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

Category: Articles on Teamwork Page 1 of 14

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

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine goes online / virtual

This week, we will see an operational ONLINE version of our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. First developed as a board game in 1993 and sold and delivered globally, we have been working with a software development company to bring the same dynamics of play generated in face-to-face game deliveries into a mode that allows for remote players to engage in collaboration, strategic planning and fun as they put together their plan to Mine as Much Gold as We Can!

 

As more and more companies get back to a more normal operational framework, we will continue to sell and support our board game versions for groups of 3, 4 and 6 tabletops of six players each. We will also continue to sell our Professional Edition which allows for basically unlimited numbers of tabletops.

Lost Dutchman – Virtual is designed to operate with pods of 6 teams, with up to 4 players per team. It will play on the common browser platforms and have extensive communications capabilities for collaboration between the players on a team, between the teams, and between the pod Facilitator and everyone.

For those people who already facilitate the exercise, this online version should be a nice addition to your team building toolkit. Play will be very similar to what you already like and the learning curve for operation will be quick. For those new to the game, you can expect extensive online training and support materials, plus live support from our team (including my son and me).

Jeff Simmerman has been driving this forward. He has applied his online game playing experience over the past two decades to the look and feel of the virtual version. I should also note that he first helped me deliver the game at age 12, so he knows it really well. Jeff fully understands all aspects of play and design and has developed the exercise so that all of our extensive library of debriefing questions still apply. So, if you have a solid debriefing already packaged, you will be pleased to know that you can most likely continue to use that same focus, only without the players needing to be in one room!

We are not quite ready for our network of users to access the exercise, but we are moving fast-forward as best we can. Much of the distribution and execution of the licensing will be through our long-term colleagues at The TEAM Approach. We are also finalizing our agreement with our long-term Japanese associates, WorkHappiness, to bring their Zipangu version (LDGM reset into Japan) of LDV online and to support their use of LDV.

If you have any thoughts or questions, send us an email,

For the FUN of It!–

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

Scott@SquareWheels.com

– Tools, games and presentation materials at
<www.performancemanagementcompany.com>

 

“Why are team-building activities conducted?” – An answer to a Quora Post

This question was asked in Quora, where I posted up a response. Your thoughts?

The Big Answer is “organizational improvement.” That can take the focus on improving collaboration to impact innovation or creativity or customer service or similar. It can take the focus of re-aligning (or aligning, even) people toward shared goals and objectives, missions and visions and that sort of thing. And different events can help people focus on optimizing performance results.

In many organizations, “interdepartmental collaboration” is an oxymoron, in that the objectives of different groups within an organization are often adversarial, since they tend to have opposing or at least different goals and objectives, measurements and rewards.

A well-designed team BUILDING initiative can accomplish a lot, and get people moving in the same direction. It is NOT the solution, though, since there are lots of cultural issues that might need to be addressed. In most organizations, there are good individual rewards for good performance, which do not generally drive collaboration, communications and teamwork.

Team BUILDING is also quite different than team BONDING. You can build bonds by going out drinking together or to a strip club (I jest, but one does see such events posted in Twitter with a hashtag of #teambuilding!) or by having fun events and get-togethers. You would be hard-pressed to find those things having any impact on measurable results, however.

A good team building exercise with a good supporting framework for post-event improvement can do a lot to impact motivation and results. Check out, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” to see one example of how an event can be structured for organizational improvement.

My thought was to share a simple framework around the goals of accomplishing some real team building around shared missions, visions, goals and behavior. Increasing collaboration between departments is a very high impact behavior that can be accomplished.

A focus on improving teamwork and better aligning people in organizations to shared goals and missions has many positive impacts. After all, the goal should be, “To mine as much gold as WE can!”

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

Teamwork: Things Can All Play Out with Everyone Being Comfortable!

You Don’t Have to Build, Shoot, Cook, Find Things, Find A Way Out, Be Physically Challenged or Be a Loser, Sing, or Even Be Especially Clever! You Don’t Even Have to Sit Still Unless You Want To!

The above points can all be true, however, given today’s climate for sensationalizing corporate adventures and team building scenarios, too many people are placed in situations that lead to personal discomfort and feelings of inadequacy, thereby creating scenarios that do not lead to organizational improvement or improve team effectiveness.

And why? What necessitates overdoing something that could so much more easily be handled with care and consideration for everyone’s comfort while also creating a fun and solid learning experience? Why not simply create a fun environment that supports teamwork and performance improvement? Why test individuals in a team building environment?

Learning happens best when people feel secure and the challenges presented are within their abilities. Of course, pushing people beyond what they think they can do may build confidence if they succeed, but this isn’t a necessary option for strengthening organizational culture or building a more collaborate workplace.

Thirty years ago, I was intrigued by a team building game for organizations that offered both fun and learning all done within a tabletop setting. This is the kind of stuff most of us grew up with—board games. Seeing this as a unique and purposeful learning tool, I enthusiastically became the first USA facilitator / seller for it.  However, with repeated developmental deliveries, I quickly realized that their game design fell short of reaching the full potential that I felt it could fulfill.

This is how The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise came to be because after suggesting to the creators of the game that I was representing, that it needed more substance and a better design within in order to create that all important “ah ha!” that happens when a connection is made from one thing to another, they refused to make changes to their game. (more)

Recognizing the strength and inherent qualities of using a boardgame as an organizational learning tool, I began my journey with the designing and continuous continuous improvement of Dutchman. I wanted it to be the memorable game that I knew would work not only as a pleasurable experience but also one designed with the proper mechanics so that players would understand how their game behaviors and outcomes align with what happens in their workplace.

Now, all these decades later, Dutchman still remains a relevant and universally appreciated approach to getting people away from their workplace so that they can experience camaraderie, an engaging challenge, teamwork, group and leadership dynamics, competition and collaboration factors, strategic planning and elements of communication that happen though the play of a compelling game. (user survey) Its dynamic debriefing, however, is what truly makes Dutchman loved and trusted by our users because it gives participants insight into how their behaviors are crucial to organizational and personal change and improvement.

Our users love Dutchman. Many have run it for dozens of years
for a variety of developmental purposes.

Yes, lots of people enjoy the great outdoors and various types of challenges that offer a different twist from their day-to-day experiences, but the beauty of a game like Dutchman is that it doesn’t put people in a compromising position should they feel unsafe or unfit or too old to enjoy what is put in front of them. Everyone has played board games and while Dutchman would be described as much more than just a game, it is a more familiar setting than climbing ropes, shooting arrows, walking over hot coals or being locked in an escape room. And, it’s an easy bombproof tool to set up and deliver, as it includes all the instructions and ideas that will make it successful. You can even use your own personnel to facilitate the game!

A quick overview of Dutchman:

  • Everything needed is included in the game materials (you may wish to add your own props for décor to the room)
  • No need for participants to bring special clothing or equipment for the game
  • No physical challenges will be placed on anyone
  • Total time required for Dutchman introduction, play and debriefing is about 3.5 hours
  • No teams lose or die in this game; it’s about optimizing for the best outcome
  • The debriefing is flexible and can be designed to address specific issues or ideas
  • It’s inexpensive to run and can be either rented or purchased
  • Dutchman plays with any size group from 8 to 800+
  • It’s a valuable investment in organizational improvement

And, quite simply, it creates a feel-good-for-all learning experience for your organization without jeopardizing anyone’s comfort zone!

Here is the last bit: We FULLY support you in your purchase or rental of the exercise. You get unlimited free help through emails or calls to reach the point where you feel comfortable in running the exercise and focused with your key debriefing themes and targeted desired outcomes. Actually, we wish more of our users would talk with us, something that our very extensive included support materials seems to preclude.

Your goal is to, “Mine as much as WE can!
Our goal is to, “Make teams optimally successful.”

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

 

Senior Managers SHOULD Deliver Team Building Programs

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (LDGM) was designed to allow the Expedition Leadership, the people delivering the game, to act very congruently with game’s goals and shared values.  User feedback says it accomplishes that elegantly and that Dutchman is the best leadership game on collaboration that exists in the world. Our initial design thinking was that untrained managers should be able to deliver the exercise because their choices in how to support it would be logical and straightforward based on the goals and the rules for play. They explain the rules (through powerpoint), allow teams to plan, support the play and then debrief around player and team behavior, performance, collaboration and engagement themes.

Generating real organizational change or aligning people to the new company strategies is always an issue – how does one generate real involvement and alignment and ownership among the management team and then among all of the key performers? Active involvement and engagement and understanding along with clear discussions about past and future choices for changes and behaviors is what generates impact and value.

The Design Idea:

  • Deliver a session as a team building event for the senior managers, knowing that you will need 3 of them for each 60 people in the main event. Debrief as to their group issues as seen in the play and then define their desired outcomes for the large event.
  • Spend 10 minutes on explaining the need for congruent behavior during game delivery, what constitutes how they operate to help teams be successful.
  • Spend 30 minutes on how to “bank” the game, how to process the transactions of each team each day.
  • Spend 20 minutes on how to “lead” the game from the floor, how to function as a co-expedition leader during the play of the main event itself, giving help, selling teams on the idea of getting a video, etc.

The idea is to allow the exercise to be used by managers with their people, to clarify the real goals and visions and to enable people to play as they should perform in daily work and to model desired leadership behaviors. It is great to have a presenter (trainer or consultant) deliver the game but so much more can be achieved when this is done by someone on the management team.

Note that we offer a very low-cost and fully-supported rental version of our Dutchman game for one-time use with large events. Contact us for more details.

Lost Dutchman is one of the truly great team building exercises, and one that works well with really large groups. My largest session is 600 people, but Wipro in India reported running a delivery with 870 people in one room at one time — and with a solid debriefing linked to their specific issues and opportunities. The exercise scales up nicely, needing only 3 people for each 60 participants. And, if the managers are actually demonstrating their active support for the lessons being learned and leading in a manner congruent with improving collaboration and teamwork, there are even more positive outcomes.Behavior changes when we can change behavior; people’s beliefs and attitudes will become congruent with the choices they make and what they do. Getting senior managers to collaborate will improve collaboration.

 

Generating real organizational change or aligning people to company strategies is a common organizational issue – how does one generate active involvement, understanding and alignment among the management team and cascade that to the key performers?

Delivering a large group team building event using the Dutchman exercise actually represents a unique and unparalleled opportunity to build executive teamwork:

  • Senior managers generally love challenges, and what better challenge than having them learn to facilitate a program that generates alignment of their own people toward the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Senior managers often “talk team,” but they operate their own groups in a way to isolate them from real inter-organizational collaboration. We hear the term “silo” enough to know that it represents real organizational reality. So putting them into a situation where their teamwork together is required for effectiveness makes it easier to get these behaviors down the road. Working as a team generates teamwork, especially when there is followup and discussion about the impacts.
The image is called "My Team, My Team, My Team." You can see why...

The image is called “My Team, My Team, My Team.” You can see why…

  • Instead of some unknown people running around during a facilitated event, why not have managing managers walking the talk and supporting teamwork and sharing resources and behaving congruently?

In the Dutchman exercise, the expressed goal is, “To mine as much gold as we can and to generate an optimal Return on Investment.”

We get the managers aligned and congruent with the above as part of the game and as part of the debriefing on what changes need to be made to impact and optimize organizational results.

Dutchman was designed to be easy to facilitate — As part of my initial thinking about how it should play, I did not want my company to need a staff of people to do licensing or certification nor did I want to make the exercise too hard for players to understand. I also wanted non-training people (managers) to be able to deliver the game — we have had many line managers run the exercise over the years with great success. (You can see 30+ testimonials by clicking on the image below.)

A testimonial on The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold MineDutchman has had 25+ years of polishing Dutchman to make it into a very straightforward team building program. It is easy to prepare for and to deliver, with minimal surprises.

Dr. Scott Simmerman facilitating team building gameThis design gives me the ability to put my executive coaching hat on, debriefing them with the goal of improving the senior leadership teamwork with real purpose. It also enables me to run really large groups with only ME being required for delivery.

Imagine the staffing needs to run a typical experiential exercise for 300 people versus the ability to deliver a senior manager team building session plus the large teambuilding event with only my active involvement and participation. Simplicity and effectiveness!

We generate a much higher likelihood of behavioral change and implementation of organizational improvement after the event, since the managers have a really powerful hands on collaborative experience in working with each other to maximize the results of the event itself.

The debriefing of that senior manager session focusing on discussing the kinds of behaviors these senior managers would like to see from the people at the large event helps tie things together. The focus on the shared missions and visions and the generation of alignment to goals, objectives and expectations becomes quite clear. This can be done internally or with a trusted outside facilitator or coach. We can support many different scenarios.

Having these real Senior Managers in this game delivery role is a perfect leadership learning lesson on how to implement change and support high performance. One cannot simply TALK about what leaders and players should be doing; they have to behave consistently and congruently to actually generate results.

I hope that this framework has been informative and helpful.

We sell the Dutchman game directly to end users looking for a high-impact, low cost training tool and it comes in different versions for different size groups. We deliver the game to companies wanting outside facilitation. And, we rent the game for one-time use.Rent The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game

Have more FUN out there!

Why is “Lost Dutchman” such a great team building exercise?

Active involvement generates ownership, and it is generally true that

Nobody ever washes a rental car.

So, if you are looking to generate commitment to change and to have better alignment to shared goals and a higher level of collaboration among work teams and departments, then it makes sense to use a business simulation to drive organizational improvement, right? And, we are not talking about some lightweight team bonding kind of activity that has little or no real connection to the workplace or that will have no measurable impact.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine was first released back in 1993 and since that time, it has proven itself to be one of the very best team building exercises in the world. Unlike so many other “team building activities” out there that are fun and interesting but that do not link well to organizational development and real change, the Dutchman game focuses on measured results and rewards the tabletops for planning and executing actions connected to optimizing impacts.

Tabletop teams can choose to gather information or collaborate with other teams and share resources and do the front-end work that leads to optimal outcomes. Or, they can choose to compete and work on their own. (Which of these would generate the best outcome in your organization?)

The design of the game is elegant and the behaviors that are generated are seen to reflect the actual operating cultures of the organization. The introduction, planning and play take less than two hours, leading to powerful and realistic debriefing discussions focused on actual issues and opportunities.

Game materials are sold at a one-time cost, with no required train-the-trainer or certification or annual licensing, making it a great package to incorporate into on-boarding kinds of events or for integration into leadership development or management training opportunities.

Plus, it is a really great exercise for events needing to get people talking about best practices or other kinds of approaches to optimize and implement organizational improvements.

Contact us if you would like more information. We have users of the simulation working on themes of strategy implementation, innovation and workplace creativity, selfless leadership and a wide variety of different kinds of developmental work.

Dutchman is but one of the amazing active experiential learning tools supported by me,

For the FUN of It!

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

 

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

Strengthening Fellowship for a Healthy Workplace

Fellowship can be defined as that friendly feeling that happens among people who are joined for a common purpose. While many people may think of this in terms of their church, synagogue or temple, it should be considered a crucial element of workplace happiness and engaged employees.

Healthy workplaces happen when people are able to enjoy working together in an environment that builds camaraderie and supports the addressing of problems, finding new solutions, trying out new strategies and celebrating successes. Fellowship, therefore, fits right in as a cornerstone of workplace health and happiness.

You’ll find many suggestions for creating a healthy workplace but at PMC, we’ve enjoyed watching how our team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, strengthens fellowship as people spend time together, share a fun and unique experience, work towards a common goal and enjoy being away from a typical day at the office. And, that includes the healthy aspect of getting away from the technology and screens encountered each day!

Energize teamwork with The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building exercise

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise is an experiential interactive board game that delivers an additional valuable team-based insights and discussions through its hands-on play. Players learn about collaboration, communications, strategic planning, leadership and other enriching information in an unforgettable way and the game structure allows for powerful business-improvement oriented debriefing discussions. It works exceptionally well with very large groups.

People play in team tabletops of 5 or 6 and there is energy, laughter, discussion, decision-making, movements, understanding and learning taking place during the game play and from its powerful debriefing session.

What are you waiting for? 

You’ll find that Dutchman is surprisingly reasonable regarding cost and planning time. You can either Rent or Purchase the exercise depending upon what works best for your situation. Another plus is that you can facilitate the game in-house, yourself, for any size group, without the need to hire a master presenter.

People love a non-threatening change of pace and research shows that fellowship and playing games improves physical and mental health, lowers stress and blood pressure, produces endorphins and boosts our immune system. Set up a fun and beneficial learning environment and increase fellowship and motivation with The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. It’s been used, worldwide, for over two decades and remains just as appreciated and relevant today as it was originally.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman

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

See my newest teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
P
oems and performance haiku at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.S


Best Value for Big Team Building Event Simulation

This is about RENTING the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise for a single large event. It has to be the Best Value Ever for such a situation.

Collaboration and Teambuilding with LDGM


It is common for my network of users to run highly interactive experiential team building events with very large groups of 200 people or more. Presenters purchasing Dutchman have the goal of doing events over time and making money from supporting performance improvement initiatives and we have supported people in this business for 25 years.

Dutchman is one of the very best games on Earth focused on organizational culture change through collaboration and alignment to shared goals and visions. It is a game designed for debriefing, with measured results and outcomes focused on optimization of overall results. (We have user surveys that are highly supportive of this view.)

We designed it to scale up for large groups and events from the very beginning, for it to be very straightforward to deliver and debrief and to generate significant positive outcomes.

Originally developed in 1993, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise has been polished and fine-tuned to generate active involvement and alignment to key issues around leadership, teamwork and communications, with a major focus on collaboration between teams.

It has developed into a very unique program, delivered worldwide by consultants and trainers, some of whom have run more than 30,000 people through the exercise or who have used it for more than 20 years.

I will share some links to user-generated video testimonials at the end. What I wanted to accomplish here is to show you why the RENTAL of this exercise would make very good sense for your next large team building event. This is a full-blown business simulation with measured results and exceptionally clear debriefing frameworks unlike most things in the marketplace. This is something that YOU can deliver with our free support; the reality is that few people who get our delivery and support materials find it necessary to contact me for free support, which I would prefer they do so I can confirm some details. And it IS free! 

You will not be able to approach the low cost or the high likely impacts of such an event on the culture of your organization and the links to themes of alignment to shared values or to strategy implementations and communications.

This is fun, and easy to deliver. But it is an extraordinarily powerful team building event, one that can change the levels of collaboration within large organizations.

Why rent the game?

  • Very LOW per-participant costs as viewed against the marketplace
  • Very HIGH probability of reaching your desired outcomes of improving teamwork
  • Very HIGH likelihood of any negative outcomes or problems from a very controllable timeline for delivery and environmental issues.
  • There is no need to hire an outside facilitator and it is often better when one of your actual leaders plays the role of Expedition Leader.
  • There is no certification fee or licensing fee or per participant costs and ALL the necessary training materials are included with the rental, plus there is free direct support from ME, the developer of the exercise!
  • There are no long-term obligations or annual fees, but you DO have the option to purchase a version of the exercise for future use at a discounted fee.

The Benefits of Playing with a large group

  • Very few simulations support large groups of people and are easy to deliver
  • There are no “winners” and every team’s results count toward the goal of, “mining as much Gold as WE can.
  • Just as there are no winners, there are also no losers. Each and every team contributes to the overall results (as they do in the real world) and all the teams are engaged and have fun. These factors make the debriefing more engaging and all players are much more likely to be actively involved in tabletop and group discussions.
  • Some teams are more successful than others and you can talk about the underlying reasons for those successes as well as question them as to why they chose not to help some of the underperforming teams. It is a realistic but extraordinarily powerful dynamic for workplace improvement.
  • Debriefing is structured for tabletop discussions around issues and opportunities, and there can be sharing of key ideas if desired.
  • Ideas about improvements and implementation are a natural part of the discussion process and these ideas can easily be incorporated into strategic and communications plans.
  • Teams very often do not ask for any help or assistance of the Expedition Leadership team, which is a fundamental reality in most organizations. It is a really good connection to issues like Selfless Leadership and to overall organizational cultures. We generally want players to ask the leadership team when they can benefit by that help, right?

Here is a matrix offering prices — yes, we do publish actual prices! — and some thoughts on needed support based on number of tabletops of 6 people each.

Costs and staffing requirements to rent The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

If you are running a large program, we can also support that. Our preference would be that you have already played through a delivery. Often, for very large deliveries, we will run an exercise specifically for the senior leadership team as a planning and team building program. Those senior managers then form the basis of your delivery team for your larger session. You can give them special white hats and all those kinds of things that increase the likelihood of them following up and implementing the best ideas. You can read more about these ideas in this blog post. We would package and price those frameworks on a special basis, so ask us for details if that represents an opportunity.

The largest delivery for one group at one time in one room was 870 players!

The above chart is for illustrative purposes only, insofar as how to staff the delivery support. The price is inclusive of all necessary delivery materials – you get what you need to deliver the program one time, plus extensive training and support materials. Online and telephone support is free!

Optional accessories like hats and bandannas can be purchased separately.

You are not purchasing the game for continued use and all rights regarding the Intellectual Property remain with Performance Management Company. You are acquiring the materials for a single session (plus any training of support staff) and ALL materials must be returned to PMC immediately after delivery. Purchasing options are also available, since this exercise is outstanding to integrate to ongoing team development and leadership training.

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

The landing page for the rental of Lost Dutchman is here: https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/RENTAL-OF-THE-SEARCH-FOR-THE-LOST-DUTCHMANS-GOLD-MINE-p73093716

View the overview and the details of our survey of LDGM users here:

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine Team Building Exercise – Survey Results

Read about how to actively involve senior managers and the benefits of doing that in this blog:  https://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2015/04/01/engaging-senior-managers-in-large-group-events/

 

 

 

MORE on being “Too Busy” to implement new improvements

GENERALLY, most workers in most organizations will say that management does a pretty poor job of listening to them. And most supervisors feel that their managers generally do a pretty poor job of listening to THEM!

Being as I love using illustrations and images to represent the status quo, this common scenario seemed like a good subject to take on while also reframing some workable solutions.

Let me begin with my friend, Haken Forss’s, development of a LEGO-based scene of an old reality. I ran across his image online a few years ago which led to us having a very influential conversation about our businesses and how we illustrate and communicate.

My works around this started back in 1993 when introducing our illustration called Square Wheels One:

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of PMC and © 119.

We had trademarked Square Wheels® and began using this image, worldwide, featuring it in my presentations and toolkits for facilitation and engagement.

Square Wheels One generated quite solid interactive discussions about workplace improvement and communications and teamwork, so much so that I have a collection of about 300 one-liners from this image alone. It was amazing how well it worked and how well the concept was remembered. It was a simply approach to changing the thinking about people and performance.

At some point, a colleague sent me a warning that my theme was being used illegally and that I should check it out. That began a really fruitful and positive interaction with the consultant (Hakan Forss) who generated this illustration and used it in a blog post:

We're Too Busy to implement improvement

Our conversations led to my using LEGO bricks and figures to represent a wide variety of the line-art scenes and situations that we produced in the over 300 Square Wheels representations drawn by Roy Sabean. And from there, we generated stop-motion animations and a broad variety of poster quotes, poems and haiku.

The anchor point for my thinking has always been people and continuous performance improvement. SO, let me take the image concepts and rampage through some ideas about what might be different in the workplaces of the world.

1 – My first point is that nearly everyone identifies with the Square Wheels One image as a workplace reality. We show it as, “How might this represent what really happens in most organizations?” And very quickly, people and tabletops go from talking about their general perceptions about work and communications and structure into discussing  their perceived issues of lack of vision, continuous un-improvement, and the isolation of wagon pullers from their everyday realities. And it is funny how even very senior managers will often see themselves at the back of the wagon!

People often see themselves as victims of organizational non-progress, maybe.

2 – In Hakan’s image, someone appears with a different solution. But even the pusher at the back rejects this new idea. They and the wagon puller are too invested in the current operation to even consider the possibility of doing something differently. They are simply too busy trying to reach their shared goal of moving forward and “GO AWAY” seems to be the message. “We are NOT interested.”

I think that is a common reaction for many viewers of Hakan’s image. They readily relate to the perceived reality that they, too, are just too busy to consider things.

But is that really reality?

3 – Our initial redo of this idea, using the PMC style of LEGO scenes, looked like this:
Too Busy to Improve original art

We then thought to add the conversational bubbles, but in our view of how things really work in most organizations, the people at the back were NOT resistant to the idea. Maybe this is because in the PMC paradigm of the line-art and the LEGO, they had the cargo of ROUND wheels inside the wagon and were hands on enough to be a bit frustrated with how things were working and with general communications.

We believe that most Round Wheel ideas for performance already exist among the wagon pushers of the world, and that in many workplaces, those exemplary performing wagon pushers are already using round wheels in their Square Wheel world.

4 – Sitting with Joan and playing with powerpoint, our first edit generated this as a reality of perceptions around this scene:Too Busy to make improvements says the boss of Square Wheels

Some person with a new idea suggests it to the manager who is simply too busy to even consider doing something differently. It is not a hostile kind of reaction, just indifferent. This was our first take on a caption, somewhat influenced by Hakan.

But we added one more comment, the “Really” that is coming from one of the wagon pushers. This could be a reaction of disbelief? But one that might not be heard by the wagon pusher.

Maybe.

5 – Some continued reflection and reframing and integrating the image with thinking about people and performance then generated what I think is a more realistic commentary, one where the workers would appreciate an opportunity to make improvements but where that common issue of listening between the pushers and puller is problematic. (Plus, there is that issue of rejection of ideas by managers.)

So, the image reshaped itself to look like this and become one of my posters:

Poster Square Wheels Too Busy to Improve

Susan, in this image, is obviously not an outsider, like the character I see in Hakan’s image. She is someone who works for the wagon puller but also maybe someone whose ideas are not highly valued. Research shows that many workers are discounted in this way.

In my father’s trucking business, he had one truck driver who was always stopping by businesses on his way home looking for new business and sharing those contacts with my father, but these contacts were not followed up by my dad, based on how he reacted to Orin’s notes and comments when I listened to their conversations. My dad would actually tell me to tell Orin that he was not around!

I think a lot of bosses discount the ideas of their employees. On the other hand, look at the reaction of the wagon pushers: Might they be interested in doing something more better and faster?

This is just an idea that bubbled up as I played with these ideas. There are always things we can do to go #morebetterfaster and to accomplish more.

If you want to reflect on the theme in the poster or place it in your workplace for contemplation and discussion, simply send me an email to receive an email of it as a high resolution image.

Email me at Scott@SquareWheels.com,

 

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.

 

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

Teamwork, Thinking, Learning and Active Involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Pyramid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some ideas:

non-agreement bliss poem

Thumbs Up teamwork poem

My team, My way poem copy

 

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

 

 

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