Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: legacy

Quotes by James Madison about Liberty and Freedom

I sometimes get political because I AM focused on people and performance, goals and expectations, measurement and feedback systems and things like that. For me, improving performance is about goals, feedback and reinforcement and the issues around human competence and motivation are important ones.

Government provides services to people and people provide support to government by their granting powers and electing people to represent them. But, like most behavioral systems, things can get corrupted and off-target and we can lose alignment, generating waste and poor performance.

James Madison had a lot of interesting observations about the government, freedoms and similar kinds of issues around the operation of our democracy. Thus, I do not consider it too much of a stretch to publish some of his quotes herein.

If you land here on this page from Google or some other search, please understand that this blog, with more than 400 articles, is about People and Performance, about teamwork and intrinsic motivation and communications. Please avail yourselves of the search box and type in a keyword and see if any of my writings appeal to you.

I run a small company that sells organizational improvement tools like Square Wheels toolkits focused on dis-un-engagement and managing and leading change as well as team building games focused on collaboration and alignment. All of these are simply tools to generate discussion about issues and opportunities.

Portrait of James Madison from Wikipedia Commons


James Madison (American 4th US President (1809-17), and Founding Father of his country. 1751-1836)

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” 

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” 

“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny”

“We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation”

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

“The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state”

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history”

“In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments.”

Lastly, let me conclude with a quote from Thomas Jefferson:

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. “

Yeah, and may we live in interesting times is that old Chinese curse…

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.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Will we be remembered in 50 years? Is that important?

I’m not looking forward to a tombstone with some chiseled words. It is not at all important that I wind up somewhere in the dirt under a tombstone where people once knew who I was. I’d rather my ashes were spread on one of the rivers I have boated or at the top of a mountain or something like that.

As I wandered in the cemetery where my father and other relatives were buried, I understood that I knew nothing about them or what they did during their lives. Each led a life, interacted with others, contributed to their communities, etc. My step-grandfather was mayor of my home town, but his stone is really hard to find out there among the others…

At lunch yesterday, I was speaking with another training business owner and we hit on the legacy thing kind of discussion. The fact that some of our old friends had died and were not remembered (he did not know Gene Calvert who wrote a great book called High Wire Management) nor was he aware that my friend, Mel Silberman, had died (see my comments on Mel on my blog here).

He and I were discussing my intellectual property (aka my business, Performance Management Company), and what kinds of things had that staying power. I have high hopes that some of my team building games, such as, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine will “stay in play” but my biggest hope was that the Square Wheels metaphor would continue to be known and used long after I’m gone.

I’ll never have a park or a bridge named after me and those would probably be gone after a while, too. But wouldn’t it be nice to leave something behind that others saw as valuable and useful? Wouldn’t it be neat to know that you somehow helped to positively change someone’s life in some way through something you did?

I think a lot of us live through our children, which is certainly an interesting process at times! And most of us are quite proud of our grandchildren or, in my Mom’s case, her great-grandson. I hope she is around long enough so that he will remember her in his future.

My goal is to have some impact and leave some footprint – some would say, “Yeah, like those dinosaur prints in Texas,” thereby inferring that I am a dinosaur and maybe stuck in the mud a little. (True)


It is about leaving a footprint, in so many ways. It is about making the world a slightly better place and doing some good.


So, I guess I am asking for your help in that regard.

What should I be doing with my Square Wheels themes so as to maximize their impact? Do I engage some sculptor to do a massive Square Wheel Wagon in granite kinda like Mount Rushmore? But really? A 60 foot head?


How do I get there from here? What are some of your ideas?

SWs One - How Things Work


Coaching and the Parallels to Running Whitewater Rapids, Part 2

The Whitewater of Coaching Improved Performance (Part Two.)

You can find Part One of this article by clicking here

Okay, so let’s talk about these as they relate to improving competence and results in the workplace as these ratings relate to coaching. Obviously, some situations are much easier and less risky than others, with the more difficult ones requiring more thought.

Class 1 situations are pretty simple and have a high likelihood of a positive outcome. You do not need much preparation and planning and you can get this done relatively easily – you can float through these types with little emotion or adrenaline. An example might be a new employee who you are coaching on how to use the software or a database they need for doing their job. Or, a new process is introduced and you are spot-checking quality or completeness of the work and have a few comments to one of your people about specific improvement. You will seldom find yourself “swimming.”

Some serious calm water - EASY!

Some serious calm water – EASY!

Class 2 situation might be one where the person has been doing the job for a while and thinks that they understand all sides of the situation and how fast they need to work, but the reality is a little different from your perspective. They might be at the old work standard rate while you need them to perform more efficiently.  You may not need to collect any information other than an example or two and there is not a lot of emotion or reaction predicted. This is the kind of discussion that you might want to have away from the workplace but not one of those held in a closed-door office.

But you definitely want to think things out first and not go in unprepared. You might want to check the information against other data or another person just to be sure. It is possible that you will have to move a bit out of your planned channel to get to the end of the situation.

Class 3 situation should not be your first coaching experience, since some degree of planning and preparation is generally helpful and you may want to rehearse your moves prior to floating into the river. You should have some skills in changing the direction of the conversation, since the rock (an excuse) might necessitate some maneuvering. You may find yourself out of the current (in an eddy) where making progress is not possible until you re-enter the main flow.

In these situation, you will want to scout the rapid first, maybe discover the kinds of previous discussions and difficulties management may have had with the individual as well as look at performance data, training histories and other materials. Once you’ve run these kinds of rapids a few times, your skill level increase generally is very helpful for keeping discussions on track, keeping emotions at a manageable level, and being prepared to “roll” back up should you find yourself upside down.

One can generally self-rescue from a Class 3 rapid but it may require a bit of swimming and life preservers and helmets are required! Just thinking about a Class 3 situation is enough to generate some level of adrenaline, but good planning and some solid skills are generally all that you need.

Class 4 coaching situations are best done when you have solid Class 3 skills. Redirecting in the heavy current of sideways distractions and some up and down boat movement, even a waterfall or two, is important to navigating successfully. You most definitely want to check out the rapid before paddling in – and it is often good to watch others run these kinds of situations in order to develop a set of strategies and tactics that will allow you to be upright at the bottom.

With a strong roll, you will be able to move from being upside down and back into a controlling mode when things go wrong but you will need to precisely handle yourself so that you do not flip over again right away. Self-rescue is most difficult and you should be able to stop the conversation, take a time out for getting your breath, before you reenter the fray. This takes both knowledge of when and how to pull out of the mainstream and into an eddy (slow moving calm place) as well as when to reenter the flow – skills not easily learned but that come with practice.

Liken a Class 4 Coaching Event to a performance improvement discussion with the workplace’s Union Rep or someone of similar perceived stature in your workplace. The situation is one that is manageable, but you do not do this as your first try after your training class. And you want to be sure that the risk and the reward are comparable in nature before venturing in. Getting water up your nose and bouncing your limbs off the rocks while cascading downstream is not the most pleasant situation. At the same time, looking back upstream after successfully negotiating a Class 4 Coaching Event is a for-sure confidence builder and proof that you have developed some fine skills.

Cautionary Note: Running the rapids is a workplace endeavor; do not try running these rapids with your spouse or children! They have a tendency to be able to move the rocks around while you are in the current, creating unexpected hazards that are difficult to manage.  

Classes 5 and 6 – Realize that these situations will exist in the workplace. An example might include coaching your boss’ boss about what they need to do differently or trying to initiate a major new process improvement amongst a group of long-term workers that may reduce their numbers. Generally, one can hear a Class 5 or Class 6 rapid from a long distance away by the roar it makes as water cascades in major falls, pouring over large rocks and creating large unpredictable waves.

Lava Falls or Crystal Rapid on the Colorado are runnable rapids that you can actually hear echoing through the canyon a mile away; they sound like a freight train without the whistle and you get goose bumps on your arms and the hair on the back of your neck starts to stand up long before you are close enough to even get out of your boat to go scout them. It is impossible for someone not to realize that they are there and that they represent a very special situation.

ONE of the big holes in Lava Falls on the Colorado River

ONE of the big holes in Lava Falls on the Colorado River

Like the big water surfers at the North Shore of Oahu during Pacific storms, there are people who LIKE to play in these monsters and deal with the ensuing chaos. But they are near-professional in their skill levels, real experts with many years of practice and often with great personal coaches in their own histories.

wave_large1Being in superb physical condition with good reflexes is also a great help in boating, and probably relates to how you need to be prepared for some of the more serious coaching situations. Consider training and planning for your improvement opportunities based on the difficulty of the predicted waves you will encounter.

Lastly, recognize that people do have fun running rivers!

SWs One - How Things Work

Square Wheels® One — Square Wheels® is a registered servicemark of
Performance Management Company © Performance Management Company, 2008

PMC sells a variety of simple to use but powerful training and development tools to trainers and consultants worldwide. Visit our websites for more information. One example is this illustration, which can be used for coaching because it sets up a conversation about “things that are not working smoothly” with the understanding that “Round Wheels are already in the wagon.” It avoids the emotionality and feeling of being attacked in a performance improvement discussion.

Note: Scott began rafting on the Chattooga River in 1975, shortly after the movie, Deliverance, (Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight) was filmed there. Progressing from rafts to canoes to kayaks over the next 20 years, he spent about 5 years in serious pursuit of big water and high adrenaline, running most of the big waters in California and elsewhere and having run the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River on 3 occasions. Scott fully understands the implications of, “The older we get, the faster we were” and therefore limits his whitewater to much more manageable levels these days. He is a skilled coach and occasionally teaches an effective course on confronting poor performance, a skill level past one of coaching – the real Class 5 and 6 stuff.

Scott in Dancer

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. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:

<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén