Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: ideas for involvement and innovation

If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?

If not you, WHO?
If not now, WHEN?

I love that short little quote about personal accountability and action. Of course, we can always wait for someone else or we can simply choose to wait, which tends to be the most common response of people to opportunities. Lots of statistics point to the small numbers of “early adapters” of new programs or organizational change efforts while the bulk of managers simply sit and watch to see the results.

But, if things are going to change, someone needs to make them change.

If it is to be, it is up to me!

Otherwise, things will just roll like they have always rolled., which in my view of the world tends to look like this:

Square Wheels One by Scott Simmerman at Performance Management Company

Things tend to roll along like they always have and why not. Things stay the same unless they change… And the continuous un-engagement of the wagon pushers is no surprise, since their view of the future tends to be, “boards and hands.”

Most wagon pulling leaders work hard, pulling the wagon and trusting that the measurements and expectations and performance appraisal mechanisms will insure that the people at the back are pushing instead of pulling. After all, what choice do they have? So, they simply keep pulling, hoping that things will always be okay.

But let’s challenge these assumptions. Let’s assume that day after day, month after month, year after year, all this gets really old and somewhat de-motivating. New hires become dis-engaged over about 6 months and regress to the average enthusiasm of the other workers even as their skill levels increase. And, the good workers will tend to blame their wagon pullers for a lot of the communications issues.

How bad is it? I share some stats in my post of a few days ago (here) but two that stand out are these:

• 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired.
• 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job.

This all begs the question of what might be done differently to generate improvements, basically, The Who and The When.

DDI recently shared some statistics that suggested only 11% of supervisors get management training. So, we can guess that support for skill development will not be coming soon from Training and Development / HR. Nothing new there… They simply have other priorities.

The reality is that people will continue to come into the workplace dragging. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. They are, for the most part (70%), un-engaged, un-enthused and un-involved, and the best predictor of the future is the past.

Spring Forward Monday should be engaging and motivating

So, who other than their supervisor can change things? How can that supervisor become a Draggin’ Slayer and choose to do things that might DIS-un-engage them and generate some active involvement around identifying the Square Wheels® that exist and the Round Wheels we always find inside the wagon?

Draggin' Slayer - What are some Square Wheels by Scott Simmerman

Which, when facilitated with active questioning and group involvement, can begin to break the ice around communicating about issues and opportunities. It is NOT instantaneous in some workgroups where there is hostility of a lack of trust, but it DOES work if we keep asking questions and responding positively to the initial ideas. The process itself is pretty bombproof.

Draggin Slayer Active Involvement Square Wheels LEGO by Scott Simmerman

Having been around corporations and other businesses for 35 years, I actually see NO real solution to the issues we face in motivating and involving workers other than through the direct actions of supervisors.

Operations have always been this way; exemplary performers doing things differently than everyone else and exemplary supervisors choosing to defend their top performers from “corporate bureaucracy” — and simply managing people better. The best managers have always gotten people talking about Square Wheels and playing with Round Wheel ideas for improvement.

Let's implement Round Wheels by Scott Simmerman

We simply cannot go #morebetterfaster if we continue to do the same things the same way and wait for help from above. It just is not going to happen! Our better managers ask questions and solicit ideas from their people, generating motivation and innovation. You simply cannot drive this from a tops-down approach since you can never reach the people who are doing the work.

Square Wheels Draggin Slayer Getting Motivation by Scott Simmerman

If you can share a more effective or impactful approach to involving and engaging people in the workplace, why not contribute a comment? Workers DO have ideas about improving their workplace and impacting quality and productivity. Working together can foster teamwork and peer support and many of the other intrinsically motivating aspects linked to accomplishments.

Building communications and trust between workers and managers is an important factor in employee retention and skill development and cascades into innovation and service quality and customer retention.

We offer a SIMPLE toolkit for facilitation skills development at The Square Wheels Project. For a tiny bit of money, supervisors can gain access to an online course and also the powerpoint and handout sheets needed to have a productive and engaging meeting (or meetings, actually) with their people about issues and opportunities for workplace improvement.

The Square Wheels Project marketing logo for facilitation skills

If we can encourage our supervisors and managers to think differently and go off on their own paths to improving involvement and engagement and motivation of their people, is there really any downside? I guess you could call this empowerment. But how else are we going to take advantage of our human capital and go #morebetterfaster? The managers should be the motivators.

Share your thoughts and reactions,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

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

Square Wheels and really expensive alternatives to Round Wheels

John McDermott sent me a link to a device called a Cubli – I thought the video cute and then, since it is a “square thing,” how I might play with this a bit. After all, I am all about innovation and implementation, people and performance, and understanding the reality that The Round Wheels are already in the wagon that rolls on Square Wheels

The Cubli looks like this and clicking on the image will take you to a Gizmodo site and an expensive female British voice describing its design, the physics involved and its “behavioral flexibility.”

Cubli

Basically, the little device can sit there like a paperweight or it can balance on a point or on an edge or it can be taught to actually “roll” in a slow and very controlled manner, something they call “jumping and walking.”

Check out the video and then pop back here and I will roll forward with some of my ideas and analogies of how this little device actually DOES link to organizational behavior and people and performance…

The first video shown of the device appears here — like most good ideas, it started out by not being able to do much other than be lifted up to balance and maintain itself on one point. It is connected to a computer system with its network of wheels, motors, controllers and program. That video says that it was designed by a group of students from the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich, a Swiss organization. The second and much more professionally done video shows that even more people were involved and the cube itself went from wired to wireless. The second video also says that it was invented by The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. I am only guessing when I think that the Institute now wants credit! (ALL organizations are political organizations, you know!)

It is described as follows:

Cubli’s secret is a set of flywheels located behind three of its faces. When they’re spinning at high velocities they’re individually controlled to allow the cube to maintain its balance, but they can also be abruptly stopped which causes the cube to be launched into the air. By carefully controlling how the cube stands, falls, and moves, it can even walk its away (sic) across a flat surface, in a manner of speaking. 

The lead researcher then elaborated:

Reaction wheels mounted on three faces of the cube rotate at high angular velocities and then brake suddenly, causing the Cubli to jump up. Once the Cubli has almost reached the corner stand up position, controlled motor torques are applied to make it balance on its corner. In addition to balancing, the motor torques can also be used to achieve a controlled fall such that the Cubli can be commanded to fall in any arbitrary direction. Combining these three abilities — jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling — the Cubli is able to ‘walk’.

And the narrative includes the point that, “Rapid breaking of the spinning wheel allows it to transfer its angular momentum and flip up onto an edge.”

Okay. So here we have a almost a dozen people at a Swiss research institute using government funding to develop a cube that can basically balance itself on an edge or point or rotate on a point. The Cubli is “commanded” to move.

So, my deviant brain spins off into a few new directions after viewing the videos…

They use round “inertia reaction wheels” and they missed the opportunity to use SQUARE wheels for that purpose, since they would have worked great and also made it a bit more elegant and congruent. A cube with Square Wheels.

Like a lot of projects, this Cubli one took a lot of creative energy of a lot of people to implement a solution that no one apparently needs. And I wonder the actual cost of all this… I mean, even the video’s reference that it makes for a really interesting paperweight (and one that might work really well in windy conditions or in an earthquake!).

A toy gyroscope can do much of the same kind of work. Like Round Wheels already in the wagon, those already exist and are proven to work just fine. You can also get that to spin around an axis in a circle and you can get one in a zillion places for less than $10. They make neat hands-on and engaging science gifts.

gyroscope

And, for $49, National Geographic will sell you a magnetic levitating globe that hangs in the air and spins freely:

levitating globe

A yo-yo also has many of the same behavioral characteristics and is a lot more fun to play with and a lot less costly. You can watch some amazing yo yo tricks here — but remember that the yo yo is spinning all the time! And when they play with multiple yo yos on one string, that seems really amazing to me…But people can do amazing things with the tools that they have.

My point in all this? We can spend a lot of time and energy focused on things that have no real benefit, or we can use the things that we already have to make things more fun and interesting. And the kinds of skills that people can develop are really amazing — some of those yo yo performers are absolutely incredible and you would never know from looking at them what they can actually accomplish. A yo yo in each hand, doing tricks that amaze.

This 3-minute video at the 2005 yo yo championship has had over 4 million views. Three minutes of amazing tricks with a spinning toy and people developing the intrinsic motivation to take their skills to an unreal and unimaginable level. Why can’t we do this more often in the workplace?

Suzuki yo yo

Its about people and performance, people.
And the Round Wheels and motivation are already in the wagon!

Elegant Solutions

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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Roll Better Ideas Forward – Improve Engagement and Innovation

The old brainstorming process works. It just does not work very well. And there are lots of ideas about how to make it better. In past blogs, I’ve  shared a number of ideas and techniques to improve the quality and quantity of ideas. You can see this recent post, for one set of thoughts:  “On Brainstorming and workplace productivity improvement” – the link.

Woody Allen called the brain his second most favorite organ.

This is your brain.

Brainstorming is pretty well understood and is a common technique used by people for idea generation. It originated back in 1942, with a BBDO ad executive named Alex Osborn who used the approach and coined the term “brainstorming.” He used these four rules of involvement and engagement:

1. Focus on quantity. More ideas are better and you can always separate the good from the less good
2. Withhold criticism. There are no bad ideas in a brainstorm and you want to just keep things flowing.
3. Welcome the unusual ideas. Look at things from every perspective and withhold judgment.
4. Combine and improve ideas. Things are synergistic and a bad idea can generate a good one. Recapitulate and juggle thoughts.

This approach is so common that I would guess 50% of supervisors could tell you the rules and they are often presented First Thing when facilitators use the technique. It has not changed much. The only real issue is that this is not the best way to generate involvement and engagement and ideas.

Research says that some of the best ideas actually come when people are alone and doing “considered consideration” of issues and opportunities and working in groups at a fast pace may miss some of the better ideas. An article last year in the New Yorker shared some fundamental ideas about how to optimize impacts. (find “GroupThink, The brainstorming myth” by Jonah Lehrer here)

Basically, research has shown that groups using classic brainstorming approaches generate fewer ideas than people who work alone and then assemble and pool their ideas. 

What seems evident from this and other research on idea generation and innovation is that the best ideas and solutions to organizational issues seem to come from group discussions about ideas generated in isolation.

This research supports what it is that makes our Square Wheels One illustration such a great engagement tool, since it sets up a short solitary time for idea generation followed by some group processing of ideas and sharing of different perspectives and it changes the language of talking about organizational issues.

Getting people to talk about issues and opportunities is getting them to consider options and possibilities, and the power and strength of this visual metaphor allows them to return to these same organizational improvement issues down the road. You put their brain on fire!

Your brain on fire after brainstorming

Your brain on fire after brainstorming

The Square Wheels are everywhere, and so are the Round Ones. And once you start this process of issue identification, positive group processing, peer support, commitment to implement and the resulting praise and recognition for successes or movements toward success, you generate a more positive and engaging work environment.

All through the use of a metaphor about how organizations really work. Square Wheels One is the illustration that sets up the discussions of how things really work in most organizations and helps people to project their thoughts and ideas about their workplace on to the visual. They can work individually for a few moments and then collaborate as a group to expand their viewpoints.

SWs - Why use SWs RWs

The reality is that the Round Wheels are already in the wagon.
We just need to take some time to look for things to implement!
Sharing improves engagement / innovation and impacts teamwork.

Celebration color green train

The most revolutionary solutions spring from group discussion of ideas hatched in isolation. Let Square Wheels cartoons work for you.

(Brain on fire from CartoonaDay.com)

For the FUN of It!

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman sells inexpensive and powerful 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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The Illusion of Innovation – Some ideas about creative thinking

Like everyone I know, I love to see those different illusions and to see how people so cleverly trick my brain. There are a lot of different styles and frameworks, not including the really neat stuff about how magic works and how the brain can only process one thing at a time because of its hardwiring. We have the different “gorilla walking by” and all sorts of slights of hand that are truly amazing.

But for me, it gets more pragmatic. How can we use our knowledge of how the brain works to improve the workplace, generate more intrinsic motivation and impact people and creativity. These things are all related, after all.

First, a bit of trickery and eye-foolery, since our world is often not how it seems:

circle and dot 1

Focus on the dot.
Then. move your head forwards and backwards.

I mean, we get movement in the above from what cannot be moving. (Maybe this is what is preventing senior managers from doing things, since they think things are moving, ya think?) Or maybe we can continue to do the same thing but have others think that we are actually making progress as we show both above as well as below!

Circles not spiral

And, similarly, take a good look at this one, above. Think things are spiraling forward toward the center? Think that things are getting closer and closer to The Singularity? Well, things aren’t. Those spirals are actually circles and it is the alignment of them that makes things appear differently. It is the same kind of paradox that happens when we set up Divisions and then expect collaboration. Ya think?

And here is one on headcount. The black dots represent people performing!

count the black dots

Yeah, those darn things just keep appearing and disappearing. Some things are just not easy, and HR often seems to have a hard time with this one. If performance is counting the black dots, go ahead and perform!

We can have some really good performers in our workplaces. And we can also have a lot of people who simply disappear. Finding and motivating people to perform is often a tough task, as shown below:

dalmation

or

mottled horses

It is often the case that motivating and engaging people to perform is a pretty tough task, even though the boss says it is pretty straightforward, like eating an elephant, you know that old, “One bite at a time” one-liner. But finding that elephant and making sense of things just isn’t all that easy… Take a look and see what I mean:

elephant legs

And it is even tougher figuring things out if you have more than one elephant to manage:

elephant legs - multiple

Let HR do all that stuff. But, I digress:

What is that old joke, Managing things  here is a lot like mating elephants:

— It is accomplished only at high levels.
— It is accompanied by a great deal of stomping around, trumpeting and other noise.
— It takes two years to produce any results.
—   And then you have a baby elephant to take care of…

(Elephants, by the way, are the only mammal that cannot jump. Do not ask me why that is important, but it just is…)

Sometimes, we just think or simply hope that we can sail away from the problems of the workplace…

escher boat arch

A look back would indicate that we are pretty solidly anchored to the past. But, if only we could build our workplace world to be more circular:

escher ring

Yeah, just go ahead and build it! We can focus on doing the following, though when it comes to people and performance,  it takes some perspective and coaching to really accomplish:

LIFT black white

But for Me?

In reality, I use a very simple illusion to get people talking about what they perceive is happening in their workplace. I use this inkblot kind of reflection about how things really seem to be working and ask them to generate their ideas and thoughts about how things work and what Round Wheels might exist that might be implemented. It looks like this:

SWs One - How Things Work

The human brain is an amazing tool, one that can be incredibly creative and innovative if we allow ideas to flow and provide an environment of support and encouragement.

You can find another blog of my thinking on thinking here.

If I can get them thinking and talking and involved and engaged in creatively thinking about how things work and what might be done differently, I can generate the cognitive dissonance and the motivational thrust to push things forward more effectively.

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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