Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: Organizational Development Tools (Page 1 of 6)

Teamwork, Thinking, Learning and Active Involvement

Experiential exercises have significant impacts on individual and organizational learning and development. Experience, as well as research, says that participating and practicing is 15 times more impactful than sitting in a classroom. So, no wonder we are seeing more and more people use experiential exercised to generate reflection, teamwork and learning.

Being involved and engaged is, well, being involved and engaged.

The visual, auditory and kinesthetic anchors for memory are all hooked up and operating, making the connections needed for later processing, storage and retrieval of the experiences.

A temptation was to go off into a “neuroscience” kind of explanation, since that is all the rage these days. I have a doctorate in behavioral neurophysiology from Chapel Hill back in 1977 and have been consulting on people and performance since 1978, and

None of this neuroscience stuff is all that practical
when one needs to simply learn about behavior. 

Sure, it sounds really good, but is it really helpful to know how that amygdala you have is involved in your emotions or how the hippocampus is involved in distributing neuronal impulses or even how the Broca area of the dominant cortex or the Wernicke area of the posterior section of the superior temporal gyrus are involve in speech? (grin) . (This is all true, but so what!)

Motorola University in 1996 published an interesting chart that I reproduce here not knowing how to get permission for use but thinking that it can generate some useful thinking:

Learning Pyramid

Me, I would have flipped it upside down, so that Teaching Others was at the top but that is MY learning and memory preference showing up, I guess. And, there is a good deal of controversy over the numbers and the meanings, something I will choose not to get into for this post. Let me simply state the obvious:

Being involved and actively engaged in the learning process helps generate better retention and understanding.

Learning, linking and understanding are neurologically determined — the brain is what controls the process and it is good that it is semi-automatic (since if it required much thinking or typing, not a lot of us would ever get it!).

Our brain uses chemical and physical changes in proteins and membranes to build the electrical circuits that make all this “living large” stuff possible. It works pretty seamlessly, and when it doesn’t, we all realize the consequences (Alzheimer’s, dementia, aphasia, coma, and the like. Heck, even growing older has measurable negative impacts for most of us. I was going to cite a reference, but I forgot what it was…).

What our brain does is encode our experiences into memories. If there is some boring lecture going on, guess what is probably not going to be recalled? If you are energetically participating in some mental or physical challenge, doesn’t it make sense that more things will be remembered?

Knowing that something might be useful later adds an important touch — helping someone hang a backpacking hammock works quite well when you know that you will be hanging your hammock the next day. Learning to start a fire with fire sticks or a flint striker is remembered when you know you will head off on a survival venture that afternoon.

Memory is about storage and subsequent retrieval. It is about encoding and categorizing and accessing the meaningful information later. Knowing the context for that learning is generally helpful.

In some of my team building deliveries, the group might have been through a course or a series of lectures on something or other. Let’s say that the subject is Project Management and the participants are shown a methodology for gathering information prior to planning a program. When we play The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, the funny thing is that the “learned” information or skills are often NOT transferred to the information gathering tabletop processes required to produce high levels of game performance.

So, in the debriefing, we review the choices made, generate discussions as to how the tools could be used, and then often project future scenarios or even do some problem solving whereby those tools are used. This kind of active debriefing process generates a motivation to learn and the kind of VAK needed to anchor the skills in place. We also encourage a diversity of ideas and reinforce differences in thinking styles, since these generate better options so often. The debriefings often focus on divergent thinking and questioning ideas. And this is MUCH different than simply lecturing them on what happened and what they should have learned. Their reflection makes it theirs and not yours.

Most people in most organizations are not observed to actually apply things they learned into workplace performance change and improvement. This learning transfer issue is a common problem with classroom training — people KNOW how to do things but choose to keep doing them as they did before.

Implementing change without changing feedback and measurement systems is also pretty hard to accomplish. Coaching can work, but coaches are often not available immediately after training has occurred.

What we suggest is an active kind of situation to involve and engage people, one that sets up a solid discussion of behavioral choices made along with thinking about possibilities. That activity might include projection, team-based agreement on desired future behaviors, some discussions about how improvements might be measured, personal commitment to doing things differently combined with some level of followup and coaching, and other things to help to anchor in the learning as well as generate new, sustainable behaviors in the future.

Generally, people remember their own behavior, and they tend to remember their mistakes and bad choices a bit more easily than all their good reactions and responses. In Lost Dutchman, we try to generate energy and emotion in our activities by adding pressures of time and scarcity of resources or some level of competition. Ideally the competitive situation has a balance of collaboration and cooperation built-in.

If organizations can better use these kinds of engaging activities, they can expect more learning to occur and more commitment to change to result.

Some ideas:

non-agreement bliss poem

Thumbs Up teamwork poem

My team, My way poem copy

 

For the FUN of It!

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

See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

 

 

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

We can start this blog with the simple thought that:

Motivation and collaboration require improvement in most organizations and making those improvements offer Big Impacts on actual results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few statistics and bullet points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teambuilding with interactive experiential exercise, Lost Dutchman

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

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

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

Team Building with Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

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

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

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

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

Solomon also added:

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

Sapient Technology Lost Dutchman Team Building Video

Sapient’s game testimonial – 120 players

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

 

 

 

 

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®

Great new Lost Dutchman Teambuilding Exercise Updates

One of the world’s very best teambuilding simulations just got better. And we guarantee satisfaction.

We know that this exercise, focused on collaboration between teams and themes of leadership, motivation and alignment, is outstanding. Surveys of our customer users — primarily senior trainers in large corporations plus a network of independent consultants globally – continue to confirm its effectiveness for building teamwork and inter-organizational collaboration (see survey results summary here).

From their view, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a premier, polished and respected team building simulation, now in its 25th year of global distribution.

So, it generated a lot of interest when we started building LEGO scenes similar to those of our upgraded Square Wheels® tools into the basic Lost Dutchman introduction slides like those here:

Slides from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine 2018 Introduction

The real impacts come from the Debriefing slideshows and the effectiveness of the images and metaphors for engaging people in the debriefing. The idea is to add more color and context to the tabletop discussions and to the group summaries about perceived issues and opportunities. The images will also allow us to share Workplace Improvement Posters and other ancillary materials to reinforce key learning points in workplaces, something we can customize with our customers.

The use of Lego in both Dutchman and Square Wheels allow an easy sharing of ideas and metaphors between the two concepts making these tools integrate better and allowing for easy links to other content and information.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slidesand

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding debriefing slides

While we are not using any LEGO® in the actual play of the game or on the tabletops in our deliveries, it certainly adds that possibility to the play for our customers, especially if they are integrating with LEGO® Serious Play® kinds of tools or using our Square Wheels tools within their workshops.

The Updates and The LEGO scenes:

The primary edits involve the addition of our Square Wheels LEGO images into the Intro and Debriefing materials. We have moved from line-art materials in our Square Wheels® frameworks to using Lego images to represent our Square Wheels® concepts and by integrating the games with these new materials, we feel it adds another layer of interest and helps generate more active involvement with the metaphors. Some of the scenes look like these:

LDGM LEGO Images of Alignment and Teamwork
and
Images of teamwork and organizational alignment using LEGO
 Nearly every training file of each version of Dutchman (LD Pro, LD-6, LD-4, LD-3) has been rewritten and updated and folders reorganized to improve the learning process. Reports are that the materials themselves are bombproof. Understand that a unique quality of Dutchman and other PMC products is that none of them require certification nor support fees nor licenses. Most users simply buy the materials, work through the training and start delivering their programs with little or no need to contact us. NONE is required!
 If you want to see more about these materials, we uploaded a Slideshare Overview of about 30 slides.

• The benefits of updating are simple: You get a better game!

• The benefits of purchasing are simple: You get a great exercise at a one-time cost with no licensing or certification or annual fees and you always get the direct support of me, the game’s designer.


How to Receive the Updated 2018 version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation:

If you are a new customer, we are shipping the updated 2018 version so you will benefit by our network’s 25 years of using the exercise

if you are a current owner and you want to update what you have or get a larger version, we will give you full credit for the smaller game you own toward the purchase of a version to handle more participants. (this is a limited time offer, expiring on December 1, 2017.) Please contact us for details.

Current owners can receive the Updated Dutchman files by informing us of the version you own and choosing to complete either # 1 or # 2, below:

  1. Pay $125 for Pro; $75 for LD-6; $60 for LD-4 and $45 for LD-3 updated files.
  2. Receive the updates for FREE after completing these two requests:
  3. Emailing Scott a short, personal testimonial for Dutchman that we can use in our marketing efforts,
  4. Going to the Dutchman Facebook Page, “Friend” us there and “Like” the page.

Once you have completed either #1 or #2, above, we’ll send you the new upgrades, electronically, for your specific version, it’s that simple!

Let’s hear a YEEE HA!    

LDGM Team shoudting Yee Haa Celebrating

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

 

 

 

Is it teamwork that falls flat in most organizations?

My friend Brian Remer posted up a short article he entitled, “Two Team Elements for Instant Success,” and in it, he writes of the issues of shared Identification and Interdependence. You can see his thoughts on his newsletter.

In it, he says:

A sense of shared Identification refers to the positive ways individual team members relate to one another. The more interests and experiences they have in common, the more affinity they feel to each other. These commonalities can be associated with culture, history, experiences, interests, beliefs, language, and so on. The more unusual the examples of Identification, the stronger the ties within the group are likely to become.

Interdependence refers to the way a team works together to accomplish its goals. Group goals should match individual goals so that the efforts of everyone are integral to team success. The team needs to see the value of being a team; that their work could not have been accomplished by disconnected individual activities; that it makes a difference to be a member of this team.

To foster Interdependence, emphasize cooperation and recognize each team member’s contribution to the shared goal. Provide opportunities for the team to work together and be successful. Talk about the importance of their efforts and describe how their goal could not have been accomplished without every person’s input.


I think Brian makes good points. But I also think that this thinking is somewhat short-sighted and narrow when applied to an organization, which tends to be my focus. Sure, teamwork is important within a workgroup, but I also think that these two dynamics only work with small groups. That is the focus of his writing, work teams, but it should not be the focus of organizational leadership.

A Transaction:

With an old consulting friend who is now internal and senior with a large bank’s leadership development organization, I just shipped her my Professional Version of my team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. She has a session planned for tomorrow, so getting her the materials to her quickly was important.

THREE MONTHS AGO, we started positioning the sale with Purchasing. She had the approvals and the requisite information. I sent my details, tax structure, etc. And nothing… A week ago, I shipped her all the materials. I am STILL not set up as a vendor and they have NOT paid me for the exercise.

She has emailed and called Accounts Payable a number of times over the past months, and they finally sent her forms that she forwarded to me on Friday, including a number of materials relevant for non-US companies, a registration for sales of personal services, a non-vendor payee for direct deposit, a minority business registration, and yes, a W-9. She simply wants to purchase a GAME, with no personal services or related. It has a fixed price and I am the sole-source vendor.

After three months, no one is Payables has contacted me, even though I “registered” on Saturday with them and they have had my email address for months. It certainly feels like they are treating me (and her) as adversaries, even though all she wanted to do is buy a team building exercise that she had used for years with her former company. Ironic, huh? But it is actually not that uncommon, from my past experiences. There are many adversarial dynamics in large companies.

It is this common lack of collaboration between her training and development organization and different groups within the bank that reaffirms that:

Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron.

And it is that kind of choice and focus that causes a great deal of lost productivity and friction. She HAS the authorization from her boss to purchase the materials, and they have the budget. But a group like Purchasing plays its own games and focuses on its own processes to even actively block other groups from being productive. WHY?

My Big View says that the top managers are more likely to be competitive more than collaborative. Departments compete against each other as much as they work together to get things done.

The irony is that we clearly smoke this out using Lost Dutchman, the exercise she is trying to purchase, Dutchman gives teams the opportunity to collaborate with each other to optimize the overall results. It is about a shared focus on, “Mining as much Gold as WE can,” with “we” meaning the group, and not each tabletop.

The tabletops play great. There are seldom issues of shared Identification and Interdependence in how they plan and play. They bond up right away and operate reasonably effectively together. They process and handle the transactions pretty well. Their teamwork is good and it happens fast because of the nature of the challenge they face. It is this choice of working with the OTHER teams that is always the issue — and the real opportunity that is available for performance improvement of the entire organization.

Brian is right, but it is small group thinking. The bigger context of how organizations really work would suggest that shared organizational visions and goals, that are clearly understood and evidenced in organizational behavior, that are the keys to real teamwork and collaboration.

And maybe my friend needs to do some sessions that involve these Accounting people along with other departmental leaders and managers. It would probably have a wide variety of impacts on overall performance results,

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Connect with Scott on Google+

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

 

 

 

Branding, Change, Marketing and Square Wheels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And another set of questions:

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

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

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

 

 

Dr. Seuss on Disruptive Engagement

Even Dr. Seuss would understand about the issues and opportunities around the positive impacts of supervisors leading more active involvement to make impacts on people and performance. The data are simply so clear that people DO have ideas for improvement but that no one in the organization facilitates the process of capturing those ideas. Thus, there are large gaps in innovation and quality and productivity because possibilities simply are not realized.

I’ve blogged elsewhere about the general idea of Disruptive Engagement but I thought that one image, simplifying to the stupidly understandable level, might generate some actual thinking about choices and doing things differently! (grin)

The Square Wheels Project Dr. Seuss framework

People have ideas for improvement, the Round Wheels are already in the wagon. But they interact with their supervisors, who generally choose to NOT do things differently because of risk or time or task interference or the lack of collaboration from other departments. “I’m here from Human Resources to help you,” is such a “reality joke” in so many places because they are structurally unable to help, too.

If things are going to improve, it is going to be the people who choose to improve things. And it is going to come from increased collaboration and alignment to shared goals. Do some effective team building (see why I hate outdoor activities)!

Facilitate Dis-UN-engagement and Dis-UN-empowerment with your people by choosing to actively involve them in some workplace improvement activities. Visit The Square Wheels Project for some simple tools and support,

 

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com


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

 

Disruptive Engagement – 6 Blogs and 4 Illustrations

Engagement is anchored to empowerment, and organizations need dis-un-engaged and dis-un-empowered supervisors in order to optimize performance and productivity. I say this simply because supervisors manage workers and workers do all the work and because data after data show that un-engagement and un-empowerment are two main themes of so many workplaces.Disruptive Engagement and Empowerment Square Wheels image

As I thought about how corporate engagement is generally run, it seemed to me that more local control would allow more impacts, that more supervisor control at the workplace level might offer more opportunities to impact active involvement and actually involve and empower people. Too much seemed to be driven tops-down rather than bottoms up. So, I detailed my thoughts in an article about thinking locally:

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local

And that writing started me thinking about the whole negative reality of tops-down, corporate “engagement” that my 40 years of business management work has never shown to work very well. The thought was that disrupting this approach might be interesting.

Corporate Engagement Hasn’t Worked – Why not try Disruptive Engagement?

So, what IS Disruptive Engagement? Nothing fancy. It is simply about allowing the supervisors and managers to remove the things that their people perceive to be getting in the way of improving their workplaces. Often these are perceived roadblocks, more than real ones and Best Practices will show that the solutions are often already in place and working in isolated cases.

Disruptive engagement supervisors and motivation

Well, That got me thinking about what to actually do to accomplish this kind of initiative. The ideas already exist and it is more about developing a culture that does a better job of minimizing fear and optimizing discussions.

Disruptive Engagement, Supervisors, Empowerment and Performance Improvement

But a reality are the issues of allowing the supervisors the time and ability to actually do things differently. There is simply so much task interference from meetings and reports and measurements and other factors to really allow them the coaching time or the time to facilitate implementation of ideas.

FREE The Supervisor – thoughts on Disruptive Positive Active Engagement

and

The Hubcap Report – a note on Task Interference and Supervisors

What we need are good conversations and the improvement of facilitation skills to better actively involve workers.

Radical Candor and Disruptive Engagement

The solution actually does appear to be relatively simple and straightforward, if organizations really consider these issues of engagement, motivation, empowerment, innovation, and teamwork to be of importance. It sure seems like they are important, so why do we choose to not do things differently? We talk and talk and measure and measure and meet and meet but seldom have any direct contact or influence on the workers.

Disruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman

Why can’t we do this?

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.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

 

 

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!


Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

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


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

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

Connect with Scott on Google+

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

 

Simurise Learning Solutions enters the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine fray

For a number of years, we have been working with Solomon Salvis to deliver our team building and organizational development products in Asia and it is really great to have him come online with his new website. Now based in Singapore, he is expanding this teambuilding and leadership development work and product sales for that marketplace.

Simurise Learning Solutions is my exclusive distributor, worldwide. And while any of our users can resell my products to their clients, Solomon’s expertise and exposure should make distribution and development much more interesting.

Solomon is also a solid presenter and facilitator and is building his delivery and support teams to support a variety of workplace improvement initiatives and collaborative partnerships throughout the region.

If you want a reliable supporter for your teambuilding or organizational development / experiential learning needs and are in the Asian Marketplace, my suggestion is to contact Solomon.

It has been great fun to build the global network of users and to gain so much positive feedback about the exercise and it impacts. You can see a summary of user comments from a survey we did a while back; this is something I think we need to do with all of Solomon’s new user / customers. After all,

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

And, we are in the midst of rolling out a special version of our game to HRDQ’s distribution channel as well as upgrading all of our materials with various LEGO® scenes to add color and more impact to the presentations and discussions. It continues to be a fun as well as most excellent journey to impact workplace collaboration and alignment.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing question

Rock and Roll!

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

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

 

Feedback, Team Building, Ideas and Accountability

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

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

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

The goal of the Dutchman game is simply expressed:

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Simple Bad Teambuilding

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

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

Me: Why do not you tell them that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For the FUN of It!

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

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas. He is also known for his Square Wheels® approach to innovation and engagement.

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

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

 

Continuous Continuous Improvement and Team Building

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

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

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

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

So, let’s shift to the issues of workplace reality, team building and continuous continuous improvement of people and processes, focusing on collaboration, alignment and communications. It is a subject worthy of a few minutes of time if you are a manager and have people in your pipeline.

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

In the case of developing a team building game, one can also devote 25+ years to learning the art and substance of teamwork and collaboration and to continually fine-tune one’s ideas to optimize desired outcomes. And I can honestly say that I think we have reached that point with The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building exercise that has been continually improved since its first deliveries back in 1993.

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

We reached the point to actually enter it into a business learning games competition and are pretty pleased to say that we are a Finalist, with the judging in Lisbon in a month or so. We want to see how we compare with other great products in the global marketplace for experiential exercises for organizational development.

Lost Dutchman is finalist in International Business Learning Game competition 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My colleague, Solomon Salvis, facilitates a lot of BIG Dutchman games for multinational companies. He shared this video with me today, one that I thought did a great job of overviewing the exercise:

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

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

 

We rent the Dutchman exercise to consultants and trainers in North America. See more details here about its play and its outcomes. It is a very good scheme to run a powerful, bombproof program with your own leadership serving as the Expedition Leaders. And it is easy and straightforward to deliver.

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

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local

I was reading an article on adapting things like HomeKit and Echo into the way people interact with their homes. Alexa is pretty cool, but there are issues around its inability to recognize voices and there have been instances of voices on TV actually telling the system to order products online and the reality that a burglar could simply tell the system to turn off security alarms. The point that author Seyi Fabode was making was that one of our most basic needs is for security and safety, both at home and in the workplace where so many of us spend so much time and emotional energy.

MY thinking about his thinking was framed around a workshop I attended by Brad Thomas with my local ATD group yesterday morning. Brad was focusing on the implementation of full-company engagement systems and his excellent talk was anchored somewhat to these local issues but mainly focused on the corporate commitment to generating and acting on large amounts of employee feedback to frame up issues and opportunities.

In that Big Picture Corporate Model, things needed to cascade down from the top and that HR departments had to rethink how they focused so that they could actually bring human resource capital into play for their operational counterparts, that they could not simply remain the paper pushers they are in so many places. HR needed a seat at the corporate boardroom table to focus on the people side of improvement initiatives. It seems like an awful amount of senior management engagement and systemic change was a requirement before ANY actions could occur.

And when you have, as I once did, senior executives out there saying (or believing) things like this about people / engagement / involvement and being actively working to generate innovative ideas:

“That’s like asking the vegetables how to design a refrigerator,”

you pretty much KNOW that you are not going to be successful working from the tops downward forward. (And, yes, there are senior managers who could not care less about employee involvement and ideas — we seem to have one in the White House if you need an example.)

These two things clanged for me about an hour ago. Big Corporate Solutions trying to solve the issues of the worker / supervisor interface. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as results seem to consistently show, pretty much everything… Overall, statistics seem to show that OD things look pretty much like this:

Corporate engagement programs don't work well

From this month’s issue of Workforce magazine (3/17), Rick Bell shared some  statistics and anchor points. Supervisors clearly improve their leadership and engagement skills. Some tops-down corporate program to improve overall engagement will simply not get traction:

• 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired

• 44% of employees say they have been emotionally or physically abused by a supervisor

• 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job

Other statistics supporting the idea of local control / local influence include:

• “Communication and connection are the cornerstone of relationships – a quarter to a third of employees believe their managers seldom or never listen to them, understand their issues, seek their input and ideas, or help them to resolve the issues and challenges they face. This persistent gap presents both a challenge and an opportunity to leaders and managers.” (Leadership Management Australasia’s LMA survey, April 2016)

• Only about 1 in 3 US managers are engaged in their jobs, and about 1 in 7 are actively DISENGAGED. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers. (Gallup)

Bell and others share these statistics, however, so there IS opportunity here if we can improve the interaction between workers and their managers. A short list of opportunities and benefits looks like this:

  • Managers are the Number 1 way that people feel supported by their organization
  • Managers influence 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores
  • Close to 60% of Americans say they would do a better job if they got along better with their boss
  • Close to 70% of those polled said they would be happier at work if they got along better with their boss, with the breakdown equal among men and women, but younger workers in their 20s and 30s were even higher (80%)
  • Over half (55%) of those polled, think they would be more successful in their career if they got along better with their boss
  • Only 4 in 10 of Americans will thank their boss on National Bosses Day with most believing that their boss wouldn’t care enough to bother
  • About 10% said they would use the day as an opportunity to talk to their boss and improve the relationship

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Try this:

Have a conversation with someone who works in an organization and ask about how they feel they are being managed. I had two such conversations with people in my pool league two nights ago. Absolutely eye opening!

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So, what IS a viable solution? Understand that the Big Corporate Improvement Program Initiatives seem doomed to fail unless organizations impact that supervisor / worker interface and make it more supporting and effective. And you can probably figure out that working to engage workers working for the 1 in 7 managers who are actively DIS-engaged within their own organization is simply a waste of money and resources.

Throw some mud at the wire fence!

Break away from the Big  Corporate Program Mentality and do some Guerilla Engagement. Give some of your better supervisors the tools they need to improve their effectiveness. Allow them to improve their interactions with their people and to improve their facilitation and involvement skills.

The Square Wheels Project is an online training program designed FOR SUPERVISORS who need some training and some tools to improve communications. The Spring Forward Monday Toolkit is a package of tools (handouts, powerpoints, posters and instructions) to give supervisors the framework for a series of meetings and implementation action plans for simple ideas for workplace improvement and innovation, to allow more teamwork and active involvement.

Square Wheels - How organizations really work Metaphor organizational improvement

The Square Wheels Project is not THE Solution to anything, but it does represent a most excellent alternative to the initiatives that are generally not working very well, a step forward in the effort to improve communications.

Square Wheels Project Draggin Slaying Supervisor

But some facilitation skills training can certainly help your managers to become better motivators and better leaders. Help them lead on-site workplace innovation and improvement initiatives at the very bottom-most layer of your organization, where most things are actually happening. Do things differently and let them lead!

Solve the small problems in simple ways, keeping a sense of safety and security in place with your supervisors feeling a minimal amount of risk for doing something differently. Look for some “small answers” to local issues and build things from the bottoms up. Make real improvements where you can, instead of looking for Big Answers from a distance.

Addendum: Since initially publishing these thoughts, I have begun to focus on a framework of Disruptive Engagement, which takes in much of this thinking and adds more data and rationale. You can find those blogs by clicking on the two images below.

Square Wheels by Scott Simmerman of Performance Management CompanyDisruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman

 

Our stupidly simple tools are designed help any manager get some really effective, performance-focused improvement conversations going using better facilitation skills and our metaphors, plus our online help and networking,

For the FUN of It!

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

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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


The two newer blogs can be found by clicking on the links above or by going to:

Corporate Engagement Hasn’t Worked – Why not try Disruptive Engagement?

or

Radical Candor and Disruptive Engagement

 

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