Performance Management Company Blog

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

Thoughts on Flying Frogs and Human Performance – and some metaphors

Sometimes, you just have to jump.

Things come together to force you to do something and you need to act. And sometimes, it is easier to just step up and do things. Sometimes…

With plenty of things on my agenda, I opened an old email from an old friend in the UK. He sent me a story with the subject: “Saw this and thought of you.” So, I like what Geoff sent and jumped to do a blog post. Impulsivity is one of my behavioral traits.

Here is the basic story that Geoff sent me with a couple of minor changes:


Once upon a time, there was a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a very modest life based on what he earned working retail but he never gave up his dream of being rich. One day, hit by sudden inspiration, he exclaimed, “Felix, we’re going to be rich! You will learn to fly!”

Felix was terrified at the prospect. “I can’t fly, Clarence! I’m a frog, not a bird!” Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: “Your attitude isn’t helping matters. I think you can benefit from some training.”

So off Felix went to a three-day course where he learned about the history of aviation, the basics of aeronautical engineering (e.g., lift, thrust, drag, etc), gliders, parasailing and the lives of famous fliers. (For obvious reasons, the instructor did not mention Icarus, but they did talk about Why Geese fly in a V.)

After the training and on the first day of “flying lessons,” Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence pointed out that their apartment building had 7 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and working his way up to the top.

After each jump, Clarence and Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.

felixthefrog Felix pleaded for his life but his pleas fell on deaf ears. “He just doesn’t understand how important this is,” thought Clarence. “He can’t see the big picture.”

So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud. They discussed and analyzed his performance…

The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence opened his pocket guide to “Managing More Effectively” and showed Felix the part about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative programs. With that, he threw Felix out the window again. THUD!

On the third day (on the third floor), Felix tried a different ploy: stalling. He asked for a delay in the “project” until better weather would make flying conditions more favorable. But Clarence was ready for him: He produced a timeline and pointed to the third milestone and asked, “You don’t want to mess up the schedule, do you?”

From his performance appraisal feedback, Felix knew that not jumping today meant he would have to jump TWICE tomorrow. So he just muttered, “OK, let’s go.” And out the window he went.

Now this is not to say that Felix wasn’t trying his best. On the fourth day he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the fifth day, he tried “visualization.” He tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think “Superman” thoughts. It didn’t help.

By the sixth day, Felix, accepting his fate, no longer begged for mercy. He simply looked at Clarence and said, “You know you’re killing me, don’t you?”

Clarence pointed out that Felix’s performance so far had been less than exemplary; failing to meet any of the milestones he had set for him. With that, and knowing that there was one more floor, Felix said quietly, “Shut up and open the window.” He leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.

And Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was devastated. His project failed to meet a single objective he set out to accomplish. Felix not only failed to fly, he hadn’t even learned to steer his fall; instead, he dropped like a sack of cement. Nor had Felix heeded Clarence’s advice to “Fall smarter, not harder.”

The only thing left for Clarence to do was to conduct an after-action-review and try to determine where things had gone wrong.

After reviewing all the records and giving the data much thought, Clarence smiled knowingly and said, “Next time, I’m getting a smarter frog!”


My friend Fred Nickols said this to me about when he used the story and asked participants these questions:

I first heard the parable of Felix the Flying Frog in the early 1970s. It appears in many places nowadays and its author is unknown. I think its staying power owes to the many points it illustrates – some subtly and some not so subtly. It has great utility as a discussion piece for use in reflecting on life in organizations – and life in general for that matter. Toward that end, you will find some potentially useful questions at the end of this version.

  • How did Clarence’s expectations get so out of line with Felix’ capabilities and how might better alignment have been achieved?
  • Why did Clarence reach so quickly for training as a solution?
  • What role did the power differential between Clarence and Felix play in shaping the course of events?
  • Why was Felix so compliant, even in the face of his own destruction?
  • What blinded Clarence to the role he played in the failure of his attempt to make Felix fly?
  • What talent did Felix possess that might actually have made Clarence and he rich and why didn’t Clarence see that?

There are lots of things to consider related to performance, capability, perspective, leadership and engagement. And Fred uses the parable in a great way.

And could Clarence have made some money by having a talking frog? He was too enraptured about flying…

The irony for me was when I read a LinkedIn discussion about, “Performance Management and Performance Appraisal differences,” with a group of young HR people chatting about what they think “performance management” is and talking about “managing performance.” It is my thought that a lot of managers think they fully understand the concept of people and work and motivation, but it feels like they are trying to teach Felix to fly.

Some said things like:

  • I see Performance Management oriented towards Indicators (much more quantitative) on the other side Performance Appraisals cover both, quantitative as well as qualitative, thus I see them as two different tools
  • Performance Management is a process, whereas, Appraisal is an activity (part of Performance Management).
  • Performance Management is a technique to measure the level of performance of an Employee. Its result is Excellent, Good, Average, Poor. Action is ‘IMPROVEMENT’  Appraisal Management is a technique to measure the result of a performance. Its result is used for ‘Salary Hike’ & ‘Promotion’
  • Performance Management is the policy guidance which will vary as per existing need, progress made and future demand of the company. Performance Appraisal is the periodical matching aspect of the prescribed criteria with the actual performance of the employee, for compensation and career planning purpose.

Me? I posted this up to explain that there are real differences in these things and that Performance Management has nothing to do with Performance Appraisal and that it was simply a substitution of words that were an attempt to cover up the appraisal and subjective evaluation and assessment of the person:

Performance Management was the term applied to the issue of Human Behavioral Improvement as used by people like Tom Gilbert, Aubrey Daniels, Ed Feeney and many others back in the mid 1970s to look at ORGANIZATIONAL performance. It was generally anchored to Skinnerian Operant Behavioral Psychology and applied systems for behavioral analysis (such as Feeney’s BEST Program: Behavioral Engineering Systems Training), the analysis of performance feedback programs, and the application of contingent extrinsic rewards to drive desired behaviors.

As pretty brief explanation is available at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_management

Tom Gilbert’s book, “Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance” is one of the critical works in the field, comparable to Peter Senge’s work on “Learning Organizations.”

In the mid 1980s, the phrase was co-opted by Human Resource people to try to make the concept of “Performance Appraisal” less offensive and less emotional, kind of like how “Re-Engineering” was used in place of the concept of “Downsizing.”

I say this, watching the name of the company I founded in 1984 – Performance Management Company – undergo a shift in anchor points from my focus on systemic organizational and human performance improvement to having people think we did performance appraisal systems. You can read a lot of different articles on human behavior at www.PerformanceManagementCompanyBlog.com

Many of us Old Guard still work in the area of best practices, organizational alignment to goals and expectations, refining performance feedback systems and using extrinsic and intrinsic reward systems to drive performance improvement. We also know that performance management is a difficult process to accomplish. And it seems like a shift back toward organizational improvement is happening once again.

But Performance Management sure isn’t Performance Appraisal, much like preparing a Christmas dinner sure isn’t popping a frozen dinner into the microwave. (grin)


So, I understand that this Clarence / Felix The Frog Parable as linking right up into the issues related to performance and capability. Could Felix fly? Yeah, we have this new drone technology where we could strap that little guy into a helicopter and fly him anywhere we want.

But a Talking Frog? Now THAT is really something.


Let me end this with a brief discussion of the thoughts of W. Edwards Deming, one of those really key old guys in the quality improvement and people performance leadership literature.

Deming was really clear in his writings that he felt that merit pay, incentives, numerical targets without discussion of methods, quota systems, and annual performance appraisals are some of the most highly counter-productive management practices. He clearly thought that Performance Appraisal was one of the Seven Deadly Sins of management and lots of us have lots of good examples of how appraisals screw things up for people.

Deming said, “Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review… The idea of a merit rating is alluring.The sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for; motivate people to do their best, for their own good. The effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise.” (W. Edwards Deming, “Out of The Crisis”)

 

There are lots of issues with evaluation and being evaluated that do NOT contribute to organization improvement and operational effectiveness. Many of these are deadly when it comes to implementing teamwork and innovation. So find those talking frogs.

Get your people to talk. Get out there and talk about what things are not working well and what might be improved. The Round Wheels are already in the wagon! Just DO it!

SWs One 300 © green words

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC, but sort of retired…

Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 

New Virtual Team Building Business Simulation – Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

We’ve been selling The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise for almost 30 years now as a really powerful tool to focus players on issues like collaboration and cooperation and leadership. The goal is, “To mine as much Gold as we can,” to optimize overall results for the group. Alignment to group goals is the key to optimizing results, yet even with the clear goals of collaborating, many teams still choose to compete. It makes for a really powerful discussion about real workplace issues and opportunities for improvement. Guaranteed!

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

And we continue to get feedback from a wide variety of users that this is the best teambuilding program in the marketplace niche in which it appears.

And it continues to surprise me that the exercise seems as fresh to me today as it did 25 years ago when game materials were fully developed, fine-tuned and polished. I guess I am also surprised that the opportunities for improving inter-organizational collaboration are still evident everywhere and corporate team building seems to continue to be an area of high leverage for impacting productivity.

With COVID, though, the nature of team building shifted from small and large scale group events to the new realities of working virtually and collaborating more globally. People no longer share office space with many of their teammates.

So, I want to announce that our board game version of this exercise is now available in an online form, with play enabled between up to 4 people connected remotely in a team and with as many as 6 teams in a pod. Up to 24 players can work through the challenge of mining as much gold as we can in an online format that very closely parallels the new workplace. We are calling this our VIRTUAL version of the exercise.  You can find information about the design by clicking on the image below:

Logo for the Virtual version of LDGM

We have had active consultants working with corporate team issues, worldwide, and the opportunities for trainers and internal consultants to use the board game version of the exercise and our new approach with virtual delivery seems like an untapped opportunity. After all, the workplaces have shifted and teams commonly work remotely on organizational development issues. So, we see a huge opportunity for leading organizations to see an advantage to using a bombproof exercise that generates the precise competitive behaviors that need to be better blended with collaboration and engagement opportunities as well as the need for inter-organizational alignment.

You can find a pretty solid description of the basic Lost Dutchman board game in this slideshare overview, which shares key design features and benefits. As we polish the virtual version, we will design into the debriefing many of these same features.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine overview slideshow

You can also find a solid video about how I debrief the exercise and link the behaviors exhibited to the organizational issues here. This is not a marketing video but a candid discussion of what I see as organizational realities and potential ways to impact performance improvement opportunities. The virtual version should parallel these same benefits:

Debriefing Ideas and Frameworks

An overview about how we use our Square Wheels illustrations as tools for debriefing the board game version of Lost Dutchman team building exercise is found by clicking the icon below:

Debriefing LDGM with Square Wheels

I hope you find this information and the links of use in evaluating our Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine game into your corporate team development. We are more than happy to discuss timing, costs, specific issues and desired outcomes for your improvement efforts at any time.

You can reach Jeff Simmerman directly at Jeff@performancemanagementcompany.com for more information

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman 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, now living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com


Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

I need a co-author and front person for a business on managing and leading change

If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with at least some of my works. My thoughts now turn to “leaving a legacy” and generating some ways to more permanently embedding my theme of Square Wheels® into the business literature. At age 73,

  • I am motivated by the idea of writing a book and making performance tools available to the global business community.
  • I am not motivated by the idea of marketing a book, doing webcasts, giving presentations, and driving sales discussions.
  • making money is NOT my personal motivation, since I have the resources I need already to do what I want to do.

SO, I am looking for someone interested in working closely with me to develop the materials, redoing my business development toolkits, promoting the concepts and generating income from those activities.

Since, 1993, I have been delivering workshops and presentations around the concept illustrated below:

The core idea is to generate engagement by asking, “How might this illustration represent how things really work in most organizations?”

The illustration works as a Rorschach inkblot, in that there is no reality to the illustration but people readily project their ideas on to the image. And a group of people will generate a lot of ideas, not always around how “most organizations” really work but around how THEIR organization works. Square Wheels represent the things that exist but that do not work smoothly. And the round wheels are already in the wagon, so it is not about invention. I have written extensively about the image and its impacts and you can see other blog articles by clicking on the link below:

My overall idea is to develop a book and packages of materials that can be used in classroom training or by supervisors interested in involving and engaging and motivating their people more effectively. The book might be like One Minute Manager or Cheese or similar but it could wrap around my unique visual tools and metaphors. I know of no other metaphor with as much proven power to generate active involvement than the Square Wheels images and I have over 300 different line art versions focused on different themes and issues. I have also developed a parallel set of images and stop-motion movies using our LEGO versions of these ideas.

The basic idea is for me to assist someone in this collaboration who:

  • ideally is already experienced in business consulting and the delivery of workshops and presentations
  • believes in using metaphors and stories for organizational development
  • already has publishing experience and who likes marketing and sales
  • is interested in co-writing a book and acting as primary author,
  • wants to develop a business around managing and leading change, focused on organizational development and training others to facilitate organizational improvement,
  • who is interested in building a 20+ year business around marketing and sales of products and services to trainers and consultants, internationally
  • who is committed to coaching and themes like innovation, leadership, performance improvement, and personal development

 

I have a LOT of the materials already available and have presented workshops and other programs internationally since 1993 around themes of service quality, innovation and creativity, organizational performance improvement, and change and motivation. The title of the works may focus on my theme of Teaching The Caterpillar to Fly or around Square Wheels. Click below to see some of the writings around the change metaphor of caterpillars and butterflies that I have extensively developed:

We have been selling a variety of different toolkits for facilitation, including programs on managing and leading change, what managers can to to improve engagement, quality improvement and other topics, including icebreakers and simple tools for involving and engaging people. We have different websites focused on these tools and on teambuilding and other frameworks.

I can be prolific, but I do not want to start a new business and begin marketing a book at this time.

Care to collaborate?

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC, but sort of retired…

Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 

 

 

Teambuilding with Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, and the coming VIRTUAL version

by Scott Simmerman, PhD. CPT CPF

My company has been selling the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine game for almost thirty years now and users worldwide continue to tell us that Dutchman is the best program in the interactive team building business simulations. And it continues to surprise me that the exercise seems as fresh to me today as it did 20 years ago when the materials were fully developed, fine-tuned and polished.

It is also surprising that the organizational opportunities for improving inter-organizational collaboration are still evident everywhere and corporate team building seems to continue to be an area of high leverage for impacting productivity. Companies should have made more progress than they have! But with remote working now the norm, building teamwork and collaboration across a workplace requires even more and better tools, so we wanted to announce that the virtual version of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is in final testing.

We have active consultants working with corporate team issues, worldwide, and the opportunities for trainers and internal consultants to use this exercise and approach seems like an untapped opportunity. After all, don’t these internal people see an advantage to using a bombproof exercise that generates the precise competitive behaviors that need to be better blended with collaboration and engagement opportunities as well as the need for inter-organizational alignment?

We have built solid relationships with two Asian firms on the delivery of the exercise. Work Happiness in Tokyo has been running our Japanese translation of the game (Zipangu) for over 20 years with amazing success. Another company is Asia has run programs for many dozens of corporate organizations and tens of thousands of players. The successful use of the exercise is global and it plays well with front-line workers as well as senior executives. Our virtual version will work the same way.

Conversations with an outdoor training organizations in Asia resulted in a collaborations and networking them to blend Dutchman into their other offerings. It seems like the collective idea of sharing and the learning about positioning team building simulations into the other kinds of corporate teamwork programs is a simple and straightforward one. I am glad that my network continues to be quite collaborative in sharing ideas for delivery and marketing.

And, with the release of the virtual version of the exercise, we will offer a very unique team building simulation to many many more workplaces.

You can find a pretty solid description of the Dutchman game in this slideshare overview, which shares key design features and benefits:

Slideshare on Lost Dutchman teambuilding game

You can also find a solid video about how I debrief the exercise and link the behaviors exhibited to the organizational issues here. This is not a marketing video but a candid discussion of what I see as organizational realities and potential ways to impact performance improvement opportunities:

debriefing ideas for organizational development

The new design looks to be able to focus on these same issues and we will know more as we begin deliveries and rollout. It will differ from our board game LDGM because it will be designed for more followup and better wrap around the implementation of the ideas that are generated by play.

An overview about how we use our Square Wheels illustrations as tools for debriefing the Lost Dutchman team building exercise is found by clicking the icon below:

Those tools are also moving toward solutions for virtual / remote work situations.

 

I hope you find this information and the links of use in evaluating our Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine game into your corporate team development. We are more than happy to discuss specific issues and desired outcomes for your improvement efforts at any time,

 

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC, since 1984

Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of Lost Dutchman and collaborating with Jeff Simmerman on the development of the virtual version of the simulation.

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 

Dealing with Spectator Sheep — Because you can!

Spectator Sheep. You know who they are and what they do – they stand on the outside of what is happening and voice their opinions: Naaaaaaaa. Baaaaaaa.

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Nothing is quite good enough and nothing works well enough and they are not satisfied with the current state of things.

But how about a little reframe around this problem…

One of the primary workplace motivators is the dissatisfaction with the way things are.

People sometimes see issues with how things work and get frustrated with systems and processes that do not seem to make sense or that do not align with their goals and objectives. This builds up a negative residue over time and people do get frustrated with the way things remain.

Similarly, some people are always looking for things that they can improve, and hope that others might feel the same way and that bosses are listening. But when they don’t, that builds up a residue, also.

Lastly, some people just “sort” things for the negative – they just look for things that are wrong rather than seeing things through those old rose-colored positive outlook glasses. And they say what they think; it just comes out flat and maybe negative. It is not that they are bad people, but they just see things differently. And they can often be frustrated because things could be better.

So, things generally work like this:

Really too busy to improve the Square Wheels

So, of course people can act like Spectator Sheep and surely you will hear the Naaaaaaaah, Baaaaaaaah refrain.


Here are some ideas for re-directing and engaging or re-engaging (my guess is that these same people used to be engaged and slowly dis-engaged over time):

1. Ask for and try to understand their perspective. Often, they just want to be heard and be respected. They may simply see things differently than you or others. Try to get some clarity as to what they are thinking. Plenty of research says that most workers in most organizations do not feel that their managers listen to their ideas. They may see something as a Square Wheel and wonder why things continue to thump and bump along the same old way…

2. Align them to your perspective. Make sure that the missions, visions, goals, objectives and expectations are clear (and make sure that your measurement and feedback systems are in alignment with the above!).

3. Ask for and write down their specific issues. You may think you understand what they said but what they said is not necessarily what they meant or what you understood them to mean.

A: You must know that you know that I know change is needed now.
 B: Yes, I knew that.
A: I knew you knew. But I wanted to know that you knew what I know and that I knew.
 B: Yes, but I didn’t know that you wanted everyone to know, just me knowing you knew.
A: I didn’t know that. So, what do you think? What do I need to know?

4. Obviously, request any specifics and details. “A Desk is a Dangerous Place from which to View the World” – the natural isolation of a manager is different from the hands-on day-to-day reality of the worker and congruence is necessary here. You need to know what they know and their thinking in order to generate better alignment and increased productivity and performance from them.

5. Focus on solutions and get them involved. If it makes sense, see who else in the workplace might share this perspective and maybe you can form a performance improvement team to share the perceived issue(s) and to help address this issue. Allow these people to feel part of the team and work to change their direction. “Nobody ever washes a rental car,” so get them actively involved with you on making improvements and implementing change.

Re-Direct and engage!

In my experience, spectator sheep are good people who are frustrated because they see things differently than everyone else (or most other people, some of which may also be dis-engaged but do not voice their opinions). Continuous improvement is a continuous process — view it as continuous continuous improvement — and understand that active involvement in problem solving and solution implementation is engaging and motivating for most people.

And at the very least you may quiet some of the negativity, if that person feels like their ideas have been heard and considered.

And don’t say, “Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa…..”

 

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC

Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of Lost Dutchman. The virtual, remote version of the exercise is about to be released (August, 2021)

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 

 

Announcing PMC LLC, a new organization arising from Performance Management Company

Founded in 1984, PMC WAS FOCUSED ON BRINGING SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE TOOLS TO IMPACT PEOPLE AND PERFORMANCE THROUGH ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION.

Performance Management Company was founded in 1984 by Scott J. Simmerman, Ph.D., who was its Managing Partner. It operated with Scott and Joan Simmerman collaborating to provide consulting and training services to different organizations. Combining his work experience in business consulting and retail management with a doctoral degree in psychology and a university teaching fellowship from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Scott initially created Performance Management as an organizational consulting business.

By the late 1980s, Scott was presenting on service quality and change at global conferences and Joan was coordinating operations while he traveled to destinations like the Mideast, Africa and Asia.

Through the years, the company’s base had evolved from consulting and presenting workshops to creating and selling products supporting management and organizational development to organizations and individuals worldwide. PMC was dedicated to collaborating with a worldwide network of trainers and consultants to help create new ideas and different applications for two main products. One focus was anchored to a single cartoon called, “Square Wheels One

From that single illustration (below), Scott created the interactive Square Wheels® Illustration series consisting of over 300 line-art images packaged in many different toolkits, made available as complete turnkey training packages focusing on engagement and innovation. Scott also developed Square Wheels-based team building board-game exercises.

From that initial concept, materials continued to transform into LEGO-based illustrations, stop-motion animations, illustrated quotes and different “posters” and a variety of other things. One of Scott’s premises is that if people enjoy a learning experience they will more readily retain key learning points and these interactive programs around Square Wheels are incredibly memorable and easily targeted to real business process improvement applications around themes of innovation and creativity. Collaborative problem solving using these images, metaphors and themes directly link to motivation, team building and engagement.

Design Thinking and Implementation in the workplace of reality

Lost Dutchman

Our flagship product was the fun and fast-paced teambuilding exercise, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

It was an interactive “board game” created to be a world-class organizational development tool, with clear links to strategy implementation, organizational alignment, inter-organizational collaboration and change management interventions. The design was such that it effectively ran with even very large groups of people and it was often used for programs of 200+ people. Serious learning points such as collaboration, communication and quality are entwined with participants having a good time. It has, hence, become one of the leading teambuilding experiential simulations in the world.

We sold it to individual consultants along with corporate trainers, and one guess is that we are probably approaching a million players. It is pretty amazing, actually.

You can find testimonials here:

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

 

So, in 2019, Scott decided to license his intellectual property to Joan, who organized PMC LLC. He moved to Cuenca, Ecuador and “retired.” And then COVID hit and the basic training business went through some radical shifts. Changes were needed and new materials needed to be developed.

So, Scott “unretired” and supported the shift of products to remote delivery and helped Joan form Performance Management Company LLC to handle the license for PMC intellectual property. Son Jeff then came on board to work with Joan and Scott — and Jeff did amazing work to develop Lost Dutchman Virtual with a pretty amazing interactive design. As of today (September, 2021), the exercise is playable and we are working with our colleagues at The TEAM Approach to fine tune the basic delivery and to develop both a general debriefing as well as one linked to the DiSC tools. (The game is that flexible!)

We still need to develop the training support materials, different debriefing approaches, and to create the online materials to introduce the exercise / instruct players how to operate the game interface. We release the game very soon for general play, being in the beta-testing mode at the moment.

 

As designed, one licensed Facilitator will be able to operate and debrief the exercise for up to 6 teams of up to 4 people each, with the interactions paralleling the wonderful features found in the board game version. The game can also play with multiple pods, allowing for a common debriefing of many more players that 24. One Master Facilitator will be able to develop their network of certified global instructors. We will also customize the development of materials for our corporate clients so that they can more easily align to their missions, goals and cultures.

We think that the exercise will be truly outstanding for remote workgroups, helping to build communications, teamwork and alignment to a group’s missions, visions and goals. Players will be remote, operating through the interface, but there will be multiple ways for individuals to collaborate as a team and for teams to collaborate with each other to optimize group results. The goal is, “To mine as much Gold as WE can,” which has always been the focus of play. It is not about winning, but about maximizing overall results and a return on the Expedition Leader’s investment of time and resources.

SO, PMC becomes PMC LLC and Scott gives way to Jeff and Joan for the continuing focus on team building and organizational development. For the moment, contact Scott at my email address and I can help you get more information about these products and services. AND, remind me to change that when I get the chance to retire again!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC

Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 


Websites www.SquareWheels.com and www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com are the training and development websites for Performance Management Company LLC where Square Wheels toolkits and teambuilding games are sold and various exercises and links to other products are shared. All products sold and presentations come with a satisfaction guarantee or monies are returned. PMC works enthusiastically with purchasers of its products to help support their success and satisfaction.

Joan and Jeff Simmerman operate Performance Management Company LLC out of Greer, South Carolina, USA

Users of PMC products include a global mix of Fortune 100 companies and multi-national organizations as well as small businesses, schools, universities and independent consultants.

Scott is maybe available to do speaking engagements and facilitations for keynotes, conferences, workshops and retreats, but he now travels from Cuenca, Ecuador. People remember his presentations because they are unique, interactive and engaging. This adds up to his consistently being a top-ranked and internationally recognized presenter. His topics can include themes of Change, Team Building, Motivation, Productivity, Innovation and Communications, all within a general framework of leadership.

Since Scott began sharing Square Wheels and Dutchman, he’s delivered workshops, retreats and seminars in India, South Africa, Egypt, England, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, Mauritius, New Zealand, Dubai, Japan, South Korea and all around the USA — 47 countries in all.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company and the images are copyrighted by PMC.

Godzilla, Bambi and Innovation and Creativity

Why does innovation and creativity sometimes seem so hard to generate?

This is an old issue with workgroups and seems especially to be the case now that so many people are working remotely.

It continues to be difficult to involve and engage them in generating ideas for workplace improvement or for involving them in design thinking or other kinds of developmental situations. Why do people just seem generally uninterested in helping their organizations make improvements?

Thinking about this in the context of digital implementation in general and remote workers in particular, it seemed to come down to the issues of ownership and engagement, that those organizations doing a good job of keeping connected with their people seem to be doing a better job of overall innovation and active involvement.

It reminded me of two things:

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

and

“Godzilla Meets Bambi.”

Yeah. I expected a, “huh?” response. So let me explain a little and keep things simple.

A critical factor in motivation is ownership. So the first quote references the reality that people who do not feel ownership or at least active involvement in problem solving cannot be expected to care as much as people who do. And, sometimes we simply do not do a very good job of doing things with people, choosing more to (unintentionally) do things TO them. People naturally resist things done to them, pushing back in different ways.

So, we might expect more innovation and creativity from those people who feel involved and engaged by the issues and opportunities in their workplaces. This is really an art in managing remote workers to generate those reactions, but asking and involving is usually more effective.

This first thought led to the second, which is actually the name of a 2-minute video I did 10 years ago to help explain these thoughts. It uses a short series of my Square Wheels® illustrations to explain why workers are less likely to be involved.

I tried to be funny but also real as well as entertaining and informative.

The link to Godzilla Meets Bambi is here:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOZk6UOii6M

Your thoughts and reactions are most appreciated.

 

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine goes online / virtual

This week, we will see an operational ONLINE version of our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. First developed as a board game in 1993 and sold and delivered globally, we have been working with a software development company to bring the same dynamics of play generated in face-to-face game deliveries into a mode that allows for remote players to engage in collaboration, strategic planning and fun as they put together their plan to Mine as Much Gold as We Can!

 

As more and more companies get back to a more normal operational framework, we will continue to sell and support our board game versions for groups of 3, 4 and 6 tabletops of six players each. We will also continue to sell our Professional Edition which allows for basically unlimited numbers of tabletops.

Lost Dutchman – Virtual is designed to operate with pods of 6 teams, with up to 4 players per team. It will play on the common browser platforms and have extensive communications capabilities for collaboration between the players on a team, between the teams, and between the pod Facilitator and everyone.

For those people who already facilitate the exercise, this online version should be a nice addition to your team building toolkit. Play will be very similar to what you already like and the learning curve for operation will be quick. For those new to the game, you can expect extensive online training and support materials, plus live support from our team (including my son and me).

Jeff Simmerman has been driving this forward. He has applied his online game playing experience over the past two decades to the look and feel of the virtual version. I should also note that he first helped me deliver the game at age 12, so he knows it really well. Jeff fully understands all aspects of play and design and has developed the exercise so that all of our extensive library of debriefing questions still apply. So, if you have a solid debriefing already packaged, you will be pleased to know that you can most likely continue to use that same focus, only without the players needing to be in one room!

We are not quite ready for our network of users to access the exercise, but we are moving fast-forward as best we can. Much of the distribution and execution of the licensing will be through our long-term colleagues at The TEAM Approach. We are also finalizing our agreement with our long-term Japanese associates, WorkHappiness, to bring their Zipangu version (LDGM reset into Japan) of LDV online and to support their use of LDV.

If you have any thoughts or questions, send us an email,

For the FUN of It!–

Scott Simmerman, Ph.D., CPF, CPT – “The Square Wheels Guy”
“Retired” Managing Partner, Performance Management Company – 864-292-8700
1520 S McElhaney Road, Greer SC  29651  USA

Scott@SquareWheels.com

– Tools, games and presentation materials at
<www.performancemanagementcompany.com>

 

Rules and Options for 10-ball pool, playable with CSI and BCA and APA frameworks

We started playing 10-ball with a local group and it was confusing because different players had played with different rules and it got pretty ugly. There are a lot of different ways to play this great game of pocket billiards, and there should be different options designed for different leagues. I guess I looked at 40 different pages on different pool sites and I got the motivation to create a single set that combined the most logical rules but also shares some different options.

I will post the rules here in text but also include a word document that you can modify to suit your own needs, pointing out some different possibilities. Should you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments and I will try to clarify as best as I can.

I will also share Rob’s Rule Number One for the benefit of readers:  “Make your shot.”

Following the above,  you will find that this speeds play and eliminates some of the controversy.

Here are the general rules and options for playing 10-ball that mesh with CSA, BCA and APA rules for the game:


Ten Ball Rules and Options

By Scott Simmerman

10-ball is a rotation game like 9-ball, where the lowest ball on the table is struck first. One key difference is that all shots are called shots. Making the 10-ball as a called shot in the called pocket wins the game.

There are any number of options as to how to structure your rules, focusing on whether unintended balls pocketed stay down or get pocketed, whether an intended ball plus the called 10-ball can both be called on a single shot, whether the 3-foul rule is utilized, or whether a player can simply allow his opponent to keep shooting in the event of making an unintended shot and even how the 2 and 3 balls are racked.

This document covers many rules of play for 10-Ball games for the average-skilled player and is meant to be an overall compendium of rules of this game with options. You can download and modify these, making your desired changes for your local rules. Please attribute the general information to me.

1.0 – Play – General Rules

1.1 – Ten-ball is a rotation game like 9-ball. A “good hit” is when the player first connects with the lowest-numbered ball on the table and drives any ball to a rail. Failure to contact the lowest-numbered ball or to contact a rail is a foul and results in ball-in-hand anywhere on the table for the opponent.

1.2 – Balls do not have to be pocketed in order since combinations and caroms off the lowest ball are legal shots, if called. A ball pocketed counts as a ball hitting a rail.

1.3 – A “bad hit” occurs when any ball not the lowest numbered is contacted first. This results in ball-in-hand for the opponent. Ball-in-hand is always “anywhere on the table.”

1.4 – When placing the cue ball in a ball-in-hand situation, contact with another ball is considered a foul and the other player gets ball-in-hand. A player can move the cue ball around until satisfied of its position, but they cannot contact the ball with the tip of their cue.

1.5 – If a player makes a legal shot, they continue play until missing, committing a foul, playing a safety or winning the game. After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position of the cue ball left by the opponent. A foul gives the opponent ball-in-hand from any location on the table.

1.6 – (Fouls are the standard fouls depending on local rules, which sometimes allow casual inadvertent contact with object balls on the table by clothing or hands or from side-hits from cue sticks. Generally, any bridge contact with a ball is a foul. Double-hit fouls on the cue ball can be called to league preferences.)

1.7 – Any called shot must be clearly understood as such by the opponent or a referee. It is the responsibility of the player to clarify the shot to the opponent before shooting. Obvious shots need not be called.

1.8 – Most of the same rules apply as in 9-ball. This means that in order to establish a legal hit, the cue ball must contact the lowest numbered ball first, and at least one ball must then hit any rail or be pocketed.

1.9 – A scratch is when the cue ball is pocketed and results in ball-in-hand anywhere on the table.

1.10 – Shots have to be called, which means that the player must call a ball and the pocket in which to make the ball. It must be clear to the other player which shot is being called. You are calling only the ball and the pocket, and not the ball’s journey into that pocket; the details of that called shot are not important.

1.11 – Combinations or carom shots may be called to pocket a ball other than the lowest numbered ball.

2.0 – Breaking –

2.1 – Breaking first may be decided by a lag, coin-flip or league rules. Generally, players alternate breaks although local rules could allow for winner breaks if desired.

2.2 – The 10 balls are racked in a triangle as in the game of 8-ball but using balls 1 through 10 as object balls, with the 1-ball positioned on the foot spot, and the 2- and 3-balls placed on the bottom corners of the triangle (non-specific). The 10-ball is positioned in the third row, middle of the rack and other balls are placed randomly.

2.3 – If the 10-ball is pocketed on the break, it is spotted and the player will continue his inning. One cannot win the game with a 10-ball made on the break. Object balls made on the break remain pocketed, even when the shooter scratches and opposing player gets ball-in-hand.

2.4 – Balls knocked off the table on the break are spotted.

2.5 – If the player pockets one or more balls on a legal break, he continues to shoot. The game ends when the 10-ball is pocketed on a called, legal shot.

2.6 – As in 9-ball, the player breaking must hit the 1-ball first (the head ball in the rack) and cannot do a second-row break or other alternative. The cue ball must be struck from anywhere behind the head-line of the table. At least 4 balls must be driven to a rail or the other player has the option of shooting from the current cue ball position or asking for a re-break by the first player.

2.7 – If a ball is driven off the table, it is spotted and the opponent now shoots from the current position of the cue ball. If the cue ball is driven off the table, it is ball-in-hand for the opponent.

2.8 – For balls that are close together, a player from another team can be asked to view or film the hit or to call potential double-hit cue stick fouls.

2.9 – Players should mutually agree that a ball is frozen to a rail when that situation arises. If an object ball is frozen, the cue ball must hit the rail in such situations or the object ball hits another rail. It is a ball-in-hand foul if either does not occur. A double-hit on the cue and object ball counts as a legal hit if the rail is struck by one of the balls.

2.10 – If any ball hangs in a pocket, the ball is considered to be pocketed if it drops in 5 seconds or less after coming to complete rest. If a hanging ball drops in the pocket after being at rest for 5 seconds or more, the ball is returned to the original position and the incoming player may begin their inning.

3.0 – The Push Out –

3.1 – The player who shoots immediately after a legal break may “push out” to move the cue ball into a different position. The cue ball is not required to contact any object ball nor any rail but it can. The player must clearly announce the intention of playing a push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot requiring contact with the lowest numbered ball and a rail or it is a ball-in-hand foul.

3.2 – Any ball pocketed on a push out does not count – local rules say it could be spotted or it could remain pocketed (except the 10-ball, which is spotted).

3.3 – Following a legal push out, the incoming player is permitted to shoot from the current cue ball position or to pass the shot back to the player who pushed out. Rules can spot any made ball or leave it in the pocket.

3.4 – A push out is not considered to be a foul as long as no rule is violated. After a player scratches on a break shot, the incoming player cannot play a push out.

4.0 – Safety Shots –

4.1 – A safety shot includes a legal hit on the object ball.

4.2 – Any un-called ball made on a safety is spotted and the opponent begins play with the cue ball in its current location. A called ball on a safety causes the object ball to remain pocketed with the opponent shooting from the current location of the cue ball.

4.3 – A player can call a safety and make a called legal shot but they do not continue shooting. The ball remains pocketed and the opponent must shoot from the location of the cue ball. A safety does not have to be called but there must be a legal hit on an object ball. (You can require safeties to be called if your scoring system – as in APA rules — records each shot taken and each inning played for handicap generation purposes.)

5.0 – Options and Local Rules:

5.1 – If a player pockets only the wrong ball, or pockets the nominated ball in the wrong pocket, the ball might stay down or might be spotted on the foot spot. The player loses their turn and the opponent now shoots. (An alternative is that the opponent then has the choice of taking the shot or handing it back.)

5.2 – Pocketing a called shot and another ball results in both balls remaining pocketed. (Local rules allow for that second ball to be spotted but play is faster if both balls remain pocketed.)

5.3 – Balls inadvertently moved can be moved back to its original position or left in their new location – the choice is made by permission of the opponent. If replaced, balls should be placed back to their original position as closely as possible, as agreed by the players or referee.

5.4 – If the 10-ball is pocketed by a player’s hand or cue, it is a ball-in-hand foul and the opponent has the option of placing the 10-ball back to its original position or having it placed on the foot spot. Opponent shall continue with ball-in-hand.

5.5 – You can play “rack your own” or allow the opponent to rack.

5.6 – A player mis-cueing on the break can re-break and not forfeit the break to the opponent. (I mean, if the player miscues 3 or 4 times, get real and let the other player break! Enough is enough and breaking in 10-ball for average players is no real advantage.)

6.0 – Shots on the 10-ball:

6.1 – There are two different rules for this situation and you will need to clarify this for your local 10-ball rules. Some leagues play where only one ball may be called per shot. Thus, a player cannot call a ball and simultaneously call a 10-ball carom or combination – they can only call the intended ball or the 10-ball. In the one-called-ball scenario, missing the 10-ball while pocketing a legally-hit ball is a miss and the other player now shoots. Any ball pocketed this way is spotted and the game continues.

6.2 – A better option is that a player making a called object ball and a called 10-ball can to continue to shoot if pocketing the called ball – they should not be penalized for attempting to win the game.

6.3 – Rules should allow a player to call a shot and also call an attempt on the 10-ball in a kick, carom or combination. If the player makes the called shot but misses the 10-ball attempt, they continue shooting and the ball remains pocketed. Making a called shot on the 10-ball ends that game. Many players are experts at playing multi-way shots where they may be attempting to pocket more than one ball on a given shot, so allowing two called shots is acceptable.

6.4 – The object ball need not be made if the 10-ball is called and pocketed, since the game is over.

6.5 – Jump shots and/or Masse shots are allowable, depending on local rules. Rules about allowable jump cues should be local decisions or venue decisions.

6.6 – If a called shot is made, any additional unintended ball remains down. Should the called shot be missed, any unintended ball pocketed is spotted. Or, local rules can allow for that other ball to remain potted. Play is faster if such unintended balls remain pocketed.

6.7 – Fouls and other problems may only be called between the two players and not by team members or observers. (Or not. It depends somewhat on the skill levels of the players and the nature of the culture of the league.)

6.8 – A player attempting a shot on the 4-ball when the 3-ball is still on the table might be warned by his teammates. (Or not.)

6.9 – League etiquette should suggest that a player committing a foul calling that foul on themselves even if that was not noticed by the opponent, or warning an opponent when they are about to commit an inadvertent foul on a numbered-ball. Local rules could allow observers to make such comments.

6.10 – Breaking down the playing cue-stick or putting on a jacket or engaging in other actions (including comments or remarks) suggesting that the game is over is generally the sign of resignation or concession of the game or match. (A player should verify that resignation before continuing play.) Conceding a game is never encouraged.

6.11 – If players are highly skilled, the Three Foul Rule may be used. A player fouling three consecutive times on three successive shots without making an intervening legal shot causes that player to lose the game. The opponent must give a warning of this situation between the second and third fouls. A player’s inning begins when it is legal to take a shot and ends at the end of a shot on which he misses, fouls or wins, or when he fouls between shots.

7.0 – Coaching and Time-Outs –

7.1 – Generally, either the player or the team captain can call one time-out per game. If the player is a novice, two time-outs per game can be allowed by league rules. The goal of the time out should be to briefly discuss shooting options and a reasonable limit on time is appropriate. (Two minutes can seem like a very long time!)

7.2 – The coach cannot place the cue ball for the player but can indicate where it can be placed.

7.3 – A team captain can refuse to allow a player-called time out if they desire, with no penalty.

7.4 –  A coach can “mark” the table with chalk or a coin or similar to show the shot, so long as that mark is removed prior to the player shooting.

7.5 – Coaching is a behavior that should be encouraged in league play because coaching can improve the skills and knowledge of the players. Generally, it will speed play by shortening the game or shortening games in the future. ALL of us can help improve the skill levels and understanding of the wonderful game of pool if we work to support others.


I hope that you find these rules to be of help and that they are adaptable to your league play. There are options for how the 10-ball game is played and my search for one complete set of rules was not successful.

Thanks to all the people who have posted 10-ball rules online and I trust that this compendium of possibilities is useful to everyone playing this fine game.

For the FUN of It!

Scott J. Simmerman, Ph.D. CPF CPT, from Cuenca, EcuadorScott Simmerman’s 10-Ball Rules and Options

 

Thanks to Brian and Diane Brown for their editing and comments about this document.

June 13, 2021

A Joke on the issues of Implementing New Ideas

We’re playing around with a bunch of new  tools to help supervisors manage their remote workers and overall team more effectively, wrapped around our Square Wheels® images. And, in my framing work, I thought of an old joke that I wanted to share about some of the difficulties in implementing improvements.

And, in thinking about that, I thought to share it with my readers.

So, here goes:

This guy was driving down a dirt road when he looked to his left and a three-legged chicken was running next to the car. Interesting, he thought but he also thought he would drive faster. He sped up but so did the chicken. So, he sped up a bit more but so did the chicken. Finally, he’s doing over 50 miles per hour and the chicken is staying with him.
Then, all of a sudden, the chicken speeds up and cuts in front of him and runs onto this farm road.
Well, the guy slows down, backs up and goes down the road to reach the farm house where a farmer steps off the porch and comes up to the car.
“Man, did you see the speed of that chicken?”
“Yep.”
“And did you see that it has three legs?”
“Yep. We breed them that way.”
“Why?”
“Well ever have people over for dinner and you want three drumsticks?” 
“Sure. That actually makes good sense. How do they taste?”
“Well, we don’t rightly know. We’ve never been able to catch one…”
(speaking of Square Wheels, I have been unable to get the correct formatting on this post. Sorry.)
The theme is that sometimes, what appears to be a really good idea can be pretty hard to actually implement.
What really good “3-legged chicken” ideas might we have to run around? How might you use this joke to lighten up a difficult meeting about implementing changes within an organization? How can you use the joke to stimulate a discussion about your organization’s issues and opportunities?
  • What plans might the farmer and driver make?
  • How do we make a great idea into a success by doing a better job of planning at the start?
… and so forth.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products like Square Wheels®.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful effective learning tools.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

Square Wheels Tools for Managing and Leading Remote Workers

There are massive shifts happening right now, some are trends that are simply continuing and some are having significant impacts on people and performance. In millions of workplaces, people who have had desks are not expected to continue to contribute by working remotely. That transition is going to be unbelievably painful for millions of workers and their supervisors.

My network of consultants and trainers are now discussing how we can help people better handle these changing conditions by providing some very simple tools and some very simple training to impact communications. We think that our Square Wheels® themes can be made into simple webcasted interactive discussions.

So, we are just beginning to pull a wide variety of resources together to share ideas about what we can do and what we can implement. My current view is to package things like the old “brown bag luncheon” tools, with images and animations to help jumpstart discussions on various issues, present and future.

Impacts should be on worker (and manager) motivation, dealing with change, innovation and designing better workplace systems and processes, implementing improvement, team building and collaboration and other issues that are being faced by managers. And the tools will be simple, like this haiku I did a while back…

haiku Better Tomorrow

If you are interested in playing with us as we develop these things, please let me know by email. I may see comments but may also be slow to react to them.

These tools will strongly align with my “Manager as Motivator” thinking, whereby we support people managing people with simple engagement processes and implementation tools and ideas.

Scott Simmerman – scott@squarewheels.com

Decreasing Resistance to Change — The Finger, Arm and Leg Exercise for facilitating discussion

In The Dilbert Principles, Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

That one little quip captures the essence of trying to do something differently. Change is commonly resisted and often actively resisted, combined with a variety of reasons and excuses. People tend to rationalize the many reasons why something cannot be changed. Let me use a simple example of teaching someone to play pool.

In pool, one holds a cue stick and attempts to hit the cue ball into an object ball and then into a pocket. It is a fun and simple game and everyone can play. The balls are stationary until you hit one into another. Obviously, how and where one hits on the cue ball influences the level of success; striking the cue ball consistently and accurately hitting the object ball allows one to pocket more balls than hitting randomly.

So, there are skills around holding and swinging the cue stick related to the position of the head and eyes and arm and what is called “a bridge,” which is the placement of the hand closest to the cue ball which holds the cue stick for aiming. HOW one forms the bridge influences how stable the bridge is and how accurately and consistently one can then strike the cue ball. Some bridges are MUCH more stable than others and experienced players do this little thing MUCH better than people starting to learn the game.

But, the reality is that once people get comfortable with their bridge, they become resistant to changing / improving their hand position. One would think changing a hand position would be a simple thing; but repetition and habit generally make the newer player actively resistant to learning a newer or better way of doing this. This is generally a consistent kind of resistance to learning. So, in teaching pool, bridging is one of the first things to be addressed. And the active resistance is clear.

There is a simple exercise that works great to expose those things that underpin this active resistance and to increase the probability of change. So, I start by holding both hands up, fingers apart and wiggling and then fold my hands together, interlocking my fingers. When I do this, my left thumb is on top but the other person (or people) will do theirs randomly; it does not seem to be related to handedness, in my experience. Some people simply do it with their right thumbs winding up on top. So, ask them which thumb they put on top.

Then, unfold your fingers and wiggle them again and interlock them the other way, so your other thumb is on top. Ask the other person to do this. And observe the process. Most people will fumble with this a bit. Some might even have to try it again. ALL will feel uncomfortable. Why?

Because they probably have never before interlocked their fingers this new way.

Many will need to actually concentrate on doing this differently. They will actually study their hands and fingers and carefully look (probably for the very first time) how they have their fingers interlocked.

But do not stop here. What you then do is fold your arms across your chest. Ask them to fold their arms. Then, after they are comfortable with this, you will fold your arms exactly the opposite, so that things are not like they were at first. (I encourage you to practice this a few times before you demonstrate because it IS difficult to do for many people!) If your left hand is under your right upper arm and your right hand is over your left biceps, for example, reverse it so your right hand is under and your left hand is over. (If you try this right now, you will see why some practice is necessary, so practice it a few times so you can appear to do this easily.)

You will see, in all likelihood, the other person flounder around with this. Ask them why and they will probably give you some reason or other but the reality is that things are more difficult and uncomfortable when you have never done them differently than you normally do. (The phenomenon can be termed behavioral flexibility — note that there are a dozen ways one can make a bridge in pool, each used in different circumstances so being comfortable with doing a bridge differently is a real skill!)

The third part of this is optional to do but easily demonstrated, or even discussed. When people cross their legs (and there are a few different ways to do this like at the ankle or over the knee), they will “naturally and normally” change leg positions because staying in one position cuts off the blood flow and becomes painful. People learn to cross their legs differently because of this and they do not ever consider leg position and reversal an issue. (Pain / discomfort is a good motivator for change!)

Okay, so, it you have actually DONE the above exercises and interlocked your fingers and arms differently, you will have undoubtedly felt the discomfort associated with doing things differently. Perfect! And you now understand clearly that dealing with discomfort is always associated with change and that being less uncomfortable being uncomfortable is a really good learning point, something that can help you better deal with change in the future.

Now, in the example above, I went through how all this related to teaching someone how to improve their pool game. I hope it helps you with your game, too!

But the ideas underlying sharing these simple exercises are that you can use them with others in your efforts to improve workplace performance, to help decrease active resistance to new ideas and to the feelings common when one implements new ideas. Do this with others and have some fun making people re-assess their thoughts and reactions. Apply this to your leadership efforts.

 

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. He is a CPF and CPT and holds a doctorate in behavioral neuropsychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scott is co-Founder of The Square Wheels Project and currently working on being retired in Cuenca, Ecuador while still supporting a variety of business improvement projects.

 You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

“Why are team-building activities conducted?” – An answer to a Quora Post

This question was asked in Quora, where I posted up a response. Your thoughts?

The Big Answer is “organizational improvement.” That can take the focus on improving collaboration to impact innovation or creativity or customer service or similar. It can take the focus of re-aligning (or aligning, even) people toward shared goals and objectives, missions and visions and that sort of thing. And different events can help people focus on optimizing performance results.

In many organizations, “interdepartmental collaboration” is an oxymoron, in that the objectives of different groups within an organization are often adversarial, since they tend to have opposing or at least different goals and objectives, measurements and rewards.

A well-designed team BUILDING initiative can accomplish a lot, and get people moving in the same direction. It is NOT the solution, though, since there are lots of cultural issues that might need to be addressed. In most organizations, there are good individual rewards for good performance, which do not generally drive collaboration, communications and teamwork.

Team BUILDING is also quite different than team BONDING. You can build bonds by going out drinking together or to a strip club (I jest, but one does see such events posted in Twitter with a hashtag of #teambuilding!) or by having fun events and get-togethers. You would be hard-pressed to find those things having any impact on measurable results, however.

A good team building exercise with a good supporting framework for post-event improvement can do a lot to impact motivation and results. Check out, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” to see one example of how an event can be structured for organizational improvement.

My thought was to share a simple framework around the goals of accomplishing some real team building around shared missions, visions, goals and behavior. Increasing collaboration between departments is a very high impact behavior that can be accomplished.

A focus on improving teamwork and better aligning people in organizations to shared goals and missions has many positive impacts. After all, the goal should be, “To mine as much gold as WE can!”

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products like Square Wheels®.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful effective learning tools.

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

How do I generate new and improved outcomes in meetings?

Yesterday, I answered a Quora question about effective workplace team building activities and how to best impact people and performance. Today, I was asked to respond to the above question, so I thought to share those simple thoughts herein, also.

How DO you generate better innovation in meetings? Here is what I said:

Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

And that seems to be one of the critical issues in getting new things thought of and good ideas implemented. Push people to think out of the box and look at issues and opportunities from different perspectives than usual. Lots of different ways to do that or tools you can use to push divergent thinking or alternative generation. (My Square Wheels® images represent one way to facilitate this.)

But also keep in mind that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car” and that the feeling of ownership is a critical factor if you intend to generate commitment and drive teamwork and implementation. The issue of implementation can get complicated as well as political, but building good expectations and setting up feedback / measurement systems.

Different people will see things differently, so facilitating a discussion where different alternatives are discussed is important. Note that some people will immediately jump to The Answer and even do Godzilla Meets Bambi on other people’s ideas, so having some kind of voting process is useful. Again, all sorts of different ways to accomplish that.

(Side note: Godzilla Meets Bambi is a short video I produced 10 years ago that is about these same kinds of issues and the reality of what can happen if desired outcomes do not align with organizational realities. You can see that short animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOZk6UOii6M

Having someone play Devil’s Advocate as an assigned / shifting role can also be useful to unsure that ideas are viewed from different perspectives. Sometimes it is just too easy for people to go along with an idea without due diligence.

And deciding on “Expected Next Steps” and timelines is useful. The clearer The Path, the less confusion and the more buy-in. Minimize surprise. Generate a clear picture of doing something new or, “morebetterfaster*” than you are currently doing things. Make the vision of the future more attractive, rather than threatening.

There is no silver bullet. It is all about ideation, buy-in, planning and execution. Be sure there are sufficient resources (time, money, leadership) to give people the feeling that the new initiative can be successful. (And note that it often takes YEARS to change organizational cultures!)

 

So, I hope that you found this short overview and response to be of some value. You can find the Quora post with other replies here.

* Tom Peters is thought to have said, “It’s really simple. If we are not getting more better faster than they are getting more better faster, than we’re getting less better or more worse.” (article here)

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products like Square Wheels®.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful effective learning tools.

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

What are examples of team building exercises that actually work?

I was asked the above question today in Quora and I shared what I thought was a simple response:

“It is NOT “the exercise” but The Debriefing.

Spending some time playing a game or doing some kind of group activity will change nothing because people will generally not reflect on their activity in any way that will set up the cognitive dissonance needed to change behavior. Sure, fun is fun, and the fun can set up a positive memory. And if the exercise is collaborative, then maybe some bonding and trust improvement might result.

I would suggest you evaluate any activity from the perspective of how it might generate solid discussions. If the activity is for collaboration but teams choose to compete rather than work together, can you neatly link those things together in the context of organizational improvement?

If the goal is, for example, “to mine as much gold as we can,” do the teams work together to optimize overall results to accomplish the overall mission, or do they choose to “win?” And, do their choices designed to win actually reduce the successes of other teams?

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” is one such example of a business simulation that has clear metaphors about teamwork and clear, measurable processes to allow for solid discussions about things people and teams can choose to do differently. (Disclosure: My game, sold worldwide for 25+ years.)

There are a few other exercises / simulations out there that allow for good discussions. The role of the session facilitator is critical and the exercise should provide them with solid tools to generate discussions and followup. Little change should be expected from some interactive activity with little discussion and no followup.”

 

The person asking the question responded as I thought he might because of the nature of the question. He said, Thanks Scott! This is helpful and you’ve helped me identify a problem with team building exercises I’ve previously been a participant in. They’ve often lacked a debriefing or meaningful discussion of any kind.”

This is actually a very common thought from participants who go through team bonding or even some programs said to be team building. There is a goal of getting through the activity but not a focus on discussing what could be done morebetterfaster or what changes might be implemented.

What are YOUR thoughts on his question? You can respond to that herein or back on the Quora discussion you can find here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-team-building-exercises-that-actually-work

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman – “The Square Wheels Guy!
     Performance Management Company
3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC 29687 USA
864-292-8700

www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com

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