Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: business team building exercises (Page 1 of 7)

Joan’s 2017 Santa Poem and Haiku about Teamwork and Improvement

Every year, Joan writes and illustrates a poem about the pressures on Santa Clause to improve and sustain his teams’ performance. This year, we chose to create some LEGO scenes to share how we have built those creative toys into our experiential exercises and metaphors. We’ve been publishing this through our emails but I thought to also share it within the blog.


How Santa Plays for Improvements

For the FUN of It! –

How Santa Plays for Improvements  🎅 - For the FUN of It!

As the holiday season rolls in, our best wishes to you for special moments of peace and fun. Each year at this time, we play with our Square Wheels images (now using LEGO), hoping you might sit back and enjoy them along with some homespun thoughts from Santa about solving some issues around people and performance, including the elves and the reindeer…

Santa has involvement and engagement issues in his organization too, you know!

How Santa Plays for Improvements

As always, Santa’s all set for Christmas Eve!
That he makes it happen is hard to believe.

We asked Santa if he’d reveal, really quick,
how he gets it all together; what’s his trick?

 

In Santa’s words:

Teamwork and happiness make us productive!
That’s why I look for ideas that are constructive.

I involve the Elves and Reindeer however I can
then they’ll know they’re part of the entire plan.

Discussing Square Wheels is the best way to start.
Improvement ideas flow and everyone’s taking part.
Square Wheels and collaboration
Enthusiasm thrives as support comes from all around
for finding ways to get improvements off the ground.
Next up, we play The CJC, quite the clever game
showing why collaboration is way far from lame.
Santa teambuilding
Players see their actions having consequence;
Planning and alignment certainly make sense!
Learning games create crucial insights and fun,
increasing camaraderie that wins for everyone!

As our work increases teamwork must shine,
so then I facilitate Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

 

teambuilding with Santa and elves

It’s a business simulation that’s really a hit,
it’s memorable and we learned quite a bit.

All these exercises work to help us improve
by addressing issues so we’ll stay in groove.

On Christmas Eve, we’re Up, Up and Away;
Top teamwork gets us going without delay!

Off I go with Season’s Greetings to You,
leaving you with some thoughts in Haiku:

 

business haiku Santa

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.

Copyright © 2017 Performance Management Company, All rights reserved.

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

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Taylors, SC 29687

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The Square Wheels Stupidly Simple Toolkit is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/STUPIDLY-SIMPLE-SQUARE-WHEELS-FACILITATION-TOOLKIT-p73093722

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/the-search-for-the-lost-dutchman

The Collaboration Journey Challenge is available at https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/collaboration-journey

Santa Claus hat ©: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_solerf‘>solerf / 123RF Stock Photo

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.

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.

 

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®

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Why I HATE Outdoor Teambuilding after 30 years

“Outdoor Teambuilding.”

For me, this phrase represents an oxymoron, two words that simply do not go together. Classic oxymoron examples include “jumbo shrimp,” “crash landing,” “found missing,” “student teacher,” and, being an old rock and roller, my personal favorite, “Country Music!”

Why do I hate outdoor team building events? Because outdoors represents a basically impossible environment to do much actual team building yet companies choose to do those things, get no results and then think that no team building is actually possible. And they waste money, time and energy and cast a pall on good, impactful programs.

With training outdoors, there are simply too many distractions and dissociations in how people are reacting to make good connections to workplace issues. Outdoors is simply a place full of distractions making it is hard to hear and easy to lose focus. Sure, who doesn’t like to go whitewater rafting*, but other than remembering the fun and a few crazy things that happened to a few people, does it apply to workplace improvement or innovation or discussing changes in expectations or alignment?

And let me note that a lot of “indoor team-building focused experiential training experiences” are often simply outdoor-type activities moved indoors. I do not include any of those in my framing of business simulations and business teambuilding events. Running around indoors is the same as running around outdoors, in my view and I would also not consider paintball and firewalking to be indoor activities.


The ROI on most of these activities simply cannot be measured. Sure people have fun and will talk about the experience afterwards, but will they really do anything differently to impact the organization? And isn’t that why we are doing team building in the first place?


(Okay, an outdoor adventure or some fun and games IS better than listening to a senior executive share critically important data using powerpoint. I will take a climbing wall over a slideshow on last year’s results for inventory turnover… But I am talking about team building activities here…)

Organizations spend a LOT of money on team building events, with the expectation that they will get some return on that investment and see some changes in organizational behavior such as increased collaboration between departments or better alignment to the organizational mission and goals. (And, yes, “Interdepartmental Collaboration” is another favorite oxymoron!).

Post program, you will find the attendees talking about the activity and the structure and not a lot about the debriefing or the business links. Navigating that high ropes challenge is a solid accomplishment. And, sure, solving The Acid River is an interesting challenge – now how does that relate either to solving interdepartmental issues? And, often, the solution comes from ONE individual and not the team – there is no real teamwork involved in the strategy and those not involved are often those same people who resist the changes being done to them. Being directed as to how to perform is NOT teamwork and will not improve collaboration.

Click on the image above to see another article on outdoor learning and change

CAN Outdoor Teambuilding work? Sure. But DOES it represent the BEST environment for involving and engaging the broad diversity of people within the group and generate sufficient critical thinking or shifting of perspective that could drive changes in behavior? Organizations pay for this stuff, but I am not sure if they are looking for “great fun reactions” or actual impacts and changes. Only you can make that judgement based on your personal experiences, but my direct and indirect experience would say, Nope. No way.

  • Generally, those kinds of activities offer no possibility of measuring or measurement of behavior of individuals or groups, unless you focus on timing, which is a focus on competition more than collaboration.
  • They make it difficult for the older, less athletically-able people to compete on equal footing (that is a pun because I have a bad foot in actuality). The older workers simply cannot run and jump with the younger ones.
  • The events are often exclusive to those with some kind of disability or infirmity, such as a bad back or shoulder or knee and, frankly, being an observer is simply reinforcing that they are different (and not included with the others).

Doing a Dragon Boat Race is seemingly pretty unrelated to improving customer service or implementing the new strategy to involve and engage everyone in a workplace innovation project. Going go-kart racing is a fun thing, but who wins is often the most common discussion along with who had the fastest kart or who cheated so they could win. Do you have a different perspective?

And there is Paintball. Paintball as a business exercise. Shooting at other people with hard projectiles with the goal of doing them harm (killing them out of the game?) but also demanding some high level of motor skills coordination and physical activity of running and dodging to succeed creates an unfair playing field.  Grandmother Susan in accounting is probably going to find it somewhat physically challenging to lie in the dirt and shoot at people.

This 30-second advertisement for Booking.com is an especially good one, I think. Click on the image below to watch it on YouTube – it is well worth the time (30 sec)!

Annual company paintball teambuilding retreat booking dot com

And I also still laugh at the Firewalking “training event” paid for by Burger King back in 2001, with 100 marketing employees participating in this “team building and personal growth” session. The result was that 12 people got their feet burned and Burger King generating a great deal of publicity — yes, even Dave Barry poked fun at them in an article and there were a ton of posts around “naming the event” in a couple of training discussion threads, as well as suggestions for potential theme songs like, “Light My Fire” by The Doors (grin) ).  You can read more about firewalking here.

(Dave Barry’s really funny article is here!)
(The organizer blamed the burns on people with incredibly sensitive feet!!)

Firewalking can be a legitimate (and costly) experience growth experience (www.skepdic.com/firewalk.html).
but does it really impact teams and help to improve company results?

One who suffered injury was Burger King’s vice president of product marketing. But, hey, she had no regrets, for she was filled with the corporate rapture. Walking across searing coals, she exclaimed, “Made you feel a sense of empowerment and that you can accomplish anything” (and she could accomplish that with only a few casualties and hospital and ambulance bills). (And one wonders how she is doing these days…)

…so the Big Benefit of Outdoor Training:  You do not have to rent a hotel room.
(Well, Booking.com suggests you do as the one main benefit in their ad!)

Sure there are things like whitewater rafting that need to be outside, but I encourage you to watch White Mile with Alan Alda (trailer is excellent!) about his mandatory whitewater trip and the death of some of his executive team. Sure, it is a movie, but being on the water is not really the cat’s meow for many people.

I can go on and on about the personal experiences (generally failures and mediocre learning situations) but those have been done in prior blogs. What we are talking about is team BUILDING activities and not the team BONDING kinds of things that might improve friendliness or improve personal interactions but that have only remote connections to organizational development.

You have alternatives. There are a lot of good team building simulations out there that focus discussions on issues and opportunities, programs that present actionable behaviors and cultural shifts in how things are done.

So when someone is suggesting an event, ask questions about what might result from the expenditures. Define the desired outcomes and frame up with the ROI should look like. Good events can generate a lot of positive outcomes and impacts.

See this post for how those discussions might be addressed in a conversation of two senior managers trying to impact their organization:

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

 

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


Alan Alda’s movie, White Mile, was released in 1994: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8DIGIr8SiU

Booking.com’s advertisement on rewarding hotels after Paintball is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZTgKU5KNTM

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation can be found at: http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/corporate-team-building-games-the-search-for-the-lost-dutchmans-gold-mine/

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

My teams don’t want to attend a training program or offsite meetings; the programs aren’t exciting enough and they hardly learn anything from the programs. In fact I haven’t come across many effective programs that can keep my people engaged and make offsite meetings interesting!

This was part of a conversation between two heads of an organization in India with my colleague Solomon Salvis. They were together to talk about a management development retreat and focused on teambuilding and one of these heads was quite reluctant to send his teams for any training sessions. He did not see value; he did not see impact. It was apparent that many of his past experiences showed such meetings to be fluff and low on the aspect of driving real change within his organization.And it is really too bad that such reactions are common with some many team bonding exercises that are presented as team building tools.

We designed The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine to be different, to make this business simulation challenging but also to change the behavior of participants. The difficulty comes from addressing the senior manager attitudes that events cannot be effective in driving new strategies or building real collaboration.

A very senior operations manager, who personally leads Dutchman, said this after one of her deliveries:

I’ve received tons of positive feedback about the exercise – that it was the best one that they’ve ever done, it was fun and they learned something, etc. While I’ve always had an open door policy, people are using it more now – I have heard about more issues unsolicited in the last ten days than I had in the previous five months, which of course means I can do something about them.  It’s been great.

With Solomon’s explanation, the learning head from the above conversation invited his team to conduct Dutchman at 5 different offsite venues to focus on strategy, implementation, taking calculated risks, decision-making in short periods of time, trust of leadership and teams, and collaborating internally and externally for optimizing results. He then had the opportunity to debrief with the two business heads on impacts and outcomes.

The Learning head had received a lot of praise for introducing simulations in the organization and thanked Solomon for putting in the effort to make offsite meetings interesting. The other head informed that the feedback from the participants has been highly encouraging, the participants were completely engrossed throughout the entire exercise, they loved the energy, the learning and the set up. Their teams are now more collaborative than ever before and are ready to take on big challenges at work.

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

If properly focused and delivered, a well-designed team building simulation can provide measured results that can be compared to optimized potential performance and support a discussion around key learning points and the choices that were made and that might be made differently in the future.Testimonial about Lost Dutchman Team Building Exercise

In many deliveries, the teams choose to compete with each other, which is energizing and fun but which actually sub-optimizes performance results. This same dynamic is why “interdepartmental collaboration” remains an oxymoron in many organizations. So, one goal of a powerful debriefing and program delivery is to discuss considered alternatives that could lead to improved outcomes. This can drive real change.

If you are interested in learning more, contact me or Solomon for more ideas and information. One of us can certainly support your teambuilding and organizational improvement efforts with an effective half-day event,

 

For the FUN of It!


Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

You can reach Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore.


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

 

Feedback, Team Building, Ideas and Accountability

Debriefing Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is where we continue to mine  organizational development gold. And there is plenty of gold to mine if we can act to do things more collaboratively and with better planning, alignment, and communications.

People have fun playing the Lost Dutchman exercise and problem solving and even competing but when the sugar hits the fan in the debriefing, they realize how they missed the message of collaboration and optimization, and that they played well as a team but not so well as a group. And it is the overall group results that are most important — who cares who won if our overall success was sub-optimized?

With that as a framework and because I am working up a new powerpoint debriefing toolkit for our game, my thought was to share a feedback mechanism that has a wide variety of constructs and applications for impacting accountability and collective engagement. Since I reference it briefly in the powerpoint, I thought to expand upon it in here for my general readers, customers and colleagues. It is a general tool for driving more active involvement and feedback, one you can easily adapt to any training program with a slight twist of metaphor.

The goal of the Dutchman game is simply expressed:

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

This message happens repeatedly in the introduction and this visual is printed on business card stock used during the debriefing. We give these cards out as a tool to reinforce the overall theme — note the WE, because the game is focused on optimizing overall ROI.

The predictable result of play, though, can be expressed with this illustration:

My Team - artwork from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

We call this, “My Team, My Team, My Team”

Tabletops often choose to compete and focus on their own results and thus they do not collaborate much and focus on optimizing ROI for the group, the WE part of this is bigger than that tabletop. If collaborating, they can often improve overall results 20% or 30% with no other changes. If competing, they do not help the other teams improve their results.

In addition to tabletop and group discussions around issues and opportunities, it is often useful to generate a bit more kinesthetic feedback and accountability from the post-game review of play, so we sometimes choose to have people write on the back of those cards. We can do things like this:

  • Pick someone in the room who you think could choose to improve their teamwork and give them a specific suggestion as to what they might do differently. Put their name on the top and an actionable idea in the body. You can be anonymous if you wish.
  • Select one good idea from what we discussed and write it on the card. We will collect the cards and summarize the ideas back to you as part of our followup.
  • Give ME (the actual company Expedition Leader and not the exercise facilitator) ONE GOOD IDEA about what I should do differently to help our organization improve its performance. It can be signed or anonymous but please make it valuable!
  • Write down one good idea that you want to implement in the next couple of weeks and put that card into your wallet. Expect an email from me on (date) to remind you to look at your card and see if you have been able to accomplish that idea.

The cards are thus a flexible tool for getting one more behavioral commitment to apply to the group dynamics, and followup is certainly the key to installing any kinds of organizational change from a training results.

The cards can be randomly collected or the collection assigned to the Team Leader for gathering so that you can get a card from each player. If everyone contributes, it generates a bit more social pressure to actually do something differently; it is one more grain of sand on the scale of commitment.

The idea is to use these cards to stimulate thinking about specific desired behaviors that can be changed or improved and that would have impacts on the collective, on the entire group so that it can operate more better faster to improve overall results.

If we continue to do things the same way,
we can continue to expect the same 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.

See user survey results for Lost Dutchman here: https://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2016/02/15/lost-dutchmans-gold-mine-team-building-exercise-survey-results/

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

See Scott’s LinkedIn profile here:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman

 

 

Simple Bad Teambuilding

My associate in Singapore posted up his comments in a LinkedIn group post and I got copied. The posting consultant in India put it up for thoughts comments (and there are almost 200 comments!). He initially said:

Client: We are having an offsite for our leadership team. They all work in silos and there is a trust issue. We want to communicate to them that they should all trust each other and work together. Only then we would be able to achieve our roles.

Me: Why do not you tell them that?

Client: We want a facilitator to bring these issues subtly and indirectly. Our CEO does not want to address this directly. May be you could do this through some games or activities. We are also talking to couple of other organisations like yours and want to see who offer the best solution.

Me: I took leadership team of a client three times in two years to Rishikesh and to address trust and silo issues I made them do whitewater rafting. They enjoyed the rafting. After two years I learned that they became very good in rafting but the trust issues remained. So no indirect approach to the trust and silo issues.

I will pass this opportunity. Lets work together some other time.

If you did not notice this, let me point it out again:

“…to address trust and silo issues I made them do whitewater rafting. They enjoyed the rafting. After two years I learned that they became very good in rafting but the trust issues remained.

Well, duh! Really. People on this executive team actually expected that a consultant-led raft trip would improve corporate functioning? Why do we experienced consultants somehow believe that a paintball or lasertag event, or a Firewalk or go-kart race is going to transfer anything to the issues of improving organizational performance results? We see people learning how to crew an 8-oared rowing shell, or learning how to climb and rappel, or even going parachuting or hang-gliding. Neat! Fun!! But real teambuilding?

These kinds of team bonding activities are actually expected to change organizational results? Seriously? (And how is it going to drive that change, through cognitive dissonance or improved leadership or impacts on intrinsic motivation to do something differently?)

Why not choose to do team building to accomplish team building?

We just reached our 25th anniversary of selling The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding simulation. You can see a Press Release with details here.

And we will guarantee that using the exercise as designed will generate solid discussions about what specific changes need to be generated it one follows the suggested line(s) of debriefing to link to issues and opportunities. You WILL generate discussions — and what you choose to do subsequent to that program will drive the implementation of results.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding simulation

 

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. He is also known for his Square Wheels® approach to innovation and engagement.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

Press Release on Lost Dutchman’s Teambuilding Exercise 25th year

We’re a small business and some things are just normally out of our range of motion but we wanted to do a Press Release about our 25th year of supporting The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise worldwide. It has continued to be a fun and interesting and rewarding experience for me to be supporting so many people and trying to have an impact on people and performance.

Team Building Success with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Joan created and polished this piece, which I think is outstanding given the limitation of 600 words and the focus of making this an integral part of our interesting company story:


Are Team Building Exercises a Waste of Money?
No, According to New Survey

User survey for “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine”
finds 100% would recommend the exercise to others based on performance and value

TAYLORS, SC, April 17, 2017—While many people believe that Team Building Events don’t generally work, Users of Performance Management Company’s The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine Team Building Exercise hold a much different belief. Based on results received from a Users’ Survey of Dutchman, 100% of the responders said they would recommend the exercise to others based on its performance outcome and value.

Celebrating its 25th year in the global marketplace, this top performing exercise has helped hundreds of companies generate real discussions about the negative impacts of competition on organizational improvement. Dutchman’s design produces measurable results to clearly show participants how their behaviors sub-optimize outcomes, including the overwhelming choice to compete rather than collaborate.

“A good teambuilding game design, one allowing teams to make choices, can link beautifully to a debriefing focused on making better choices for improving and optimizing organizational improvement. In Dutchman, players readily see the many negative aspects of inter-organizational competition, so we get them to choose alternatives to generate more collaboration and alignment to shared goals and outcomes.”

So says Dr. Scott Simmerman, Dutchman’s creator, a behavioral neurophysiologist specializing in organization performance and Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984.

When about 1/3 of a workforce would forgo a raise to instead see their boss fired, doesn’t it make more sense to build a cohesive team and increase shared goals? And when only 1 in 3 managers are engaged in their jobs, should we not look to do some real things to improve their workplace? Is doing the same thing going to ever generate a different result?

Users value Dutchman because it:

  • Easily sets up an engaging, fun learning experience with a successful outcome for any group size or type from shop floor workers to senior management.
  • Contains extensive, flexible debriefing materials with solid links to issues of workplace collaboration, leadership development and motivation.
  • Clearly shows participants how their behaviors impact ROI for the organization as well as for their own personal improvement.
  • Offers real value and measurable impact to their organizations.
  • Motivates people, improves performance results and strengthens communications.

While many things are sold as “team building,” few have actual impact. They may be fun, such as playing paintball, but do they change anything; do they create a viable return on investment for the organization? Dutchman has the backing of enthusiastic users, worldwide, in all kinds of organizations who use it to implement strategies or generate alternative choices.

Dutchman also wins for its various purchasing or rental options and is sold for a one-time cost with unlimited use and no per-participant fees. And, its “satisfaction guarantee” has yet to be necessary for purchasers. Visit PMC’s website or contact Scott to learn how Dutchman will lead to constructive outcomes and teamwork for your organization.

About Performance Management Company:

Performance Management Company designs team building exercises and is the creator of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, its flagship exercise. It is also the creator of Square Wheels® images for organizational improvement that are packaged in various Toolkits for Managers and Supervisors. PMC was founded in 1984 by Scott J. Simmerman, Ph.D., Managing Partner and has been selling its products, worldwide, since 1992.

A partial list of client users: http://www.squarewheels.com/clents.html

It continues to be a great trip, working on team building with my network of users worldwide. AND, we are updating the exercise – if you own it, check with me about a free upgrade of the Intro and Debriefing materials,

 

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

 

Continuous Continuous Improvement and Team Building

Dozens of years ago, when I chaired our local ASQC group, it was common to hear these quality managers say that they had done continuous improvement.

It was so common that I resolved never to use that phrase and to only use the term, CONTINUOUS Continuous Improvement, which STILL gives my grammar checker fits, as the WordPress editor is doing right now…

I mean, how can you complete something that is continuous?

And why isn’t continuous continuous improvement a better overall goal for organizations? When does stopping improvement make any sense?

Now, those ISO standards forced organizations to go way deep into compliance and process management, which is an antithesis to innovation and improvement, and those issues still hang around out there in the world of manufacturing. And to see people put a Six Sigma framework around customer service still seems goofy, in that the processes are simply so far from rigid statistical control. But, whatever.

So, let’s shift to the issues of workplace reality, team building and continuous continuous improvement of people and processes, focusing on collaboration, alignment and communications.

Winemaking is often the art of nurturing grape juice through a process of continuous incremental improvement until it ends up as a spectacular product, if that is the winemaker’s goal. Sure, you can make a million gallons of wine that all tastes the same, but the artwork and artistry of this vocation is not focused on consistency but on excellence, much like we should be striving for with our workplace improvement initiatives.

In the case of developing a team building game, one can also devote 20+ years to learning the art and substance of teamwork and collaboration and to continually fine-tune one’s ideas to optimize desired outcomes. And I can honestly say that I think we have reached that point with The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building exercise that has been continually improved since its first deliveries back in 1993.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding exercise

Selling and supporting a game was never my main objective; designing and refining an organizational development exercise to deliver consistently excellent results and have widespread positive impacts on people in organizations was always my goal and hopefully my legacy. Surveys of users say we have pretty much optimized our impacts from this single framework (see a supporting article here or download the results here.)

Dutchman’s existence grew out of dissatisfaction with a “team building game” that I represented as the first USA selling agent back in the late 1980s. That game’s play and its debriefing supported competition among teams – it’s program design allowed teams to quickly die because of their decisions, claiming that this was a reality of teamwork in most organizations. And the focus on competition was a distraction from the expressed objectives of building teamwork, something that I didn’t feel created a better Return on Investment than what a Collaborative approach would do. (Read more about that here)

When I tried to collaborate with that game’s developers, they resisted any ideas from any of us who were representing their product, ideas that would strengthen the game’s outcomes and impacts. So, over 24 years ago, Dutchman was created because there was a need in the team building marketplace for an inexpensive exercise that would support a serious learning framework for how collaboration beats competition in getting the best ROI.

We wanted a design that linked to real workplace issues, but also an exercise that could be easily facilitated by trainers or consultants and didn’t have a bunch of restrictive licensing and continual payment requirements attached to it. I wanted to sell Dutchman as a one-time cost game with a money back guarantee that could be used by virtually any type of organization and I soon found that this was a much appreciated concept compared to the typical way that team building products were put into the marketplace.

Once this exercise entered into the playing field, it immediately received accolades for how it drove home the concept of collaboration better than anything else out there. Through a much stronger debriefing than the other game provided, I was able to show how teams could have increased their ROI by the simple act of collaborating. We MEASURE the team and group results and can clearly show where and when collaboration would have had significant positive impacts on results. (If you own the game or are interested in performance metrics, you might find this detailed results analysis to be of interest.)

It is our belief that leadership, communications and strategic planning were all essential to creating a collaborative environment and Dutchman set this up well. Active involvement and engagement are also important for the success of any implementation, so the game plays really well in a situation where you want to better implement tops-down change and strategy.

The funny thing is that competition is a compelling force for players and they end up sub-optimizing their gold intake because of this, which is also a very common workplace observation. Therefore, this further indicated that a solid Debriefing was necessary to the game in order to get people to realize how choices around Collaboration brings in a better ROI.

Behavioral flexibility also became an important addition to the game and its debriefing because organizations have different reasons for using team building games and as Dutchman’s debriefing continued to evolve over the years so did its flexibility for creating different outcomes. Within its first year of use, Dutchman became a worldwide product that easily worked in various cultures and countries. And it is really neat when people working in one organization change jobs and buy the game for their new company. THAT is good evidence that the game holds high value and relevancy for them (and is a safe move to make!).

Today, we sell a variety of different Dutchman games, with LD-3 for up to 18 players or 3 teams; LD-4 for up to 24 players (4 teams), LD-6 for up to 36 players (6 teams) and our LD-Professional Version for any number players.

These various versions and their scaled prices were well received and our idea of making a Rental Version of the game available for those who weren’t ready to invest in one of the other choices or who had a one-time delivery requirement. We have training consultant users who purchased the game to use in small classroom settings who can now profitably do that large organizational retreat (100+ people) for clients.

Throughout the years, I’ve continued to improve upon the game play not only from my own ideas but also from collaborating with Dutchman owners who have given me great ideas to incorporate into the game. The game materials have evolved over the years, the Debriefing presentation and slides have expanded, the training materials have evolved to now include videos of how to work the game, etc. Even the original game board has changed into a different version.

People purchasing the game 24 years ago can still play with the materials they received at that time while those presently purchasing any of the game versions will have an updated set of materials — All versions will work exceedingly well to create a session worth facilitating because the outcomes of the game are like a fine wine in that the depth of appreciation for Dutchman and it’s return on investment continues to grow as it ages.

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

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.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

We rent the exercise, with great testimonials, to consultants and trainers in North America. See more details here about its play and its outcomes.

ASQC – American Society for Quality Control is now the ASQ /AQP, the American Society for Quality and the Association for Quality and Participation. I was actually a member of both groups and much more aligned with the frameworks of AQP – And I spoke at a couple of their international conferences.

12 Great Strategic Board Games – by Joe Cole (with Scott Simmerman)

Entertainment is as important as work because it keeps your life balanced and in this manner you are able to work in a more effective way. In this modern technological world where we can find everything on our mobile screens – ranging from video games to social media services – sometimes we want to escape from the glittering mobile screens and demand something that is truly different. Most of us cannot even imagine that entertainment also exists outside our mobiles even if we want to play games, and these games are called board games. Board games are interesting and people still play these games because when you play board games, you take some time off from your mobile screens.

Guest blogger Joe Cole and I have collaborated to talk about our collection of what we think are 12 of the best strategic board games for business performance improvement.

Collaboration Journey game icon for teambuilding and Square Wheels

Collaboration Journey – a Square Wheels game

CJ comes in two versions, a simple and a complex one. In Simple CJ (CJ1), tabletops of 3 to 4 people plan a journey forward to collaborate and move through a series of constraints. While there can be a winner, the game is about getting ALL of the teams to move forward efficiently and effectively. Teams use dice to replace their Square Wheels with round ones so their wagons can roll faster. In Complex CJ (CJ2) teams must move their Wagon Pushers on and off wagons in order to gain round wheels in a fairly complex series of events. It is designed to take about 90 minutes to play and debrief.

Innovate & Implement – a Square Wheels Game

Innovate & Implement teambuilding game using Square Wheels

In I&I, teams speed around the game board gaining access to problems and using their resources to solve them. The idea is to collect all four round wheels so that they can implement change in their organizations. Training is an option, and the Trainer and the Manager chase teams around hoping to get them into the training class, while players tend to try to avoid that (just like they do in the workplace!). It is designed to take about 90 minutes to play and debrief. A speedy replay can also be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of practice and learning on quality of performance.

7 Wonders

It is a very interesting and strategic game which is also very easy to play. The game won’t take more than 30 minutes to complete one round, in case you are a busy person. The overall theme and gameplay are very simple, but you will have to learn the rules of the game first which are bit difficult and confusing, but as you play on, the rules become more and more obvious.

Coyote

It is a bluffing game and is very simple. 6 people can play the game at the same time, and one round won’t take longer than ten minutes. The game is based on numbers; each person carries a number on its head, and the only number he can’t see is his own. The game is not as linear as it seems because there are other puzzling cards like negatives, multipliers, and zeroes etc.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is a very difficult and complex game when compared with the other board games, but its difficulty also makes it very interesting. If you have watched the TV series, then there won’t be any difficulty in playing it because the game truly captures the essence of the TV series. The real charm of the game is that it is a cooperative game, and in the game, two or more people aren’t on your side and you don’t know about it until they reveal themselves.

Balderdash

If you have played the game Dixit, then you will know the rules of Balderdash instantly because both games have almost the same rules. The main theme of the game is that one person reads a word from any card aloud, and all the other members are asked to write the mock definitions of the word. The person who has announced the word then reads all the mock definitions aloud including the original one.

Smallworld

This game is all about tactics, if you play tactically you win; the game is as simple as that. All you have to do is get more and more gold on the board by controlling different areas which are mentioned on the board. You can only take different areas under your control only if you have greater army than your opponent. Special abilities, as well as different pairings, also make the game really interesting.

Dominion

It is a very simple and straight game and lacks any complexity whatsoever. Two main things in the game are coins and kingdom cards. You start playing the game if you have both these things. The main theme of the game is to get as many kingdoms as possible.

Agricola

It is a very interesting game with agricultural touch. The main theme of the game is that you own a house and some land as well. You will have to grow different things on the land you possess in order to feed your growing family. What matters most in the game is planning; if you don’t plan properly, your opponent will snatch all your resources.

Atlantis

It is a strategy game which 2-4 players can play at the same time. The main theme of the game is that you have to get off the sinking island of Atlantis. The game is highly imaginative and you can place the card patterns in what way you like.

The Golden City

It is a game for 3 or four players and features many adventures. When you start the game, you play as a settler on an island at the center of which there is a golden city. The primary goal of the game is to get the golden city by establishing a trade. This game can be purchased from Groupon, use Groupon coupon at checkout to save.

Set

The rules of the game are very simple, yet the game is very puzzling. The game is all about pattern recognition and you will have to find different patterns.

 

a team building simulation exercose

Lastly, let me add a short note about our flagship team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. You can find plenty of blog posts about it and we note that it is recognized as one of the best teambuilding simulations in the world, based on user comments. Dutchman focuses on collaboration, leadership and alignment and can play with hundreds of people in tabletops of 5-6,

This guest post is written by Joe Cole, he works at Coupon Goo.

Some additional comments were added by me,

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 Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

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