Performance Management Company Blog

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

Month: August 2018

Team Bonding. Engagement. Innovation – an Animated Square Wheels Icebreaker

Interested in a simple-to-use, engaging, experiential framework to generate active involvement in workplace innovation? Want to show a very short animation and then get people immediately talking about innovation and culture?

You will find our 40-second stop-motion animation about people and performance fantastic. Show it to facilitate people thinking about workplace improvement and then generating innovating ideas about workplace issues and opportunities.

This is a very simple discussion tool, one that operates very differently than most warm-up routines that focus on funny name tags or some silly effort to “warm people up for something.” It is a much more practical approach to filling this valuable time with relevant interactions and a generated focus on your desired outcomes.

Getting people focused on possibilities of implementing change and improvement has been the main focus of our Square Wheels® illustrations for the past 25 years. We give supervisors and managers, executives and trainers a bombproof and simple metaphor to enable people to share their ideas about what issues are at hand and what improvement ideas might be considered as alternatives to the way things work now.

How does this work?

At the core of the concept is the simple idea of a wagon rolling on Square Wheels with a cargo of round tires. It sets up the idea of choice and choices and considered alternative ways to doing things. PMC started with a line-art image and have evolved to using LEGO® as a way of enabling discussions:

Square Wheels team bonding image for team building and innovation

We would show the image and ask people, “How might this represent how organizations really work.”

Viewers would then project their beliefs onto the image and consider a wide variety of different possibilities. Collectively, a team of people would share very diverse views, which made discussions useful for team bonding as well as generating requisite team building if one moved to defining specific workplace Square Wheels and finding some Round Wheels to attempt to implement. Implementation of ideas is always a key to effective team building initiatives.

What we developed with a simple stop-motion approach with LEGO is a 35-second story, one that has no actual reality but one that would be interpreted differently by people viewing the scenario. Pulling those thoughts together through a simple facilitated discussion process is easy, and the projective aspect of different perceived realities dramatically broadens the ideas. They are quickly generating shared beliefs about what is happening, with shared thoughts on workplace improvement opportunities being one desired end result.

Watch the animation by clicking on the image below:

What do YOU think happened? 

Understand that the richness of thinking comes out when groups of people discuss their individual perceptions and thoughts about what transpired. A single person will tend to have a single view. A group will generate a shared consensus of what happened. (Note that this is a scenario and there is no reality!)

Note that there are general themes of:

  • Vision
  • Change
  • Resources
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Trust
  • Coaching and Facilitating

and that the facilitator’s comments and questions can push the group to focus on different aspects of this animation, depending on your initial framing of the video and on your desired outcomes.

Some examples of introductory, set-up comments might be:

Teamwork and Change: “I want to show you a very short video about a work team and I would like you to look for some key themes about how organizations really work to implement change.”

Setting up a Training Program: “Here is a short video. Let’s watch it and discuss. After we make some comments, we can look at it again. My goal is to relate the happenings in the video to our training…”

Innovation and implementing improvements: “In this short video, you are going to see a variety of things happening. Let’s talk about implementing improvements and change after you look at it.”

General warm up: “React to what you saw, let’s discuss those perceptions and then let’s show the video clip again…”

If you wanted to debrief this video into some actionable kinds of thinking or desired outcomes, you might prompt participants with some open-ended questions such as:

  • How did the action start? 
  • What might have caused them stop pushing and pulling, initially?
  • How did the action end? What was the last thing that happened?
  • What were their reactions to what happened? What did the Pushers see and do? What did the Puller see and do?
  • When did they feel most successful?
  • When did they feel most challenged?
  • What important things happened? What were the key points in the learning process?
  • What happened with the Square Wheel at the back of the wagon?
  • What might some of their insights have been?
  • What was the Wagon Puller’s reaction?
  • How might the people have felt about their efforts to replace a Square Wheel with a round one?
  • What was the Ranger semi-truck about? / What were their reactions to the truck?
  • What other possible endings were there? What might happen next?

If you think you might find this to be a very workable tool for your toolbox of engagement and innovation materials, hop over to our website by clicking on the icon below:

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®


Two of PMC’s team building simulations are finalists in the 2018 International Business Learning Games competition, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and the Collaboration Journey Challenge.

 

People, Performance, and Robotics – Let’s focus on PEOPLE!

Thoughts on getting things done as we see more and more use of artificial intelligence in more and more workplaces…

Square Wheels, People, Performance and Artificial Intelligence

If you have not read the thoughts of Geoff Colvin on the rapid rise of workplace robotics and the impacts on people and jobs, you need to do so because it generates some interesting ideas. Fortune magazine had a nicely done adaptation from his book, Humans are Underrated, and the information is really thought-provoking.

Robots are replacing people in a lot of jobs. At a lunch social get-together recently, a woman introduced herself and talked about finishing school and working as a pharmacist at one of the Walmart stores. Good job and apparently reasonably well-paying. But as we discussed what her work actually entailed, she was essentially counting pills and putting them in bottles labeled by the computer. And while she said that her special competencies included being able to talk about the medication and its interactions with other drugs, it is the computer that is generating the paper documents inserted into the order.

All I could think of was the way my Medicare Drug Plan fulfillment company did all that with an automated phone call and a computer printout showing the specifics of my simple prescription and the included cautions about use.

Watson, the intelligent system, runs The Weather Channel and is increasingly used in medical diagnostics, since it can scan the millions of published articles and databases and do a lot better intuitive investigative work on diagnosis than any team of physicians could possibly do. Computers are now complex thinking machines — even Siri on my iPhone is pretty amazing at intuiting and then learning the kinds of questions I ask and the information I need, getting better and better over time as it learns.

This trend toward “artificial intelligence” is both exponential in nature as well as inexorable. Many of the “sports stories” we read are done by computers taking information and generating the article — there are no humans involved other than in some of the data collection.

I took two MOOCs, one on designing online learning courses using Moodle and one on blended learning techniques. Basically, college professors and trainers are learning to teach over computer rather than doing it in a classroom. Many of my training materials will be delivered in an interactive, collaborative online way, rather than someone standing up in front of a group somewhere.

We have a neat little online training course focused on facilitation skills for supervisors, teaching how to use our images and metaphors to involve and engage people. Cheap! And really effective.

So, the question becomes what tasks and activities can people continue to do, with the assistance of these computing machines and this newfound intelligence? Where will people continue to be important for production and performance?

The most common job these days is truck driver — there are about 2.9 million people moving trucks from one place to another and getting paid for their efforts. But rapid advancement in “self-driving” is finding that machines may be better at inputting data and making decisions than people. They respond faster, have better sensory input, process information a lot more effectively and they do not get drunk or distracted by kids in the back seat or pretty girls or handsome guys on the sidewalk. They can share data and make predictions and basically operate a lot more efficiently. And we are just beginning to use this technology; it will get better and better and will be totally different in 10 years than it is right now — and right now, it is pretty good, with a LOT fewer accidents by the bots per million miles driven than by humans, by far.

When do we let computers do the surgical interventions on people rather than human doctors, who are subject to nervous movement and distractions and who do not – even now – have anything like the control of small movements that can be accomplished with robotics? They can perform with precision and can work 24 hours a day.

Where is human judgement going to be more valuable than that of the computer information processing on the data that is collected?

Colvin focuses on the key issue of empathy.

Maybe our training and organizational development activities need to focus a lot more on that kind of social interaction quality?

Me, I am going to continue to work in the areas impacting PEOPLE and their performance, working on teamwork, collaboration, engagement and innovation and other human factors and using my teambuilding games and my LEGO and line art Square Wheels themes. Go Play!

We will use learning technologies to make the materials more accessible and to deliver some of the training, such as our plans with our basic supervisor facilitation training using the cartoons to generate ideas and involvement. I want to improve the quality of the interactions between people as a way of improving performance and even generating more workplace happiness.

As Colvin says, “Being a great performer is becoming less about what you know and more about what you’re like.”

Interesting stuff,

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.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – 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.

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

 

Price Increase on our team building exercise, Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

For many years, we have kept the prices of our excellent teambuilding exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine at the same levels, even though we have made many packaging and design enhancements, including a complete redesign of all our versions earlier this year.

We are going to keep the prices the same on our two smaller versions of the exercise, LD4 designed for up to 24 players and LD6 designed for up to 36 players, at $1695 and $2895 USD, respectively.

The Professional Edition of the exercise will rise to $9995. That version is being used more and more for really large team building events and we are actually remaining the best value in the marketplace for a tightly designed exercise on collaboration, teamwork, strategic planning and leadership.

ALL of our exercises and toolkits are packaged with detailed instructions for use and we offer free, unlimited support via phone and email. And, these are total costs (plus shipping) – you pay no certification or licensing fees, no per-participant or annual fees. Nothing. (VERY unusual in our marketplace.)

And we are really pleased that Dutchman is a finalist in the 2018 BEX International Business Learning Games competition to be held in Lisbon in September. We entered the contest to get some feedback about our exercise in competition with other global products focused on learning and organizational improvement, even though we are in our 25th year of distribution of the program.

If you would like more information about the exercise, connect with me,

 

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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.

 

 

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