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

Tag: facilitation of intrinsic motivation

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


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

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



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.


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

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



Facilitation? Me, a Facilitator? Me, a MOTIVATOR??

I haven’t checked lately, but 50 years of watching what people say they fear has kept

Microsoft PowerPointScreenSnapz002

as the number ONE fear of most people, including most workers. Okay, so now we make a good worker into a Supervisor. Has much really changed? Are these new leaders actually good at involving and engaging their people? Or are they just trying to keep things moving forward?

Plus, we can add in other leadership fears such as fear of loss of control and fear of not having the best idea and all that other personal competency stuff and maybe, we can generate a list of reasons why so many people find it hard to:

Ask for Ideas

for ideas. This really is understandable. There are a lot of common fears about leading and involving and engaging…

At the same time, it is my consistent discovery that so many workplaces tend to look something like this:

Square Wheels One copyrighted V1 small

The people are working hard, pushing and pulling the wagons, and it is the same thing, day after day and week after week. No wonder that Sirota Research found that 85% of new hires saying that their morale declined significantly after spending 6 months in their job and that employee engagement is actually falling – from 24% to 13% in the past two years (Mercer, 2012). We are seemingly not doing a lot of asking and seemingly doing a lot of telling!

So, I am guessing that the reality of how organizations is not so much like that shown in the above illustration but seemingly more like what we share in the one below:

Those who do have Those who lead missSo, what is really so hard about facilitating a group discussion? Not a whole lot, actually, speaking as someone who was a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) by the International Association of Facilitators and who has been leading organizational improvement workshops since 1978. Really, it is really simple, really. Seriously, it is really really simple.

  • Share an illustration with them that has printed on it, “How might this illustration represent how organizations really work?” And let them think about it and then discuss it in small groups.
  • Ask them to share their ideas.
  • Ask them to share how some of those same ideas might represent how things work in their work initiatives.
  • Ask them what we might try to do differently and if anyone is already doing something differently than everyone else.
  • Ask them if they could try to implement a change in how they do things or to recommend something that you might change to make things work better.

That, in a nutshell, is facilitation.

You can read lots more about facilitation, engagement and intrinsic motivation throughout my blog posts, since I often talk about these issues and opportunities as being straightforward. You can also read about Russian Poets and nutshells and Hamlet, if you want, since all this stuff does connect to motivating people and improving how things work. And, you can find a simple, free guide to facilitation by clicking below:

Elegant SolutionsFacilitating Engagement – an overview

The simple reality is that the Round Wheels already exist in the wagon but that people are seemingly too busy to stop and step back and identify issues and opportunities that are really visible and often relatively easy to fix.

So here is some really simple advice for supervisors and facilitators:

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

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

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

Implementing Round Wheels to fix the Square Ones

People often talk about things that do not work smoothly in their workplaces, the things that frustrate them and lower productivity. And this frustration and dissatisfaction about improvements causes all sorts of negative spins to impacting intrinsic motivation. It can send the message that what the workers see is important and what the management sees as important are two different things — that is most likely not going to lead to any sort of workplace engagement and performance improvement.

But the problem is often related to how the problem is presented.

Reasons include:

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

SWs One Dis-un-engagement choice

What we suggest that supervisors and managers do is to ask people for ideas. But first, we want to engage and involve them and get them to “step back from the wagon and think out of the box” a little.

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

We accomplish this by using the a general projective tool, the SWs Brainstorm Sheet:

square wheels brainstorming mind mapping worksheet

What we do is show them the main illustration and ask small tabletops of 5 to 6 people to brainstorm a bit. What they do is project their beliefs onto the illustration and the group process gives them lots of personal involvement and support and lends itself to more creative thinking and brainstorming. The idea is to get them actively involved and working together around ideas.

You can read a bit more about this theme by clicking on the worksheet icon above to go to another blog post on possibilities thinking.

What we want to do is move the discussion from the general ideas about how things work to some specific issues that they see in their workplace and to then brainstorm more about potential solutions that might be implemented. We eventually move toward a worksheet like this to take specific Square Wheel issues and generate some round wheel possibilities:

Once we define the issues and opportunities, refine our thinking about how an improvement would impact people and performance, and do some discussion about costs and timelines and the required involvement of people, processes and procedures, we can make a good case for change. It is that kind of detailed thinking that needs to be cascaded upward in the organization. People can earn the right to do more as they roll down the road…

The key is to get our wagons rolling downhill a bit!

Square Wheels image Intrinsic feel really good PG

Hope that helps,

For the FUN of It!


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

You can reach Scott at

Scott’s detailed profile:


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

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

Intrinsic Motivation and Engagement – Training is NOT the answer

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

I read that in an old John Le Carre novel 20 years ago and it stuck with me. It is just one of those quotes that just makes some sense out of why so many things can be improved. Using my metaphor for how Square Wheels really work in the workplace, we have something like this:

ideas are goodconnected with:

Square Wheels ideas are good implementation

A reality of organizations and training globally is something like this:

Square Wheels Engagimentation Progress 700Mand that also relates to:

Square Wheels Engagimentation Progress Down 700M

Engagimentation is my term for Dis-Un-Engagement, which is acting to remove the things that people perceive as un-engaging. It is simple roadblock management when you reduce to the ridiculous, but it can be done in a way that actually generates intrinsic motivation and the sense that the organization is listening.

I think that the typical Training looks like this, an attempt to build individual strengths:

Muscle Building yellow cartoon

The reality of going back to work generally looks like this:

SWs One Muscle Puller yellow © border

Because we cannot generally address organizational structural and process issues in much of our training, and because of issues like resistance to change and a lack of overall workplace engagement, we have a wide variety of performance based issues. Here is an article on the problem of how we manage people and here is an article about workplace intrinsic motivation from other popular blog posts of mine.

One possible solution to these issues of ownership involvement and problem solving and intrinsic motivation would be better facilitation of ideas for performance improvement from the workers. We offer some simple cartoon-based tools for that purpose.

Square Wheels are simply great tools

Lastly, remember to have some fun out there!

See our poems and quips blog

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

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

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Some simple thoughts on improving performance

I read a Zig Ziglar quote

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.
Capitalize on what comes.” 

and it got me thinking that I can do something similar with my Square Wheels cartoons, as they illustrate a lot of themes around people, perceptions and organizational reality.

So, I thought about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to anchor and illustrate it to my way of thinking about leading organizational improvement:

That seems to sum things up pretty nicely.

Square Wheels image UNDERSTAND the basic reality

The reality is thumping and bumping along on the things that do not work smoothly. There are LOTS of Square Wheels operating out there.

As inspirational and effective leaders of people and performance, we generally have an involving and engaging vision of where we are going and its attractiveness. The View from the Front is what generally keeps us moving forward. (If you do NOT have a view from the front, then your view might look more like the one in red!)

But effective leaders understand that not everyone shares in that View at the Front and that the view from the back of the wagon is not really motivational and inspirational — that many people do not feel engaged, involved and empowered. (There are lots of data out there on un-engagement and worse, you realize! See THIS and THIS.)

So, understanding that we need to all engage in some initiatives to make improvements, and recognizing that continuous improvement is continuous and that the future will operate differently than it does today, we get that final illustration in green:

Celebration color green train

Pretty good food for thought, eh?

We motivate people by getting them actively involved and engaged in implementing their own solutions to the issues they face in daily life and work.

Motivate Me poem

Some frameworks are just more elegant! And our Square Wheels tools are simple to use, bombproof to implement, and pretty magic when it comes to effective ways of involving and engaging people to generate solutions for organizational improvement.

For the FUN of It!

Elegant Solutions

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

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

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


See our powerful $20 Toolkit to improve communications and collaboration:

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

Our Best Little Toolkit, good for motivating workplace improvement!

Square Wheels has become a globally-known metaphor for continuous continuous improvement. I have personally presented in 38 countries so far with what are most excellent results and feedback. Often, the SWs presentations are rated the top program at a conference and I have a LOT of very satisfied users worldwide who have integrated the illustrations into presentations and training.

When the general manager of a hotel in Shanghai can take my cartoons and integrate them into his presentation on improving customer service and engaging his people and get rated Highest at their international 3-day conference of hotel general managers — including ratings of the paid professional talkers — that is testimony to how effectively these cartoons can involve and engage an audience. (He sent me all the evals of the conference!)

Personally, I believe that every manager of people could be using the cartoons and language of performance improvement to impact their workgroups. After all,

The Square Wheels really ARE everywhere!

and the ideas for improvement are amazingly numerous.

RWs Sig File icon

So, we will offer you a special deal for a special tool.

For a limited time, we have set up the purchase of our best toolkit, The Square Wheels Facilitation Bundle, with a deal that you could Name Your Own Price. We feel that it is a great value at $49.95. But if you see this note, email me and tell me what you will pay and I will make you a special deal. Seriously! This does not appear on our website.

My goal is to get more of these tools into the hands of people worldwide and the best way to do that is to generate more use. We want this to go viral. I want people talking about continuous continuous improvement and making things better in the workplace.

I want more managers and supervisors to improve the involvement and satisfaction of their people by improving communications and engagement. I want workplaces to improve in their quality and for people to feel like their managers are listening to and implementing their ideas. I want to build more teamwork within as well as between departments.

So, jump onto this, send me an email and grab a wonderfully effective and bombproof set of tools for impacting your people:

Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit is here

My goal is to help people be more successful and to improve involvement and engagement in the workplace. If we do that, we improve things for everyone involved. Let me know if I can help,

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:

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