Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: Facilitation (Page 1 of 20)

The Square Wheels Controversy – LEGO or Line-Art?

Since 1993, I have been presenting workshops internationally using a series of line-art images around the concept of Square Wheels. They can represent things that work but that do not work smoothly and they beg the question about what round wheels can replace them. Users and audiences consistently tell us that this is the best metaphor for organizational improvement or personal growth that exists anywhere.Testimonial on Square Wheels metaphor use

Generating the understanding that Square Wheels represent how things really work is incredibly easy and people get the concept readily. Cognitive dissonance then becomes one of the driving forces underlying the subsequent generation of Round Wheel Ideas for Improvement. The gap between the impact of the SWs provides motivation to decrease dissonance and improve the idea.

The controversy exists between our use of the old line-art drawings by Roy Sabean and the newer LEGO scenes, as you can see below:

Square Wheels metaphor for organizational improvement

We did a short online survey of users and the reactions were split as to which image was preferred. We asked our LinkedIn network as to their reactions and the feedback was also split. Some people prefer the old image and some prefer the new one, and there are a number of factors that underly this split.

People who prefer hands-on kinds of experiential exercises might prefer the LEGO, since they can bring the metaphor into connection with other elements or frameworks like LEGO Serious Play®. Others prefer the line art for its elegant simplicity. Other people’s reactions are mixed.

I do not think that there would be actual differences in application and usages, which can include facilitating innovation and creativity, aligning goals and values, generating active involvement and for coaching workplace improvements. We have extensive experience with both and they work seamlessly.

Facilitating discussions of issues and opportunities can also function as a team bonding or even a team building process if one then uses the discussions as an impetus for planning and then implementing new ideas.

The LEGO versions make generating stop-motion animations an easy and interesting process and we have a workshop design to use phones and inexpensive animation software to capture storylines around process improvement. The LEGO scenes make for more colorful posters and worksheets.

We would love to have your comments on the different approaches and we will send you one of our LEGO animations in exchange for a comment and signing up to our blog. Your input would be valuable and useful,

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-based 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®

Square Wheels metaphor about performance improvement

Team Bonding. Engagement. Innovation – an Animated Square Wheels Icebreaker

Interested in a simple-to-use, engaging, experiential framework to generate active involvement in workplace innovation? Want to show a very short animation and then get people immediately talking about innovation and culture?

You will find our 40-second stop-motion animation about people and performance fantastic. Show it to facilitate people thinking about workplace improvement and then generating innovating ideas about workplace issues and opportunities.

This is a very simple discussion tool, one that operates very differently than most warm-up routines that focus on funny name tags or some silly effort to “warm people up for something.” It is a much more practical approach to filling this valuable time with relevant interactions and a generated focus on your desired outcomes.

Getting people focused on possibilities of implementing change and improvement has been the main focus of our Square Wheels® illustrations for the past 25 years. We give supervisors and managers, executives and trainers a bombproof and simple metaphor to enable people to share their ideas about what issues are at hand and what improvement ideas might be considered as alternatives to the way things work now.

How does this work?

At the core of the concept is the simple idea of a wagon rolling on Square Wheels with a cargo of round tires. It sets up the idea of choice and choices and considered alternative ways to doing things. PMC started with a line-art image and have evolved to using LEGO® as a way of enabling discussions:

Square Wheels team bonding image for team building and innovation

We would show the image and ask people, “How might this represent how organizations really work.”

Viewers would then project their beliefs onto the image and consider a wide variety of different possibilities. Collectively, a team of people would share very diverse views, which made discussions useful for team bonding as well as generating requisite team building if one moved to defining specific workplace Square Wheels and finding some Round Wheels to attempt to implement. Implementation of ideas is always a key to effective team building initiatives.

What we developed with a simple stop-motion approach with LEGO is a 35-second story, one that has no actual reality but one that would be interpreted differently by people viewing the scenario. Pulling those thoughts together through a simple facilitated discussion process is easy, and the projective aspect of different perceived realities dramatically broadens the ideas. They are quickly generating shared beliefs about what is happening, with shared thoughts on workplace improvement opportunities being one desired end result.

Watch the animation by clicking on the image below:

What do YOU think happened? 

Understand that the richness of thinking comes out when groups of people discuss their individual perceptions and thoughts about what transpired. A single person will tend to have a single view. A group will generate a shared consensus of what happened. (Note that this is a scenario and there is no reality!)

Note that there are general themes of:

  • Vision
  • Change
  • Resources
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Trust
  • Coaching and Facilitating

and that the facilitator’s comments and questions can push the group to focus on different aspects of this animation, depending on your initial framing of the video and on your desired outcomes.

Some examples of introductory, set-up comments might be:

Teamwork and Change: “I want to show you a very short video about a work team and I would like you to look for some key themes about how organizations really work to implement change.”

Setting up a Training Program: “Here is a short video. Let’s watch it and discuss. After we make some comments, we can look at it again. My goal is to relate the happenings in the video to our training…”

Innovation and implementing improvements: “In this short video, you are going to see a variety of things happening. Let’s talk about implementing improvements and change after you look at it.”

General warm up: “React to what you saw, let’s discuss those perceptions and then let’s show the video clip again…”

If you wanted to debrief this video into some actionable kinds of thinking or desired outcomes, you might prompt participants with some open-ended questions such as:

  • How did the action start? 
  • What might have caused them stop pushing and pulling, initially?
  • How did the action end? What was the last thing that happened?
  • What were their reactions to what happened? What did the Pushers see and do? What did the Puller see and do?
  • When did they feel most successful?
  • When did they feel most challenged?
  • What important things happened? What were the key points in the learning process?
  • What happened with the Square Wheel at the back of the wagon?
  • What might some of their insights have been?
  • What was the Wagon Puller’s reaction?
  • How might the people have felt about their efforts to replace a Square Wheel with a round one?
  • What was the Ranger semi-truck about? / What were their reactions to the truck?
  • What other possible endings were there? What might happen next?

If you think you might find this to be a very workable tool for your toolbox of engagement and innovation materials, hop over to our website by clicking on the icon below:

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®


Two of PMC’s team building simulations are finalists in the 2018 International Business Learning Games competition, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and the Collaboration Journey Challenge.

 

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.

 

Servant Leadership and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine – ideas for owners

We have a great global network of people who own and deliver our Lost Dutchman teambuilding exercise as well as tens of thousands of managers and leaders who have been through the game and understand what the basic themes and anchors represent. If you want to see a bit more about Servant Leadership and links to the exercise, read on, and apologies if some aspects of this do not make sense, since our primary audience are those experienced with the simulation. This post is about how we are altering the basic design to better link to servant leadership development and organizational cultural change.

The goal of this post is to share some of the thinking we are doing around the simple reframing of the simulation to mesh better with implementing Servant Leadership / Selfless Leadership behaviors. The theme is about involving and engaging people to optimize everything!

Let’s start here with a basic understanding about what we are doing:

Our focus is on breaking the old “command and control” leadership model and causing real reflection and change in leadership behavior. The Lost Dutchman game models seamless game facilitation behaviors and allows us to discuss game behaviors in the context of workplace collaboration and the optimization of results. This careful reframing of the basic Dutchman delivery will focus on meshing selfless leadership into team building training to generate real changes, to help leaders really understand the impacts of their behavior and choices on improving the performance of their people.

I will share some ideas and thoughts about using the Lost Dutchman game in a slightly different delivery mode, adding more collaboration, integrating delivery around the SL model more clearly, and providing ideas for better implementation of desired behaviors. This latter thought is obviously the most difficult; People will TALK about doing SL kinds of things, but then revert back to their regular behavior, the normal command and control model, if people let them. The idea is to build in more followup after the session to better install these behaviors into the culture.

Most of you know that talking about the behaviors comprising the Servant / Selfless Leadership model is pretty straightforward. The ideas are not rocket-science and the desired cultural beliefs are pretty straightforward, including:

  • General teamwork and trust among the teams
  • Understanding of normal competitiveness in the desire to collaborate
  • Collaboration as a driving force for teamwork and engagement
  • A focus on doing good works and shared success with accomplishments
  • The belief that helping others achieve their goals is important
  • Having a shared perspective and a compelling mission and goals
  • Aligned beliefs so that there is some Cognitive Dissonance about the normal kinds of extrinsic motivation and general disengagement
  • Selfless reflection and congruence on expectations and desired behaviors
  • Openness to new information and willingness to entertain new ideas; generally decreasing overall resistance
  • Disruptive bottoms-up, active dis-un-engagement and sharing of Best Practices between individuals and across departmental lines
  • Understanding of the operational culture and a focus on building a community and improving an organizational culture
  • Persuasion and recruitment to shared goals, rather than authority and control
The above are all great ideas, and few managers would disagree with items on the list as being important to their workplaces. Along these same lines, Dan Rockwell of the Leadership Freak blog shared these 15 praiseworthy behaviors:
  1. Honesty when mistakes are made.
  2. Receptiveness to negative feedback.
  3. Staying focused on tough issues while avoiding drama.
  4. Finishing. Notice when someone reaches a goal or completes a task.
  5. Positivity. When someone energizes others, notice it.
  6. Kindness.
  7. Trying again.
  8. Reaching high. The pursuit of excellence inspires.
  9. Going the extra mile.
  10. Taking action without being told.
  11. Strengths. “You are really good at … .”
  12. Positive impact. Notice how one person’s actions impact other people.
  13. Transparency. Be grateful when someone reveals their heart.
  14. Solution-finding.
  15. Sincerity.

Imagine that workplace! How would it feel to be working amongst people with those shared values and behaviors. How might it impact your personal growth and development if you really felt that the manager and the organization really cared for you? How might that workplace perform of you and teamwork among the people?

And note that there is a ripple effect of a leader demonstrating such behaviors. It can be a kind of pay-it-forward impact, generating a broader spread of such desired behaviors and allowing positive behaviors to pass through and making the workplace a better workplace.

My colleague Bob Jerus has framed things with a great model that we are working to better integrate into our LDGM-SL Delivery Framework:

A model for Servant Leadership implementationSo, how to we get there from here?

The Introduction to the LDGM exercise is easily modified to add SL themes and ideas. Plus there are ways to alter the workshop design, in general from a pre-workshop and post-workshop perspective.

Colleague Scott Knutson has been using a pre-course reading assignment about SL and key leadership behaviors that can be seen within his organization. The idea is to make these basic themes clear and understandable. He and I will write more on this and share some specific ideas in a later blog.

Scott also posts “posters” on these key themes around the room as reminders. And, we are altering the actual Introduction itself to carry some of these ideas; that is a work in progress. The basic idea is to minimize surprise and to prompt players to consider using these themes in their play of the exercise.

My suggestion is that we also use the Assay Office Version of The Mine Video within the play. I explain this change to the basic strategic planning metaphor in a blog. The initial idea was a “high profitability” version of play but the adding of an extra ounce of gold availability when mining if tabletops improve their sharing of information and resources is a powerful addition to the play of this LDGM-SL version. The teams can choose to collaborate and we can measure and show that choice in our debriefing.

Since we make all these SL themes and possibilities for choice available to the players, it is very interesting that most simply choose to do the more normal kinds of competitive behaviors, working well with their own tabletops but not collaborating effectively with the others. The competition is measurably shown to sub-optimize results in the debriefing, also. Dutchman does a wonderful job of generating those behavior gaps and causing really solid discussions about what they should be doing differently to improve their actual leadership performance and results. And using this Assay Office framework simply makes these gaps even more evident.

The impacts of improving collaboration and having more of those selfless behaviors noted by Dan (above) show themselves clearly as performance improvement opportunities. The elegance of LDGM is how cleanly we measure results and the optimizing impacts collaboration and resource sharing can have; it seems pretty unique to our design.

What other changes are possible in the normal design of LDGM that can add to the SL model?

The exercise is designed as, “twenty days of two minutes each.” That sets up play as roughly a 40 minutes of delivery time. But the reality is that the last 6 days are simply spent returning to home – there is no challenge and the last 10 minutes are simply an ending of play. So, the question was about optimizing the discussion and minimizing wasted time. The answer was a third Arctic Blast!

Given the overall design and the “limited but sufficient resources” that we give to tabletops, a third Arctic Blast would generally kill off all the teams. THAT would certainly stop play, right? So, if we showed that third Blast, we could then stop the game. We could also very accurately project final results of all teams and the group overall, showing them how things would end if they kept doing what they were doing.

So, why not end the game, show them how they would have done and then use that time to reframe their choices, change their competition to collaboration, share the information available and redistribute resources so that results were optimized and so they could see the actual impacts of more of the SL behaviors on the group, culturally and measurably.

At this point, we will help the players “do the numbers,” giving them coaching and the job aids needed to help them calculate new results based on the changes they can make. We can ask them the questions necessary to alter their culture.

  • How many tabletops have the $30 Spare Tires and could use more Supplies and Fuel ($20 and $20, respectively)?
  • How many unused Tents and Batteries are there? ($10 and $10)
  • How many Cave Cards will not be used and that can be shared?
  • How many Turbochargers are not being used? Which teams do not have Turbos?
  • How much more Gold can be mined if more teams had more resources?
  • Given that Rule Number One of the Expedition Leader is that, “they are always right,” what do you need them to do to assist you in generating improved results?

We are working on how to design this new game ending so as to mesh optimally with our SL viewpoint, to get the teams at all the tabletops to optimize collaboration and generate more of the SL desired behaviors. From those choices made and the overall desired outcomes, we envision some of our discussions to focus along these lines:

Servant Leadership Debriefing Ideas for The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding

Lastly, we are designing activities to followup on these key themes and the choices and commitments that the individual players will make about what they will try to do differently after the workshop. There are any number of design features for improving followup using our Gold Cards, twitter hashtags, etc. Designing small implementation work teams as part of the debriefing and post-workshop planning for culture change is pretty straightforward.

There are a variety of things that individuals can do to earn their White Hats.

Let me add one last thought. A new book by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, Jeffrey Pfeffer, is sure to generate some discussion about leadership and oganizations. Dying for a Paycheck, published by HarperBusiness and released on March 20, maps a range of ills in the modern workplace — and how these workplace environments are literally killing people. There is an interesting overview by Dylan Walsh at
https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/workplace-killing-people-nobody-cares .

Expect more on how using The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine can be linked to workplace improvement as things roll forward. We are focused on generating selfless, collaborative, engaging and empowering workplaces,

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine uses LEGO Scenes for energy and engagement

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can reach Solomon by clicking on his image below:

Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

 

 

 

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

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

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

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Thanksgiving Progress – People and Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Square Wheels One LEGO image by Scott Simmerman

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

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

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

 

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

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

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
®

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

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

Teambuilding and Servant Leadership training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

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

Connect with Scott on Google+

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

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

 

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