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

Author: Dr. Scott Simmerman Page 1 of 43

Scott is the creative designer of team building games and other communication tools focused on improving engagement and alignment in the workplace. His exercises and toolkits are used by consultants and trainers worldwide and they are highly effective and easy to use, in addition to being inexpensive and flexible. Performance Management Company was started in 1984 and has operated continuously to develop Lost Dutchman and the Square Wheels themes.

Can you IMPROVE a Square Wheel?

A casual note in Slack to me from our marketing guy Amit got me thinking, so I responded and then felt I should write a blog about it. I had shared an old LEGO style, Too Busy to Improve image with him with a note that we want to change this to our new Divya illustration style.

Really too busy to improve the Square Wheels

Amit said, “…most times it’s only because we don’t know how to work them smoothly.” (referring to the Square Wheels on the wagon)

And my immediate response was, “Nah. The Square Wheels always need to be replaced with better ones. BUT, sometimes we see organizations implement Triangular Wheels because they can measure the improvement — “one less bump per revolution.” Square Wheels cannot be made into round ones. Yet the Round Wheels really are everywhere. Customers have them, workers have them, supervisors have them, consultants should get them from the three previous groups. Senior Leadership seldom has really good ones…”

So, my response got me thinking: maybe I might clarify my thinking about improvement and engagement and innovation.

Square Wheels® are simply things that do not work smoothly. We show the image of the wagon and ask people for their thoughts on how this might represent how things work in most organizations. Results from asking are simply amazing. People project their beliefs on to this “Organization Ink Blot Test*” and you get a pretty amazing number of thoughts about issues of systems and processes, innovation, leadership, culture and similar. A few people make funny comments like, “We’re not like that. We push our wagon uphill in the mud!”

Square Wheels image of how organiztions really work

Then, the next phase of the engagement is to ask the participants, “What are some Square Wheels that we might want to address” and let them discuss the things that do not work smoothly from their perceptions. These discussions are amazing, in that some of the ideas represent really good organizational improvement ideas and some represent only minor and easy to implement changes. Some are systems and process improvement thoughts and many are problems that have already been solved by top performers, the Best Practice kinds of things.

People have real and well-considered ideas in many cases. And everyone engages and offers their thoughts. A few things are seen as problems by an individual or two but those do not generate traction and the lack of consensus peer support for them tends to make them go away in the proposer’s mind (which can be really helpful to the team!).

And because the ideas are generated in group discussion, the active involvement serves to generate engagement and the cognitive dissonance that because there are Square Wheels, there must be some ROUND Wheels out there to address them. Too often, they start solving a Square Wheel problem before they have even finished the discussion of possibilities.

As to “fixing” a Square Wheel, I think that is not a functional possibility. Square Wheels can generate new ideas for implementing improvement but trying to fix an existing problem is not as effective as looking at a variety of possible solutions. Too often, we jump in to fix something without considering other possibilities.

Let me complete this post with another relevant thought. In a John LeCarre novel, he wrote, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” And I think that is right. The people who have hands-on experience generally have a good sense of reality. While they view things from the back of the wagon and they may not have great overall perspective, they DO have a sense of what is happening in reality. I contrast this with the reality of isolation of the more senior managers, who may see things from the Big Picture much better, but they do NOT know the specifics and the details of how things work. Two things happen:

One is the reality of the long rope:

 

And another is that they may measure their impacts without considering all of the ramifications of their solution. I call that basic problem two different things, “The Cost of Human Capital” and  “One Less Bump per Revolution.” We can easily make changes that have significant negative impacts on people and we can always measure the wrong thing…

 

I hope that you have found this interesting and I am looking forward to updating this post with our new illustrations, which are powerful tools that can be used in zoom conversations to generate more active involvement, engagement and motivation to address some of the things that can be changed and improved in most organizations.

 

For the FUN of It!

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

 

Our new VIRTUAL version of our team building game is now available for demonstrations and developmental partnerships.

See a 2-minute video here:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6gDtZymwk

* This is also know as a Rorschach Test, more formally…

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company.
© – All illustrations copyright Performance Management Company, 1993 – 2022

“Use All Your Strength” – A Story on Learning and Improvement

A colleague shared a story in a blog which I saw years ago. With our recent release of the online version of our Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building game, I thought to share it here to illustrate one of the game’s key learning points. Dutchman is about optimizing results and collaboration, two of the main performance improvement themes:

A father and young boy were walking along a pathway, when they came across a large tree trunk that had fallen across the way.

The father encouraged the boy to go move the tree, to which the son replied he wasn’t strong enough.“Yes! You are,” said the dad. “If you use all your strength, I know you can do it.”

So, the boy summoned all he had, and, against the mighty forces of nature, he tried. And tried. And tried again. Finally, hanging his head, he went back to admit to his father that he just couldn’t do it.

“Did you use all your strength?” The man asked. The boy nodded he had. “No, actually son, no you didn’t,” the father said.

And as the boy looked up, puzzled, the Dad bent down and said … “You didn’t use me.”

With a man and his son, the situation is obvious. But what about organizations? How does the same story apply?

Let me illustrate within the framework and then broaden out into how people and organizations can improve results.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine starts by generating the challenge for teams, “to mine as much gold as we can.” The goal is to maximize the Return on Investment and the role of the Expedition Leader is, “to help teams be successful.” Simple enough. The Expedition Leader provides a map, resources, information and expects a return on that investment. Teams need to make decisions as to their strategy and plan, manage their resources and time, and reach the mine to mine gold, returning by the end of 20 “days.”

With a great deal of energy and a short planning time, they learn the rules as to how the game operates (in both a board game or in our new online, remote delivery framework), select the most important and necessary resources, gather information from other teams or game leadership, and implement their plan. Survival is critical — they must return by the end of Day 20 — but the goal is to optimize the time they spend in The Mine to generate the most gold.

The issues that stand out about using possible strengths is that people often choose to go it alone, do not ask other teams for information or to share resources. As a result of better planning, some teams gain more information to guide their choices and more resources to speed their journey or to reallocate their resources. (I will not get into specifics because I don’t want to give away game secrets!)

If they collaborate and share, they mine more gold. Often, these solo teams might mine 5 or 6 days of gold if they plan well. But the collaborating teams generally mine 8 to 10 days of gold simply because they know more and make different choices.

But another game reality, often prepared in advance for the debriefing, is, “Why don’t teams ask The Expedition Leader for help?”

The explicit game ROLE of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful, and their overall GOAL is to optimize the results of ALL the teams, since they are investing time, information and resources to all involved and having only one or two teams being optimally successful simply does not make sense. It is the OVERALL results that are what is important but teams often do a, “My Team, MY Team, MY Team” kind of decision making, one that is often is less successful. Collaboration between teams is a critical design feature of the game, as is the absolute power given to the EL to do whatever makes sense to optimize results, from giving teams extra resources to sharing critical strategic advice or extra tools.

People want to feel successful, and sometimes they feel that they need to go it alone.

But the reality is that teams make better decisions than individuals and even teams can benefit from collaboration with other teams and other people who have different information and different perspectives and even different ideas.

The goal in the initial design of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine was to clearly show that collaboration between teams is beneficial, but the real world reality is that teams most often compete. Competition might be motivating, but it clearly decreases the ability for an organization to optimize results. Some people also really dislike competition and choose to opt-out early when things get competitive; they would much rather collaborate. And, it is a definite corporate reality that “Interdepartmental Collaboration” is an oxymoron in larger organizations.

So, the play of Lost Dutchman is designed to show players the benefits of doing better planning and resource management, collaborating and sharing information between teams, and actively asking the organization’s Expedition Leaders for advice. We want to make this one of the key desired outcomes for playing the game, to increase the collaboration between workers and their Expedition Leaders. We designed the game so that managers and supervisors can quickly learn how to deliver a powerful exercise, with many benefits around building a stronger and more collaborative team.

Like the boy in the story above, teams can ask for help from people who have more power and more resources. Most leaders in most organizations will help people succeed.

 

If you would like to see more about the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, click on this link.

If you would like to see more about the new, online virtual version of the exercise, you can:

 

Consider scheduling a team building event with the online version for your training team. We can assist you through our network of consultants or help your training department to add the capability of delivering the program internally. There are a wide variety of benefits and we can tailor a program to meet your specific desired goals and objectives. And note that an event with players from your HR and Training Departments will generate a very positive payback to impacting your overall corporate development efforts — the insights into how they might collaborate more effectively is one of my most fun adventures!

 

Our role, as Expedition Leaders and game designers, is to help YOUR teams be more successful.

Make the choice and ask us for our help,

 

For the FUN of It!

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

SquareWheelsGuy (Skype)

 

Implementing Round Wheels to fix your Square Wheels

Ask a worker and they will share ideas for improvement. As a consultant walking around, this is a given and a simple reality. People doing the work know there are things that can be done differently that would have impacts on organizational performance. Some will even take the time to give you a list of them if they think you are really interested. (true.)

Many things do not work smoothly in their workplaces, which are the things that frustrate them and measurably lower productivity. And it is an exceptional manager who appears to be interested in making changes and improving work processes.

And this frustration and dissatisfaction about potential improvements causes all sorts of negative spins to impacting intrinsic motivation and employee turnover. Sometimes it is simple training that can smooth things out and sometimes is is the sharing of a best practice across all team members. Often it is about improving collaboration across departmental boundaries. But the act of ASKING goes a long way toward improving communications.

Discussing and implementing better ideas can send the message that what the workers see is actually important to managers. Often, what management sees as important and what management pushes through are different things — and that is most likely not going to lead to any sort of workplace engagement and performance improvement.

But the problem is often related to how the problem is discussed and presented. And people are BUSY, and often appear not interested in listening or considering new ideas. Maybe it looks like this:

 

Today’s Organizational Reality would conclude:

  • People do not fix or care that much about ideas that are not their own.
  • Bosses are busy, or at least too busy to spend time listening to ideas
  • Improvement may not be measured by the company
  • The improvement possibility is not related to your job or their job
  • The value and impact of the improvement is not thought-out or defined
  • Everyone has different perspectives on what to do differently
  • The idea is not well presented or framed as a business proposition
  • The idea not seen as cost effective or it may take time to address
  • Some interdepartmental collaboration may be required (needs IT or another department or something similar to implement)

 

What I suggest that supervisors and managers can do differently is to schedule some time to ask people for ideas.

But first, we want to engage and involve them and get them to “step back from the wagon and think out of the box” a little. This image below is a simple framework for the overall thinking about the issues and the opportunity:

SWs One Dis-un-engagement choice

 

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There” and “The Round Wheels are already in the wagon” are two of the main operational metaphors. The process depends on people actively engaging with the metaphor and generating their own ideas about issues and opportunities.

If  you are interested in more details about how you might use the Square Wheels theme to address issues and opportunities with your people, click on the worksheet image below and view an older post of mine with more details. We are in the process of developing a whole series of tools for the remote workplace and for supervisors to use to engage their people through Zoom and similar tools.

Note that we moved from the original line-art images to using LEGO to illustrate and animate different themes and that we are now in the process of redoing the line art in a new and more colorful style. More to come, for sure!

For the FUN of It!

 

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

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Scott’s detailed profile:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman/


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

Power, Petit Tyrants, Sharking and Performance

Sharking is a term used in pocket billiards and other cue sports when one’s opponent tries to use sometimes subtle behaviors to disturb your game or your rhythm. It can be as obvious as talking to you while you are shooting or standing behind the pocket in which you are aiming to sink your object ball. The general idea is to disrupt and to give them an advantage. Often, sharking does not work, but sometimes it does and thinking that it does reinforces the tendency for a shark to keep on sharking…

In business, you might see it as a small comment at a meeting to distract you or to focus attention away from what you are trying to communicate, to decrease your effectiveness in some way, to their perceived benefit and to your detriment. Sometimes your peers do it to you, consciously or unconsciously.

In some cultures this kind of sharking is even The Norm. People poke fun at others and it becomes a joke to many. I think of stereotypical cop cultures or military cultures as examples, which generally changed with more and more diversity being added, which served to constrain it to some degree.

And sometimes, your boss can act as a “Petit Tyrant” — a little tyrant — and behave in a way that “sharks” you in some way. This can happen in so many situations that it is hard to nail down, and it often reflects their conscious or unconscious biases against things. It is not the size of the tyrant, but the act of workplace bullying that makes them little. And what they do may not even be important so long as they think it raises them up over you, somehow. This behavior, done over time, can disrupt teamwork and decrease performance or one’s motivation to succeed.

The best way to deal with it is to identify it, to acknowledge it and to hope that it goes against some kinds of rules and organizational paradigms, to make them see their behavior as abnormal in some way. But it can also be political.

I’m generally a “Rules Guy,” in that understanding the rules generally mitigates the sharking to some degree. In pool, it is not a legal activity and people can be banned from tournaments or leagues by engaging in that behavior. (If you want to see my summary of 10-ball rules, you can find it here – I could not find a good summary so I created one!)

So, how might this impact the perceived power of a leader?

In many ways, I think. Often, the “petit tyrant” would actually benefit if their behavior could be more self-constrained, that they do a better job of recognizing “the sharking” they engage with others in their workplaces. Their behavior actually does nothing to improve collaboration and teamwork and generally pushes people apart. It can also be political for someone other than themselves to address the problem.

Let me share a divergent example as a case study. Understand that I am a pretty good observer of behavior, looking at the issues around people and performance since 1978.

I learned how to play pickleball. It is a great game and a lot easier than tennis for an old-timer like me. It is nicely challenging, a group activity where one meets new friends, and is physically active enough to be challenging.

Of course, as I was learning the game, I was watching YouTube, spending many hours watching instructional videos, matches, summaries of rules and all that stuff. (I am, remember, a rules-hound.) I would guess that I have spent 100+ hours observing over the past 6 months.

My understanding of the rules and tips for play then sometimes bumped into the group’s organizer, perceived leader and instructor, who we can call BT. Generally, he was right, but sometimes he was wrong. And he did not, generally, seem to like the fact that I was aware of things about the game that he may not have known about. He criticized aspects of my game for months, on many things. (I can only guess at this stuff.)

But the reality is that he often seemed to play petit tyrant with me, and only me.

In racquet sports games, it is common to call out the score. In pickleball, there is a norm that one always announces the score before serving.

My Mom, starting about age 80, gradually lost her hearing and would generally wear a hearing aid. But with my sister and I, she would often say that we were mumbling so that we would have to repeat ourselves. I never witnessed her asking anyone but Kim or me about not hearing. To a degree, I think it was a power issue, that she could play “petit tyrant” and try to control us a little as she felt she was losing her power because of her age. Understand that at this point in time, I was delivering public workshops and presentations to make a living, that I had presented 100s of session and thought that my speaking was clear and comprehensible. Except for my Mom. So we often repeated ourselves for the next 20 years… 

So, it was always ME who never said the score loud enough often enough, even though I said it every time. He said I talked to the ground, I spoke behind me, etc. He would interrupt my service rhythm a few times a game, standing there with both arms up, telling me to yell the score again. Various playing partners, standing near him or receiving my serves, always heard it and never asked for it to be repeated. And he never challenged anyone else ever on this, to the best of my memory (only me.) And to the best of my recall, no one else in our group ever asked me to repeat the score during play over the last 6 months. (BT also says that this is HIS rule, even though this is the norm in the game worldwide.)

BT also recently started complaining about how slowly I walked from the net back to the line to receive his serve. When he served, I had just turned around, and if he had waited ONE SECOND, literally, I would have been set. But it was not about my speed of walking, it was another example of how he could “power” me about my game. Sharking.

Other players see it, and they tell me to just ignore it. But does anyone think this will get better on its own? I don’t.

So, the next time he stops my serve, I will walk up to the net to say it clearly to him, then walk back at my regular pace to the service line, compose myself and serve.

Is it worth the effort to confront a Petit Tyrant? I think that is your decision and you need to weigh the balance of consequences. Maybe it is, and maybe it is just not worth the effort and you can choose to suck it up and sabotage their efforts another way. The latter is a reality — sabotage is a French word arising from the tendency of French workers to throw their wooden shoes (sabots) into the machinery that was taking their jobs away, as I understand it. (History Here)

Thanks for reading. I did want to vent a little, but I also wanted to share some thoughts for those of you who feel you’ve been sharked. It IS generally a conscious decision on the part of your opponent. Good bosses and good co-workers do not engage in these kinds of behaviors, only the ones who feel that things are competitive and that they rise up if you sink a little.


Question for Reflection:

Are there any sharking or Petit Tyrant behaviors that YOU might look to mitigate in your workplace?


 

Keep things rolling out there and leave better impacts on your teams,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC,
but also sort of retired…

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

The new ONLINE, VIRTUAL version of Lost Dutchman is now being demonstrated (video here)

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

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

 

2-Minute Video on the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine ONLINE VIRTUAL game design

We roll forward and are actively doing demos of the new virtual design.

Here is a short video that overviews things:

Contact us if you want to see more or get involved, early-on, with the final development.

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

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

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

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

 

 

Dis-Un-Engagement and Remote Working – Issues of motivation and active involvement

The recent shift to remote working has generated a number of issues around employee engagement, active participation and the implementation of ideas for improvement. While employee motivation has been an issue since I started working on performance improvement back in 1978, the lessening of direct contact between managers and employees and between employees makes it even more difficult for keeping people aligned to workplace goals and performance expectations. A friend called home workplaces, “dank,” and it has been hard to get that word out of my head…

And we see this clearly in the US these days as The Great Resignation. The numbers of people leaving workplaces is unprecedented, and companies are having a horrible time replacing the lost knowledge and experience. I won’t bother to share numbers here because they are shared in so many different places; I will blog more about these statistics in other posts.

Most managers seem to be so busy doing that they find it very hard be changing, putting in the work of trying to find some ways to do things differently. I mean, most managers find it hard to do all the things they are supposed to do now, much less do even more things to make improvements, even when some simple ideas exist. They are the main point of leverage for all performance management and they are overwhelmed.

One thing we need to do is strip away some of the current “responsibilities” faced by supervisors to give them more breathing room. Maybe this is relieving them of some report that is really not impactful. Or, it is taking them out of some unnecessary meetings. If you don’t know what to do, ask them. They can tell you. Cut away 3 or 4 hours a week of unimpactful responsibilities. Then, and only then, try to add some things that will generate some real improvement.

What I would like to share a really simple concept that can have widespread, positive influences on the workplace, something that is easy to implement and that can generate the active involvement necessary to create active ownership of the results. The process could involve a few 20 minute online meetings with the work teams a week.

As a name, I call it DisUnEngagement.

Consider the reality that one cannot actually “engage” another person, nor can one “empower” them. It is simply an impossible task because it is the other person’s choice to be engaged or empowered. It is the same with a team, in that there is nothing you can do to engage them if they are choosing not to be engaged individually or as a group.

What you can do is identify the many different things that serve to un-engage people. They are numerous and different people are roadblocked by different things. It could be past history, it could be some personality conflict, it could be that the mission or goals or expectations are unclear, it could be a de-motivational issue.

But once those roadblocks can be identified, you can often work with them to minimize or remove them. That is why dis-un-engagement is a realistic activity; you can actually DO something to correct or improve it.

There are a LOT of tools and approaches that work to impact people and performance and which can remove roadblocks, directly and indirectly. And it is often the most simple and elegant that have the most impact. Keeping it simple keeps it useful and bombproof. Making the process visible and clear is even better.

If you look out at the world, you will see really bad statistics about engagement and morale and individual motivation and wonder about what the problems really are. But is engagement really that difficult? I think that most people are engagable and that this is not rocket science.

I’ve been playing with Dis-Un-Empowerment for thirty plus years — it is basically the idea of working and asking people and teams what things get in their way (generate a list of things that are roadblocks or that are un-empowering) and then working with that list to better understand the issues (as well as the individual beliefs and concerns) and then working with individuals (coaching) and teams to help manage them. It is really pretty simple when done as a facilitated process — Yelling and Telling will generate completely unsatisfactory results. (I discuss in detail in PMC Newsletter Four)

Our model for understanding and dealing with roadblocks to performance improvement

Dis-Un-Engagement is a similar concept. We can look at what workplace things are causing people to be un-engaged and simply work to remove them. The issues and factors are usually pretty clear and survey after survey gives you lists of the most common things that people say need to be done.

  • If people report that management does not seem to listen to them, what would your solution be?
  • If people report that they do not know what is happening in the company and that no one keeps them informed, what might be done?
  • If people say that the poor performers seem to not get any attention and that the bad performance is not corrected, might we come up with an action plan to deal with that perception?

Engage-Ability is a simple little framework about how engage-able ARE people in the workplace. And the answer is REALLY – they ARE really engage-able if we work at it. But we tend to make things so hard.

Consider the new employee and this simple factor: 85% of employee morale sharply decreases after their first 6 months on the job. (This is older data, but what has changed to indicate that this has improved?)
–Sirota Survey Intelligence, June 2006

That does not take a lot of analysis or conceptualistic cogitation. We DO things to people that generates “regression to the mean” and the new, enthusiastic employee is brought down to the average of everyone else. And a LOT of those people just do not seem to care, anymore…

According to an older analysis of its database of 5,700 companies representing 5,000,000 employees, Aon Hewitt reported that engagement levels indicate the workforce is by and large indifferent to organizational success or failure. That should concern us. A similar report from SHRM showed that employees were only moderately engaged at work, with an average score of 3.6 on a five-point scale. And according to Corporate Executive Board’s Human Resources Practice, only one in 10 workers were putting in high levels of discretionary effort. And there are lots and lots of current data pointing to the same basic problems.

My take on things is that workers are making educated and calculated decisions about their workplace and how they are treated. They are trying to be like everyone else, in many cases. They are looking to see if the management cares for them and values their efforts.

People ARE engage-able. People can get more involved and committed to accomplishing things. People DO like to work in teams, when risks are minimal and the potential (personal and team) rewards are good. That does NOT mean money compensation, but it does mean that the intrinsic motivators are present.

And Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled.

Making improvements will happen on an individual basis and be connected to the interface of supervisors and workers. Managers need to ask more (based on a lot of data) and tell less.

This ain’t rocket science, folks. It is basically about treating people well, giving them respect, providing training and fair compensation for their efforts and doing what we say we will do as organizational leaders. People ARE engage-able!

What we need are more of the management team willing to take the time to ask and listen and involve. Caterpillars can fly, if they would just lighten up!

 

Stay tuned. We are releasing an online version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and we are redoing our different sets of Square Wheels images and our toolkits for involving and engaging people in workplace improvement. If you are interested in collaborating with us, or using our products and tools for your performance improvement initiatives, send us a note. We are VERY collaborative as a culture. I want to build some solid and easy to use tools for managing remote workers and actively involving them in productivity and performance.

 

When you are up to your axles in mud and surrounded by Spectator Sheep and alligators and sharks, it is hard to focus on making real progress. Have fun out there, too…

 

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

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

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

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

 

 

Social Media, Marketing and Change – Herding Cats

Change is continuous. Especially if you are a small business and online. We’re pretty unusual with PMC, since we have been a 2-person company since 1984, which is a very long time in the consulting and training marketplace. And, we’re changing again, Big Time, to bring out our old board game as a new online one, and updat.

I initially posted this blog back in 2011 as I was working to establish social media stuff and I thought an edit and an update might be interesting. Since then I had tried to retire to Ecuador with modest success, but I am still working half time and bringing our new products. We took my sole-proprietorship (PMC) and made it into an LLC, under Joan’s leadership. I took off for a life of relaxation and travel, basing myself in Cuenca. And then COVID…

But as I look back on it, it really was pretty wild back then. We’ve moved our PMC shopping cart four or five different times, with each new platform offering new benefits. We’re about to shift over to WordPress soon.

Like many people in small businesses, I use Facebook and now have numerous pages marketing my tools and talking about other things there, but I do not do any advertising with them. Twitter, Scoop.it, Pinterest all got a little of my time. Then there is this blogging on WordPress with two blogs and all my activities on LinkedIn. And, there are others including YouTube, List.ly, Discus, Digg, and more.

In a word, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.!!!!!!
   (…if that is a word.)

The Square Wheels in getting this stuff done have been everywhere, from having the new CSS templates default to medium gray letters on a dark gray background to insuring our old links from the old blog work and back-link accurately and stuff like that. And, changing the shopping cart also meant that we changed all the page urls, so we needed to do all that forwarding of old to new. There were hundreds of links from my old blog posts to the old pages on the old site that are now new pages on the new shopping cart that is changing again. (There are few things I hate more than a bad link.)

The most difficult thing was the converting the old page names to the new page names, which meant a few hundred changes here and there on my other pages that used those as links (that used to have working links to the pages on the old webpage). Making them a few at a time, and running the software that checks all the links from all the places was also a great deal of fun (not).

I know that we have old backlinks from other people’s sites that used to connect back to articles and the like on my site(s) that will not work any more.

In a word, “Square Wheels really ARE everywhere!”  (Hope you are having some fun, too.)

There is that, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.!!!!!! again.


We have spent the last 8 months doing a conversion of the features of our board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine into a new virtual version designed for remote workers and supervisor-led team building and performance improvement.

So, as Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.” Or, in reality, change is necessary and there is often nobody to do it except you. Git ‘er done!

You might like The Moose Joke  because all this process of improvement IS like going 50 feet farther than last year.

Download the Moose Joke

Social Media is forcing this old guy to be more social, I guess…

 

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

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

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

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

 

 


There are a whole lot of videos on our YouTube site at PMC864

Here is a file about our testimonials on our board game version of the Lost Dutchman team building game:

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

 

 

The Virtual Version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding game

This is not so much of a blog post as it is an overview of progress about the conversion of our board game version of Lost Dutchman into an online version. It has been hard work doing the conversion and we are now in our eighth month of dealing with details. My son Jeff has been overseeing this with an amazing amount of creativity and focus. It is something that I could never have accomplished. He has built a really solid interface for game play online, with many opportunities for strategic planning and inter-team collaboration, with the Facilitator screen giving a solid overview of actions and progress.

An irony is that the software development company in India played the board game version of LDGM long before we engaged them in the design and development process. On Thursday, 24 of their team will play again, this time with the online version as what I hope will be our final beta-test delivery. The initial goal was to have the LDVirtual game have much of the same look and feel of the board game, since we will continue to sell both versions.

  • (I would LOVE to run the debriefing of the upcoming game with them as an actual team building exercise, since they played the game before and we should see improvements in their internal collaborations and their play this time around. But my guess is that their debriefing did not generate much action and followup, since it seems to have been played more as a team bonding event than one for teambuilding. Nothing wrong with having fun but I really think we can always generate improvement it the debriefing is done well. But this delivery is run as a diagnostic of the design, rather than as a teambuilding event.)

What I think we can do even better with the virtual version is to anchor some specific followup and organizational development activities as part of the overall delivery. We can play with 24 people, in 6 teams of up to 4 people each. And instead of playing and forgetting, my goals for the delivery is to generate a very solid debriefing about collaboration, communications, alignment and change, and then to have structured followup with the group in the weeks after the play to anchor in some of the ideas raised in the discussions around themes of motivation, dis-un-engagement, alignment to existing goals and objectives and to promote implementation of ideas for improvement.

With the online design, we can accomplish that by making a “game discussion” part of the following week’s followup and to help the group implement ideas for improving communications and teamwork that fall out of the discussion around the play of the game.

Doable, I think.

For that development purpose, I would love to have an organization to partner with on developing this process. Ideally, it would be one of our old board game customers looking to refresh the learning and reach out to their remote workers more effectively. The design of the game would easily allow a supervisor to run all their people in a single session, because it can play with 3 or 4 teams of 2 to 3 people (we think!) and have the same, effective interactions.

The game design is 99% completed and the debriefing rolls out from what we’ve been doing since 1993 with the board game. Designing the weeks-after followup needs to anchor to some real-world improvement opportunities, I think, and also have the buy-in of the managers involved to insure it aligns with their goals and objectives.

We do NOT want the game to be only a game, and we DO want the play to be an excuse to do an interactive debriefing, accomplish the goal of generating ideas for organizational improvement, and to provide a mechanism for easy followup on ideas and needs. The manager will have to learn some facilitation skills and we would need to develop some simple processes for followup and implementation.

Interested in collaborating? Ideally, we could work with a team of HR / Training people to tightly link the play of the game to the debriefing on critical, current issues and opportunities. You would work directly with me on this development, I think. We would support the licensing of game facilitators as well as support their training and development around delivery of the game.

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

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

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

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

 

 

Thoughts on Flying Frogs and Human Performance – and some metaphors

Sometimes, you just have to jump.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Some said things like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

But a Talking Frog? Now THAT is really something.


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

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

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

 

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

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

SWs One 300 © green words

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 

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

We’ve been selling the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise for almost 30 years now as a really powerful tool to focus players on issues like collaboration and cooperation and leadership.

Now, we bring it to the marketplace to impact remote workers with many of the same dynamics of play that made the exercise one of the very best in the world for generating collaboration and ideas for improvement (based on a broad user base survey and their comments).

The goal is, “To mine as much Gold as we can,” to optimize overall results for the group. Alignment to group goals is the key to optimizing, yet even with the clear goals of collaborating, many players and their teams still choose to compete. So, they play and then discuss their choices and clearly see how competition generated less gold than their alternative choices. The design makes for a really powerful discussion about real workplace issues and opportunities for improvement. Guaranteed!

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

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

It continues to surprise me that the board game version of this exercise seems as fresh to me today as it did in 1993 when game materials were initially developed, fine-tuned and polished. I am also surprised that the opportunities for improving inter-organizational collaboration are still evident everywhere and corporate team building seems to continue to be an area of high leverage for impacting productivity.

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

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

Logo for the Virtual version of LDGM

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

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

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine overview slideshow

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

Debriefing Ideas and Frameworks

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

Debriefing LDGM with Square Wheels

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

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


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman Debrief

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

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Care to collaborate?

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

by Scott Simmerman, PhD. CPT CPF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slideshare on Lost Dutchman teambuilding game

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

debriefing ideas for organizational development

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

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

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

 

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

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 

Dealing with Spectator Sheep — Because you can!

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

"<a

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

But how about a little reframe around this problem…

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

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

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

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

So, things generally work like this:

Really too busy to improve the Square Wheels

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re-Direct and engage!

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

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

And don’t say, “Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa…..”

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design Thinking and Implementation in the workplace of reality

Lost Dutchman

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

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

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

You can find testimonials here:

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

Godzilla, Bambi and Innovation and Creativity

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

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

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

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

It reminded me of two things:

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

and

“Godzilla Meets Bambi.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your thoughts and reactions are most appreciated.

 

For the FUN of It!

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

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

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