Performance Management Company Blog

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

Month: September 2018

Legacies and Consultants – Will We be Remembered?

At age 70, one might start thinking about a legacy. Sure, it will be nice to be remembered by family and maybe a few good friends.

But I’m not looking forward to a tombstone with some chiseled words. It is not at all important that I wind up somewhere in the dirt under a tombstone where very people once knew who I was or what I did. I’d rather my ashes were spread on one of the rivers I have boated or at the top of a mountain I have climbed or something like that.

As I wandered in the cemetery where my father and some other relatives were buried a few years ago, I understood that I knew little about them or what they did during their lives. Each did lead a life, interacted with others, contributed to their communities, etc. My step-grandfather was mayor of my home town, but his stone is really hard to find out there among the others… I’m probably the only person who knew from others what a great pool player my father was in his youth — even my Mom (age 99) did not know that.

At long while back, I was speaking with another owner of a small business training / consulting company and we hit on, “The Legacy Thing” kind of discussion. The fact that some of our old  training friends had died and were not remembered (he did not know Gene Calvert who wrote a great book called High Wire Management) nor of Dr. John Keenan, nor was he aware that my friend, Mel Silberman, had died (see my comments on Mel on my blog here).

He and I were discussing my intellectual property (aka my business, Performance Management Company), and what kinds of things had that staying power. I have high hopes that some of my team building games, such as, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine will “stay in play” but my biggest hope was that the Square Wheels metaphor would continue to be known and used long after I’m gone.

It seems amazing to me that we have passed the 25th anniversary of releasing both those products and that they are still actively sold worldwide. Heck, we recently refreshed the Dutchman game with new LEGO scenes and completely redid the Square Wheels tools to be tightly linked to the serious playing with LEGO community. We have hundreds of “posters” using quotes, poems, haiku around our images and even a bunch of animations around workplace scenarios. And it is also neat that my son and my son-in-law are actively involved in the business.

Square Wheels metaphor for organizational improvement

I’ll never have a park or a bridge named after me and those would probably be gone after a while, too. But wouldn’t it be nice to leave something behind that people saw as valuable and useful? Wouldn’t it be neat to know that you somehow helped to positively change someone’s life in some way through something you shared?

I think a lot of us live through our children, which is certainly an interesting process at times! And most of us are quite proud of our grandchildren or, in my Mom’s case, her great-grandson. He is now old enough to remember her, which is pretty neat.

My goal is to have some impact and leave some footprint – some would say, “Yeah, like those dinosaur prints in Texas,” thereby inferring that I am a dinosaur and maybe stuck in the mud a little. (True)

dino_longtracks_t

It is about leaving a footprint, in so many ways. It is about making the world a slightly better place and doing some good. We should all be doing that.

main-px82-u3-12c

So, I guess I am asking for your help in that regard.

What should I be doing with my Square Wheels themes
so as to maximize their impact?

Do I engage some sculptor to do a massive Square Wheel Wagon in granite kinda like Mount Rushmore? But really? A 60 foot head?

rushmore

How do I get there from here? What are some of your ideas? How can more of us collaborate to produce new products, like a Coaching Toolkit or a series of images and quotes for a Culture Wall or similar? Would more animations be a fun thing?

 

 

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®

 

Teamwork, Thinking, Learning and Active Involvement

Experiential exercises have significant impacts on individual and organizational learning and development. Experience, as well as research, says that participating and practicing is 15 times more impactful than sitting in a classroom. So, no wonder we are seeing more and more people use experiential exercised to generate reflection, teamwork and learning.

Being involved and engaged is, well, being involved and engaged.

The visual, auditory and kinesthetic anchors for memory are all hooked up and operating, making the connections needed for later processing, storage and retrieval of the experiences.

A temptation was to go off into a “neuroscience” kind of explanation, since that is all the rage these days. I have a doctorate in behavioral neurophysiology from Chapel Hill back in 1977 and have been consulting on people and performance since 1978, and

None of this neuroscience stuff is all that practical
when one needs to simply learn about behavior. 

Sure, it sounds really good, but is it really helpful to know how that amygdala you have is involved in your emotions or how the hippocampus is involved in distributing neuronal impulses or even how the Broca area of the dominant cortex or the Wernicke area of the posterior section of the superior temporal gyrus are involve in speech? (grin) . (This is all true, but so what!)

Motorola University in 1996 published an interesting chart that I reproduce here not knowing how to get permission for use but thinking that it can generate some useful thinking:

Learning Pyramid

Me, I would have flipped it upside down, so that Teaching Others was at the top but that is MY learning and memory preference showing up, I guess. And, there is a good deal of controversy over the numbers and the meanings, something I will choose not to get into for this post. Let me simply state the obvious:

Being involved and actively engaged in the learning process helps generate better retention and understanding.

Learning, linking and understanding are neurologically determined — the brain is what controls the process and it is good that it is semi-automatic (since if it required much thinking or typing, not a lot of us would ever get it!).

Our brain uses chemical and physical changes in proteins and membranes to build the electrical circuits that make all this “living large” stuff possible. It works pretty seamlessly, and when it doesn’t, we all realize the consequences (Alzheimer’s, dementia, aphasia, coma, and the like. Heck, even growing older has measurable negative impacts for most of us. I was going to cite a reference, but I forgot what it was…).

What our brain does is encode our experiences into memories. If there is some boring lecture going on, guess what is probably not going to be recalled? If you are energetically participating in some mental or physical challenge, doesn’t it make sense that more things will be remembered?

Knowing that something might be useful later adds an important touch — helping someone hang a backpacking hammock works quite well when you know that you will be hanging your hammock the next day. Learning to start a fire with fire sticks or a flint striker is remembered when you know you will head off on a survival venture that afternoon.

Memory is about storage and subsequent retrieval. It is about encoding and categorizing and accessing the meaningful information later. Knowing the context for that learning is generally helpful.

In some of my team building deliveries, the group might have been through a course or a series of lectures on something or other. Let’s say that the subject is Project Management and the participants are shown a methodology for gathering information prior to planning a program. When we play The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, the funny thing is that the “learned” information or skills are often NOT transferred to the information gathering tabletop processes required to produce high levels of game performance.

So, in the debriefing, we review the choices made, generate discussions as to how the tools could be used, and then often project future scenarios or even do some problem solving whereby those tools are used. This kind of active debriefing process generates a motivation to learn and the kind of VAK needed to anchor the skills in place. We also encourage a diversity of ideas and reinforce differences in thinking styles, since these generate better options so often. The debriefings often focus on divergent thinking and questioning ideas. And this is MUCH different than simply lecturing them on what happened and what they should have learned. Their reflection makes it theirs and not yours.

Most people in most organizations are not observed to actually apply things they learned into workplace performance change and improvement. This learning transfer issue is a common problem with classroom training — people KNOW how to do things but choose to keep doing them as they did before.

Implementing change without changing feedback and measurement systems is also pretty hard to accomplish. Coaching can work, but coaches are often not available immediately after training has occurred.

What we suggest is an active kind of situation to involve and engage people, one that sets up a solid discussion of behavioral choices made along with thinking about possibilities. That activity might include projection, team-based agreement on desired future behaviors, some discussions about how improvements might be measured, personal commitment to doing things differently combined with some level of followup and coaching, and other things to help to anchor in the learning as well as generate new, sustainable behaviors in the future.

Generally, people remember their own behavior, and they tend to remember their mistakes and bad choices a bit more easily than all their good reactions and responses. In Lost Dutchman, we try to generate energy and emotion in our activities by adding pressures of time and scarcity of resources or some level of competition. Ideally the competitive situation has a balance of collaboration and cooperation built-in.

If organizations can better use these kinds of engaging activities, they can expect more learning to occur and more commitment to change to result.

Some ideas:

non-agreement bliss poem

Thumbs Up teamwork poem

My team, My way poem copy

 

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.

 

 

 

The Square Wheels Controversy – LEGO or Line-Art?

Since 1993, I have been presenting workshops internationally using a series of line-art images around the concept of Square Wheels. They can represent things that work but that do not work smoothly and they beg the question about what round wheels can replace them. Users and audiences consistently tell us that this is the best metaphor for organizational improvement or personal growth that exists anywhere.Testimonial on Square Wheels metaphor use

Generating the understanding that Square Wheels represent how things really work is incredibly easy and people get the concept readily. Cognitive dissonance then becomes one of the driving forces underlying the subsequent generation of Round Wheel Ideas for Improvement. The gap between the impact of the SWs provides motivation to decrease dissonance and improve the idea.

The controversy exists between our use of the old line-art drawings by Roy Sabean and the newer LEGO scenes, as you can see below:

Square Wheels metaphor for organizational improvement

We did a short online survey of users and the reactions were split as to which image was preferred. We asked our LinkedIn network as to their reactions and the feedback was also split. Some people prefer the old image and some prefer the new one, and there are a number of factors that underly this split.

People who prefer hands-on kinds of experiential exercises might prefer the LEGO, since they can bring the metaphor into connection with other elements or frameworks like LEGO Serious Play®. Others prefer the line art for its elegant simplicity. Other people’s reactions are mixed.

I do not think that there would be actual differences in application and usages, which can include facilitating innovation and creativity, aligning goals and values, generating active involvement and for coaching workplace improvements. We have extensive experience with both and they work seamlessly.

Facilitating discussions of issues and opportunities can also function as a team bonding or even a team building process if one then uses the discussions as an impetus for planning and then implementing new ideas.

The LEGO versions make generating stop-motion animations an easy and interesting process and we have a workshop design to use phones and inexpensive animation software to capture storylines around process improvement. The LEGO scenes make for more colorful posters and worksheets.

We would love to have your comments on the different approaches and we will send you one of our LEGO animations in exchange for a comment and signing up to our blog. Your input would be valuable and useful,

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 Square Wheels-based 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®

Square Wheels metaphor about performance improvement

Results Analysis of Typical Lost Dutchman Team Building Debriefing

Jeff heads off to Portugal to demonstrate The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise at the International Business Learning Games Conference and he asked me to send him a typical “final results” summary. What I thought to do was to also share that as a blog post herein, for the benefit of our many users who might find a quick review to be of interest.

The game is about measured results and how collaboration, communications, and planning can work to optimize outcomes in the game and how those ideas can be implemented in the workplace. One or two teams can “beat” the game but it is also the overall results that are of interest to the Expedition Leader. It is great to have one team “win” but ALL the teams contribute to final outcomes. Collaboration is a key learning point from the deliveries.

So, below is a fairly typical analysis with a delivery for 5 tabletops (30 players). The critical factor, of course, is to link these game results to the behaviors that occurred and to debrief around considered alternative behaviors for their workplace after the workshop.

Results of teambuilding game Lost Dutchman

  • The final result was that the 5 teams collected $92,500 in Gold, averaging $18,500.
  • IF they chose to collaborate more and if they planned better, these teams could have collected $122,500 in gold and improved their average score to $24,500 with NO increased costs. 
  • Note that this 32% increase in gold mined is accomplished with NO additional resources. It results simply from better play by the teams, who are free to ask for help from game leadership but who generally choose not to do so. (“Nobody ever asks the Expedition Leader for advice!”)

The top team, Blue, spent 10 days in the Mine, mining $2500 in gold each day. The lowest team mined only 5 days because of their decisions and resource management. Ideally, ALL teams should have all returned on Day 20, but three teams returned earlier because of resource management and not asking for help.

The Lime and Yellow teams acquired Turbochargers at the start of the exercise by choosing to get “The Tortilla Flat Video,” presented to them as costing them to spend an extra day at Apache Junction before leaving but finding that the information in that video that, “teams find helpful.” One Turbo would allow them to move TWO blocks per day for the whole game; they received three of them and could have shared them with two other teams. (Only the Blue team got one of the extras, as noted by the dot on the far right side of the summary.)

The Yellow Team did what we call A Perfect Play, getting both of the videos and leaving fully informed on Day 3, returning on Day 20 and mining 9 gold, an optimal result for a single team. But they did not share information or resources, what we call “My Team, My Team, My Team” behavior…

But the Blue Team got the benefit of a shared Turbo without it costing them a day, so they were able to leave on Day 2 and return the last day. This gave them 10 gold.

But what of the Green and Pink teams? With all the information and resources available to Yellow and Blue, why were none shared with them? They could have mined more gold if they stayed in the mine more than their 5 days.

The results of teams NOT collaborating and competing to win is the sub-optimization of organizational results. Teams trying to WIN will often not help those teams trying to succeed; they will not freely share information or resources that other teams would find of benefit or that would help optimize the GROUP’s overall results.

  • The teams returned with $210 in inventory, enough for 7 more days of mining.
  • And only 3 teams used one of the 6 Turbochargers that were available.

This IS just a game. But it allows us to get into solid, substantial discussions about workplace issues of competition versus collaboration and to anchor to the idea that the goal is, “To Mine as much gold as WE can” in the workplace. Teams effectively choose to sub-optimize overall results because they fail to collaborate across tabletops and because they choose to not ask for help from leadership.

I know that this fast overview leaves a lot of questions unanswered and that it is not a complete description of how the results of Lost Dutchman can be debriefed and linked to real workplace culture ideas. More complete explanations of the scoring and debriefing can be found in other materials in the packages we sell and in other blog posts.

In an earlier blog, I included a much more detailed overview of how this works. You can download  “Linking Measured Game Results to Organizational Development Opportunities” by clicking on the link.

This blog post shares a good overview of how the results are captured and how they can be debriefed (https://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2014/01/24/optimizing-profit-through-collaboration/). 

Dutchman is fairly unique in the team building / team bonding world because it does have Measured Results, that capture the team’s choices and behaviors and that relate directly to improved workplace results and ideas for improvement. It is a fun and fast-paced exercise, but one that is not simply fun. It lends itself to powerful debriefings about organizational cultures and issues of expectations and feedback.

 

Contact me if I can help clarify any of the above or provide more information,

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.


Find more information about Lost Dutchman at
https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/the-search-for-the-lost-dutchman

Read more about Lost Dutchman’s team building game at:

Lessons from The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a game on teamwork and collaboration

 

 

Flyers that Overview The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Jeff Simmerman heads to the International Business Learning Games Conference in Lisbon today and he created flyers about the Lost Dutchman team building game and our Collaboration Journey Challenge exercise to share with judges and conference attendees. Both exercises are finalists in this competition and we are hoping to garner some recognition and feedback for their design and impact.

I thought that you might find a quick overview of Dutchman to be of interest and that it might be useful for you if you are an existing customer or user and need something explanatory to share with your decision-makers. We are in our 25th year of international distribution of this exercise and our other corporate team building products. Current owners can request a Word document if they wish to customize this for their own use.

The images below are reduced in size. Download full size pdf files using the link at page bottom.

A flyer about The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building gameA flyer for The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building exercise - back side

It has been a great pleasure to distribute, support and deliver this team building exercise over the past 25 years. It is also great that Jeff is coming on board to continue this process as well as develop some powerful new exercises and revise some of our older simulations. This is his first international conference and we are hoping for lots of positive impacts.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact me directly,

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 our powerful and newest 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.

 

Full size game flyers:

LDGM Flyer Front A4

LDGM Flyer Front A4

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