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

Category: intrinsic motivation Page 3 of 7

Keeping It Stupidly Simple – Thoughts on Teams and Teamwork

In a recent LinkedIn thread on leadership, Bob Whipple posted up a short note on “4 Essential Elements for a High Performing Team.” Bob said:

There are four common denominators of high performing teams. When these elements are present, teams are almost guaranteed to be efficient and rewarding for the members. The elements are:

1. A common goal – so all members pull in the same direction
2. Trust – so members are not playing games with each other
3. Good leadership – so that the team is fully engaged
4. A Good Charter – so the consequences of social loafing are spelled out in advance

In my experience, most groups understand the need for the first three (although only a small percentage actually have all three), but the fourth element is often not in place. It is critical to have a Team Charter that spells out expectations and that all members agree on the consequences if a member does not pull his or her fair share of the load.

Pretty Darn Simple and to the point. The Rule of 80/20 and Occam’s Razor both focus on keeping things simple.

My post was actually the first one and very much supportive of Bob’s thinking, where I shared thoughts about how easy it is to form a team:

A lot is made about personal styles for personality or decision-making or astrological signs but the four bullets above will generate pretty solid teamwork. Sure, one can nuance things and add factors and frameworks, models and surveys and all sorts of other things that CAN be helpful.

But how many teams never get started because they have not been through the training programs or certified to be team leaders or (even) team members, as if HR is running the show? I mean, really?

Put a bunch of kids on a baseball diamond with a ball and a bat — heck, some of them might even have gloves — and they will start working together as a team. They may even FEEL like a team. They know the rules of play, share a goal, trust each other (more or less) to do their jobs of fielding and batting and come together a little better if one person serves as captain.

This team stuff ain’t rocket science, but so many sure try to make it an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Sure, we can make teams work better but let’s face it: with the incredible sorry state of engagement we see in today’s workplace, with 85% of employees saying their morale declines significantly after spending six months on the job (Source: Sirota Survey Intelligence March 2007), don’t you think that a little teamwork might help things just a little?

And ANY performance improvement is worth the cost of involving and engaging people in a shared mission with clear expectations and necessary resources.

Ben Simonton, who says a lot of really smart simple things, added:

But how does one do it like create trust or what are the actions that constitute good leadership?

The answer is simple – listen to what employees want and respond to their wants to their satisfaction or better even if it means telling them why they cannot have what they want. Only in this way can we make the corporate culture align to the values of employees.

But, as expected, the consultant gang among us starts posting up about all sorts of additional requirements for success including things like training in Emotional Intelligence (which should take a few weeks)

But what happens over time is that we begin, as they say in the South, “to pick fly shit out of the pepper.” The conversations begin to focus on narrow and even more narrower points, make the discussion overly complicated, add model after model after theory and personal experience to the discussion and muddy the water.

I tend to view things through a pretty simple lens and to me, a lot of potential organizational improvement and team building situations basically look something like this:

SWs LEGO Boss Gang with Skis and RWs 2 90

Am I that wrong about this view? Aren’t most leaders somewhat isolated and don’t most people have ideas that would make for workplace improvement?

Do we HAVE to make things complicated with models designed through rigorous testing by the best academic researchers in the world and published by HBR and the academic press in books we will never read before we simply ACT?

Give them a ball and let them go play!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, Surprised 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

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

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

Weed Killers, Bug Killers and Organizational Development

We spend a LOT of money on weed control and bug killers for our yards and gardens. We spend tiny amounts on things to actually help plants grow and to improve the environment. That seems exactly what we do in our organizations. Some thoughts:

The statistics on the workplace continue to worry me as it relates to the health of a country, including but not limited to the United States; this certainly appears to be a global phenomenon. Results show that people are finding work less and less rewarding, both in terms of income that it generates as well as the personal rewards gained from doing a good job well and feeling appreciation for that accomplishment.

The data continue to suggest that high levels of engagement and personal development have big impacts on organizational performance results and stock prices. In an excellent blog by Barbara Kimmel, she shares the following graph of stock performance tied to one issue around people and performance:  TRUST.

FACTS Kimmel Trust graph stock results

Click on the image to see the blog with stats and related information

There are similar solid statistical proofs for a wide variety of positive indicators of leadership and involvement and individual development / personal growth. Investing in people and performance has a positive impact on the bottom line and long-term success of organizations of all types.

Treating people well thus has a wide variety of positive impacts with only ONE seemingly negative issue: COST.

Yes, senior managers do seem to continually look at the cost of people to the organization and the cost of training and the cost of salaries and all that. Investments in people are on the wrong side of the financial analysis, IMHO. Nevermind the statistically solid reality that these kinds of investments can be easily linked to critical performance indicators. There is some apparent perceived risk in investing in people. So many organizations simply choose not to do so, or to do so half-heartedly.

When monies get tight, the first thing cut is almost always “training.” There is constant pressure to keep the costs of payroll low, to the point that people often cannot even take vacations because their job duties cannot be done by another.  (See my article on vacation and time off and the issue of continued connectedness of today’s worker and manager.)

What happened to me yesterday pushed me to create this post. I was in one of the Big Box home fixing stores, the ones that carry lawn and garden materials, tools, paints, appliances, and all that other stuff. I was looking for some indoor plant fertilizer and some electrical tape.

What I found was a truly amazing quantity and selection of things like weed killer, fire ant killer, bug sprays, fungicides, grub killer granules and similar. There were 70 feet of aisle space focused on negative control of things, with all sorts of impacts on the biological environment.

There was a small — very small — shelf allotment of things to actually help plants grow. Somehow, this seems out of kilter, in that a healthy environment will generally serve to keep the weed problem small. Heck, I pick the crabgrass by hand in my yard, since I never let it get started. I use corn gluten as a pre-emergent to avoid poisoning my worms.

Can’t we manage our workplaces with less toxic substance
and do more to help our people grow?

SWs LEGO POSTER - Create non-toxic

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 scott@squarewheels.com

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

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

 

KISS – Keeping It Stupidly Simple – A Square Wheels Poster on Collaboration

Complex, convoluted and risky. That is today’s workplace for most people.

Nothing seems simple today and, frankly, the more complex and detailed the design, the more opportunities there are for failure and non-compliance, two words not totally appreciated in the workspace of today’s managers. Avoiding risk is a key issue and many a good training program is being met with a lot of talk but not a lot of change or improvement.

Engagement continues to be a main theme of workplace improvement and the reality is that few people are all that engaged. Those that are feel a strong sense of ownership and involvement, feel appreciated and supported, and will often generate those higher levels of performance that are so desired.

As it is my intention to put up a number of posts and illustrations and posters reinforcing the theme that we need to start looking for some SIMPLE solutions instead of increasing the increasingly complex. I wanted to add this simple notion of collaboration. The Big Idea is that we need to START working on trying to collaborate, take a simple look around to see if any new ideas or improvements might exist, and then implement those ideas.

LEGO POSTER - COLLABORATION really working together

Looking at the above as a representation of how a group of people is working together to make progress, doesn’t it seem obvious that some solutions are at hand and that the situation simply needs conversation and agreement about issues and opportunities? And doesn’t the above illustration really represent how things work in most organizations?

————–

I added another related cartoon to my poems blog – you can see the text of ideas if you click on the image of it below:

SWs LEGO Boss Gang with Skis and RWs 2 90How hard would it be to really generate some collaboration?

————–

If you want to  gain some simple ideas and access some bombproof simple tools for improving intrinsic motivation and involving and engaging people for collaborative workplace improvement, clicking below will share some of my posts on stupidly simple themes of COLLABORATION and TEAMWORK:

•Posssible Sideways GAMES link for homepage

At Performance Management Company, we sell simple tools and recommend simple approaches to generating collaboration, involvement and motivation for continuous workplace improvement,

For the FUN of It!

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

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

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

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

 

KISS – Keeping It Stupidly Simple – A Square Wheels Poster on Team Perspective

Conversations keep reinforcing the idea that everything is getting increasingly complicated these days. We have the paradox of training programs and assessments and similar tools being more and more complex and nuanced while, at the same time, none of us have much time to learn anything new. Where we used to be able to find three days for an off-site training program to learn and practice new skills, these kinds of development activities are now done online in 2 hours.

As I capture with some data and supporting materials in a blog linked to the icon below, managers are most definitely working increasing hours because of our continuous electronic connection to the workplace. Realize that almost half of us check email going to bed or at the dinner table.

working while not working

So, it is my intention to put up a number of posts and illustrations and posters reinforcing the theme that we need to start looking for some SIMPLE solutions instead of increasing the increasingly complexity. So here is a simple idea on the need to STOP working and take a simple look around to see if any new ideas or improvements might exist.

LEGO POSTER - Team Perspective with SWs

If you want to see some ideas and access some bombproof simple tools for improving intrinsic motivation and involving and engaging people in the workplace, clicking here will share some of my posts on the stupidly simple theme of Dis-Un-Engagement:

dis-un-engagement

At Performance Management Company, we continue to sell simple tools and recommending simple approaches to generating involvement and motivation for continuous improvement in the workplace.

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 scott@squarewheels.com

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

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company

 LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

A Dance of Change – something new?

It was funny to read a little blurb in the ASTD Training & Development magazine about an article to appear next month. The abstract said that 70% of change initiatives continue to fail (which is on par with how many strategy improvement initiatives are not really successful) and that the existing change models are all pretty good.

What is suggested is that The Missing Component is now Emotional Intelligence, and that thoughts and feelings that emerge from the understanding for the need to change are all that needs to be changed. “When emotional intelligence is applied to change, we can think of it as change intelligence.”

I won’t mention the author of this, since I am basically panning this solution — Emotional Intelligence is not an easy thing to grasp, much less implement since it has so much to do with personal growth and personality. We’ve been fooling with EI concepts for 20+ years, just like we’ve been proposing 7 Habits and all sorts of other silver bullets to solve the problems of organizational improvement.

I’m one who very strongly feels that we just need to forget about so many complicated models of how things work and how things need to have some new Training Solution proposed by a cadre of consultants who will retire on these efforts.

The DATA say that not much has improved on the basic issue of employee engagement. The DATA say that lots of things are supposedly important, like Innovation (rated important 98% of survey respondents in another ASTD article (Patty Gaul, April 2014) while also finding that only 33% of organizations currently focus their innovation on small improvements and change. That article predicts a BIG shift toward radical changes / innovation — 66% in the future. (Right… Remind me to look back in 10 years… )

People suggest that we do all kinds of expensive and complex kinds of training on emotional intelligence or on innovation and creative thinking skills but I STILL think that the basic organization works like this:

Square Wheels represent how things really work in most organizations...

How things really work in most organizations…

and that what are needed are really simply solutions. Here are my 10 steps for improving motivation and organizational performance results:

ask

How do you implement change? Identify the Square Wheels and ask for some Round Wheel solutions. Do this in the context of moving from where we are now to where we want to go (in the near or far future). Celebrate small successes to generate continuous continuous improvement and allow people to work together in simple teams (with necessary resources of time and funding) to actually implement such changes and improvements.

Four Simple Factors for Implementing Change

Four Simple Factors for Implementing Change

The actual end result is also pretty simple to conceptualize:

Square Wheels and Intrinsic Motivation Celebration LEGO business image RW

I mean, this whole thing about involving and engaging people in workplace improvement is really the simple task of involving and engaging them in workplace improvement. Where is the rocket science in all this? Why do we keep adding so much complexity — other than for profit motives and self-aggrandizement — when the reality is really easy to accomplish.

The other key is also simple:

Square Wheels image of Ownership Rental Nobody Toolkit icon 2

This concept is also simple: Everybody needs to feel like they have an ownership stake in the ideas and the outcomes, even the management team.

So. Keep it Simple. And Just DO it!

We sell simple tools for involving and engaging people for performance improvement. Give the icon a click and check us out,

Performance Management Company and Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

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

 

 LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

 

Moron ENGAGEMENT, is it even possible today

The conversations about time availability for coaching and team building by supervisors continue to get interesting. There is an interesting article at the Washington Post called, “How a company weekly meeting winds up consuming 300,000 hours per year” and written by Fred Barbash.

He cites the authors at Bain, who said:

“As astonishing” as the figures are, say the authors, “300,000 person hours supporting one weekly excom meeting — it’s important to remember that it doesn’t include the work time [not in meetings] preparing for meetings. Research shows that 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings — a percentage that has increased every year since 2008. No amount of money can buy back that time….”

Go to the link above to find out more about his article and the original research.

My friend Steve Davis also writes about some of these same issues, but from a personal perspective related to values and goals. Life is not simply about how busy you are or how you want to appear. Read Steve’s perspective here.

These conversations and data from corporate research like the above simply seem to confirm that “meeting with people on engagement” does not seem to be one of the critical values of large organizations and thus we really cannot expect the supervisors to simply want to do that with what little time they have.

So, I guess things are simply supposed to look like this:

Square Wheels Rat Cage Haiku work hard

Or maybe more like this:

Square Wheels Rat Cage Haiku Poem Winter of despair

We have a need to Spring Forward and really make a difference with the workers in most organizations. They have ideas for improvement and we can dramatically impact intrinsic motivation if people felt like they were on the team and that management really cared.

That’s my view, and I am sticking to it.

Presently, supervisors probably do not have the time nor the inclination to rattle the cages and ask for ideas about workplace improvement. They are not empowered to form teams nor do any of these people have much “release time” in which to fine-tune and implement things.

You can find some more of my thinking at the blog I posted up yesterday:

Square Wheels One - if you always do done

Hopefully, we can find some ways to give supervisors more time and motivation and tools to better involve and engage their people in all aspects of workplace performance improvement,

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

If you aren't leading and engaging, what ARE you doing?

If you aren’t leading, involving, engaging and motivating people, are you just taking up valuable organizational space? We need Leaders in so many workplaces today and managers need to make choices!

—–

A key issue in most teams in most sports is having leadership. It can occur everywhere. Sometimes, they wear a little “C” on their jerseys indicating to the officials that they are Captains and sometimes they walk to the middle of the playing field to watch the coin toss. Other times, they are simply the people on the field who the other look to for motivation or depend on for The Big Play.

This happens in every organization, too. Sometimes, people depend on one of their own to speak up at a meeting to express a common concern. Sometimes these are just those people who get others involved in what is going on, since every person in the tug-of-war lends something to the effort.

Paraphrasing on Henny Youngman standard one liner, the research by so many different organizational polling companies would suggest,

Take my Boss… Please.

Jim Clifton seemed to seriously suggest that the data from his Gallup polling would suggest a realistic situation were for about 7,000,000 managers to simply be fired because they repeatedly seem unable to lead, manage or get out of the way. So many workers complain that no one listens and no one cares and that engagement is a HUGE problem with most companies worldwide. (Find a link to some of his writings here.)

Organizations  tend to work like this, in the view of most people: Square Wheels One copyrighted V1 small

Wagon Pullers are seemingly isolated by the rope!

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 Survey showed that leadership was a critical issue, with 86% of respondents rating it “urgent” or “important”. It also showed that only 13% of organizations say they do an excellent job of developing leaders at all levels — yeah, that is kind of noticeable.

But leadership is a big wide thing, with there literally being thousands of books on the topic. Most of us regular people would simply suggest that being trustworthy, involving and engaging are pretty important skills to generate everyday motivation. Feeling aligned to the goals and expectations and feeling appreciated seem to be pretty straightforward and understandable parts, too.

These Big Survey Consulting Companies like Gallup and Deloitte tend to offer up Very Big Solutions (you can read that as complicated and expensive). Me, I am more of a continuous continuous improvement kind of guy who thinks that everyone can make some improvements every day without requiring the extensive involvement of HR and Training & Development organizations — you know, the ones that always get their funding cut first because they are seen as costly to most senior managers (who do not get their development from them anyway, relying on outside groups like the Universities and Center for Creative Leadership and similar…).

There are a number of writings in the PMC blog around the issues of generating engagement and motivation, all of it simple and straightforward and all of which can easily be accomplished by any supervisor simply looking to improve their skills in motivating people.

– Here are thoughts on the problems of involving and engaging people– Here are ideas on Dis-Un-Engagement and issues of facilitating– Here is a framework for involvement and workplace improvement

As so many others have framed things, I believe that only some of the problems of leadership are at the top levels of the organization — senior managers may not be leading well or implementing strategies effectively.

But as Jim Clifton and others have shown, the real issues of organizational leadership and day-to-day motivation and performance occur at the interface of worker and manager – there are zillions of those minute-to-minute, hourly and daily interactions that might allow so many more people to work “more better faster” and that would help to involve and engage and align people to the expectations and goals. That is where organizations are failing their people.

There are no Big Silver Bullets out there to solve these issues. But there are bazillions of the Square Wheels, those things that work but do not work smoothly and that generate less than optimal performance. These are “artificial hindrances” in the sense that The Round Wheels are already in the wagon! There are all sorts of motivational impacts to be achieved when our supervisors do a better job of involving and engaging their people and our managers do a better job of involving and engaging our supervisors.

So many Big Solutions have been tried and have seemed to fail over the past 50 years. Sometimes, that exceptional leader like a Steve Jobs can get a good grip on things and have that major impact, but those cases are really rare (which is why Steve Jobs got all that press!).

Maybe it is time to try somelittle solutions. Maybe it is time to simply allow a bit more individual development and initiative in the workplace of the managers and supervisors so that they can more effectively involve and motivate their people.

S

It does not take a whole big bunch of money or time to actually implement some of the ideas of the team that would make the workplace better in some ways. People generally want to make things better and will work toward doing that. And that little effort has a big and cascading impact on people and morale:

cartoon by Dr. Scott Simmerman

It is important to remember that Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car and that people want to have a sense of ownership involvement in things. Plus, it is also important to know that people do need to be involved and engaged in order to want to be involved:

Navajo Not possible to awaken

 

At PMC, we sell simple toolkits that allow a supervisor to generate actionable ideas from their people. We use these simple cartoons to get wheels rolling downhill, to show supervisors that involvement and engagement facilitation are not that difficult to accomplish and that these activities can be a part of their everyday life as a manager. It is easy to ask and to listen, to generate teamwork focused on implementing good ideas to make performance improvements.

People are creative and flexible. We can do simple things to remove or decrease frustration and deal with roadblocks to help motivate people. I call this process Engagimentation (or Dis-Un-Empowerment) and suggest that you consider taking such actions with your people to make some impacts on so many things. Let me know if we can help – we sell inexpensive and effective tools for communications.

Performance Management Company and Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

square wheels authorDr. 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/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

Teamwork: A poem on Alligators, Sharks and getting out of the mud!

A variety of casual conversations in the past few days have refocused me on the “soft” side of teamwork, with soft referring to the stuff you cannot get a grip on. Some things are hard, like measurements and results and systems and processes, and some things you cannot even observe.

Let me use three simple words to illustrate:

  • Bureaucracy
  • Politics
  • Culture

A new acquaintance in the UK brings his college students to the US each year to visit companies like Nordstrom’s and The Ritz-Carlton and Southwest Airlines to show how some cultures simply support  high levels of performance and quality. Since I consulted in this for decades back in the 1980s, the conversation was near and dear to my heart. Then, we shared a discussion along the lines of why so many companies just do not seem to get it.

Teamwork is certainly a factor, but the best teamwork will fail in an organizational culture that is not supportive. I often use the metaphor of alligators and sharks to talk about competition (with the sharks being the consultants, of course). But those same things can apply to organizational power politics, where somebody’s space or turf is being protected from incursions. (Think someone not in training doing training without HR buy-in or think someone working inter-departmentally with managers without the approval or oversight of their respective bosses…

So, since I was playing with the other cartoons in my Lost Dutchman series and doing some poems, I just now crafted up this little ditty:

Lost Dutchman Square Wheels Alligators Sharks blood mud poem

Click on the image to read more about
The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building exercise

It seems pretty common that people get “up to their axles in mud” and that making progress is often more difficult than it should be.

So this cartoon and poem are dedicated to the “soft stuff” that gets into the way of making progress.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman Debrief

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

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

 

 

 

Herding Cats and The Moose Joke: Moving 50 feet further than last year…

It really IS like the EDS commercial years ago about Herding Cats!

And it is hard to maintain attention and do good follow through when you have zillions of distractions and tons of details.

A long time ago, I put together a slideshow that illustrated my Moose Joke. This is a session closing story that I have been using to end most of my workshops for the past 30 years. It is a really great story. And, as I do fewer and fewer executive team building sessions or workshops these days (by design!), I thought to use the internet, the website and the blogs to share the storyline.

So, I created a powerpoint and then finessed it into a slideshare program that I also used for a screencast, which I narrated and edited and put into YouTube.

You can find that video narrative here:

Moose Joke 50 feet yellow icon

The video is not me simply telling the joke but is designed to teach you how to USE the story to make your key learning points. You can also find the slideshare program that offers up a good bit of detail by clicking on the following image:

The Moose Joke Story for Closing Presentations

These are two solid resources that I hope you find interesting. I will simply say that I have not once ever seen a session close with anything as powerful as a metaphor. You make all your key learning points on your desired outcomes and you reinforce the reality of implementing change and the need to feel successful to keep things going. It is also about teamwork and commitment.

Have FUN out there!

Scott Simmerman Lost Dutchman Debrief

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

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

Can Creativity be Taught? Is that the RIGHT Question?

My Simple Framework:

We should NOT think that we have to have people go through
some kind of creativity training in order to “be creative.”

 

There is a long thread of 60+ comments in a LinkedIn group on Learning and Education and Training that generated a good discussion. In part, some of the people seemed to take the position that creativity needs to be taught and people can be taught to be creative. Some people think it can be “stimulated, encouraged, challenged and fostered” by environments that encourage people to share their ideas.

But others took the idea that creativity = imagination and that the latter was not something that everyone engaged in as much as some. In other words, there is a lot of creative thinking going on about creative thinking.

CJ Stape, for example, added this thought which I thought was excellent: “Creativity has several dimensions including: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.”

And there were thoughts around the reality that the workplace for so many people is just not working well in actually asking them for their ideas and thoughts on workplace improvement. The statistics on engagement and involvement and motivation would tend to more than suggest that many workplaces are not very good when it comes to employee involvement on any kind of consistent basis. Large numbers of people are un-involved and dis-engaged.

And it is also true that not everyone can or will contribute equally to using creativity skills or doing creative problem solving to implement workplace ideas or innovation. But so what! That is what teamwork is for and what management should be doing, helping people make actual improvements and providing organizational support.

Should we really even be asking the question if creativity can be taught? That might imply that only some people have it and that one needs to go through some kind of training to be creative.

“Nope. Sorry. You are not allowed to be creative until you go through the Creativity Training Course offered by HR. We can get you into that in 2016. Should I put you on that list? Or, go online to the website: www.WeMakeMostThingsReallyInsanelyHard.com and sign up yourself.”

(I wonder if there is such a website or if there should be!)

Seriously: I had a client — a big global bank you know by its initials — require people to go through a course on teamwork before they could be ON a team for process improvement. They HAD TO LEARN THE PROCESSES in order to contribute. Do you know how frustrated people were because they had ideas but were NOT ALLOWED to share them?

Everyone in the workplace can contribute good ideas, or help refine ideas to optimize their impact. The creatives can throw mud at the wire fence. The pragmatics can sort out the better ones from the less gooder ones and the Devil’s Advocate folks can help to challenge them from different perspectives to help refine them.

I often talk about Spectator Sheep as those who are not involved and engaged in the actual activity and who have perspective and who are not satisfied or agreeable to how things are really working.

Spectator Sheep Yellow round bordersYou can find two posts about engaging Spectator Sheep here and here.

For me, everyone is creative and just asking the question causes a problem. My approach is to share a cartoon and have people consider the possibilities. Then, they share their individual ideas as a small group and generate some consensus on the overall performance situation. Only then do we begin to even suggest that they consider ideas for improvements in their own workplaces! We allow the creative juices to flow with virtually no constraints — since NOT contributing ideas and being creative seems to be a learned response for many.

Only then do we allow the teams / tabletops to start thinking about performance improvement and process improvement in their work, sharing ideas about the best practices of individuals, the workarounds and ideas for roadblock management, etc.

We sell simple toolkits because we believe things are simple and straightforward when it comes to asking for ideas and allowing creativity to occur:

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Is creativity a muscle that needs to be exercised? It is a ZONE that one has to achieve in order to operate effectively — do you have to be in the flow (link) in order to contribute? Can only some be expected to contribute to an organization’s process improvement process? It seems like that is a perspective held by some, but my view is that everyone can contribute to the group total, collectively and collaboratively — creative is additive and not exclusive.

I added some additional thoughts to this issue in a followup blog. You can access that by clicking on the TS Eliot illustrated quote below:

Square Wheels One and TS Eliot Shadow

 

Lastly:

You might find our newly released digital virtual version of our outstanding team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, to be of interest in your organizational development initiatives. Dutchman has received 100s of fabulous reviews from its user base over the past 30 years and it is now being designed to work superbly with virtual / remote work teams on their improvement initiatives. You can find dozens of blog posts about the game by clicking here.

Please feel free to ask for ideas and support at any time, within your organization or directly to me,

 

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.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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

Daylight Savings Improvement Day – Spring Forward Monday

On Sunday, March 9, at 0200 hours in the early morning of 2014, most of the United States will engage in an exercise called Daylight Savings Time and we will move the clocks forward an hour, making it darker early in the morning and extending daylight in the evening.

It has some historical anchors, but various sources estimate the actual cost in lost productivity to be somewhere between $400 million and $2 billion, with people generally losing an hour of sleep in addition to having to adjust all the manual clocks in their life. (Most cannot remember how to reset the clocks in their cars!)

So, as an alternative to the lost productivity and in recognition of the need to improve workplace productivity and involvement and engagement, I am going to propose we create and celebrate Spring Forward Monday, where supervisors and managers should spend some special time with their people working on the issues of productivity and alignment.

The basic idea is pretty simple:

Things may not be working smoothly. And some round wheels are already in the wagon. So, let’s take a bit of time to stop pushing and pulling and talk together about some of the perceived issues and opportunities and how we can implement some changes and improvements. Most people feel that managers do not listen to ideas, so let’s use this special day for this special purpose: communications!

SWs One 2 Haiku brown and green

So, we want to choose to do something that looks more like this to better involve and engage everyone in the workplace and hear their ideas for improvement:

Spring Forward Monday Square Wheels toolkit logo

We want to engage all those feet in moving things forward, more better faster.

The conversations could focus on shared goals, missions and visions, and alignment kinds of things to clarify expectations and provide performance feedback or it could focus on themes of issue identification and opportunity implementation.

You can view a 3-minute video on the basic idea of Spring Forward Monday by clicking on the image above or by clicking on this link.

There should be lots of positive impacts for something special like this, including the simple recognition that ideas for improvement already exist and that we should be choosing to do some things more better faster.

Click here to find more information about this specially priced, $5.95 Square Wheels Engagement toolkit by clicking on the link below:

Spring Forward Monday Square Wheels toolkit

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

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

Square Wheels? What the heck are those engagement tools about…

I have been playing with a video that explains more about how my Square Wheels illustrations are used for facilitation of performance improvement and employee engagement. The learning curve on doing videos is a round wheel that I am trying hard to implement, using screencasting software. Guess if I can figure out one feature a day, I will eventually be okay with those things.

To build the video, I built a short slideshow in powerpoint. So, I thought to make it available on SlideShare.

SWs Slideshare Cover Picture

If you are not familiar with the toolkits we offer to supervisors, consultants and trainers, check out this simple overview. We sell simple to use, powerpoint-based toolkits that work great to engage people in sharing their ideas for continuous improvement of workplace processes. They are simple and elegant tools for impacting how things roll…

I also uploaded a video that elaborates on the above slideshare. That is on YouTube and it basically narrated the ideas and themes included in the slides. You can see that by clicking on the image below:

Square Wheels The Movie Logo Must DO

Managing and Leading Change poems - Part OneAND, I also uploaded a three-part, illustrated slideshare program of some of my best quips, quotes, poems and haiku on the subject of change. You can find them here:

On our website, you can have lots of simple, inexpensive and highly effective tools available for you to use to facilitate improvement in your organization and we can certainly collaborate with any organization to customize tools for specific applications like strategy implementation, mission statement development and alignment, performance coaching and similar. You can find our basic Facilitation toolkit by clicking on the image below:

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

And I thought you might like this haiku:

SWs One Haiku outside the work team

Have great day out there and make a difference today,

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

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

The Blame Frame, Innovation and Intrinsic Motivation

In one of my LinkedIn groups, this question was posed:

Any advice on how to wisely handle the coaching of a team where the senior figures in it never get tired of playing the ‘blame game’?
So I chimed in with:

I’ve been using Square Wheels cartoons as discussion tools for 20 years now. Two come to mind for this situation and “illustrate” the issues to everyone pretty neatly.

The first illustration shows a horse pushing the Square Wheel wagon with the people on the hill in the background. I show the cartoon and ask tabletops to discuss what is going on and to generate as many ideas as they can. I allow them 5 minutes or so to brainstorm and then I go around to the different tables asking them for one thought.

Trial and Error yellow

You can easily get 20 reactions projected onto the illustration, with prominent ones like “cart before the horse” and a number of comments about what they should have done better or differently. People also project thoughts like, “the four people are about to run away over the hill” and “the people all feel pretty stupid.”

I then reframe the illustration around things like innovation and trial and error and the need for perspective and reflection. A common theme of mine with the cartoons is, “Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!” Look from a distance. Keep trying.

What I then do is overlay a “Blame Frame” over the illustration and allow the group to discuss the impacts of focusing on errors as opposed to focusing on opportunities.

Square Wheels Trial and Error with Blame Frame

We get about 5 or 6 negative reactions to each positive one during the idea sharing. Very few people will put a positive spin on what they are seeing. So, we actually catch them being negative and talk about those impacts, the real impacts of negativity and blame, on the issues of innovation, engagement, and motivation.

I don’t have to tell anyone much of anything; they figure it out all on their own as they reflect on what they just did and even how the response of others then reinforced their own negativity. Sometimes, they even reject the positive spins that someone might put on it.

For me, the kinesthetic and the self-induced awareness are keys in generating the cognitive dissonance they need, individually and collectively, to change their future choices. The reality and reframing is really something along these lines:

Trial and Error Murphy's Law words
The key is perspective. The key is to look and consider possibilities for continuous continuous improvement. Simple. Step back from the wagon!

Oh:  “Boss spelled backwards is self-explanatory.” That is also a useful dynamic to anchor. We get a lot more with intrinsic motivation that comes from success. Blame only makes the Boss feel better.

—————–

If you like this overall approach, please note that I did a similar but differently-focused blog along similare themes back in 2012 that you might find interesting. Click on the image link below to see those writings:

Elegant Solutions

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

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

Square Wheels go Thump. Round Wheels already exist.

Some recent conversations convinced me to do one more post about the basic theme  of Square Wheels and how the whole situation can be improved. It is not rocket science and the solutions are pretty straightforward. This seems to be a common reality:

Square Wheels One How Things Work ©

Things thumping and bumping. Nobody talking. Leader looking ahead from an isolated position. Pushers cannot see what is happening nor where the are going. Lots of issues including one of trust.

Square wheels image Trust Bubble Front

And my simple solution would look something like this:

Square Wheels One - Things I need to do more celebrate 100

It is not really rocket science as it is truly amazing how many wagon pushers immediately understand how this would look in the workplace and what their managers could choose to do differently.

Square Wheels images of how things work

Can I make this any more simple? Can you think of why direct communications, involvement and engagement would not work?

We sell these simple tools for involvement, innovation, change and invite you to look at our products:

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

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

Leadership: A Square Wheels View of What It Is

What is Leadership? There are tons of books and models about many different ideas. My approach is to keep things straightforward and simple, so I guess things simply look like this:

Square Wheels One Leadership words green

And people CAN be easily involved and engaged. Try this: ASK them. They will have thoughts about issues and opportunities for improvement. The exemplary performers actually choose to do things differently than the average ones. Why not find out what they are and have them share those ideas?

Square Wheels Intrinsic Motivation - people can be encouraged

Simple stuff that needs more elaboration, for sure. But certainly a way to think about moving forward.

Here is a simple haiku to set the stage for your efforts to make improvements:

Square Wheels One Haiku the thump

We sell these simple tools for involving and engaging people for workplace improvement, which has all sorts of impacts on intrinsic motivation, innovation and productivity.

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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

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

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