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

Category: Facilitation Page 1 of 21

Make Spring Forward Monday a Day for More Engagement

Choose to help your people Spring Forward!

March 14 is a Monday, the day after Daylight Savings time advances and we lose an hour of sleep. It doesn’t sound like much, but global statistics of many kinds show that there are many, multiple general negative impacts on people and performance.

It will be one of the low productivity workdays of the year — it is also called Sleepy Monday by many — and you know people will be dragging. I mean, really, how many of your people will go to bed an hour early?

So, expect things to look like this:

Spring Forward Monday -- make it engaging and motivating

So, 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? Why not have some FUN and generate some ideas that you can then implement? Worth a try?

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

Spring Forward Minday illustration on disengagement of workers

Choose to do some things different with your onsite and especially your remote workers. Ask them to work together to share ideas for what might be done differently to address those problems that do not roll along smoothly!

Spring Forward Monday® - A Square Wheels / Round Wheel opportunity for actively engaging

Square Wheels® are interactive facilitation engagement tools designed by Scott Simmerman and are a tool for innovation

People are good problem solvers and when they know that something IS a shared problem, they will collaborate to define the problem and generate the needed perspective and define appropriate 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.

 

So, it is about choice. Put them to work!

We are offering a $15 toolkit that works for onsite and Zoom-type meetings:

It comes complete with our main discussion illustration, called Square Wheels One:

And related worksheets. You can present the image as a screenshare and have your people discuss this to get them started thinking about the many workplace things that do not work smoothly.

From those engaging discussions, you can shift the talk to the workplace issues that the Square Wheels might represent, the many things that do not work smoothly. You can engage them in their normal work teams or create new breakout room to allow them to share thoughts and generate possibilities.

You can close with the image we call Intrinsic Motivation, the reality of how people feel when they implement their own ideas and see resulting improvements.

As a manager or team leader, it is your choice to continue to do things the same way or to actively involve and engage people to interactively consider things from different perspectives, defining some issues and refining some ideas for individual or organizational 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.

Our decades of experience using similar materials repeatedly 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.

 

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

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 Company

You can also purchase this simple $15 toolkit to support your engagement efforts with our metaphors and materials. The package contains:

  • The Square Wheels One image
  • A simple Leader’s Guide for facilitating the session(s)
  • Participant Worksheets/Handouts

 


Optionally, you can access The Square Wheels Project to complete a 30-minute optional course on generating workplace improvement through facilitation. It is a general skill-development course, but focused on our metaphors and worksheets. And it costs only $15 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.

Please note that this Spring Forward Monday® toolkit contains only the two new Divya Style illustrations of Square Wheels One
and the Intrinsic Motivation image and does not include the LEGO images used to illustrate the Draggin’ Slayer idea.
Other Square Wheels® illustrations will become available shortly and we are easily able to support your use of the metaphor with custom-designed tools. 

 

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 who is trying to retire!! He now lives in Cuenca, Ecuador.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
Spring Forward Monday® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group
Square Wheels images are copyrighted by Performance Management Company

 

Team Building, Leadership and Change

In my LinkedIn feed was a blog by Jacob Morgan about leadership in change. In it, he talks about the thinking of Simon Mainwaring, who thought that there are 3 transforming trends happening:

  1. Leaders are allowed to be more human,
  2. Cultures are more inclusive, and
  3. Leadership is much more collaborative.

His key point was that as leadership changes, the skills and mindsets of leaders will also change. Successful leaders are willing to adapt to best serve their organizations. This only makes sense.

My initial response to this was, “maybe.” I have been seeing similar thoughts for a very very long time, almost every time there is some paradigm shift like the move to “Excellence” and the move to “Quality” and so on and so forth. Maybe, “covid-driven remote working” is the next great new thing in the world of leadership to drive a focus on managing, or maybe not.

I think that a lot of managers view the world pretty simply:

…and this is NOT how to motivate them for good performance…

I remember reading pre-covid that the workers that were remote way back in those good old days had more contact with their managers than the people who were sitting in the same offices, watching their manager walk by not saying much, multiple times a day. The managers apparently seemed to feel the need to keep connected to these remote workers and never bothered to bother the ones sitting in the workplace.

And, I just read a great PwC survey of CEOs. In this broad-based analysis, one can see that Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement Metrics were the top two measures to which these execs were compensated and that they were the top two corporate strategies.

But then you read nothing much about the people strategies of these CEOs and nothing about how they are communicating the criticality of managing the front-line workers and their supervisors to improve their workplaces. And it seems to me that if people are that important to their view of performance, they would be at least talking about that herein or maybe in their regular communications with their management teams.

Now, you read the stories around The Great Resignation and see how so many people are CHOOSING to leave their companies. So much of that hangs around the issues of them and their supervision and management (training, compensation, engagement and similar). And if you read the survey, the word “people” was used two times and there was little recognition that improving the management of people on generating those desired results.

And then I read a great and really well-written article by Ethan Burris about how to manage ideas around your negative boss and up the organization (https://hbr.org/2022/01/how-to-sell-your-ideas-up-the-chain-of-command) — which makes great points but which angers me because only the most motivated workers will choose to do something that risky within their own organization.

How many workers are going to read the article to learn the strategies for working around their managers and how many managers will see this whole thing as needing change?

(This other article on employees speaking freely (also by Ethan Burris) is much better, and will be the subject of another blog post soon:  https://hbr.org/2016/01/can-your-employees-really-speak-freely)

WHY should workers even want to manage ideas around their manager? Why take the risk? Why not just go to another company which will probably generate a pay increase and the possibility that the manager really cares about their people? There is always hope, right?

I’m an old geezer, 73, and recently un-retired and re-engaged in themes of people and performance. I’ve been reading about these same “better management practices” for over 50 years and some of those business writings are now about 100 years old. And little has really changed. METRICS have changed since we now measure engagement and quality, but the general interactions of managers and employees? Not so much.

BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory and there are still WAY too many managers who think they are The Boss.
(And most would agree that they are!)

Going remote has HUGE potential benefits for people and performance. But how do we really implement improvements in organizations to make the workplace a real place for personal growth and family support?

So, I am thinking of taking a back-door approach to changing supervisor’s behaviors and forcing them to be more engaging. We just released the online, virtual version of our team building game. It is designed to run with as many as 6 teams of 4 people in a pod, just a perfect size if we can get organizations to push their managers to do some actual teambuilding with their people. One or two supervisors could run the game, which is focused on, “Mining as much gold as WE can.” 

If, we can teach these managers the positive facilitation skills needed to run the game as Expedition Leader, basic psychology says that their attitudes around the ideas of facilitation will change, that they will need to be in alignment with their actual behavior.

The game is about getting people to collaborate within their teams and getting them to collaborate between their teams in order to generate to most gold that they can. Competition makes it more difficult and measurably sub-optimizes game results.

Then, these Expedition Leaders generate a debriefing to get at the ideas the players have for performing better, and then discussing how some of those suggestions could be implemented within their workplace. Later communications done for teaching and around implementation would further the need for more engagement and more changes toward desired outcomes.

We will move this way as we develop more of the game support materials. We will wrap the exercise around generating motivation and teamwork and improving how people engage and collaborate around their remote workplaces.

If you want to see more about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, you can click on the icon below and see a short overview video or to to our website to read about the exercise in more detail.

The new, virtual version of the team building game for remote teambuilding

For the FUN of It!

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

Visit our website at www.performancemanagementcompany.com

See a 2-minute video of Lost Dutchman Virtual here:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6gDtZymwk

Implementing Round Wheels to fix your Square Wheels

Ask a worker and they will share ideas for improvement. As a consultant walking around, this is a given and a simple reality. People doing the work know there are things that can be done differently that would have impacts on organizational performance. Some will even take the time to give you a list of them if they think you are really interested. (true.)

Many things do not work smoothly in their workplaces, which are the things that frustrate them and measurably lower productivity. And it is an exceptional manager who appears to be interested in making changes and improving work processes.

And this frustration and dissatisfaction about potential improvements causes all sorts of negative spins to impacting intrinsic motivation and employee turnover. Sometimes it is simple training that can smooth things out and sometimes is is the sharing of a best practice across all team members. Often it is about improving collaboration across departmental boundaries. But the act of ASKING goes a long way toward improving communications.

Discussing and implementing better ideas can send the message that what the workers see is actually important to managers. Often, what management sees as important and what management pushes through are different things — and that is most likely not going to lead to any sort of workplace engagement and performance improvement.

But the problem is often related to how the problem is discussed and presented. And people are BUSY, and often appear not interested in listening or considering new ideas. Maybe it looks like this:

 

Today’s Organizational Reality would conclude:

  • People do not fix or care that much about ideas that are not their own.
  • Bosses are busy, or at least too busy to spend time listening to ideas
  • Improvement may not be measured by the company
  • The improvement possibility is not related to your job or their job
  • The value and impact of the improvement is not thought-out or defined
  • Everyone has different perspectives on what to do differently
  • The idea is not well presented or framed as a business proposition
  • The idea not seen as cost effective or it may take time to address
  • Some interdepartmental collaboration may be required (needs IT or another department or something similar to implement)

 

What I suggest that supervisors and managers can do differently is to schedule some time to ask people for ideas.

But first, we want to engage and involve them and get them to “step back from the wagon and think out of the box” a little. This image below is a simple framework for the overall thinking about the issues and the opportunity:

SWs One Dis-un-engagement choice

 

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There” and “The Round Wheels are already in the wagon” are two of the main operational metaphors. The process depends on people actively engaging with the metaphor and generating their own ideas about issues and opportunities.

If  you are interested in more details about how you might use the Square Wheels theme to address issues and opportunities with your people, click on the worksheet image below and view an older post of mine with more details. We are in the process of developing a whole series of tools for the remote workplace and for supervisors to use to engage their people through Zoom and similar tools.

Note that we moved from the original line-art images to using LEGO to illustrate and animate different themes and that we are now in the process of redoing the line art in a new and more colorful style. More to come, for sure!

For the FUN of It!

 

Dr. Scott Simmerman CPF, CPT 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

Scott’s detailed profile:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman/


Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

2-Minute Video on the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine ONLINE VIRTUAL game design

We roll forward and are actively doing demos of the new virtual design.

Here is a short video that overviews things:

Contact us if you want to see more or get involved, early-on, with the final development.

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC and collaborating with the team at PMC LLC, but also sort of retired…

Scott is developer of the incredible Square Wheels® tools and images
and the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.

You can reach him at scott@squarewheels.com and you can see his profile at LinkedIn

 

 

A Joke on the issues of Implementing New Ideas

We’re playing around with a bunch of new  tools to help supervisors manage their remote workers and overall team more effectively, wrapped around our Square Wheels® images. And, in my framing work, I thought of an old joke that I wanted to share about some of the difficulties in implementing improvements.

And, in thinking about that, I thought to share it with my readers.

So, here goes:

This guy was driving down a dirt road when he looked to his left and a three-legged chicken was running next to the car. Interesting, he thought but he also thought he would drive faster. He sped up but so did the chicken. So, he sped up a bit more but so did the chicken. Finally, he’s doing over 50 miles per hour and the chicken is staying with him.
Then, all of a sudden, the chicken speeds up and cuts in front of him and runs onto this farm road.
Well, the guy slows down, backs up and goes down the road to reach the farm house where a farmer steps off the porch and comes up to the car.
“Man, did you see the speed of that chicken?”
“Yep.”
“And did you see that it has three legs?”
“Yep. We breed them that way.”
“Why?”
“Well ever have people over for dinner and you want three drumsticks?” 
“Sure. That actually makes good sense. How do they taste?”
“Well, we don’t rightly know. We’ve never been able to catch one…”
(speaking of Square Wheels, I have been unable to get the correct formatting on this post. Sorry.)
The theme is that sometimes, what appears to be a really good idea can be pretty hard to actually implement.
What really good “3-legged chicken” ideas might we have to run around? How might you use this joke to lighten up a difficult meeting about implementing changes within an organization? How can you use the joke to stimulate a discussion about your organization’s issues and opportunities?
  • What plans might the farmer and driver make?
  • How do we make a great idea into a success by doing a better job of planning at the start?
… and so forth.

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Square Wheels Tools for Managing and Leading Remote Workers

There are massive shifts happening right now, some are trends that are simply continuing and some are having significant impacts on people and performance. In millions of workplaces, people who have had desks are not expected to continue to contribute by working remotely. That transition is going to be unbelievably painful for millions of workers and their supervisors.

My network of consultants and trainers are now discussing how we can help people better handle these changing conditions by providing some very simple tools and some very simple training to impact communications. We think that our Square Wheels® themes can be made into simple webcasted interactive discussions.

So, we are just beginning to pull a wide variety of resources together to share ideas about what we can do and what we can implement. My current view is to package things like the old “brown bag luncheon” tools, with images and animations to help jumpstart discussions on various issues, present and future.

Impacts should be on worker (and manager) motivation, dealing with change, innovation and designing better workplace systems and processes, implementing improvement, team building and collaboration and other issues that are being faced by managers. And the tools will be simple, like this haiku I did a while back…

haiku Better Tomorrow

If you are interested in playing with us as we develop these things, please let me know by email. I may see comments but may also be slow to react to them.

These tools will strongly align with my “Manager as Motivator” thinking, whereby we support people managing people with simple engagement processes and implementation tools and ideas.

Scott Simmerman – scott@squarewheels.com

Decreasing Resistance to Change — The Finger, Arm and Leg Exercise for facilitating discussion

In The Dilbert Principles, Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

That one little quip captures the essence of trying to do something differently. Change is commonly resisted and often actively resisted, combined with a variety of reasons and excuses. People tend to rationalize the many reasons why something cannot be changed. Let me use a simple example of teaching someone to play pool.

In pool, one holds a cue stick and attempts to hit the cue ball into an object ball and then into a pocket. It is a fun and simple game and everyone can play. The balls are stationary until you hit one into another. Obviously, how and where one hits on the cue ball influences the level of success; striking the cue ball consistently and accurately hitting the object ball allows one to pocket more balls than hitting randomly.

So, there are skills around holding and swinging the cue stick related to the position of the head and eyes and arm and what is called “a bridge,” which is the placement of the hand closest to the cue ball which holds the cue stick for aiming. HOW one forms the bridge influences how stable the bridge is and how accurately and consistently one can then strike the cue ball. Some bridges are MUCH more stable than others and experienced players do this little thing MUCH better than people starting to learn the game.

But, the reality is that once people get comfortable with their bridge, they become resistant to changing / improving their hand position. One would think changing a hand position would be a simple thing; but repetition and habit generally make the newer player actively resistant to learning a newer or better way of doing this. This is generally a consistent kind of resistance to learning. So, in teaching pool, bridging is one of the first things to be addressed. And the active resistance is clear.

There is a simple exercise that works great to expose those things that underpin this active resistance and to increase the probability of change. So, I start by holding both hands up, fingers apart and wiggling and then fold my hands together, interlocking my fingers. When I do this, my left thumb is on top but the other person (or people) will do theirs randomly; it does not seem to be related to handedness, in my experience. Some people simply do it with their right thumbs winding up on top. So, ask them which thumb they put on top.

Then, unfold your fingers and wiggle them again and interlock them the other way, so your other thumb is on top. Ask the other person to do this. And observe the process. Most people will fumble with this a bit. Some might even have to try it again. ALL will feel uncomfortable. Why?

Because they probably have never before interlocked their fingers this new way.

Many will need to actually concentrate on doing this differently. They will actually study their hands and fingers and carefully look (probably for the very first time) how they have their fingers interlocked.

But do not stop here. What you then do is fold your arms across your chest. Ask them to fold their arms. Then, after they are comfortable with this, you will fold your arms exactly the opposite, so that things are not like they were at first. (I encourage you to practice this a few times before you demonstrate because it IS difficult to do for many people!) If your left hand is under your right upper arm and your right hand is over your left biceps, for example, reverse it so your right hand is under and your left hand is over. (If you try this right now, you will see why some practice is necessary, so practice it a few times so you can appear to do this easily.)

You will see, in all likelihood, the other person flounder around with this. Ask them why and they will probably give you some reason or other but the reality is that things are more difficult and uncomfortable when you have never done them differently than you normally do. (The phenomenon can be termed behavioral flexibility — note that there are a dozen ways one can make a bridge in pool, each used in different circumstances so being comfortable with doing a bridge differently is a real skill!)

The third part of this is optional to do but easily demonstrated, or even discussed. When people cross their legs (and there are a few different ways to do this like at the ankle or over the knee), they will “naturally and normally” change leg positions because staying in one position cuts off the blood flow and becomes painful. People learn to cross their legs differently because of this and they do not ever consider leg position and reversal an issue. (Pain / discomfort is a good motivator for change!)

Okay, so, it you have actually DONE the above exercises and interlocked your fingers and arms differently, you will have undoubtedly felt the discomfort associated with doing things differently. Perfect! And you now understand clearly that dealing with discomfort is always associated with change and that being less uncomfortable being uncomfortable is a really good learning point, something that can help you better deal with change in the future.

Now, in the example above, I went through how all this related to teaching someone how to improve their pool game. I hope it helps you with your game, too!

But the ideas underlying sharing these simple exercises are that you can use them with others in your efforts to improve workplace performance, to help decrease active resistance to new ideas and to the feelings common when one implements new ideas. Do this with others and have some fun making people re-assess their thoughts and reactions. Apply this to your leadership efforts.

 

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. He is a CPF and CPT and holds a doctorate in behavioral neuropsychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scott is co-Founder of The Square Wheels Project and currently working on being retired in Cuenca, Ecuador while still supporting a variety of business improvement projects.

 You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

How do I generate new and improved outcomes in meetings?

Yesterday, I answered a Quora question about effective workplace team building activities and how to best impact people and performance. Today, I was asked to respond to the above question, so I thought to share those simple thoughts herein, also.

How DO you generate better innovation in meetings? Here is what I said:

Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

And that seems to be one of the critical issues in getting new things thought of and good ideas implemented. Push people to think out of the box and look at issues and opportunities from different perspectives than usual. Lots of different ways to do that or tools you can use to push divergent thinking or alternative generation. (My Square Wheels® images represent one way to facilitate this.)

But also keep in mind that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car” and that the feeling of ownership is a critical factor if you intend to generate commitment and drive teamwork and implementation. The issue of implementation can get complicated as well as political, but building good expectations and setting up feedback / measurement systems.

Different people will see things differently, so facilitating a discussion where different alternatives are discussed is important. Note that some people will immediately jump to The Answer and even do Godzilla Meets Bambi on other people’s ideas, so having some kind of voting process is useful. Again, all sorts of different ways to accomplish that.

(Side note: Godzilla Meets Bambi is a short video I produced 10 years ago that is about these same kinds of issues and the reality of what can happen if desired outcomes do not align with organizational realities. You can see that short animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOZk6UOii6M

Having someone play Devil’s Advocate as an assigned / shifting role can also be useful to unsure that ideas are viewed from different perspectives. Sometimes it is just too easy for people to go along with an idea without due diligence.

And deciding on “Expected Next Steps” and timelines is useful. The clearer The Path, the less confusion and the more buy-in. Minimize surprise. Generate a clear picture of doing something new or, “morebetterfaster*” than you are currently doing things. Make the vision of the future more attractive, rather than threatening.

There is no silver bullet. It is all about ideation, buy-in, planning and execution. Be sure there are sufficient resources (time, money, leadership) to give people the feeling that the new initiative can be successful. (And note that it often takes YEARS to change organizational cultures!)

 

So, I hope that you found this short overview and response to be of some value. You can find the Quora post with other replies here.

* Tom Peters is thought to have said, “It’s really simple. If we are not getting more better faster than they are getting more better faster, than we’re getting less better or more worse.” (article here)

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

What are examples of team building exercises that actually work?

I was asked the above question today in Quora and I shared what I thought was a simple response:

“It is NOT “the exercise” but The Debriefing.

Spending some time playing a game or doing some kind of group activity will change nothing because people will generally not reflect on their activity in any way that will set up the cognitive dissonance needed to change behavior. Sure, fun is fun, and the fun can set up a positive memory. And if the exercise is collaborative, then maybe some bonding and trust improvement might result.

I would suggest you evaluate any activity from the perspective of how it might generate solid discussions. If the activity is for collaboration but teams choose to compete rather than work together, can you neatly link those things together in the context of organizational improvement?

If the goal is, for example, “to mine as much gold as we can,” do the teams work together to optimize overall results to accomplish the overall mission, or do they choose to “win?” And, do their choices designed to win actually reduce the successes of other teams?

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” is one such example of a business simulation that has clear metaphors about teamwork and clear, measurable processes to allow for solid discussions about things people and teams can choose to do differently. (Disclosure: My game, sold worldwide for 25+ years.)

There are a few other exercises / simulations out there that allow for good discussions. The role of the session facilitator is critical and the exercise should provide them with solid tools to generate discussions and followup. Little change should be expected from some interactive activity with little discussion and no followup.”

 

The person asking the question responded as I thought he might because of the nature of the question. He said, Thanks Scott! This is helpful and you’ve helped me identify a problem with team building exercises I’ve previously been a participant in. They’ve often lacked a debriefing or meaningful discussion of any kind.”

This is actually a very common thought from participants who go through team bonding or even some programs said to be team building. There is a goal of getting through the activity but not a focus on discussing what could be done morebetterfaster or what changes might be implemented.

What are YOUR thoughts on his question? You can respond to that herein or back on the Quora discussion you can find here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-team-building-exercises-that-actually-work

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman – “The Square Wheels Guy!
     Performance Management Company
3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC 29687 USA
864-292-8700

www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com

Design Thinking: Who ARE those customers

Attending an Agile workshop this morning, my thinking was on Design Thinking and how many of those processes neatly support the Agile approaches to innovation and implementation. What we are seeing so often is an active resistance to even the basic ideas around implementing improvements. But, as I have seen since starting my consulting and training efforts back in 1978, “What else is new?”

The critical success factor often seems to be “perspective” or “reflection.” Outside of the technical and the processes involved, nothing gets done until things get implemented. The viewpoint of the leader, the wagon puller, often remains the same as it has always been and they are often not going to embrace the improvement initiative. They are looking forward at what needs to be accomplished today much more often than they are reflecting on the ideas of others about what might be improved in the future.

The workplace thus seems to roll forward along these lines:

Design Thinking and Implementation in the workplace of reality

As I shared in another blog, there are a variety of reasons for why people do not share ideas for improvement in most organizations, and very few GOOD reasons…

Square Wheels research on why people are not engaged

(Click on the image to see more about this original research)

The statistics are about workers’ perceptions of managers but the reality is that this also reflects the managers view about their managers and their managers view of the senior managers…

The simple summary is that managers need more reflection about how their workplaces perform and the understanding that many people are motivated by participating in workplace improvement initiatives. Managers can facilitate the generation of ideas and can benefit when those ideas produce positive impacts. We can see that in Agile kinds of improvement initiatives where teams quickly design and test new frameworks for implementation and they can be seen in design thinking kinds of initiatives focused on new products, change and productivity.

The Round Wheels already exist,
but need to be implemented more better faster.

The Round Wheels of Today will become
The Square Wheels of Tomorrow.

You can take a 30-minute online facilitation skills training program, called The Square Wheels Project at Udemy for $20, complete with handouts and powerpoint presentation tools.

Scott Simmerman's Square Wheels Project for Performance ManaagementOr, you can purchase a simple toolkit with a wide variety of supporting instructional ideas around facilitating workplace improvement.

Both of the above are designed for supervisors and both of these are easily embedded into communications and training initiatives to support organizational improvement. We have been working with Square Wheels as tools to impact people and performance since 1993 and can do a variety of things to support any kind of innovation and implementation initiative.

 

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 a fun animation about innovation and improvement here.

See another great teambuilding game: The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.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®

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Missions, Visions and Values

I am working with a consultant in India around impacting people and performance using our Square Wheels tools for communications and active involvement. In our discussion, she mentioned that her client wanted to generate better alignment to 13 values, including:

• Entrepreneurship
• Ambition
• Long term focus
• Ownership
• Hard work and Drive
• Rewarding Success
• Non-Conformist Intellectual Capital
• Openness and Transparency
• Continuous Transformation Spirit

They are also apparently in the process of fleshing out the meanings of the above, the desired behaviors that would make these more visible and impactful within the organization. When I took a moment to think about these, some alarm bells started ringing in my head as I remembered a similar kind of event way back when…

But changing organizational culture and creating meaningful and actionable missions and visions is also an art form, with a variety of potential problematic issues and possible unintended negative consequences. It is not fairy dust and a magic wand and something easily accomplished in a tops-down framework.

So, I started an email response and then thought, why not write a blog post that might be useful for this communication. The focus is on communicating visions and values needs to be done in a really organic, honest and impactful way. So, let me share a really good example of what to do and why:

The retiring chairman of a regional company was looking to leave a legacy of values as they were transitioning to a new management team. He wanted to keep what he felt were their people and performance strengths and put these into a visible statement of visions and values, to make his legacy into a very meaningful framework for the next decade.

From senior management discussions, the leadership team generated a list of bullet points as potential items for this new statement of mission. Logically, they wanted to test those themes with their management. My consulting company was tasked with running two-day “Leadership Development” sessions across the organization to discuss those values and discuss the behaviors that were essential and congruent. One of the resources we used was Max DePree’s “Leadership is an Art” book (1987) — a truly magnificent work that is eminently readable. (Here is one, used, for $5.)

One of Max’s numerous great quotes from the book that I have used for 30 years is,

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”


We were testing bulleted items in the context of both doing leadership development and discussing high performance management frameworks, to build on their existing strengths. It was a pretty elegant program design by my old colleague, Kenneth Junkins.

One such item was:

“We manage with uncompromising integrity.”

Sounds good. How was it judged? Not all that well, from the perspectives of these front-line managers who were probably not allowed to participate in as much decision-making as they would have liked. One of them reframed this, reworded it, to become:

“We manipulate with inflexible righteousness.”

Maybe this needed revisiting, do you think?

Since that time, this one incident has continued to remind me to actively involve the people who will be impacted by policies and procedures to check and verify, test and evaluate, before moving forward.

The concept of “Unintended Consequences” is reframed by legal people as a failure to be diligent and a failure to look at potential specific outcomes that are, in fact, predictable. Step cautiously, is my suggestion. Ask, evaluate, and be sure to get a variety of perspectives.

 

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.

Check out my Square Wheels Stupidly Simple Facilitation Toolkit, on our website. It is a complete program, for $25.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

Purpose, Blind Spots, and Next Questions

Three new “posters” using the same Square Wheels One image all came together in my head this morning, as a way to tell a real story about what managers need to consider doing differently to impacting people and performance. These are all part of my “culture wall” thinking about how we can share images and ideas to get everyone thinking about innovation and improvement. Plus, keeping it simple!

The first thought is about clearing the way about what we are doing and why. What IS our purpose in working and rolling things forward? And are we really making any good progress in that regard?

What is the real purpose of our works?

Sure, we can all work hard at pushing and pulling and meeting our goals and desired outcomes, but are we doing things in the best and brightest way? Do the wagon pushers share the same goals and purposes as the wagon puller? Are we communicating the desired overall outcomes clearly and are we taking advantage of all the available resources?

The next idea is the simple concept that we all have blind spots in how we view the world around us and that we can make better decisions the more we see and consider. Are we taking advantage of hindsight and considered ideas about how things are really working or are we letting our biases and past experiences blind us to new realities and new paradigms of operation?

Do we have blind spots in how we think about performance and teamwork?

The idea and inspiration for the above came from an excellent article about thinking  and making smart decisions published on Farnham Street. There are all sorts of anchors to ideas for doing things more better faster and for making better decisions by expanding the visible universe.

In other words, “Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!”

The last idea in this short series anchors to the idea of continuous continuous improvement and the reality that we need to KEEP changing and improving, that this is not a one-stop-shop kind of endeavor.

Asking The Next Question is the key to continuous continuous improvement

Asking one question is a really good idea. And asking a followup question about implementation or next steps or other issues and opportunities is what will help to generate that active involvement, trust in listening and acting, and generating real improvement. There are LOTS of available ideas around improvement in your workplace, if only the managers would ask (and then listen) and the employees felt better about offering their thoughts. And there are some pretty simple things to do to improve innovation if we can change some perceptions and behaviors.

We have been focusing on the issues around active involvement in workplace improvement since 1978 and playing with these simple ideas of using metaphor and facilitation to help impact people and performance. I wish that we had somehow had more impact, since the issues and opportunities seem so straightforward.

Square Wheels metaphor for organizational improvement

 

Why can’t managers simply ask their people for ideas about improvement? It would go such a long way and have so many positive impacts…

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.

Square Wheels resources explained on our website.

See the powerful Square Wheels 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®

 

 

Contributing Improvement Ideas. The BOSS is the biggest issue

I plan on doing a whole series of posts around some survey results by my friend and colleague, Lynn Woods at IdeaSpies. Her data focuses on some of the issues around management and innovation and active involvement. My goal is to write a LOT more about this in coming blogs about people and performance and frame the issues around how we can facilitate ourselves out of this mess…

So, CAN people contribute more ideas to their workplaces? Not surprising. People do have ideas, if managers would bother to ask them, right?

Square Wheels Data on Active Involvement for Innovation

DO Managers value those ideas? Well, that data shows that the attitudes of the Boss don’t seem too supportive. Hell, over 10% said it is RISKY to do so. And, if the supervisor were actually interested, they would probably not be “too busy” or find it “too difficult.”

Square Wheels research on why people are not engaged

I am going to put almost ALL of this on the management and the perceived actual culture they have created for the workers. Is innovation and workplace improvement of systems and processes not important to the long-term, overall success of the organization? Is not employee motivation an important issue?

And what are we getting when the management team seems to make the sharing of worker ideas a RISK to the workers, to have them believe that their supervisor is simply not interested in those things?

The Most Senior Management should be VERY concerned about data like this, because their long-term success in innovating improvements and involving and engaging and aligning their people to strategic goals and objectives seems very much at risk.

For the past 35 years, I have been working on very similar themes of active involvement and ownership of improvement ideas in organizations and for the past 25 years, we have offered really inexpensive and effective communications tools to address these kinds of issues. You can see more information about our Square Wheels facilitation toolkits here:

square wheels facilitation toolkits for leadership development

Check this approach out. Use it on Spring Forward Monday to better involve your people. We even have an online facilitation skills course on Udemy that shares training frameworks, specific ideas and the worksheets and powerpoints to generate active involvement and improved communications,

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 our 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®


You can find a link to Lynn Wood’s data here: https://www.ideaspies.com/employee-innovation-survey-results2/.

Business Haiku on Supervisors, Training and Facitation

Here is a business haiku (5, 7 and 5 syllables) that is congruent with my thinking of the issue of supervisors and the critical need for some disruptive, bottoms-up thinking from the workplace. Are we giving our supervisors the skills needed to involve and engage their people in workplace improvement? Are we allowing them to coach performance improvement and generate the intrinsic motivation needed for long-term personal growth and success?

All I can read from dozens of sources says that the answer is NO. Supervisors are bombed with responsibilities and few of them seem able to focus time with their people to actively involve and engage them.

Does this make any real sense in the long-term?

So, here is a simple Haiku and supporting images.

supervisors and disruptive engagement training

Consider.

The Square Wheels Project is an online facilitation skills training program for supervisors and team leaders interested in gaining some new skills to better involve and engage their people for the continuous continuous improvement of workplace practices. It is simple and straightforward,

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®

 

Too Busy and Somewhat Disengaged – an illustration of workplace reality

For the past 25 years, we have been playing with various Square Wheel® images around people and performance. And a number of people, including myself, have commented on Hakan Forss’ reframe of the Square Wheels theme into LEGO. His works were what actually got me moving from the line art that we have been using since 1993 into representing scenes and situations with LEGO characters.

Joan was playing with a new newsletter and we just took a bunch of new pictures. I then imported into powerpoint to add some conversational bubbles and we now have two versions around the workplace issues of being both too busy and somewhat distanced from reality.

For many wagon pullers, they work hard but are not always connected to the work at hand.

YOUR thoughts on which illustration you like best would be neat to see. Joan says I say, “Really?” too much, to which I generally say, “Really?”

Too busy to improve the Square Wheels

And my more preferred version, which in my view of things, represents a pretty common reality about thing seem to work in most organizations:

Really too busy to improve the Square Wheels

Which of these do YOU like more? 

And how might this really reflect reality in your 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®

 

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