How do you represent good ideas for improvement? How do you make things actionable and memorable and engaging? How do you generate ideas for improvement?

A recent series of events was actually pretty amazing from a variety of viewpoints, so I thought to try to frame them up herein… Since 1993, one theme of my work has been anchored to the concept of Square Wheels — things that work but that do not work smoothly. Sharing an idea here and there has resulted in 300 or so illustrations, a bunch of easy to use toolkits, and a wide variety of professional things resulting in my opportunity to present ideas in 38 countries. Whodathunkit!

A global network of friends has resulted, people who share some of my beliefs about how organizations really work and the potential for improving workplace performance results and more positively impacting people. Building that highly collaborative network has been really neat, something I feel good about.

A few weeks ago, a friend in NZ sent me a link to a blog he thought I should see. Within a few hours, I got other comments about this same blog and this same illustration using the Square Wheels / round wheels idea expressed in plastic. In checking it out, I was surprised to see this:

The square wheels metaphor of Scott Simmerman expressed in Lego

I have been talking about this idea of “continuous unimprovement” forever. How is one supposed to act and react when one seems to see 20+ years of intellectual property expressed without apparent attribution?  The other people’s comments to me were about how my idea about Square Wheels was taken and apparently unattributed on this blog. So, I snap off a comment into the blog about the illustration and authorship.

My actual main cartoon theme is expressed a little differently and without the word bubbles. It looks like this:

Square Wheels One How Things Work ©

My approach has always been to allow people to put their own thoughts onto the concept and not just tell them what they should see. I frame things up in general, with people sharing their thoughts about isolation, lack of vision an alignment, ideas for improvement already (and always) in the wagon, etc.

Håkan Forss in Stockholm, the creator of the LEGO square wheels artwork, and I are now collaborating on the idea of him playing with the LEGO and me playing with the line art and the possibility of combining his ideas on Lean Manufacturing and my ideas on people and performance into something bigger and better. We are looking for some synergies and I am thinking of building up some toolkits around my LEGO and moving things forward.

  • What do YOU think we should do to collaborate?
  • What ideas do you have for Håkan in terms of illustrating ideas?
  • What Square Wheels illustrations do I need to do to improve the literature and scope of ideas?

You can find his blog at and you can respond to me here.

Expect a series of articles around this basic idea and some related information,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman

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

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

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

LEGO® is a registered trademark of LEGO A/S, a corporation incorporated under the laws of Denmark.