 3 months of salary to get a “representative stone” for your marriage. Three months for a rock of carbon? Four years of car payments to demonstrate you are worthy? (Yeah, I rant…But how many people make money when they resell those things?)

Behind those ads, there must be some kind of hidden behavioral motivator that would cause one to want to buy a new expensive luxury car — I mean, most of us are not at all that altruistic, are we? So, what behaviors of that other person are you trying to motivate by getting that expensive gift?

There exists an extensive literature on BF Skinner’s concepts around the development of Superstitious Behavior, finding that a reinforcer following some random behavior will tend to make that random behavior get repeated. So, if the wife is washing dishes on Christmas morning when you say, “Honey, look out front!”, getting her a new car will reinforce her washing dishes… (More likely, she is sitting on the couch — remember, you made this choice of timing!)

A reality is that not all extrinsic rewards are rewarding to all people. That is one of the problems with using the to improve organizational performance. Generally, only the top performers actually get the rewards. And it is even worse than that. Bersin, in its “State of Employee Recognition in 2012″ survey, reports that nearly 75% of organizations have a recognition program  – despite the fact that only 58% of employees think that their organizations have one.

Obviously, corporate programs, which represent 1% of total payroll on such extrinsic programs, are not getting much bang for the buck. But remember that it is the “winners” of these programs who get selected to be supervisors and the winners of those jobs get to be managers and the winners among them become their bosses. Gee, winners are the managers and who makes the decisions to keep these programs to reward the winners in place?

Why not simply focus on the bottom 80% of all the people, many of whom are disengaged and un-involved.

I share some statistics and thoughts on involving and engaging the mass of workers through something I am calling “engagimentation.” It is a program on Dis-Un-Engagement. It builds on teamwork and on involvement and can help to generate intrinsic motivation, which is much more effective.

You can download a pretty detailed article on engagimentation and motivation by clicking here: I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…

You can read a bit more on the situation there. Personally, I think that the best motivators are not extrinsic and are not given to employees with a goal of improving results of some kind. Why? Because they don’t always work. For an example, let me illustrate with a puppy. I mean, is this a cutie or what?

puppy

So, here is the deal: Make a comment on this article and I will find one of these little puppy guys at a nearby animal shelter and give it to you, free. I will reward your comment with a dog that you can take care of for the next 10 to 15 years! What could be better than that? And this particular one is a Saint Bernard, a lovely little guy who will get bigger and bigger (and bigger). If I cannot find you one of those, I am sure that there are some Great Danes and other ones that you would surely enjoy in your place of abode.

I mean, would this not be a great motivator one could give to everyone who had good performance?

(Me, I do not want a puppy at the moment! One cat is more than enough!)

Get a reasonable gift for those you love during this holiday season. And remember that you wife probably does NOT want a new electric drill or leaf blower.

And when you think about rewarding workplace behavior with extrinsic rewards, recognize that “not everyone wants a puppy” and that you just may be rewarding behavior that you do not really want to re-occur. You give someone a cash award after they return from a sick day and you may be rewarding them not to come in to work!  Or, your timing is such that they just told a customer to go away, so you might be rewarding that…

Better to look for intrinsic ways to reward performance.

Oh, if you like this post, you could buy me a new Lexus. Ya think?

For the FUN of It!

Catie

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 and owner of Catie the Cat.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Motivation and Dis-Un-Engagement

I got engaged in a discussion on LinkedIn, on a discussion page for HR professionals, where the question focused on, “How one can keep an employee motivated.”

The comments, again from HR people, focused on motivating employees through appreciation and recognition, having “a good environment,” having good morale where motivation, environment, management and employee relations affect things – and also having monetary benefits, having a speech to inspire them (and that they cannot always be motivated), and that they should be happy to work for your company (I am not sure if the latter meant that they should he happy to have a job or that they should be happy while working for your company).

The contributors also thought that one should also analyze each person personally and be sure that the employee is properly placed according to their strengths and expertise and that they should be assigned, “challenging work that would keep the passion burning.”

Lastly, I thought that this was also an interesting comment:

“Motivation sparks from self. A self-motivated person enjoys everything in life. Other people can just inspire the person. A person who enjoys his or her work can only stay motivated. Money, appreciation, recognition, environment along with work & personal life balance are some factors which helps only after the person is self-motivated. Its my personal view.“

All this is fine well and good. And it makes sense. BUT, will any of these thoughts actually impact work and productivity or quality or anything? My response was as follows:

There is a really great short video by Dan Pink on the theme of defining INTRINSIC motivation — it is animated and 11 minutes long and you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

So, motivation is one thing that is actually pretty well understood. The issue is that organizations tend to focus much more on EXTRINSIC (applied) motivators rather than create a workplace that is engaging. Much of this comes from the work of BF Skinner on animals during the 60s and 70s and those who followed him (like me). It got into schedules of reward and all sorts of things, including superstitious behavior (blowing on the dice to roll a 7, for example).

People like Alfie Kohn (Punished by Rewards, etc.) showed many of the downsides, but businesses today spend about 1% of revenues on such extrinsically driven “reward systems” that half of the employees do not even know exist. Obviously, there are mixed levels of effectiveness.

A better approach is to focus on improving the workplace to do a better job of NOT de-motivating workers. Much of my recent writings have been on themes like Dis-Un-Engagement and Dis-Un-Empowerment, focused on getting “leadership”  involved to do more to REMOVE those things that workers and work teams find de-motivating.

This kind of initiative can help generate alignment and teamwork and motivation and engagement / involvement to make things better for each and all.

The research shows that people are not engaged, in general. Spending money on a survey that tells you that you have a problem seems a bit foolish — if I were to ask four or five people the same questions, the dis-engagement would be obvious (either theirs or that of others they work with).

A LOT of this stuff ain’t Rocket Science and HR ain’t gonna fix it.

Some things need to be accomplished locally, at the interface of worker and manager; only there will improvements be made. (The exception might be if the feedback and measurement system were changed, since that helps drive behavior. Feedback drives results.)

YOU simply cannot MOTIVATE ME or anyone else. People motivate themselves and offering some “reward” for improvement is going to be a very short-term solution for maybe half of the workers.

As a joke, I could also offer them 10 cents if they were to reply, just to see if I could make my point!

A lot of people think that this is how things work in the workplace, insofar as motivating people for performance:

Needless to say, it might work in the former case until people want and expect even more, and it will certainly work in the latter (until the boss turns his or her back). The latter also generates Compliance, which translates to “very average” performance and there is no motivation to excel.

What we need to do is to remove the things that the people see as getting in the way of them excelling. Almost everyone WANTS to succeed. Let them.

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

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