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

Month: August 2011

Change Management, Innovation and Employee Engagement

Some of Scott’s Thinking on employee engagement and the issues of innovation and change:

Change is a constant in the workplace: there is always something… Sometimes change appears to be happening too fast and sometimes it seems much too slow, given the business needs.

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

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

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


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

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

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

From there, I will often introduce the concept of Mud, the glop that gets in the way of moving forward. This can include organizational restraints (perceived and real), politics, culture or simply the difficulty in changing.

I show the wagon and the people up to their “axles” in this mess and how hard it is to make progress. For me, “mud” is a great metaphor and I use it with the theme, “Get out of the ditch and up on the road” to introduce the issue of choice and choices. We choose what we do. Deal with it. (“If it is to be, it is up to me!”)


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

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

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

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


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

Change does not have to be done TO people and is best done WITH them, having them involved in the different aspects of environmental and social support.

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

http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/articles

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

Managing and Leading Innovation and Change

There are LOTS of statistics around issues of improvement, and most of them could be positively impacted if we stepped back a little… Organizations abandon 50% to 70% of strategies because the strategies fail to take hold in the organization or achieve desired results in the time expected. Only 30% of strategic initiatives succeed, on time. This may certainly apply to related issues of change and innovation.

Research shows that you achieve strategic speed by focusing on people (surprise, surprise!), but many leaders mistakenly pursue speed mainly by manipulating processes, systems, and technologies in a bid to become more efficient.

The three most important people factors around the issues of managing and leading innovation and change are thought to be:

  • CLARITY is a shared, clear understanding of the situation and the direction in which you’re headed.
  • UNITY is whole-hearted agreement on the merits of that direction and on the need to work together to move ahead.
  • AGILITY is a willingness to turn and adapt quickly while keeping strategic goals in mind.

 (the above are taken from an “Inside Training” email, 8/11/10)

Company cultures and the related issues of trust and ownership are critical. Some find it much easier than others. Having shared successes in the past most certainly helps moving things forward in the future.

More commonly, many people find that discovery and ideation more often go through these three stages:

  1. Initial ridicule
  2. Violent passionate opposition
  3. Acceptance as the obvious solution.

I liked the concept of Scott Adams in The Dilbert Principles:
    “Change is good. You go first.

Managing implementation and change MAY be slightly different from

The Six Phases of Project Implementation:

1 – Enthusiasm for the initiative
2 – Disillusionment with initial results
3 – Panic as things fall apart
4 – Search for the Guilty
5 – Punishment of the Innocent
6 – Praise and Honor for the Non-Participants

In those kinds of company cultures, there is also often followup / fallout from that first project as organizations try to benefit from their learning experience.

The Six Phases of a second project might then be viewed as

1 – Mild enthusiasm combined with unexpressed general concern
2 – Search for volunteers
3 – Avoidance of involvement
4 – Search for anything positive

Discussions of a THIRD project are generally tabled for later discussion. MUCH later… 

In reality, there are ways to successfully implement innovation and improvements. The actuality will differ from organization to organization for a number of reasons, but most generally, it would seem to be HOW the organization reacts to the issues and problems found in continuous continuous improvement. Are the successes rewarded (intrinsically and extrinsically) and are the failures positively viewed (by ALL) as learning experiences and activities to set the stage for future attempts?

Remember that there are seldom actually failures in projects. There are just non-successes that most will try to distance themselves from given the normal cultural responses and reactions.

To change this, we have to change things, we need to do things differently to lead innovation and improvement.

My change model is about clarity of mission (and all that related stuff), being uncomfortable with the way things are now, having peer SUPPORT for the changes and having a previous success(es) with making individual change.

We can accomplish all the above with employee engagement and facilitated interaction at the supervisor level.

My approach is to share the model with people in a facilitation and then get their active involvement in what we need to do differently. I allow them to clarify what is not clear in the mission and what we might do to better support each other, for example. An open discussion builds trust and support (and links right back to the model in an obvious way). Minimize Surprise.

Start things simply. Take some small steps:

I try to generate increasing involvement in the analysis and recommendations of next steps as we roll forward. They get better at it over time and with increasing trust in each other.

If the mission is not clear, or we need to generate one, I use a simple approach (see this for the toolkit for developing a mission statement). Or, I might later work to manage perceived roadblocks (see this for more information about our toolkit on roadblock management). 

     Remember this simple fact: We improve by building on successes.

signature-simple-process-why-sws

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>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

 

Team Motivation – Participant Ideas and Reactions

HOW DO WE MOTIVATE PEOPLE IN THE WORKPLACE?

Some simple ideas for involving and engaging people.

Motivating people is a chore, but a worthwhile one since it has so many impacts on so many aspects of people and performance.

Group dynamics often make motivating teams of people pretty straightforward, since groups like challenges and problem solving and peer pressures can generally work in your favor. Getting a team of people focused and aligned on an improvement process is often easier than working with individuals. Motivating individually can be pretty complex when you are looking to add extrinsic motivators to the mix. The intrinsic motivators are better, and these can also result from team efforts.

Our flagship team building exercise focuses on issues of collaboration and cooperation as well as having themes of planning and leadership. Team motivation is a critical component of driving success and generating positive energy.

We occasionally get a chance to play the game with groups of HR and training people, so we sometimes try to get their thinking on the links of the teambuilding game to the issues they see in the workplace. Sometimes, those perspectives are helpful, although we also recognize the reality that,

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.

Desk is Danger Cost + Bump

In tabletop discussions, players brainstorm, identify and discuss possibilities that could be implemented in the debriefing, so as to generate responses, since the same dynamics occur as players talk about their missed opportunities, the similarities of the play to work, and what they might choose to do differently back on the job.

Facilitating with groups of 5 to 6 at a tabletop, you avoid the issues common to larger “committees” of people such as the domination of discussion by a single individual. People in small groups are much more likely to express their feelings, ideas and opinions, especially after a shared emotional experience.  Consensus and peer support is more likely to be generated, something critical to the need to build trust and to instigate and implement change.

Here is what people said to a few of these questions relating to team motivation:

People become energized by:

  • Shared Goals and Collaboration
  • Feeling Trusted and giving trust to others
  • Sufficient Resources
  • Understanding “How Things Really Work”
  • Shared Risks and Rewards
  • Challenges and Difficulty
  • Feedback on Progress
  • Time limits on Performance
  • Music, Hats, and Fun!

We become de-energized by:

  • Insufficient Resources
  • Unclear Procedures / Processes
  • Conflicting Goals & Objectives
  • Excessive Competition & Risk
  • Everyday Competition, Power & Politics
  • Systems and Procedural Issues
  • Lack of Deadlines

I always find it interesting to get the people doing the work to talk, in a collaborative way, about what they could choose to improve and why they would want to do it. There is a tremendous energy that can be tapped if they are engaged and involved and feel part of the initiative, rather than having things pushed on them. And having the group discuss such issues and opportunities often helps to generate the team motivation and drive to get things done.

See more about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine at our main company website and on our informational site at   http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com

Note that there are also a LOT of posts in the blog that have all kinds of links to different aspects of team building. As I edit this page, I see that there are over 300 different posts, most of which are on issues of motivation and engagement.

You might find this post on intrinsic motivation to be of interest. Click on the image which is a link:

Intrinsic Motivation color green

You might also find this blog of images to be of interest:

See our poems and quips blog

Have FUN out There!

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

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

 

Thoughts on Purposeful Meeting Openers and Icebreakers

One of my LinkedIn groups had a post where the trainer wanted to start a class focused on “workplace improvement best practices” with some kind of a meeting opener or icebreaker designed to make the supervisors frustrated because they could not get the exercise task done well in the allotted time. He was asking for ideas.

I suggested reminding them of their current workplace situation, since I thought that their workplace was like most others and that the managers were already frustrated with these same issues.

My other comment was that the idea of getting people frustrated may not be the best way for starting a class session. Beginning a session, negatively, does not generally get people positively motivated in a class and the potential reactions can be somewhat uncontrollable. Some other people elaborated on some of the possible unintended outcomes of such an activity, too. (The conversation got pretty bloody but we also think we saved him from a huge strategic mistake, on which he agreed!!).

The other half of my thinking pounded on “irrelevant icebreakers” as a complete waste of time — you know, the goofy meeting openers that are not related to the issue or desired outcome of the session and play on people telling three truths and one lie about themselves or the most interesting thing about their hometown or stating something that no one would ever guess about them. (The list goes on and on…)

I’m in agreement with a lot of other consultant trainers, especially about all that psychology stuff and what happens in training. One psychologist posted up his approach of having people “draw a pig” that represents things in their organization. Some may find the reference to “pig” as being too close to senior management these days with all those raises and salaries of CEOs in excess of 300 times the workers and climbing!

But in that “psychology” frame, I use my Square Wheels® wagon illustration to get people to project their ideas like an organizational inkblot test. The cartoon shows a wooden wagon rolling along on Square Wheels while the cargo is round rubber tires. (There are some other aspects of motivation and vision and the like).

SWs One 300 © green words

The idea is to get individuals thinking and groups working together on sharing ideas about the illustration – brainstorming with an organizational behavioral anchor. Groups can also be motivated through a little competition to make a longer list (facilitation) and what players do is to project their beliefs about their own organization onto the illustration (the inkblot effect).

If you are going to take their valuable time, why not focus it on issues of innovation and teamwork and involvement about their workplace, and not some completely unrelated thing like 3 Truths and a Lie or some such “energizer.”

Using the cartoon as an anchor to the reality of how things really work, we get them talking about their issues — the things that do not work smoothly — and the ideas that already exist within the context of making the wagon move more effectively. This approach also allows discussion without the attack on management or structures. It has proven itself to be “developmentally neutral” and non-political in that regard.

The behavior and ideas and issues in play can then be linked to a lot of different kinds of content for your training session, and the activity thus made relevant.That is something that cannot be done with so many of the very general activities — it is hard to make the transition of doing them and then linking to a real business purpose. (Sure, you can use some words but the behaviors are generally off target.)

Best practices can be Round Wheels. The focus on the training and performance improvement might be linked to Square Wheels. You can coach people on identifying SWs and generating round ones, while generating dissociation and second-position perspective. Issues of change and implementation (stopping the wagon and changing the wheels) can be part of the “What are we going to try to do differently after we leave here?” discussion. And on and on.


Learn more about the Square Wheels® Icebreaker.

You can find another article on this issue of effectively using trainee time and optimizing impact by clicking on this link:

Blog Icon for Icebreaker link

For the FUN of IT!

Scott Mud and Sheep in greenDr. 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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Employee Engagement, Kaizen and Japan

I will admit to being sometimes confused, as I am now…

My recollection is that one of Japan’s contributions to the world of quality was Kaizen and its focus on continuous improvement of production. Unlike the American approach of Big Innovative Leaps, Kaizen was accomplished through the generation of lots of ideas from employees, generating a more gradual improvement over time.

One stat from my files was that a manufacturer in 1986 got 6 million ideas from the employees (and one individual contributed 15,681!). One would logically think that Kaizen and engagement would be pretty tied together.

When I looked to confirm these same ideas in the TowersPerrin (2008) report on employee engagement, a pie-chart showed that only 3% of Japanese employees are engaged and 25% enrolled – that 16% are disengaged.

The numbers for the US are 14%, 42% and 11%, Hong Kong as 5%, 36% and 13%, PRC – China as 16%, 51% and 6%,and South Korea is 8%, 45% and 7% respectively for these same categories. Granted these are different cultures, to be sure. But such a small percentage of engaged employees for Japan?

country engaged enrolled disenchanted disengaged
Japan 3 25 56 16
US 29 43 22 6
Hong Kong 5 36 46 13
China 16 51 27 6
South Korea 8 45 40 7

We are not seeing that data like we used to see. Is it that the older workers in the big corporations have simply lost touch with the younger generation, who are so incredibly different? I posted up a blog recently about Millennials and issues of an aging workforce here – the statistics are not what you think they would show for the US workforce, but reflect the issues of the economy and the tenuous nature of “retirement income.”

So, I am confused. Anyone have thoughts or insights into these numbers and this situation? Is Kaizen still being done and can / will people make suggestions even when they are not involved and engaged with the company itself?

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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Executive Compensation, Employee Motivation, and The Future

I was going through some old transparencies (really!) and came across some old statistics from an April 15, 1991  issue of Time Magazine. an article that I used in some training presentations.

  • American CEOs typically make two to three times as much as their counterparts in Canada, Japan or Europe.
  • Top executive pay rose 12% to 15% last year as profits of the Fortune 500 dropped 12%.
  • CEOs at America’s largest companies made 160 times as much as the average blue-collar worker in 1989.

Today, it looks more like this:

  • US: 300:1
  • Europe: about 25:1
    Japan: maybe 10:1 in general.

What’s amazing is the arms race to the top which we have witnessed in the US; look at how CEOs have used the system to move ahead over time:

US, 1965: 24:1
US, 1980: 40:1
US, 2009: 300:1

This is combined with a paradox which they have created whereby they screw up, drive down stock prices and get paid nonetheless, with golden parachutes and the like, all while installing “pay for performance” for the troops (Carly Fiorina at HP and many others). Executive comp guru Graef Crystal did a study in 1997 with over 800 mid and large companies and found that 98% of the variance in pay had nothing to do with performance…unbelievable, and only worse since then.

The average CEO in the US made 262 times the pay of the average worker — oops, I almost said “earned.” Lots of people have not tied earnings to performance.

How about these:

Thomas M. Ryan at CVS Caremark: $30.4 million (2009 Compensation)
Starting Cashier: $8/hour, $20,800/year
One CEO gets the salary of 1,461 entry-level employees

(Ryan is now gone and Larry J. Merlo is now CEO. His package is about $15 million – stock is up 36% and he owns $44 million of that! (Forbes data) )

Randall Stephenson at AT&T: $29.2 million (2009 Compensation but down to only about $23,000 in 2011…)
Starting Sales Associate: $10/hour, $26,000/year
One CEO = 1,123 entry-level employees

Robert Iger at Walt Disney: $29 million (2009 Compensation)
Disneyland Hotel Housekeeper: $10/hour, $26,000/year
One CEO = 1,115 entry-level employees

Apple CEO Tim Cook looked to make about $377 million in 2011 after making only $59 million in 2010 — but much of that was in restricted stock. His salary is a mere $900,000…

The highest paid executive in Japan is Carlos Goshn who used to head Michelin here in Greenville, SC. He made about $10 million as President of Nissan, about 162 times the hourly pay. Nissan is certainly a global company.

Forbes had this to say (4/10/2010):

For the second consecutive year we have a new name atop our list of the most valuable bosses: Jeffery H. Boyd of Priceline.com. Over the past six years Boyd has been paid an average of $2.9 million per year, while delivering a 46% annual return. Since he took office as chief executive in August 2002, Priceline made an annual 49% return to shareholders, which is towering over the 6% annual return of the S&P 500 over that period.

At the bottom of our performance/pay rankings is Joel F. Gemunder of Omnicare, showing a six-year annual return of -6%, lagging in comparison with its sector, and with an 8% annual return since he took over as top executive in May 1981, which trails the S&P 500. Over the past six years he has been collecting a paycheck averaging $14 million a year.

Frustration in the workplace is pretty high and affects employee motivation. At what point does the pin hit the balloon for the average worker?

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman has been Managing Partner since 1984 and states that his total compensation, including stocks, lunches, automobiles and all other perks is much less than those people mentioned above.

He admits to liking the business and having fun.

 

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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Implementing Improvement – Ideas on Brainstorming

“Nobody ever washes a rental car!“

If one is to expect anything to happen after any training, they must insure that there is buy-in and participation and engagement. One often hears that we need to “empower” the participants go actually go out and do something. Well, I strongly disagree with that – With a doctorate in psychology and 30+ years of consulting and training experience, I have no clue as to how to empower anyone to actually DO anything.

I believe that there are many many opportunities for workplace improvement among individuals and among small groups. There is also some general motivation to make improvements if people see a gap between what happens now and what could or should be happening. Cognitive Dissonance is but one framework that supports this idea of intrinsic motivation for improvement.

But in the workplace in most organizations, and especially in today’s risk-averse and “job enhanced” environments, the real key to rolling forward is not something like feedback or empowerment; I think it is Dis-Un-Empowerment that needs to be addressed and implemented.

Most of us make choices all through the day as to what we will do or not do. Often, we choose NOT to do something because we perceive roadblocks (example: “He won’t support that idea because he did not support the last idea I had…”).

Most people can think of LOTS of things that would get in the way of implementing some idea or ideas for improvement (“It might be against policy.” “There probably won’t be any support / resources for that.”)

One key role of training (and management and coaching) is to act to REMOVE the perceived or potential roadblocks that are un-empowering to people acting individually or in groups. That can be accomplished by getting pre-ordained support from managers not in the workshop, having managers come into the training session to hear the ideas and manage the roadblocks (and have THEIR roadblocks managed – many managers are even more roadblocked than their people!) and for the trainer to have a very good background understanding of what can be done and how it can be accomplishes.

One of the things we miss today are trainers with the extensive background in how to implement and measure the effectiveness of the training when it comes to workplace improvement. There are lots of factors operating there, which can be one of the reasons that outside consultants can often get things accomplished when inside ones cannot — they have the power of money and support behind them.

Knowing how the most success PAST improvements were  implemented can often share insight into how the next FUTURE improvement might be implemented. There are cultural keys that offer perspective on these kinds of things.

Creating a gap between how things are now (Square Wheels thumping and bumping along) and how things could be operating (Round Wheels already exist) and defining an implementation strategy for making small and continuous changes and improvements often makes change and improvement very doable.


But the key is that feeling of ownership involvement. Too many people “rent” their time to an organization and simply choose to go through the motions of keeping employment, rather than buying-in and being sufficiently engaged to improve workplace improvement. The statistics on engagement and on “ready to leave for a new job elsewhere” are pretty discouraging… But good managers generate it while average ones do not.

After all, how many of the readers of this blog are ready to jump ship right now if another offer came along and how many are actively searching for new employment? The stats say about half…

How many are brainstorming new ideas to start businesses or taking a class to be more marketable in the very near future?

And most people do want to make a positive impact on the work they do and the workplace around them. Many really WANT things to be better, if their managers will let them do so. It was Peter Drucker who said that managers basically prevented people from doing their jobs in many cases.

Things are NOT good — According to a November 2011 analysis of its database of 5,700 employers representing 5 million employees, human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt reported that engagement levels indicate the workforce is by and large indifferent to organizational success or failure.

That should concern all of us interested in productivity and performance.

You can read more about Dis-Un-Engagement by clicking on the link and thus searching the blog.And, an article is here.

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There.
Look for ways to make things better!

=Square Wheels Icebreaker icon

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

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

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Team Building in Mumbai, India. Square Wheels and Dutchman

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

This is an old quote, used in every show, from The A Team TV show. George Peppard and Mr. T both used to say it. AndI love it when a plan comes together, too!

Working with EduRiser, a consultant and training company who is now my exclusive business partner in India and environs, we will be doing a full-day delivery of Square Wheels and Lost Dutchman on December 17 at the ITC Grand Maratha Hotel. And what a kickoff, since we are planning for about 200 people for a Dutchman game!

This will be my first trip to India and I am excited about it. This one mostly business, but I am also heading to Delhi in April for some Himalaya hiking and a few seminars to spice things up.

The focus of this session will be on engagement and collaboration to optimize results. We will be focusing on how to engage and motivate people with facilitation skills and tools and my plans include working on workplace dis-un-empowerment, risk-taking, and innovation, along with my usual team building, continuous continuous improvement and alignment work.

We will focus on experiential learning and have very targeted debriefings on themes of leadership and alignment:

If you are interested in more information about how I approach these issues and leadership development in general, understand that we sell all the tools and techniques in our Square Wheels bundles and our team building game sets. Little extra support is needed from me, but I will surely provide it if needed.

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Working with my colleagues at EduRiser to keep things rolling during Lost Dutchman

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

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Involving and Engaging, Consensus, and Dot-Voting for Facilitating Engagement

Guess I got into a “writing mode” today, since I was on one of the LinkedIn discussions again and generated a lengthy response to that same issue of followup on brainstorming to get things implemented.

What I shared were some ideas on building consensus. What the heck, here is what I wrote:

I like Ger’s “Silent Consensus” approach. Funny, though, in that I cannot imagine ME being that silent for that long!!

I do a similar thing with “Dot Voting,” where I give each person 3 or 4 (depending on group size) colored sticky dots and have them vote on pasted up easel pad sheets of an issue (and later, some ideas for resolving that issue). So, each person has three Red Dots, for example, and they are to vote their dots (all 3 on one, one on each of three, whatever) for the Most Important Issue, say. The only rule is that they cannot vote on their own work.

We might then vote with three Yellow Dots on those issues that are “the most political or culturally difficult” or some such framework.

We might vote Green Dots on the issues that have the Most Profit Potential or Blue Dots on those that are The Most Important. My only strategy is to use different dots and have the color be somewhat meaningful in a natural way. The categories might be anything.

My session focuses are generally on innovation (Square Wheels as how things are and Round Wheels as to ideas for improvement) or on teamwork and collaboration or leadership or motivation.

I do an exercise on Roadblock Management where I focus on Dis-Un-Empowerment (article here) — identifying the different roadblocks that might exist knowing that the top performers are roadblocked less and use different strategies for dealing with them than those used by below-average performers. (Note: remember that half the people in the group will actually be “below average performers” – technically it is “median” but average is the common vernacular.)

One can use colored dot voting for identifying the Main Most Difficult Structural Roadblocks (red ones) down to the ones that people (mistakenly) believe to get in the way of action (pink dots).

It is the same basic idea as Ger’s. I just use a technique of “anonymous forced browsing” and add it to my consensus-building work. Visually, one sees which ones get votes and which ones do not get much support. Thus, One Person’s Main Bug will show itself as “not too important to the whole group” if it gets few or no votes. That (negative) peer pressure is useful in moving things more midstream…

My technique also forces everyone to participate in the voting.

After all, “Nobody ever washes a rental car,” and getting people involved and engaged is a main theme of really helping ideas get implemented and acted upon.

Hooray for Ownership! The more the merrier.

——-

The Dot-Voting or Multi-Voting technique is simple, flexible and easily used — and it works seamlessly.

It is fast and something that I sometimes use as part of the group break – they can head out immediately if they need to and vote on their return or they can vote and then get coffee or whatever. You generate some forced browsing of more than their own ideas, which helps build some shared ownership of issues and opportunities. All one needs is a list from each tabletop that requires some reaction from the participants. It really helps alignment, too.

 

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games Scott small picand 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 themes of People and Performance is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

Turning Spectator Sheep into Engaged and Involved Employees

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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Spectator Sheep: pretty easily identified…

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:

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. 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.

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.

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.
 B: Yes, but I didn’t know that you wanted everyone to know, just me knowing.
A: I didn’t know that. So, what do you think?

or this from Daryl and Wanda:

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 help address this issue. Allow these people to feel part of the team and work to change their direction.

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 and 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…..”

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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A Free Holiday Training Tool for Performance Improvement

If you would like a free, playful training tool to use during the holidays as an intro to a performance improvement initiative or implementation, meeting opener or “just for the fun of it,” use the link, below, to download Santa’s Square Wheels® Magic Trick. It’s based on our Square Wheels Illustrations and performance improvement products that we enjoy using as the source, each year, for creating some holiday fun.

This year, we’ve just released Santa’s Square Wheels Magic Trick and are making it available for anyone to download for free. You can watch the demo video of my doing this trick to get a better idea of what it’s about. All you need is a printer and glue stick to make the magic happen for your audience, young or old.

Here’s how it all began:

Santa unexpectedly appeared in his Workshop one frosty eve
telling the Elves and Reindeer he had something up his sleeve.
What is it? they exclaimed, looking perplexed, even suspicious.
Relax now, replied Santa, I think you’ll find this quite delicious.

Remember when we used to have Square Wheels on our Sleigh
until we stepped back to see round wheels offered a better way?
It was all about using your ideas that we would share and discuss
and, thereby, we implemented changes that motivated all of us!

Of course, they replied, we all put our heads together with pleasure
and changed our square-wheeled Sleigh to deliver beyond measure!
It’s amazing how using Square Wheels de-motivated us about work
but now with Round Wheels our attitudes changed and that’s a perk.

Ho, ho, ho, chuckled Santa, now, look here, as your Ole St. Nick
is about to reveal, just for you, a Square Wheels® Magic Trick.
Use it as a reminder that keeping those Round Wheels in our sight
is what helps us give Kids around the world many squeals of delight.

Take a look at Santa’s Magic Trick and you’ll discover the transformation!

“Season’s Greetings and Round Wheels to All” is his gleeful exclamation!

Download Santa’s Magic Trick and try it yourself!

 

 

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Individual “versus” Group Brainstorming – Teamwork and Engagement

I am just back from India where I finally met some old friends and had the chance to do a full day of Square Wheels and Lost Dutchman with EduRiser and about 130 senior managers. Fabulous. I was on my game and the group was really responsive, which fanned the flames. (Wish I could always do that well!!)

On returning, one of the blogs I read had a post about the differences between individual and group brainstorming (http://dld.bz/brainstorming) and it felt like my response there should be part of a post here.

Here is what I said in my response:

We have been playing with idea facilitation for what seems a zillion years and have gradually moved to a pretty simple and yet effective process. One, we use our Square Wheels® illustrations as a basis of getting things rolling…

Square Wheels One is a wooden wagon being pulled by a person with a rope and being pushed from behind by others. It is rolling on wooden Square Wheels, with a cargo of round rubber tires.

The cartoon works like an inkblot, in that the generality of it allows readily for projection of beliefs. Sometimes, we anchor it to a specific organizational reality like systems and processes or to issues of leadership and sometimes we just leave it unhooked.

From an individual basis, there are two things that seem to work pretty well. One is to use mind-mapping or some similar approach to structured creativity. The cartoon, because of its very general nature, is a great tool to teach the technique since the image can represent so many things. The other approach, more of a group technique, is to allow for “one minute of silent contemplation” of the image and its implications before then allowing a group of people to discuss implications.

Often, what I will also add to this conversation in the facilitation / debriefing of the activity, is how the individual’s own biases and anchor points will influence them differently at each tabletop and it is only when the group puts all the ideas together do we get more of a “full picture” of the breadth and length of the imagery and the complexity of the creative process.

It is common for a tabletop to feel accomplished with 20 or so ideas from this brainstorming activity. What I do to anchor the possible is show them a list of some of the 300 or so different responses and reactions to the Square Wheels One illustration that I collected over a few sessions. That is always surprising but it helps me anchor the key concept that,

“It is dangerous to know THE Answer!”

I continue to be astounded at the real creativity and cleverness of people.

In an article called, “Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly,” I expand on many of these same themes. One approach is to tell a joke about the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly and then to demonstrate the reality of divergent thinking with an activity. People will quit thinking about possibilities when they “get” the answer:

Two caterpillars are rolling on the Square Wheels wagon when a beautiful butterfly floats by. The one caterpillar says to the other, “You will never get me up in one of those things!”

(When you “get” the above, read the below.)

I thought it was about active resistance to change before I tested that assumption with others. I now have 22 different responses to the joke, with my favorite being, “My mother was a moth.”

Creativity and innovation are pretty amazing and I KNOW that I could never have generated that last framework.

Google “Teaching the caterpillar to fly” and you can download the article.

Me, I would use a more additive word than “versus” in the question about individual versus group brainstorming effectiveness.

—–

The session I delivered went really well and I built much of the above into that morning session. We videotaped everything, so I am hoping to post up a video of how I approach this issue one of these days. If you want to see that, pop me a note and I will be sure to forward it to you.

Our goal was team building and the optimization of organizational performance, so I shared a number of easy facilitation ideas and tried to model good engagement and involvement in my approach and it felt as though that happened!

For the FUN of It!

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>    Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Performance Reviews and Coaching – Benefits of Square Wheels

One of the main issues in any performance review is “residual.” Past reviews will most certainly color a current review and many people will come into that meeting with feelings of dread or discomfort from their personal history of “constructive criticism” (an oxymoron, for sure).

So even a perfect plan and process is no guarantee that the other person will graciously accept what they feel is criticism of their performance and sometimes a “justification not to give me a raise.”  I am a big believer in separating performance reviews from discussions of salary, by the way, and I am really in favor of using performance feedback as a tool for motivating people intrinsicly.

As my friend, Frank Navran, has repeatedly said, “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.” Trust builds up only slowly over time…  Performance feedback builds credibility and allows the coach / manager to appropriately address issues of workplace performance without the Blame Frame that so many perceive to be in place.

This Blame Frame is the perception that many managers have about their performance reviews, that the meeting is simply an excuse to frame all the behavior negatively and to ignore the positive aspects of what the performer accomplished. And performers often see such reviews as the excuse to deny them wage increases, promotions, more training, etc.

Reality is less important than the perception of reality.

A number of people have given us positive feedback on a spin using my Square Wheels cartoons. The basic idea in the illustration is a wooden wagon being pulled by “a guy with a rope” who is generally seen as the leader. It is being pushed by people from behind, who generally are seen as the workers. The wagon is rolling along on wooden Square Wheels, which work but do not work smoothly.


The cargo of the wagon are Round Rubber Tires – better ways of doing the job.

The reality of using this cartoon as a diagnistic tool for individuals and organizations is that the viewer generally sees him/herself at the back of the wagon, pushing hard but not being clear about where the wagon is going. It is not a motivational view and the hands on approach of the pushers allows them to know that things are not working well. But their limited perspective is problematic to suggesting or implementing solutions, especially when the puller is viewed as isolated and communications is difficult.

From a coaching or conversational perspective, showing the illustration and allowing the people to project their beliefs onto the illustration, as one does with an inkblot or Rorschach Test, enables some creative thinking. By labeling some of the current behaviors as Square Wheels, either by the employee or the manager, it allows a more arms-length and unemotional discussion about the search for some Round Wheels.

Since solutions to these issues are often generated by the employee, it is not perceived as pushing; it is more about eliciting the ideas.  Often, we will find that the top performers of any workgroup are already using Round Wheels in the workplace.

Through dissociation, we reduce emotionality. We put the performer in the situation of looking at their own behavior in the workplace along with the concept that there are different and better ways of getting things done.

Square Wheels are but one tool someone can use to generate perspective as well as considered alternatives. We can only select from those considered alternatives in order to implement any personal or organizational change and improvement.

Managers need to view their people from the lens of possibilities, seeing what they can become rather than where they are performing. This future-oriented view also helps to reframe the situation positively.

The idea is around how we can get our wagons rolling downhill in the future and how we can involve and engage people in performance improvement. The goal is to see potential and possibility in others.

It’s more fun that way, too!

 

 

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Encouragement and Motivation through Feedback, Not Manipulation

While responding to a post by Dan Rockwell called, “No encouragement is discouragement” it got me thinking about the issues of performance and coaching and rewards and feedback and extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation and all those kinds of things.

So, my “short” response kind of expanded itself the more I wrote and thought things through. Here is that response, with some additional expansion of ideas:

Once upon a time, I was consulting in the arena of Performance Management when the term meant Behavioral Engineering or Reinforcement Systems Implementation.

It was the use of reinforcement theory into the business / workplace (essentially Skinnerian Operant Conditioning from the psych literature of the 1960s). Proponents were people like Tom Gilbert and Ed Feeney and others (I worked for Ed). Basically, the approach was to implement reward systems in businesses and my particular efforts were heavily linked to high-impact, profit-improvement focuses. We got some really great results, all measurable stuff. High ROI and all that…

However, it quickly became apparent that it was NOT the rewards part of this that was driving behavior but the feedback system improvements that were implemented that were making the impacts. People were responding to the measurement systems, peer pressure and reachable goals and objectives, kind of like the MBO approach that proceeded it. Reaching a goal was in itself rewarding–intrinsically so.

I used a model / checklist of how a feedback system should operate. The reality, even today, is that few measurement programs are very good at giving effective informational feedback.

Most people are in a situation analogous to learning to play the piano with them hearing only 1 of every 4 notes and those being delayed by 5 seconds or so. (Just try to learn piano playing in such a situation, but that is commonly how the workplace works!).

So, I see the “encouragement” thing as an extrinsic or added external reward and thus out of the locus of control of the individual performer. Sure, who does not like to get praise and reinforcement for a job well done? But once one DEPENDS on that, and it does not occur, we get into a more difficult performance situation or environment.

The idea of encouragement as a process improvement strategy compares it to the “theme” of empowerment that we used to hear so much about (now, I think the term used in so many workplaces is simply “survival.”). To me, this push for “recognizing” employees does not seem sincere on its face — it is just one more thing the boss wants the supervisor to do to get more productivity. I don’t think that it will have all that many positive impacts and people will simply wait for this fad to pass, also.

Personally and professionally, I think one cannot empower someone else and also that most people are actually un-empowered; most people let things interfere with their behavior, things we often call roadblocks.

So, my framework is that managers need to act in a way that I call Dis-Un-Empowerment — managers need to use coaching and expectations and other tools to remove the things that people perceive as roadblocks. Google “Dis-Un-Empowerment” and you can turn up some of my writings on this.

So, maybe just maybe, we could also view the typical worker in the American (as well as other) Workplace as un-encouraged. And maybe we need our managers, supervisors, team leaders and others to look for ways to remove the “un” from this, doing Dis-Un-Encouragement.

Being circular in my thinking, I think that if we provide clear goals and expectations and then very effective FEEDBACK systems, we make it more likely that workers will be self-encouraged. People need to see where they are going, how they are performing, and what they need to do to correct behavior and reach the attainable goals. Goals need to be theirgoals, not the manager’s.

Having managers provide this external encouragement is a great idea. But more likely, they will continue to do theconstructive criticism (oxymoron) and other kinds of behaviors that have gotten us into the motivational mess we find in so many workplaces. You think by TALKING about this stuff, we are really going to make a change in how people manage other people?

Geeze, how many copies of One Minute Manager did Blanchard and Johnson sell, anyway?

Encouragement is a GREAT Idea. Getting it accomplished is markedly less likely, methinks.

Motivation Get to Top
People need to feel like they have accomplished things in order to feel rewarded and self-satisfaction is one of the keys. People do NOT want to feel that they are controlled or manipulated, something that praise may do if it is not sincere and meaningful to both parties.

I am working up a new Newsletter (March, 2012) that will share my thoughts and ideas about Feedback in deeper detail. It will share a checklist you can use to compare performance feedback in your organization to an ideal model of what is possible.

Have FUN out there.

 

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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