Performance Management Company Blog

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

Author: Dr. Scott Simmerman (Page 1 of 39)

Teamwork, Collaboration and Engagement – A tool for motivation and leadership

We continue to be impressed and rewarded by the impacts of our exercise on the issues of people and performance in the workplace. As more and more users experience this teambuilding exercise, it continues to confirm that the intended messages from our business simulation are being received and that participants become more aware of the available choices the have for motivating their people.

Solomon Salvis of SimuRise continues to capture these impacts in the videos taken at his development sessions. This 2-minute video is from DBS Bank and you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKjRDzHeSG4

A video of Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine in play at DBS Bank in India

Involving and engaging managers in ideas for workplace improvement is an essential part of any leadership development program and Lost Dutchman does a great job at generating more openness to the issues and opportunities around collaboration. Competition is the norm in so many workplaces and this exercise opens up communications about what can be done differently to impact performance.

Dutchman is unusual as a teambuilding exercise because so much about the exercise is measurable. People can make choices which optimize overall results and the impacts of choosing to compete or win demonstrates the downside when viewed overall.

You can reach Solomon by clicking on his image below:

Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

 

 

 

We are in our 25th year of supporting this exercise globally and just completed a full edit and revision of the training and delivery and support materials that come with the purchase of this exercise. Find out more at:

https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/Team-Building-Games-c21200522

And if you have any questions at all, we would love your comments.

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
Connect with Scott on Google+

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Thanksgiving Progress – People and Performance

Thanksgiving here in the US translates well to the workplace when a “table is set” with the purpose of asking employees what they are thankful for in their workplace and then taking the discussion a step further by asking for their ideas and suggestions for workplace improvements.

For anyone supervising others, finding ways to ensure that their employees have a voice in their workplace and what can be improved would seem essential in creating a feeling of thankfulness and, therefore, increased workplace happiness and productivity. Actively being involved is often simply about being active in asking for issues and ideas.

Unfortunately, surveys show that employees are not experiencing workplace happiness and this negatively affects the organization, as a whole. What can you do to increase workplace satisfaction and active engagement for your employees? Here are a couple of actionable ideas:

1.  Be a “good” leader. Set clear expectations concerning rules, job performance and alignment to workplace goals and objectives.
2.  Make sure employees feel valued. Reach out and connect, personally, with them.
3.  Create a productive atmosphere. Be aware of the overall atmosphere and physical area and how it might affect productivity.
4.  Get people involved. Make them feel a part of the whole by asking for their input.

How do you make a difference? Create your own workplace Thanksgiving scenario (and not just around Thanksgiving but at any time!) by gathering your employees around a table where they can comfortably share ideas for workplace improvements:

Do this on your own or with the help of our Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit that guides you in easily facilitating a session using the Square Wheels One image (shown below, left), a simple tool that generates active involvement and engagement to get people talking about issues and opportunities using the language of Square Wheels (things that don’t work smoothly) and Round Wheels (things that work MoreBetterFaster).

Square Wheels One LEGO image by Scott Simmerman

Ask for ideas and get them to make suggestions and to discuss possibilities. Everyone should be encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives.

This tool has been appreciated, worldwide, for over 20 years because it so easily generates participation around ideas for improvements. Included in the Toolkit is a Leader’s Guide, a Presentation PowerPoint, Participant Handouts and Posters. It’s designed to increase facilitation skills. Or, you can take our 30-minute online course in facilitation skills where you’ll improve your skills through online video training and download the Square Wheels Toolkit to lead conversations about improvements and innovations. Click on the link to see this course overview.

Adding a Thanksgiving feeling to your workplace by gathering your people together creates an essential discussion towards making a positive difference in workplace happiness and appreciation. And remember to thank them,

 

 

For the FUN of It!

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

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.comRead Scott’s blogging on people and performance improvement

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®

May you enjoy your Thanksgiving with lots
of good feelings rolled into it! 

Building Leadership Skills and Being Successful

As we build more tie-ins from our teambuilding games into the themes of Selfless Leadership (which I much prefer as a framework more than the more common Servant Leadership label), I have been reading and thinking a lot more about leadership skills and the notion of improving people and performance.

So many things lead to the same conclusion about personal effectiveness, that being better able to involve and engage people in their personal growth and to be able to align them with workplace goals and objectives improves impact. Those are the natural precursors to improving teamwork and impacting results.

One interesting article was Zdravko Cvijetic’s in Medium that discussed 25 essential leadership skills — it started with the metaphor of playing Super Mario and the key behavior of gathering “mushrooms” to help you grow and excel. While that mushroom metaphor reminds me of the old, “Keep them in the dark and throw a lot of “fertilizer” on them” framework of command and control, his thought about gathering more skills to improve impacts is certainly an effective anchor point.

I would encourage you to read his post and to select a few things to work on. As I did, it reinforced my notion that communications with others and the idea of framing better goals and expectations is a solid one for managers. It also reinforced my thoughts about generating better workplace collaboration and teamwork around those shared goals and expectations and the reality that changing the language of the workplace is a simple way to generate improvement.

At PMC, we play with LEGO and images and metaphors as simple tools to generate active involvement and engagement, to get people talking about issues and opportunities. This was one of my reactions to the Cvijetic article, that these tools and related language can become one of those tools for success. Asking people for their ideas is what generates perspective, innovation and active involvement.

Image on perspective and innovation

And being able to generate active personal involvement is a key to generating intrinsic motivation, because we all know that,

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

Ownership is a key feature of motivation and being better able to generate that active engagement is one of the key leadership skills for today’s workplace. Plus, the skill in gaining personal perspective and generate a team initiative to implement improvements is valuable.

Lost Dutchman Gold Mine teambuilding theme

•  You can purchase a simple Square Wheels toolkit that teaches engagement skills here, cheap! Click on the link.

•  Or, you can take our 30-minute online course in facilitation skills and also download the materials to lead conversations about improvements. Click on the link to see the course overview.

Regardless, the issue about replacing the Square Wheels® is a solid one. There are lots of them out there, working as they thump and bump along, that could and should be replaced.

The Square Wheels Project Round Wheels

For the FUN of It!

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

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.comRead Scott’s blogging on people and performance improvement

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®

Happy New Year – Simple Ideas for Reframing and Future-Focusing

Here are a couple of ideas to make your teambuilding exercise
more fun and more effective.

We delivered a Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise for a group of managers for an international corporation starting up a factory here in South Carolina. It was my task to do some team building with the entire management team to try to help shape the culture.

The workshop went really well. But improvements are also always possible.

Team Building Exercise with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Continuous continuous improvement is a mainstream belief about how things should really should operate, and there are always new thoughts on how to improve the impacts, even after 25 years of delivering these workshops. A catalog I got in the mail that evening gave me a new ideas that I thought to share about how to impact the future-focus on the participants even more.

We had spent some good time talking about how the managers in the session were going to be responsible for building a new culture, since this was a greenfield operation. And the focus of our game was about collaboration and leadership and the impacts on engagement and motivation. So, the catalog gave me an idea about what I will do on my next development program, and that is to focus the participants on the culture.

Happy New Year!

The things that these managers DO is what will determine how things operate, so why not celebrate in advance and also get them focused on their choices. The idea will be to distribute hats and clappers and have them first celebrate, and then engage in tabletop discussions about what they can do in the next few months that will positively impact their workplace.

We will have them put on the hats and clap the clappers and then say that it is January 3 and everyone at work is having fun and being productive and then to discuss what their management team did between now and then to generate such a positive workforce. What challenges did they overcome? What processes did they implement to generate collaboration and teamwork?

Another thing we did in the workshop was to give the participants cardboard finger puppets that they could play with, but that were also tools for them to have a good tabletop discussion. If they had something candid and meaningful to say to someone that was a bit uncomfortable for them, they could put on their finger puppet and let the puppet carry on the conversation.

We were playing with the idea of displacement and anonymity, but we were playing, making some fun about some reality and serious discussions that they as a team were going to need to have with each other. The finger puppet was simply a prop, a tool, and something to help lighten things up a little.

You can find all of these tools / toys at Oriental Trading / Fun Express, where we suggest you go to find tabletop fun schlock for your tabletops. There are a variety of inexpensive things we use such as binoculars, cowboy bendables, plastic badges and other things to add a bit more fun to the game materials.

Lastly, we just started distributing LDGM – 2018, a new updated version of the Lost Dutchman exercise. I just blogged about this in some detail.

You can see some of the key themes of the Dutchman game in a simple slideshare that we uploaded to show how we are now incorporating LEGO scenes into our materials to better integrate with our Square Wheels approach to organizational improvement.

 

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
Connect with Scott on Google+

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
®

Great new Lost Dutchman Teambuilding Exercise Updates

One of the world’s very best teambuilding simulations just got better. And we guarantee satisfaction.

We know that this exercise, focused on collaboration between teams and themes of leadership, motivation and alignment, is outstanding. Surveys of our customer users — primarily senior trainers in large corporations plus a network of independent consultants globally – continue to confirm its effectiveness for building teamwork and inter-organizational collaboration (see survey results summary here).

From their view, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a premier, polished and respected team building simulation, now in its 25th year of global distribution.

So, it generated a lot of interest when we started building LEGO scenes similar to those of our upgraded Square Wheels® tools into the basic Lost Dutchman introduction slides like those here:

Slides from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine 2018 Introduction

The real impacts come from the Debriefing slideshows and the effectiveness of the images and metaphors for engaging people in the debriefing. The idea is to add more color and context to the tabletop discussions and to the group summaries about perceived issues and opportunities. The images will also allow us to share Workplace Improvement Posters and other ancillary materials to reinforce key learning points in workplaces, something we can customize with our customers.

The use of Lego in both Dutchman and Square Wheels allow an easy sharing of ideas and metaphors between the two concepts making these tools integrate better and allowing for easy links to other content and information.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slidesand

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slides

While we are not using any LEGO® in the actual play of the game or on the tabletops in our deliveries, it certainly adds that possibility to the play for our customers, especially if they are integrating with LEGO® Serious Play® kinds of tools or using our Square Wheels tools within their workshops.

The Updates and The LEGO scenes:

The primary edits involve the addition of our Square Wheels LEGO images into the Intro and Debriefing materials. We have moved from line-art materials in our Square Wheels® frameworks to using Lego images to represent our Square Wheels® concepts and by integrating the games with these new materials, we feel it adds another layer of interest and helps generate more active involvement with the metaphors. Some of the scenes look like these:

LDGM LEGO Images of Alignment and Teamwork
and
Images of teamwork and organizational alignment using LEGO
 Nearly every training file of each version of Dutchman (LD Pro, LD-6, LD-4, LD-3) has been rewritten and updated and folders reorganized to improve the learning process. Reports are that the materials themselves are bombproof. Understand that a unique quality of Dutchman and other PMC products is that none of them require certification nor support fees nor licenses. Most users simply buy the materials, work through the training and start delivering their programs with little or no need to contact us. NONE is required!
 If you want to see more about these materials, we uploaded a Slideshare Overview of about 30 slides.

• The benefits of updating are simple: You get a better game!

• The benefits of purchasing are simple: You get a great exercise at a one-time cost with no licensing or certification or annual fees and you always get the direct support of me, the game’s designer.


How to Receive the Updated 2018 version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation:

If you are a new customer, we are shipping the updated 2018 version so you will benefit by our network’s 25 years of using the exercise

if you are a current owner and you want to update what you have or get a larger version, we will give you full credit for the smaller game you own toward the purchase of a version to handle more participants. (this is a limited time offer, expiring on December 1, 2017.) Please contact us for details.

Current owners can receive the Updated Dutchman files by informing us of the version you own and choosing to complete either # 1 or # 2, below:

  1. Pay $125 for Pro; $75 for LD-6; $60 for LD-4 and $45 for LD-3 updated files.
  2. Receive the updates for FREE after completing these two requests:
  3. Emailing Scott a short, personal testimonial for Dutchman that we can use in our marketing efforts,
  4. Going to the Dutchman Facebook Page, “Friend” us there and “Like” the page.

Once you have completed either #1 or #2, above, we’ll send you the new upgrades, electronically, for your specific version, it’s that simple!

Let’s hear a YEEE HA!    

LDGM Team shoudting Yee Haa Celebrating

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
Connect with Scott on Google+

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

 

 

 

 

The Contagion of Desired Behaviors – Some thoughts on Collaboration and Leadership

Workplace behaviors can be contagious, which can be a highly useful thing as we try to change organizational cultures. And this can be directly emphasized and supported when the leadership aligns those desired behaviors to the organization’s goals and objectives in an exercise such as The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.


A survey of 2000 employees by ILM revealed that nearly three-quarters of U.K. professionals emulate attributes seen in their colleagues, with roughly 20% improving communications and 10% on problem solving, both behaviors that align nicely with improving teamwork and collaboration.

If we can generate improved leadership and collaborative behaviors within a workshop setting and anchor those behaviors to organizational expectations, we are more likely to change those behaviors over time in the workplace, especially if those desired behaviors occur more frequently among the leadership team. If we can get increased collaboration, and discuss why such behavior is a contributor to an improved organizational culture, we are more likely to generate changes in behavior that are congruent with those discussions.

Surprisingly, the researchers reported that people are not influenced by traditional hierarchies when it comes to who they emulate, with almost half (49%) of respondents revealed they replicate behaviors from people across their organization. And a similar number (46%) say they copy behaviors from people of all levels of seniority, even their peers. So, building a cross-functional and more collaborative team and leadership structure can contribute to this modeling.

“One of the key things we found from the research is that employees don’t just copy senior people, they copy their colleagues,” remarked John Williams, director of digital strategy for ILM. “We recognize that leadership doesn’t just happen at the top of the organization. It permeates throughout an organization. If people are learning behaviors from colleagues and seeing their colleagues getting ahead and those behaviors aren’t great, then they will copy those behaviors.”

John Yates, Group Director at ILM, commented: “People are looking to their colleagues to demonstrate how they can work effectively, particularly when it comes to facing up to challenges in the workplace. Whilst it’s inspiring to see that professionals are motivated by those around them, it can also be dangerous, as people indiscriminately adopt the behaviors of others regardless of experience or expertise.”

Despite the prevalence of U.K. workers learning by example from their colleagues, the research found that most employees (58%) would prefer more formal training and development when it comes to acquiring new skills and capabilities. Driving such desired collaborative and motivational behaviors from a team building workshop like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine simply makes good sense when it comes to generating improved teamwork and optimizing results. It is also something that can be run inexpensively at all levels of an organization to communicate missions, goals and expectations.

ILM researchers also noted that bad behaviors can also be emulated and spread within an organization, which is why an effective workshop focused on organizational improvement simply makes good sense. You can define desired goals and objectives and clearly discuss and support the desired behaviors that will lead toward those goals. You can refine expectations and develop peer support for the changes. You can focus on implementing change and improvement.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is about team building and collaboration

We are in our 25th year of selling and supporting Dutchman and we encourage you to reach out to us should an exercise such as this could support your organizational development initiatives.


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
Connect with Scott on Google+

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 (from Forbes Magazine article by Karen Higgeinbottom: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2017/10/03/the-dangers-of-contagious-leadership-behaviors/ )

 

Spring Forward Monday – A Day for Involvement and Engagement – March 12, 2018

Okay, March 12 is a Monday.And you can choose to do a bit of Disruptive Engagement if you choose.

March 12 is also the Monday after Sunday morning’s loss of an hour’s sleep as we set the clocks ahead each Spring.   zzzzzzzzzzzz….

AND, it will be one of the low productivity workdays — it is also called Sleepy Monday based on research — and you know people will be dragging.

(How many of your people or co-workers do you think will
go to bed an hour earlier Saturday night?)

Spring Forward Monday -- make it engaging and motivatingSo, with most people dragging, and with this a known problem, why not choose to do something differently? Why not recharge their batteries and increase involvement and low motivation and teamwork (sometimes not really good anyway) by facilitating a meeting focused on their issues and their ideas for improvement?

Choose to be a Draggin’ Slayer. Seize The Day!

Spring Forward Minday illustration on disengagement of workersOur experiences show the dragging can be short-lived as people get involved with the Square Wheels® metaphor as a vehicle to discuss issues and problems.

Simply talking about their perceived Square Wheels will generate many Round Wheel solutions to make things roll more better faster.

Tons of research show that workers want to make improvements and will work on teams to look at the ideas for improvement and offer ideas and energy for implementation. They simply need the collective thinking and support of their workgroup to really understand the issues more clearly and to better define some solutions.

Spring Forward Monday® - A Square Wheels / Round Wheel opportunity for actively engagingPeople are pretty good problem solvers and when they know that something IS a shared problem, they will collaborate to define the perspective, needed resources and support. They can find solutions and if the solutions are their idea, they will be more motivated to implement those ideas. It is an issue of ownership and active involvement; you really cannot push them to make improvements you think are needed, since they resist your changes…

Nobody ever washes a rental car.

Square Wheels® are interactive facilitation engagement tools designed by Scott Simmerman and are a tool for innovationSo, it is about choice.

Your choice to to continue to do things the same way or to actively involve and engage your people to interactively consider things from different perspectives and defining some issues and refining some ideas for workplace improvement.

This kind of interactive discussion can be held at the front-line worker level or even among the top management team, although workplace realities would suggest that the people pushing the wagon know a lot more about the realities and problems than the wagon pullers.

Most organizations do have the tendency to work like this and we will note that our experience proves that the Round Wheels are already in the wagon — those good ideas already exist. It is simply a matter of identification of the better ideas once the bad ones are recognized for what they are.

The reality is that the Square Wheels® actually DO work, they just do not work smoothly…

Square Wheels One is a metaphor for performance improvement by Scott Simmerman

Square Wheels® One is our main illustration about how things really work.

So, with that perception about how things really work, you can use your imagination to guess at what might be done differently.

You can choose to be a Draggin’ Slayer on Spring Forward Monday® or continue to let things thump and bump. You can choose to improve involvement and engagement by involving and engaging your people in a new vision of how things can roll to the goal.

People WANT to be involved. Even the ones that say they don’t will get involved and engaged, since they so-often complain about how things are working and this is the perfect venue for them to contribute! So choose to involve everyone. Let people make some better choices and own the process of implementing workplace improvement.

Square Wheels engagement on Spring Forward Monday by Performance Management CompanyIf we have gotten you interested, here are some simple resources. One is a 2-minute video overview of the whole idea that we produced for 2017.

Spring Forward Monday Video Overview of Square Wheels

You can also purchase a complete $25 toolkit to support your effort with our metaphors and materials. The package contains:

  • The Square Wheels One image
  • A Leader’s Guide for facilitating the session
  • Participant Worksheets/Handouts
  • A collection of Square Wheels Posters that can be used as anchors to the insights gained as the group rolls down the road.

Spring Forward Monday Square Wheels Toolkit for involvement and motivation

And, you can access The Square Wheels Project to complete a 30-minute optional course on facilitating workplace improvement through facilitation. It is a general course, but focused on our metaphors and worksheets. And it costs only $10 as we gain traction for our approach to organizational performance improvement and motivation of workplaces.

The Square Wheels Project is about facilitating engagment and improvement

We are continually working hard to make this simple tool available directly to supervisors and managers who need simple and effective tools for motivating their people. Doing this on Spring Forward Monday™ would be a nice touch, but doing one of these sessions any time would be of high impact and benefit.

 

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
Connect with Scott on Google+

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

Spring Forward Monday® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company


Note that this is a rewrite of the article on SFM that we published in 2017. If anything, there are even more research showing that the idea of doing things differently will have multiple positive impacts on people and performance.

 

Collaboration. Team Building. Competition. Empowerment. Servant Leadership.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a team building exercise where tabletops of people should align to the shared goal of optimization of results and mining as much gold as we can. And we are now focusing on how to more tightly link the play of the game with the teaching and implementation of a Servant Leadership type of collaborative supportive leadership model.

Teambuilding and Servant Leadership training

The idea is to be able to disrupt the normal behavioral patterns of individuals and teams to allow them some coachable moments in which to be more involved and engaged and allowing of the support of the leadership team. The norm seems to be that people resist active support, which we also hear in anecdotal comments about the implementation of a Servant Leadership Model within organizations. Building up trust and openness is a difficult endeavor and the exercise helps address that issue.

The basic Dutchman game design allows teams to make choices, define strategies, and collaborate with other teams to share information and resources. Each tabletop makes its own decisions and tends to focus on its own situation, rather than take the bigger picture of how the group can benefit. The sharing tends to be quite restrained.

Generally, we see some collaboration between tabletops but good teamwork within each team. And some tabletops do collaborate while others are focused on that competition and winning, even though that is never a defined outcome for play and those choices sub-optimize results.

Minimized competition directly relates to improved overall outcomes. It is that way in this exercise and in corporate reality. Few corporations excel when internal competition is the reality.

But occasionally, we see a group surprise “The Expedition Leader” and collaborate way more than normal. In that situation and the debriefing, the role of the EL is to capture the positive aspects and quickly spin that into what the group could choose to do differently when back in the workplace.

We are currently focusing on the theme of Servant Leadership as we construct some new spins on the delivery of Lost Dutchman. The tabletop team focus tends to create an us / them (situation, culture, expectancy) whereby the team isolates itself from leadership. There seems to be a desire to operate independently, and that sometimes feels like an adversarial situation where the team will actually ask the leadership to leave them alone!

This framework is for teaching leaders more about the skills, but we will be testing it with actual leaders working with their teams in a real-world mining scenario. The idea is simple:

Get everyone to make better choices and access support to help optimize results.

If you have some ideas for how you would like to see us consider or if you would like more information about how we are approaching this issue through the design of the delivery, please email me,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman and @dutchmangame

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

 

Servant Leadership – Two Great Quotes

My partner sent me two quotes by Max De Pree, who published one of the most excellent books on leadership that I have ever read. Heck, we gave signed copies of it to all of the people in my Leadership Greenville class, which was a really classy thing for him to do. (And, I remember interviewing with Herman Miller because I was so impressed with their company, back a few years after I started Performance Management Company back in 1984.)

So, I got into my powerpoint file of Lost Dutchman LEGO scenes and thought to illustrate them. A team of us are moving forward with our efforts to repackage the exercise to mesh congruently with a full-day training program on Servant Leadership and the kinds of supporting behaviors that are inherent in our exercise.

A ax DePree quote using Square Wheels and teambuilding

and

Max Depree quote on leadership and followers

Working up the links to the approach of improving perceived support of managers and workers and of senior managers with their support staffs is an important part of how we view the focus on collaboration and teamwork in organizations. There is simply too much competition and too many people feeling like losers to really generate collaborative optimization. Mining as much Gold as WE can is the main theme of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

The Servant Leadership model offers us some solid links and we are moving forward with this packaging framework,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

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

 

Is it teamwork that falls flat in most organizations?

My friend Brian Remer posted up a short article he entitled, “Two Team Elements for Instant Success,” and in it, he writes of the issues of shared Identification and Interdependence. You can see his thoughts on his newsletter.

In it, he says:

A sense of shared Identification refers to the positive ways individual team members relate to one another. The more interests and experiences they have in common, the more affinity they feel to each other. These commonalities can be associated with culture, history, experiences, interests, beliefs, language, and so on. The more unusual the examples of Identification, the stronger the ties within the group are likely to become.

Interdependence refers to the way a team works together to accomplish its goals. Group goals should match individual goals so that the efforts of everyone are integral to team success. The team needs to see the value of being a team; that their work could not have been accomplished by disconnected individual activities; that it makes a difference to be a member of this team.

To foster Interdependence, emphasize cooperation and recognize each team member’s contribution to the shared goal. Provide opportunities for the team to work together and be successful. Talk about the importance of their efforts and describe how their goal could not have been accomplished without every person’s input.


I think Brian makes good points. But I also think that this thinking is somewhat short-sighted and narrow when applied to an organization, which tends to be my focus. Sure, teamwork is important within a workgroup, but I also think that these two dynamics only work with small groups. That is the focus of his writing, work teams, but it should not be the focus of organizational leadership.

A Transaction:

With an old consulting friend who is now internal and senior with a large bank’s leadership development organization, I just shipped her my Professional Version of my team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. She has a session planned for tomorrow, so getting her the materials to her quickly was important.

THREE MONTHS AGO, we started positioning the sale with Purchasing. She had the approvals and the requisite information. I sent my details, tax structure, etc. And nothing… A week ago, I shipped her all the materials. I am STILL not set up as a vendor and they have NOT paid me for the exercise.

She has emailed and called Accounts Payable a number of times over the past months, and they finally sent her forms that she forwarded to me on Friday, including a number of materials relevant for non-US companies, a registration for sales of personal services, a non-vendor payee for direct deposit, a minority business registration, and yes, a W-9. She simply wants to purchase a GAME, with no personal services or related. It has a fixed price and I am the sole-source vendor.

After three months, no one is Payables has contacted me, even though I “registered” on Saturday with them and they have had my email address for months. It certainly feels like they are treating me (and her) as adversaries, even though all she wanted to do is buy a team building exercise that she had used for years with her former company. Ironic, huh? But it is actually not that uncommon, from my past experiences. There are many adversarial dynamics in large companies.

It is this common lack of collaboration between her training and development organization and different groups within the bank that reaffirms that:

Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron.

And it is that kind of choice and focus that causes a great deal of lost productivity and friction. She HAS the authorization from her boss to purchase the materials, and they have the budget. But a group like Purchasing plays its own games and focuses on its own processes to even actively block other groups from being productive. WHY?

My Big View says that the top managers are more likely to be competitive more than collaborative. Departments compete against each other as much as they work together to get things done.

The irony is that we clearly smoke this out using Lost Dutchman, the exercise she is trying to purchase, Dutchman gives teams the opportunity to collaborate with each other to optimize the overall results. It is about a shared focus on, “Mining as much Gold as WE can,” with “we” meaning the group, and not each tabletop.

The tabletops play great. There are seldom issues of shared Identification and Interdependence in how they plan and play. They bond up right away and operate reasonably effectively together. They process and handle the transactions pretty well. Their teamwork is good and it happens fast because of the nature of the challenge they face. It is this choice of working with the OTHER teams that is always the issue — and the real opportunity that is available for performance improvement of the entire organization.

Brian is right, but it is small group thinking. The bigger context of how organizations really work would suggest that shared organizational visions and goals, that are clearly understood and evidenced in organizational behavior, that are the keys to real teamwork and collaboration.

And maybe my friend needs to do some sessions that involve these Accounting people along with other departmental leaders and managers. It would probably have a wide variety of impacts on overall performance results,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

 

 

 

Branding, Change, Marketing and Square Wheels

We sell simple tools for communications and engagement and have been doing it now for 25 years. We had a consistent brand image for 20+ but then decided to shift and now we are faced with the perplexing problem of shifting again. I am guessing that this is a common problem but also asking for some perspective and dialog, since what we do is about communications and engagement. (Can you see the paradox there?)

Stay tuned if you want to receive a free engagement toolkit!

My trademark is Square Wheels®. And started out using this image as an engagement and development tool in the context of,

“How might this illustration represent
how organizations really work?”

The original image, with so little context, works wonderfully as a Rorschach test, in that people projected their beliefs onto it and the responses from a group of people were pretty amazingly diverse and creative. It always worked to generate great ideas about issues of the things that did not work smoothly and the Round Wheels that already existed and could be implemented. The year was 1993 and the image looked like this:

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of PMC and © 119.This wagon rolled forward for a LOT of years and lots of miles, with me presenting sessions in almost 40 countries and initially selling transparency-based books and then powerpoint illustrations as toolkits for change, motivation, etc. It got me to be known as, The Square Wheels Guy.

But more recently, things happened and we started shifting over to using LEGO® blocks and Technics people to represent the themes and ideas, creating various scenes and frameworks that continues today and have moved into our other product designs and toolkits that continue to evolve.

Those images and scenes anchor to the same metaphor but represent themselves this way:

Square Wheels One LEGO image by Scott SimmermanAnd we think this is a big improvement. The goal of showing the image is to generate active involvement and diverse thinking about how things work and what things might be done differently. The key points are quite obvious and people project their thoughts about their workplaces onto the visual.

These conversations around what it might represent as an organizational reality tend to focus on people, engagement, active involvement, innovation, leadership, motivation and similar. They are about issues, opportunities and implementation. They are about innovation and best practices and collaborative dis-un-engagement.

And we package a number of very simple toolkits as well as an online course so that supervisors and team leaders can learn facilitation skills. We have also used the LEGO scenes to create some stop-motion videos, which are easy to do and which would be much harder with line art.

This is NOT rocket science, to show an image and generate a discussion. It is a powerful but elegantly simple tool to generate real discussions about perceived workplace issues.

In our efforts to broaden exposure, we engaged with an organization to sell an Icebreaker toolkit around this theme to their customer base, which is different than mine but very congruent. It is a framework for collaboration and co-marketing that seems to have no downside.

As the two companies discussed this Icebreaker possibility, her staff came up with the idea of using a different representation of the Square Wheels® theme and suggested using an image that looked like this:

An alternative version of Square Wheels OneSo, I am faced with a marketing decision with a variety of factors.

  • Does the above image represent an improvement or is it simply a dilution of my intellectual property?
  • Is the image itself going to generate better discussions about organizational reality and issues and opportunities, since it IS a very different scenario and has different features.
  • Is the last image going to get the positive reactions from discussion participants like the first two does?

And another set of questions:

  • If you were to change the latter image, how would you change it to improve its effect in generating engagement and ideas?
  • Which image do you personally prefer and why?

Your thoughts on the above would be most appreciated, and if you share a useful informative considered opinion or idea as a comment, I will send you a free toolkit to play with,

 

For the FUN of It!

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

© Performance Management Company, 1993 – 2017. All Rights Reserved.
PMC has no affiliation or relationship with The LEGO® Group®

Please Note: The offer of a free Square Wheels Toolkit is limited to the first twenty (20) people who share a relevant and useful comment about the image dilemma and its resolution.

 

 

“It makes sense to us” – Thoughts on disengagement and customer service quality

A trip to the library should be enlightening, and I read a lot of books so I go at least twice a month. I usually have my card and the transaction process for checkout works fine. That is unless you bang up into a dis-engaged person running a rigid transaction processing system that is NOT customer oriented.

I had a book on reserve that had a pickup deadline and I was returning that day from a camping trip, pretty scruffy as well as somewhat disorganized, but certainly relaxed. Then I made the mistake in thinking that just because I was a regular customer to this small branch, the transactions could be accomplished without my library card.

I thus went into the library with:

  • a book checked out in my name (it was a science book – who reads those?)
  • a book reserved on the shelf with my name
  • no wallet, it being temporarily lost among all my camping gear that was on the floor of the garage, so no picture ID or library card.

So, could we simply do this transaction? Nope. I was required to have a picture ID. They said that someone could have stolen the book I was returning to pretend they were me so that they could steal a book that no one would know that I had reserved. (That somehow made sense to them and I guess there must be a big black market in stolen library books by friends of people who get books from the local library that I am unaware of.)

They also call this their Privacy Policy, as if there was some aspect of my personal privacy that they were protecting.

And when I asked them to comment about the policy, one that focuses only processing and handling transactions and not on helping customers, one of them said that they like it as it is and that, “It makes sense to us.”

(The library management, BTW, drives the policy and the supervisor was no more helpful than the clerk. Even showing her a picture of my mother’s driving license (Mom is 98 and does not drive, but her ID is valid) and with the same last name was not sufficient to indicate my probable personal identity, nor was the fact that my phone list shows “OWNER – Scott Simmerman” as the first entry in the numbers and it requires my thumbprint to even open the phone!)

Image of customer dissatisfaction policy

“It makes sense to us!'”

Really? Does that process make sense to customers? I mean, what is my exposure here from a privacy standpoint? The Federal Government set up a commission that is demanding the states release voter names and social security numbers and addresses and voting affiliations and voting history to supposedly prevent future in-person voter fraud (which exists in a tiny percentage) but my LIBRARIAN is going to protect by privacy by not lending out a reserved book in my name without a picture ID?

How would any potential thief even know that the requested book was in my name on the shelf? And some internal thief could certainly just take the book and walk out if the marketplace was that lucrative for stolen library books, right?

Solution:

A simple solution is that the leadership of the library would be to get the clerks to improve their service by calling the customers by name.

I see the person that cuts my hair a lot less than my library visits and THEY always call me by name… That is a fairly common thing and positive thing for organizations with a small customer base and repeat customers.

The team should realize that some reasonable security is important, but that some judgement can also apply. I just put a picture of my drivers’ license on my phone (there was one on there but with 30,000 images, I simply could not find it quickly). And, I am asking each clerk to repeat back my account number when I check out a book. I am thinking of testing the system again without a proper ID…

The leadership should allow their people to act with judgement and sort through the situation logically and allow intelligent and reasonable deviations from their policies, procedures, rules and regulations. They could have asked me for some history of what I had borrowed in the past, or my address or phone. But they made NO attempt to think through how I might be verified. They simply said NO.

The library is not the DMV, where people might be trying to get fake IDs. It is The Library! They have books and tapes, not jewelry or gold coins. Nobody is trying to really steal from them, are they?

The leadership could CHOOSE to do things differently and the management could dis-un-empower the clerks to deal with their taxpaying customers in a bit more friendly way.They should not have stupid, inflexible systems that frustrate their taxpaying customers or their employees.

I am also publishing a short letter on this in the local newspaper, since I cannot be the only person this has happened to and we DO pay for their books, building and salaries, right?

I also came back to this and redid the graphic just a little. They really DO need to have some Disruptive Engagement and arrive at a  better customer service quality standard. Processing and handling transactions is NOT service quality, meeting expectations actually defines it. Managers need to have policies that empower people to make good decisions, not simply defend a bad policy!

positive disruptive engagement and customer service empwerment

 

For the FUN of It!

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

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

 

 

 

Positive Disruptive Employee Engagement for Innovation and Motivation

It is funny, if you google the word DISRUPTIVE, most of the associated descriptive links will be on negative things and that the main positive framework is the link to Disruptive Innovation, where it spins around to be The Good Thing.

When I use the term, “Disruptive Engagement,” many people’s’ first reactions seem to be that it must mean chaos and that chaos is bad. On the other hand, what we are framing is the positive aspect of active employee involvement that will be generated from the bottoms up, from the interactions and ideas of workers and supervisors. Disruptive impacts are on the corporate control and management systems that are generally working against engagement.

 

Let me reframe that:

Positive Disruptive Employee Engagement will actually translate to active involvement, intrinsic motivation, facilitative behavior by supervisors and managers, and a broad swath of innovation from a wide variety of hands-on perspectives. If you will step back from your organizational wagon, you are likely to identify Best Practices.

Best Practices are those things that a few people are actually doing that makes them exemplary performers. Some people are exemplary performers because — wait for it… They do things differently than everybody else!

Translating to my lexicon, exemplary performers generally use Round Wheels in a world full of Square ones. They choose to do things differently. They have developed a more efficient or more effective ways to do things. Often, they break — sorry, BEND — the existing rules, policies and procedures to do things #morebetterfaster than other people. And the absolutely crazy thing is that most managers are not really sure what these performers actually do. And few other workers ever bother to try to model those behaviors and actions and processes.

Those old Square Wheels® continue to thump and bump, predictably and safely unless we decide to look about doing things differently. People cannot make different choices if they do not have considered alternatives, and those will not come from sitting around doing the same old, same old. The need is for perspective, along with a desire to do things differently, which comes from cognitive dissonance.

illustrated quote of Leonardo da Vinci using Square Wheels

Recognize that we need to actively search for opportunities for improvement and better ideas, and not just sit around expecting things to change because someone else will change them.

If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?

“If it is to be, it is up to me,” should be the mantra of all supervisors everywhere, along with the recognition that there is NOT going to be a lot of help from elsewhere to get things done, to motivate people or to make the improvements that are necessary to continue the innovation and productivity improvement prospects. Supervisors are pretty much on their own when it comes to people development and process improvement and motivation in most organizations.

What I am proposing here is for people to step back from the wagon and look at how things are working and what possibilities exist. Supervisors can ask the questions and listen for the ideas, proposing that people consider different alternatives and choices in what they do.

But the ideas come from the people and are not simply more stuff rolling downhill from somewhere else. The supervisor facilitates, rather than lectures. The participants discuss their issues of possibilities, fear of risk-taking, problems of implementation and the issues surrounding peer support and teamwork.

The ideas are around changing perceptions about possibilities and about shared learning around choices. The skills needed are straightforward and focus on asking for ideas, asking for commitment and asking about progress as things roll forward. Problems are around generating active ownership of the improvement ideas and managing actual and perceived roadblocks to implementation.

Can’t we all just work together to get things done?

 

For the FUN of It!

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss on Disruptive Engagement

Even Dr. Seuss would understand about the issues and opportunities around the positive impacts of supervisors leading more active involvement to make impacts on people and performance. The data are simply so clear that people DO have ideas for improvement but that no one in the organization facilitates the process of capturing those ideas. Thus, there are large gaps in innovation and quality and productivity because possibilities simply are not realized.

I’ve blogged elsewhere about the general idea of Disruptive Engagement but I thought that one image, simplifying to the stupidly understandable level, might generate some actual thinking about choices and doing things differently! (grin)

The Square Wheels Project Dr. Seuss framework

People have ideas for improvement, the Round Wheels are already in the wagon. But they interact with their supervisors, who generally choose to NOT do things differently because of risk or time or task interference or the lack of collaboration from other departments. “I’m here from Human Resources to help you,” is such a “reality joke” in so many places because they are structurally unable to help, too.

If things are going to improve, it is going to be the people who choose to improve things. And it is going to come from increased collaboration and alignment to shared goals. Do some effective team building (see why I hate outdoor activities)!

Facilitate Dis-UN-engagement and Dis-UN-empowerment with your people by choosing to actively involve them in some workplace improvement activities. Visit The Square Wheels Project for some simple tools and support,

 

For the FUN of It!

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com


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

 

Facilitation, Learning and Motivation: The Supervisor

Networking and Idea Sharing are keys to generating considered alternatives and there are a LOT of ideas about impacting people and performance when people start thinking together and sharing perspectives and support. My thought was to write about workplace applications of this idea.

A couple of good email conversations got me moving again on this issue of Supervisor as Facilitator and how little downside there seems to be to that concept of them being idea encouragers or coaches. This is really a main part of their jobs, yet one where we do not seem to be supporting them with skill training or with tools.

Who but the Supervisor can motivate the workers?

One of the email threads developed the idea that people hate training, which a bunch of us jumped on pretty hard in the conversation. There does not seem to be any data to support this idea that I could find, but it is true that a lot of training is wasted in training that has no visible impact or result. And a lot of people do not want to GO to training simply because there is no ROI for it in their view. Not a lot of training is something that people really want to just jump into, for a lot of reasons. “You are going to a training program” is often met with the comment, “Why? What did I do wrong?”

Some of the training is off-target and irrelevant or totally boring, done by people with good intentions but who are not SMEs (subject matter experts) or who do not have hands-on experience in the issues (it would be like me doing time management training or sales training or teaching people how to speak English!).

A lot of trainees either see little relevance of that training to their work or career or that the new things learned will not be supported in the workplace. Past experience can be tough to overcome. And the reality is that the work generally piles up when people are gone.

And sometimes training might cause people to feel like they are being appraised and tested, or that they will be potentially embarrassed when trying to put those new behaviors into real play in their workplace. I think the phrase might be “fear of constructive criticism” or some such thing.

And is it really a training need? Can they do it if you gave them $500 or put a gun to their head? So, are supervisors the trainers or simply the coaches and the people doing the followup to install the desired behaviors?

So, it should be obvious that supervisors should be trainers but also coaches and supporters, especially as training through LMS and smartphones becomes more and more the norm. Supervisors should be mentors and performance coaches, supporting the small changes in behavior that result in more small changes in behavior, something we call incremental improvement (or reality!).

Who but the Supervisor can implement training?

Supervisors can also address The Fear Factor that so commonly affects workers and workplaces. My colleague Dan Stones has addressed that here, for example. Fear is the Mindkiller, and supervisors are absolutely the best people to address those issues and impact their workplaces. We need to do things differently!

But what about the fear within the supervisor for doing something differently? Who but their manager is going to support them as they try new things and do things differently? Human Resources? And who supports them if they make a mistake?

Fear a Square Wheels image

So who is going to do this serious human resource development (training, facilitation and engagement) in the workplaces and what outcomes do we expect? What tasks and commitments do we remove or eliminate to free up the time to do the coaching and mentoring? What current systems and processes are we going to have to disrupt to make new behaviors appear both on the shop floor and among the management team?

So, the question you need to ask is what needs to be done differently to really impact people and performance in your organization? Our management team generally has a good perspective in how organizational change is accomplished. For many based on what people report about their experiences, it looks something like this:

Supervisory Skills Training, before and after

We can make the choices to really do things differently. Will We?

Square Wheels Responsibility for Implementation

PMC has some simple tools that can support your improvement initiatives. Check out The Square Wheels Project or investigate our team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. But more than anything else, look at what needs to fundamentally change within your management team to allow people to make improvements,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. 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.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

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

 

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