Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: employee motivation (Page 1 of 23)

I’ll bet you can’t identify even HALF of the Key Learning Points!

We’ve been playing with a metaphor of Square Wheels for 25 years, starting with a simple line-art drawing by Roy Sabean and eventually winding up using LEGO® to represent, “How things really work in most organizations…”

From the original line art below left, I actually captured 250 unique comments, thoughts and ideas about the illustration. This included some one liners like, “We are not like that; we push our wagon uphill” and

a) “The Square Wheels were invented by a woman!” (man)
b) “but the men are stupid enough to do things that way.” (woman)

Original Square Wheels One image to the present usage

Joan, Chris and I put together a stop-motion video that was great fun. And we recently used that at the top of the homepage for our newly revised website, one that was first on the internet in 1998. (It was in dire need of updating!)

Some of my Facebook friends pointed out some of the key learning points and I added some others. Then, I had the thought of putting it up here and asking people to comment on what they see, what metaphors are included, and how this relates to how organizations really work. The video is 39 seconds. So take a look and tell us what you see.

Hint: A Spectator Sheep appears at the 35 second mark. Spectator Sheep are those that have nothing to really contribute to things and who stand far away, voicing their opinion about things: Naaaaaaaaa Baaaaaaaaaa !! Some people say that there are Spectator Sheep in their workgroup or among the management team…

This is the first upload I have done of one of our stop-motion videos. We have a dozen or so of them that we have been playing with. It is one of the benefits of using the LEGO bricks to create scenes. If you like this, we can share some others.

 

In the comments section, we would love to see your thoughts on the bullet points, the key concepts that we play with around people and motivation and continuous continuous improvement.

Note for background about the main scenario: The wagon puller has been pulling and the wagon pushers have been pushing and the view at the front has been much different than the view from the back for the duration they have been working together. They have been using the Square Wheels because they work and their challenge was to deliver the round wheels to their customer. For some reason, they are taking a break from things…

 

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.

 

Performance Management Company (PMC) has no affiliation with the LEGO® Group nor does it use materials or methodology from LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® or other related organizations. None of our images knowingly reflect any copyrighted or trademarked materials of any other organization.
The LEGO Group does not sponsor, authorize or endorse any of these materials. 
Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
and all materials produced by PMC remain the intellectual property of PMC.

LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

Our new website is at www.SquareWheels.com

 

Employee Engagement is OVER? Maybe that is a good thing!

An email from Mercer/Sirota today was headlined, “Employee Engagement is so over! Ok, maybe not quite” and I was somewhat thrilled by that statement and the recognition of a new reality.

I say this because for so many managers, the term “employee engagement” really translated into, “doing a survey and then having to do something about that survey to show my compliance with what the leadership wants.”

It was NOT about really improving motivation or impacting ownership or increasing innovation. The “Corporate Employee Engagement Initiatives” all seemed more like HR’s requirement to focus on employee retention and holding managers somewhat accountable for something over which they had only modest control.

Many BILLIONS of dollars have been spent, with most of that on doing extensive annual or even bi-annual all-employee surveys and then having senior managers meet or retreat to discuss the results, make some plans to do something or other, and lastly about how to hold people accountable. (Does this feel like a positive environment yet?)

And, if one looks at 25 years of RESULTS from the above efforts, we continued to find, year after year, that very little changed. Engagement sucks, and it is not because the surveys were bad (they had incredible construct and face validity) or that the planning meetings and measurement systems were faulty.

They failed because they never really got honest and sincere buy-in of the supervisors and their managers to make honest impacts on the workers. There was never any real trust in these efforts from worker to supervisor or even supervisor to manager. (Other surveys show that clearly.)

My thought is that the ONLY thing that is going to work to make real impacts on active involvement and the generation of ownership in the workplace is some Disruptive Engagement. Only when the supervisors have some confidence in their facilitation skills and see some flexibility and choice within their jobs will they really feel they are allowed to try to do something differently.

Disruptive Engagement generates motivation and active involvement

This is NOT about that myth of “empowering” the supervisors, because one person simply cannot empower another person to do anything.
I cannot empower you and you cannot empower me;
nobody can actually empower anybody! 

What it is about DIS-UN- empowerment, the removal of the roadblocks and systems / processes that prevent action.  Most managers pretty much KNOW they are not empowered to act or make changes, something which will only change when their perceived risk is decreased and their roadblocks are removed.

So, it will be a good thing when we stop wasting all that time and money on the measurement of something that maybe should not be measured. It takes money and time away from doing more constructive and effective things. I will not be sorry to see the “Industry of Engagement” go away and be replaced by a focus on generating active involvement and improved communications between workers and managers.

If you put a gun to their heads, the supervisors could choose to do things differently — heck, if you removed the gun that many feel is already pointed at their heads, they would probably choose to do things differently! Most of them do not really want to work in adversarial business environments.

The managers should be the motivators. The good news is that some really are and really do a great job of involving and engaging their people for real workplace improvement. But this is not done through a survey and is often done away from one. Active involvement is tough to really measure; you know it when you see it and some managers simply do a better job, day in and day out, of communicating with their people.

So, let’s maybe try to do more of that?

Let’s begin to make some different choices as to how we actively involve and engage our workers and our supervisors in the workplace,

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

 

Round Wheels of Today are the Square Wheels of Tomorrow – Thoughts on Continuous Continuous Improvement

Simple thoughts on how things really work in most organizations, set up as a haiku:
In any work environment, leaders (aka wagon pullers) often lose track of what is happening at the back of their wagons.They are insulated and often isolated and it is important to remember that,
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
(John LeCarre)
Similarly, workers (at any level of the organizational hierarchy) will lose sight of the missions and visions and become less aligned to goals and expectations. They simply will not have the current leadership vision of where they are going and what lies ahead of them.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any path will get you there.”
(Lewis Carroll)
Here is a Dr. Seuss-style poem on The View at the Front and the Back and the issues of alignment and motivation:
Dr. Seuss poem on employee motivation and vision
Periodically checking in and talking about issues and opportunities is useful as well as motivational. Having smart management systems with clear expectations and solid feedback systems are critical, but so are occasional alignment conversations, because that view at the back is very different than the wagon puller‘s view at the front.
When it comes to productivity improvement and innovation, the ideas are also pretty straightforward. The Round Wheels of Today will, inevitably, become The Square Wheels of Tomorrow. There is a need for continuous continuous improvement of systems and processes and how people are managing roadblocks and new ideas. Thus, the necessity to step back from the wagon on occasion to see what new ideas should be implemented.
 
The exemplary performers in any organization are essentially using Round Wheels in a world of Square Wheel Wagons. They simply do things differently. And they can share those best practices with their peers, improving group performance. But the group has to feel involved and engaged, because:
“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”
(Scott Simmerman)
So, we will encourage you to work to better involve and engage and align your people, at any level of the organization, to shared goals and expectations and to focus on the reality that they all have ideas that can be implemented to improve organizational results.
Our last haiku and recommendations thus looks like this:
haiku on performance improvement and engagement
People WANT to be involved and engaged and feel part of the team, they want results of the group and their personal contributions to be appreciated. Square Wheels is a very simple approach to involving and engaging people and focusing them on things that can and should be improved.
PMC offers an online training program at The Square Wheels Project and also a stand-along toolkit of powerpoints, handouts and instructions, something we call the Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit.
Please also note that we are also sharing reprintable posters of these scenes and frameworks for free through our poems blog and newsletter.

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new Square Wheels LEGO teambuilding game,
The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

Innovation, Motivation and Supervisory Facilitation – The Square Wheels Project

There are plenty of good tools out there for generating new ideas and momentum about innovating in the workplace. We want more innovation and engagement but we seemingly do little to generate it. Workers work and supervisors supervise and we have little in the way of stimulating thought and implementing better workplace improvement processes.

Surveys continue to indicate that people feel they are too busy and that their organizations do not support risk-taking, thus they are dis-empowered to even implement proven best practices.

Square Wheels too busy to improve

The reality is that we DO operate on Square Wheels® and there are a wide variety of Round Wheels available for implementation in ANY workplace. What is required is some time to consider possibilities and some motivation to try to do things differently, what I term #morebetterfaster.

And I would like to think that our Stupidly Simple Square Wheels® engagement approach is one of the best ones for generating a discussion of issues and opportunities. You share an image, have tabletops discuss their perceptions, link to your workplace and focus on selecting Square Wheels to address and Round Wheels to implement. The discussion smokes out all sorts of things and allows for the top performers to share some of their best practices for getting things done. The ownership-involvement is also a powerful tool to help implementation and followup.

In our approach, which is readily facilitated by the managers, we set the situation that the people are pushing the wagon with Square Wheels and the cargo represent better ideas for improving the journey. Square Wheels represent the thing as they work now, with the idea that they DO work but do not work smoothly. Round Wheels already exist, so it is more about implementation than invention.

Square Wheels performance improvement tools

There are all sorts of linkages and it is really easy to facilitate a discussion of real workplace issues and opportunities. It opens mental doors and windows to allow the fresh air of performance improvement discussions.

In addition to the toolkit, we also developed a very simple and very inexpensive facilitation skills training program to teach supervisors and managers how to facilitate discussions and to involve and engage people for workplace improvement purposes. It all comes together at The Square Wheels Project.

My newest thought for how to illustrate the benefits looks like this:

Brains, Square Wheels and Round Wheels, an image by Scott Simmerman

Our goal is to get people to step back from their wagons and look for new or different or better ideas to make improvements. Perspective is a key to choosing to do things differently. And once people identify and label something as a Square Wheel, they are driven to find the round wheel to fix it. You can also think of it as Disruptive Engagement, since it all happens at the front-line levels of an organization, away from the controlling influences of HR and senior management.

Your thoughts on this simple process would be great! You can also check us out at TSWP to see how we are rolling all this forward. These images and the approach are a truly effective as a tool for organizational improvement, coaching and simple innovation, created

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

Team Coaching – Facilitating Engagement and Innovation

A lot is written and a LOT of people call themselves coaches, so it is not like we do not have those skillsets readily available in our business community. But, so many workers are dis-engaged, un-involved and demotivated. It seems to me that more supervisors should do more coaching or be better coaches, right?

So much around coaching seems to be around visions of how things should be and the subsequent playing with ideas about how to implement new behaviors or to change those paths we are on. The key in coaching and individual is to generate some sense of perceptual reality to relate toward desired goals and outcomes.

It would seem that one goal of leadership might be to generate an understanding of perceived and actual issues underlying performance problems and to generate some group involvement in addressing and solving those issues. Involvement is key simply because,

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

Doing things TO them will invariably generate some level of resistance; in a workgroup with an existing low level of trust and rapport, it will tend to generate active resistance.

So, an activity I will frame up as Team Coaching involves stopping long enough to generate a conversation around awareness of those issues and opportunities, understanding that the view from the front is different than the view at the back.

Square Wheels Poster on Team Coaching and Facilitating Engagement

If you are looking for some simple tools to generate conversations, check out our Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit by clicking on the image above. We will guarantee that it works seamlessly and easily.

We also have a variety of images framed as Posters, focusing on different themes or with haiku or poems or quotes. Check out my other blog, Poems on the Workplace,

 

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

 

Breaking Down Workplace Roadblocks for Increased Productivity and Happiness

If you’re a manager or supervisor, you can easily dis-un-empower yourself and the people you work with and easily gain new perspectives and successful outcomes for dealing with perceived workplace roadblocks — those things that hinder our production or completion of jobs/tasks.

Our Managing Workplace Roadblocks Toolkit is designed around an easily communicated Roadblocks Management Model that categorizes roadblocks into 4 types and shares strategy for dealing with each.

This Toolkit is a great coaching tool and works elegantly in a team setting. Along with introducing the Roadblocks Management  Model, the idea is that some people are better roadblocks managers than others and when they are given the opportunity to share their exemplary strategies for managing their roadblocks, the likelihood increases that others will become more adept and confident with managing their own.

We include facilitation tips and all the resources you need to actively involve and engage your people in workplace improvement.

This complete Toolkit is $49.95 and contains:
  • Leader’s Overview and Guide
  • Roadblocks Management Model
  • Presentation PowerPoint
  • Handouts and Worksheets for Participants
  • Other Pertinent Articles and Slides

Lead people to better success with the Managing Workplace Roadblocks Toolkit that works to increase productivity, workplace happiness and personal satisfaction as people learn how to better manage roadblocks hampering their successes.

You might also find this article on Positive Disruptive Engagement to be related, relevant and interesting:

AND, like all of our other products, you can contact me directly if you desire to chat about issues and opportunities,

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.

 

Every Company Should Own One – The Bombproof Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine Teambuilding Exercise

We can start this blog with the simple thought that motivation and collaboration need improvement in most organizations and those improvements offer Big Impacts on actual results.

Even in the very good, highly collegial workplaces, one can always make additional improvements or re-energize things, generating even more alignment to shared goals and objectives.

This post is about how EASY it is to facilitate a real team building program, not some (oftentimes silly unfocused) team bonding process. There is a big difference: team building will impact organizational results and help to change actual behavior and commitment to doing things differently. Bonding activities can be fun, but change nothing.

Team BUILDING exercise generate change and improved results. Bonding does nothing.

Let’s talk about teamwork and apologies for the length and breadth of this post, but I felt that clearly stating the details would enable better understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it:

It is clear that workers and supervisors and managers are basically un-involved and un-engaged in so many workplaces, worldwide.  Management effectiveness AND the workplace environment / culture that are behind this problem. Better teamwork and alignment are solid solutions.

These are NOT some “senior management leadership issue” that can be corrected by doing more engagement / motivational surveys or skill assessments or by doing more senior executive development. These are problems at the shop floor, at the interface between supervisors and workers, that drastically needs improvement to really impact performance.

A few statistics and bullet points:

Rick Bell shared some statistics in the March 2017 issue of Workforce magazine about how badly workers are being supervised that are truly mind-numbing:

  • 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired
  • 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job

Gallup added a somewhat different framework supporting these same issues related to performance and teamwork

  • only ONE IN FOUR employees “strongly agree” that their supervisor provides meaningful feedback to them, that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.
  • Only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

The solution involves improved communications, collaboration and teamwork. Helping people focus on a shared mission and vision with appropriate expectations, and basic leadership at the front lines can have broad impacts. We need to do something differently in the workplaces to make positive impacts and generate the momentum for organizational improvement. Having a pot-luck lunch or going go-kart racing will do nothing to generate change.

There is a simple, bombproof, inexpensive solution to many of these issues, and that is our proven team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. It is inexpensive and dynamic and it focuses on collaboration to impact measured results. Here is a 2-minute video from a session with Dow Chemical:

Teambuilding with interactive experiential exercise, Lost Dutchman

This “game” neatly models a collaborative organization and a Selfless Leadership approach to involving and engaging people. It gets players to make choices and then allows for a discussion and debriefing around what really needs to be done differently by the group to improve results. The play generates real opportunities to discuss and resolve real workplace issues, creating “considered alternatives” to what has been happening.

There are also powerful links to workplace motivation and communications themes.

People that are uninvolved and frustrated need solutions that involve Dis-un-engagement and Dis-un-empowerment. Those problems need to be discussed, changes made, and new solutions implemented. The Lost Dutchman exercise allows for real discussions about choices and possibilities because dealing with team problems is what makes teamwork effective in the workplace.

Team Building with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

So, we think every organization needs to have a go-to team building program they can use throughout the organization to set up shared goals and common expectations about collaboration and innovation. And unlike most such exercises, we sell this exercise with a one time cost and a satisfaction guarantee.

My colleague in India, Mr. Solomon Salvis shared some good reasons why people have bought the Dutchman simulation and will continue to run the game:

  1. To develop the internal capability of the Learning and Development team. Most organizations are not equipped with an awesome experiential learning tool like Dutchman, which makes their training dull and boring, or probably sub-optimized.
  2. Most programs conducted internally in an organization are classroom training sessions. There is no fun element. Dutchman creates awesome personal and team-based learning and is awesome fun as well.
  3. Most senior managers in an organization do not want to sit through a long and dragged-out training session.  Our Dutchman’s simulation which is just a half day, works very well to keep the engagement and energy levels high for the seniors and demonstrate the many positive impacts of alignment to shared goals and plans. Senior managers can readily play in mixed groups of management, too, which has a variety of positive impacts.
  4. Most classroom training sessions can take only 20 – 30 participants at a time, beyond that the program/training becomes ineffective. Dutchman’s is one of the rare simulations which can accommodate 50 / 100 / 200 / 300 +  participants at one go and still have the engagement/excitement levels as high as possible.
  5. The scalability of Dutchman allows for sessions that can contain front line workers as well as managers and even senior managers as active participants in an effort to optimize results. This IS a reality in organizations and these kinds of interactions are impactful, but few take the time to build this kind of overall collaboration and shared goals. These debriefings are powerful.
  6. Most training teams / trainers / training leadership who have used Dutchman in the previous organization tend to buy the game kit when they move into a new organization, since they know the product and its impacts very well. They are comfortable with the many flexible designed outcomes and it is tried and tested. The exercise is 100% bombproof (and it is 100% satisfaction guaranteed!).
  7. Lastly, apart from just the fun element, Dutchman debriefing brings incredible learning and reflection for the participants, making the transition to implementing improvements more likely. This kinds of discussions should be part of any debriefing:
Teambuilding debriefing questions for implementation

These are some of the transitional debriefing slides to improve discussions about accountability.

Solomon also added:

Yesterday, we conducted the simulation for 125 participants of Sapient, a leading IT consulting company. The participants haven previously gone through many training sessions and various simulations, but when they experienced Dutchman’s Gold Mine, they gave us an awesome testimonial and acknowledged this was by far one of the best sessions they had attended and that it was quite different and unique from all the other simulations they had attended.

Sapient Technology Lost Dutchman Team Building Video

Sapient’s game testimonial – 120 players

For most organizations, one of our versions supporting 18 or 24 people should make solid economic sense. Dutchman is sold at a one-time cost and can be used repeatedly. It’s easy to learn how to deliver and has a variety of expected outcomes:

  • Tabletops choose not to plan very well or use all the information available to make their choices and decisions
  • Teams generally choose to compete against each other rather than to collaborate. Collaboration optimizes overall group success while competing generates a winner and losers
  • Nobody asks the Expedition Leader for Assistance.” Teams choose not to ask for help or perspective or advice, even though that is one of the key themes of the introduction. They essentially choose to sub-optimize results and not keep leadership involved in their work
  • Tabletops come to agreement quickly on their strategy and they are not very open to changing their approach if new information becomes available.

The flexible debriefing focuses seamlessly on the benefit of planning to improving results and the choice of collaboration with other teams and leadership to optimize results in the exercise and the results in the workplace. It is quite easy to use the examples from the play in the players discussions about what workplace improvements can be made and how supportive leadership can help improve impact and results.

The exercise is packaged with extensive training and orientation materials, so much is included that very few purchasers ever bother to contact us for the free coaching that is available to support the delivery. New users tell us that about 2 hours of preparation is needed for their first delivery.

For an organization, the very most senior leadership might have a team building program for all of their direct reports. Issues of communications, collaboration and alignment to missions and visions would be made clear. PLUS, this would be fun. It does NOT require outside facilitation nor the involvement of organizational training staff. (And you can see the obvious advantages of developing ownership involvement.)

Those players would then be able to run the game with their staffs. The transfer of training is straightforward and the desired outcomes for their debriefings can directly result from the top management team and their discussions.

Lost Dutchman is a very inexpensive, high impact organizational tool that translates neatly and effectively into any organizational improvement and communications / alignment process.

Coaching support for delivery is freely available and our 25 years of experience with supporting organizations globally would be beneficial and impactful.

Click on the image below to see a 2-minute video about how most senior managers think about the exercise (this one delivered for Kaya Limited by SimuRise and Solomon Salvis). It is but one of hundreds of examples about how people feel the exercise can impact their organizations:

This is my game, one first played in 1993 and continually updated and improved through play and debriefing and continued redesign. I personally believe that every organization should experience The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

And many of us think that every organization should OWN their own exercise for internal use. (The cost/benefit to you would be outstanding and it can help organizations accomplish so many of your goals around active involvement and engagement of your people toward collaborative accomplishments, shared objectives and active ownership involvement, which translates to motivation and teamwork.)

We will support you in that, for sure, and we have been at this for a very long time. Teamwork and support are what I do,

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Every Company NEEDS a team building exercise – Here is Why

It’s beneficial, cost effective and brings home what every business desires: a wise investment yielding a solid return (ROI).

We are talking about PMC’s teambuilding exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise. Its value lies within its proven ability to:

  • increase collaboration and communications
  • improve strategic planning
  • create alignment to missions and goals
  • enhance employee experience
  • strengthen leadership and organizational performance

For 25 years, Dutchman has been appreciated by all kinds of worldwide organizations thanks to its bombproof use in aligning with desired results and in creating awareness of how behaviors impact overall organizational outcomes. And through it all, participants enjoy it for its fun framework, its strengthening of camaraderie and its valuable learning they take back to their workplace.

Dutchman is a tabletop board-game simulation set in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona with players sent on a mission to mine gold from The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and return with as much gold as they can.

What ensues is an energetic, solidly-designed learning experience paired with a highly acclaimed, flexible debriefing session combining to leave participants with a clear understanding as to how their behaviors during play link to real workplace issues and attitudes and how these impact overall personal and organizational performance.

Essential Reasons and Outcomes for Using Dutchman:

Proactively Initiating the Change that Needs to Occur: Every organization has reasons for wanting their people to be more aware of changes, ideas and behaviors that need to happen but knowing how to create the “ah-ha’s” that support the reasons and efforts for doing so is where progress forward often stumbles.
  • The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine elegantly works to showcase organizational issues and behaviors that tend to sub-optimize overall performance and outcome and provides a hands-on learning activity that is really an excuse to set-up a powerful Debriefing session that links the play and behaviors within the game to real and actionable issues within the organization.

Ensuring a Collaborative Environment : It’s crucial to the success of an organization that everyone, management and employees alike, understands that a collaborative mindset creates better productivity and more overall success than competing for the same cause.

  • Even though teams playing Dutchman are told that the goal of the exercise is to “Mine as Much Gold as WE can,” thousands of deliveries demonstrate that the tendency to compete most often occurs causing less than optimal game results. During the Debriefing session, teams will recognize the folly of competing over collaborating when they are shown how their behaviors caused them to mine less gold than if they had worked together. The facts are presented and discussed with “ah-ha!” moments happening!

Strategic Planning: Strategic planning is necessary to successful organizations but many people are uncomfortable asking for help or feel too much pressure to just get the job done. Therefore, they move ahead without considering all available options with end results usually being less than optimal.

  • In Dutchman, teams will be faced with decisions and choices that will impact their game performance and during the debriefing it will become clear as to why planning is imperative to achieving the best results possible.

Alignment to Missions and Visions: Are your teams aligned to your organizational core values?

  • Through the play of Dutchman there will be active involvement and teamwork, a focus on a shared mission and vision with appropriate expectations and basic leadership at the front lines. Teams will understand how all of this comes together (or doesn’t!) and affects the bottom line.

Improve Employee Experience: Decades of research shows that most employees in most workplaces are experiencing low levels of motivation, alignment and engagement. They are disgruntled with their bosses, disengaged and uninspired and often have one foot out the door, be it in reality or an on the job mindset.

  • When your people play Dutchman, they’ll not only enjoy being part of a fun and energizing program, they’ll also learn through the play of the game that they are a crucial part of the overall organization.
  • Communications, teamwork and leadership are all vital to organizational success and the exercise sets up scenarios that showcase how all of these behaviors work together to benefit the individual, the team, leadership and the organization as a whole.

Connections with Leadership: A crucial part of leadership is to help teams be successful but too often, teams neither ask their leadership for advice nor involve leadership in decision-making around a task or project. The links to themes such as Selfless Leadership are truly excellent.

  • Dutchman’s Expedition Leader is put in the supportive role of  “helping teams be successful,” and in doing so, models good leadership skills that emphasize working together for the benefit of all and being easily available for assistance and advice.
  • Participants will come away recognizing the benefits of supportive leadership and inclusion which can lead to modifying future workplace behaviors for a more positive interplay between leaders and employees.

The Price is VERY Reasonable: Unlike so many team building exercises or consultant-led deliveries, Dutchman is easy to deliver and is sold a one-time cost with no participant fees, annual licenses or certification costs. It is designed for unlimited use and comes in several versions (and can also be rented).

  • For most organizations, one of our versions supporting 18 or 24 people should make solid economic sense.
    • LD-3 is $995 for up to 18 players;
    • LD-4 is $1795 for up to 24 players;
    • LD-6 is $2895 for up to 36 players.
    • The Professional Version is $6995 for unlimited numbers
    • Rental starts at $1200.
  • Dutchman does NOT require outside facilitation nor the involvement of organizational training staff. (And you can see the obvious advantages of developing ownership involvement.)
  • The very most senior leadership might have a team building program for all of their direct reports. Issues of communications, collaboration and alignment to missions and visions would be made clear. PLUS, this would be fun.
  • The above-mentioned players would then be able to run the game with their staffs. The transfer of training is straightforward and the desired outcomes for their debriefings can directly result from the top management team and their discussions.
  • The exercise is packaged with extensive training and orientation materials with so much included that very few purchasers ever bother to contact us for the free coaching that is available to support the delivery. New users tell us that about 2 hours of preparation is needed for their first delivery.
  • This is a very inexpensive, high impact organizational tool that translates neatly and effectively into any organizational improvement and communications / alignment process. Coaching support for delivery is freely available and our 25 years of experience with supporting organizations globally have made Dutchman a bombproof exercise.
  • Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back!

What else might you need to know to be convinced that Dutchman will make an advantageous difference for your organization?

You can email me or call (864-292-8700) and I will gladly answer any questions.

Or, just purchase the game here to start making positive changes for your organization!

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.

(apologies to Medium readers because of formatting – my wordpress blog does not port neatly to the Medium page format with issues of fonts and spacing.)

Spring Forward Monday – Focused Innovation and Engagement Tools for after Daylight Savings Time

Spring Ahead with Motivated Action on Monday, March 12th

What is Spring Forward Monday It’s a special day for improving productivity, increasing employee engagement and promoting learning and new ideas for moving forward.

When is it?  Monday, March 12, 2018, (the day following Sunday’s Spring Forward time change on March 11th).

Who should do it?  If you are a Supervisor or Manager, this is for you! Take the initiative and create Spring Forward Monday with your employees. Gather your people together and inspire them in a learning quest, be it through a “hands-on” learning experience or by inviting them to share their ideas for improvements.

Why do it?  The purpose of Spring Forward Monday is to take this normally lackluster day (due to the resulting negative affect from the previous day’s time change) and turn it into a day of energy and motivation that will make a valuable difference for everyone involved.

How does it work?

  • Facilitate a session that gets people talking about what they feel could work better and how. This is motivating and engaging and great ideas can come from it.
  • Introduce some serious and fun learning by setting up teams to play a board game or simulation. People are motivated by active learning experiences.
  • Shake up the workplace by doing something outside of the usual daily routine. Even a simple meeting that involves food can stimulate people!
  • Inspire people by doing something positive with them.

Spring Forward Monday’s outcome will make a difference, not only in that day’s energy level but also for the future, because great and valuable ideas happen when people are invited to share their perspective or enjoy a solid learning experience together.

There are lots of ideas out there for getting people involved, giving them learning experiences and turning a “blah” day into a motivating day!

If you’d like some solid ideas for creating your own workplace’s Spring Forward Monday, we offer some  tools and ideas that are worth using:

  1. Try our Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit that includes everything needed to ensure your success at facilitating a productive and safe session that will promote involvement and a sharing of ideas.
  2. Join The Square Wheels Project, an online learning platform where you’ll receive both the tools and the training for generating interactive discussions around ideas and opportunities for improvements.
  3. Use one of our team building exercises such as The Collaboration Journey Challenge or The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.These games put participants in situations that link to their real-life work scenarios and offer excellent learning outcomes

Turn Monday, March 12, 2018, into a superb day by planning an engaging approach to learning and creating a happier and, thereby, more productive workplace!

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

Google’s Unexpected Discovery that Soft Skills Create the Most Success

Think Google, think Research, and think Leadership. And then cogitate on the factors that Google found MOST linked to their most successful managers, the ones who have prospered within their organization.

Consider what it means that these were the top characteristics for success at Google:

  1. Being a good coach;
  2. Communicating and listening well;
  3. Possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view);
  4. Having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues;
  5. Being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and
  6. Being able to make connections across complex ideas.

The surprise for Google was that these are all soft skills rather than the hard skills or STEM abilities (science, technology, engineering and math) they originally thought would be more valuable for success. Google collected this data through its 2013 Project Oxygen and then did another study in 2016, Project Aristotle, that analyzed data on inventive and productive teams and found that the best teams exhibited such soft skills as:

  • Equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of one’s teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

And, at the top of the list:

  • Emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard.

Also aligning with the findings of Google’s data was a recent survey of 260 employers (from small to large to powerful) by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers. One particular survey found that communication skills ranked in the top three most-sought after qualities by job recruiters.

Most valued was:

  • An ability to communicate with one’s workers, and
  • An aptitude for conveying the company’s product and mission outside the organization.

Are you honing your own soft skills for better workplace success? Reaching out to your employees and involving them in moving forward is seemingly a win/win for everyone as it helps to create a safer, happier and more productive workplace for all:

If you’d like a remarkably easy and unique way to increase your facilitation and workplace interaction skills and generate focused conversations that will lead to ideas for workplace improvements and create better employee engagement, we offer two very inexpensive and practical ways for doing so:

  1. Try our Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit that includes everything needed to ensure your success at facilitating a productive and safe session that will promote involvement and a sharing of ideas.
  2. Join The Square Wheels Project, an online learning platform that gives you both the tools and the training for generating interactive discussions around ideas and opportunities for improvements.

If you would like to read the complete Washington Post article containing the information referred to in this email about Google and its findings regarding soft skills and STEM hard skills, you’ll find it here.

Bringing people together to learn from each other and have a voice gives them a sense of ownership and value that helps to create a more successful and satisfying workplace for all involved. So take the initiative and get your crucial soft skills rolling to inspire a better future!

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®

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®

Performance Management Company
3 Old Oak Drive
Taylors, SC 29687

Add us to your address book

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

Thanksgiving Progress – People and Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Square Wheels One LEGO image by Scott Simmerman

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

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

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

 

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

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

Building Leadership Skills and Being Successful

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

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

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

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

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

Image on perspective and innovation

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

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

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

Lost Dutchman Gold Mine teambuilding theme

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

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

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

The Square Wheels Project Round Wheels

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

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.

 

Branding, Change, Marketing and Square Wheels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And another set of questions:

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

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

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

 

 

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