Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: ideas for intrinsic motivation

Square Wheels and really expensive alternatives to Round Wheels

John McDermott sent me a link to a device called a Cubli – I thought the video cute and then, since it is a “square thing,” how I might play with this a bit. After all, I am all about innovation and implementation, people and performance, and understanding the reality that The Round Wheels are already in the wagon that rolls on Square Wheels

The Cubli looks like this and clicking on the image will take you to a Gizmodo site and an expensive female British voice describing its design, the physics involved and its “behavioral flexibility.”

Cubli

Basically, the little device can sit there like a paperweight or it can balance on a point or on an edge or it can be taught to actually “roll” in a slow and very controlled manner, something they call “jumping and walking.”

Check out the video and then pop back here and I will roll forward with some of my ideas and analogies of how this little device actually DOES link to organizational behavior and people and performance…

The first video shown of the device appears here — like most good ideas, it started out by not being able to do much other than be lifted up to balance and maintain itself on one point. It is connected to a computer system with its network of wheels, motors, controllers and program. That video says that it was designed by a group of students from the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich, a Swiss organization. The second and much more professionally done video shows that even more people were involved and the cube itself went from wired to wireless. The second video also says that it was invented by The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. I am only guessing when I think that the Institute now wants credit! (ALL organizations are political organizations, you know!)

It is described as follows:

Cubli’s secret is a set of flywheels located behind three of its faces. When they’re spinning at high velocities they’re individually controlled to allow the cube to maintain its balance, but they can also be abruptly stopped which causes the cube to be launched into the air. By carefully controlling how the cube stands, falls, and moves, it can even walk its away (sic) across a flat surface, in a manner of speaking. 

The lead researcher then elaborated:

Reaction wheels mounted on three faces of the cube rotate at high angular velocities and then brake suddenly, causing the Cubli to jump up. Once the Cubli has almost reached the corner stand up position, controlled motor torques are applied to make it balance on its corner. In addition to balancing, the motor torques can also be used to achieve a controlled fall such that the Cubli can be commanded to fall in any arbitrary direction. Combining these three abilities — jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling — the Cubli is able to ‘walk’.

And the narrative includes the point that, “Rapid breaking of the spinning wheel allows it to transfer its angular momentum and flip up onto an edge.”

Okay. So here we have a almost a dozen people at a Swiss research institute using government funding to develop a cube that can basically balance itself on an edge or point or rotate on a point. The Cubli is “commanded” to move.

So, my deviant brain spins off into a few new directions after viewing the videos…

They use round “inertia reaction wheels” and they missed the opportunity to use SQUARE wheels for that purpose, since they would have worked great and also made it a bit more elegant and congruent. A cube with Square Wheels.

Like a lot of projects, this Cubli one took a lot of creative energy of a lot of people to implement a solution that no one apparently needs. And I wonder the actual cost of all this… I mean, even the video’s reference that it makes for a really interesting paperweight (and one that might work really well in windy conditions or in an earthquake!).

A toy gyroscope can do much of the same kind of work. Like Round Wheels already in the wagon, those already exist and are proven to work just fine. You can also get that to spin around an axis in a circle and you can get one in a zillion places for less than $10. They make neat hands-on and engaging science gifts.

gyroscope

And, for $49, National Geographic will sell you a magnetic levitating globe that hangs in the air and spins freely:

levitating globe

A yo-yo also has many of the same behavioral characteristics and is a lot more fun to play with and a lot less costly. You can watch some amazing yo yo tricks here — but remember that the yo yo is spinning all the time! And when they play with multiple yo yos on one string, that seems really amazing to me…But people can do amazing things with the tools that they have.

My point in all this? We can spend a lot of time and energy focused on things that have no real benefit, or we can use the things that we already have to make things more fun and interesting. And the kinds of skills that people can develop are really amazing — some of those yo yo performers are absolutely incredible and you would never know from looking at them what they can actually accomplish. A yo yo in each hand, doing tricks that amaze.

This 3-minute video at the 2005 yo yo championship has had over 4 million views. Three minutes of amazing tricks with a spinning toy and people developing the intrinsic motivation to take their skills to an unreal and unimaginable level. Why can’t we do this more often in the workplace?

Suzuki yo yo

Its about people and performance, people.
And the Round Wheels and motivation are already in the wagon!

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 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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People are our Most Important Asset – Seriously? Yes, seriously!

How many companies state that “people are the most important asset” to their organization’s success. Well, I guess years ago, that was a much more common statement in their missions and more of a reality. Today, we do not hear that kind of thing all that much, maybe because of all the cognitive dissonance it creates. But it is STILL true!

Maybe the shift started back during the “Re-Engineering Days” 0f old whereby so many larger organizations were cutting headcount left and right. A LOT of people were leaving the workforce, some of them being older employees seeing handwriting on the wall and taking the severance packages that were being offered. Headcounts were dropping in a wide variety of industries with the goal of improving profitability.

These days, we see lots of statistics that infer that so many people working in so many places may not be feeling like Most Important Assets (MIA) of their companies.

As reported in other blogs of mine and here,  there is really good data to support the reality that people ARE Most Important Assets (but that many are found to be that other MIA: Missing In Action):

This from Gallup (2012) with 1.4 million people and almost 50,000 organizations:  Employee engagement  and involvement affects performance results. Compared with bottom-quartile groups, top-quartile performing engaging organizations have:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

Stats show 85% of employees report their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job (from Sirota Survey Intelligence), and

49% of workers say they constantly have their antennae out for new job opportunities — even when they are happy in their current position. 

Few feel their current employer is giving them a fair deal in terms of advancement opportunities (Kelly survey). There are all sorts of fairness in compensation issues and many people self-report that they could actually do a good  bit more each day if they wanted to!

There are just so many things we can do to better involve and engage people in workplace improvement, innovation and customer service quality improvement. The challenge is getting our front-line supervisors and managers to better understand the issues and opportunities and to simply choose to do some things differently.

Here are a few little ditties around this theme, with each of these images linked to some other writings about people and performance:

Square Wheels One - brain in your head poem

Square Wheels One - Leading Philosophy

Square Wheels One - Always do what always done border

Wheel Playing haiku wheels image

Square Wheels - Celebration is key to success

We use cartoons like the above as tools for generating discussion and involvement, finding that through discussions of how things are working, we can generate employee engagement and a lot more intrinsic motivation for workplace improvement. For this purpose, we sell a variety of leadership development tools and facilitation skills support packages, in the hopes that supervisors can work more effectively with their people.

See more of our products here at our website on Performance Improvement.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

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.

 

Teaching The Caterpillar to Fly – Thoughts on Change – Part Five

This is Part Five of our five-part post on issues surrounding people and performance and managing and leading change. Included are some ideas about:

  • managing change and personal growth   
  • assisting change management initiatives
  • developing individual and organizational potential

1eurytidesmarcellusPart One of this series talks about the danger of knowing The Answer when it comes to working to manage and lead change and you can click the link or the image at right  to go to the beginning of this article. 

(Here we briefly talk about a simple involving and engaging model for managing and leading change, something that meshes up neatly into our beliefs about involving and engaging people for workplace improvement. I will write more about the model in another post.)

For nearly 30 years, my associates and I have been working with a very actionable and understandable model for change, one that we prefer to do with the involvement of the people who are going through the change process. I feel that with them knowing and playing a role in the process, it makes all things a lot easier. It also helps to clarify issues and minimize misunderstandings and tension.

What we do in this post is focus on some things to consider in helping your organization roll forward. It is as much about HOW you do things as what those things are, it seems.

People will often appear to resist change because they are actually comfortable with how things are, right now. Getting them to change for no real reason is resisted…

By using the approach of our illustration to generate their active involvement, we help the change process by identifying Square Wheels and the possible Round Wheels. This elegantly serves to increase discomfort with the way things are now and this helps make change more likely since people now have some considered alternatives.

Change Model

This relates to our simple Change Model, comprised of four factors which may only be somewhat related,

  1. The current level of discomfort with the way things are now and about how people feel about the environment and how things work
  2. The attractiveness of the vision of the future and whether they feel like they should invest in it.
  3. The individual or groups previous success with change — are they personally successful in making changes and improvements or were they recently unsuccessful and thus more reluctant to fail again
  4. The peer support for making a change occur — are the rest of the people for the change?

By increasing any or all of them, we make change more likely. We work to involve and engage people to help move these possibilities along.

Note that we have written extensively on my simple model for analyzing and managing Roadblocks, which also uses a facilitative engagement process and which PMC offers a simple and effective toolkit for addressing. There are four types of roadblocks, ranging from immovable (escalate those up) to “the ones you’ve heard of that must be true” that one can simply choose to fix. By allowing groups to brainstorm and list roadblocks and then analyze them, the group can decide which to escalate and which to handle.

Roadblocks Model Graphic

To some degree, most people are un-empowered, allowing roadblocks that are real or perceived to get in their way. The reality, however, is that they expect things to change while they keep doing things the same way. My belief is that our tools and approach can help managers to remove those things that get in the way (dis-un-empowerment) and generate peer support for change and improvement and the sharing of best practices through improved teamwork.

The problem with performance improvement and dis-un-empowerment is that many people don’t “buy into the program.” Issues of trust and past history often factor into this causing people to feel that things really won’t improve or that their efforts may not be recognized and appreciated.

Many people don’t have a positive experience with attempts to make changes and improvements. And they do NOT get the support of others around them.

Let’s illustrate with a test that might be interesting for you. You could also try it with someone else. Take 2 minutes and consider identifying four or five key points in the following illustration:

Trial and Error yellow

Consider the above – what is going on / what is this about. Think of some themes and ideas – maybe 6 of them before reading on…

DO pause here and consider the above…

The name of the cartoon is Trial and Error. And it is about how change and improvements occur. And if you are reading this without considering your reactions to the illustration, stop and please consider.

If you are like most people in our discussion sessions, you will generate a number of ideas about what is wrong and what they should have done and few about what they have done or are doing positively. The actual ratio of negative to positive is greater than 16 : 1 and we’ve tested this worldwide in all sorts of organizational cultures with very similar results.

Some of the common ones include: they aren’t working on the problem, the horse is before the cart, horses won’t push like that, they should see the problem but they don’t, they missed the Square Wheels completely, and they are about to run off and stop working.

Continuous continuous improvement is an ongoing process, is accomplished by trial and error and requires perspective and reflection. But, too often, we are quick to put a “Blame Frame” on things and presume, with our leadership and expertise, that we would not have made such simple errors and omissions.

blame frame color

But horses will push carts when trained and motivated (hang a carrot in front of it!) and a great many potential ideas for improvement will always exist that can be implemented or modified.

Trial and Error color carrot

As Max DePree elegantly said:

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

If everyone is focused on what people should have or might have done, this feedback to others will be seen as non-supporting and negative. The effort that was taken to try to do things differently would be punished rather than rewarded and, therefore, we make change less likely.  This “constructive criticism” is not constructive and will not support continuous continuous improvement.

A team approach generates the pooled, collective knowledge needed to solve real problems as well as provide the synergy and consensus as to where to generate results. Peer pressure can be focused on improvements if we can engage the team in a bit of reflection. Leadership provides the power and support to the implementation — but they must follow through and do something to recognize any improvements.

Quality, for example, is a people thing. A cross-functional team with a few skills, a mission and vision, and a bit of empowerment from management can generate the objectivity, perspective, collective knowledge and support to make real improvements in systems and processes, the root solution to the quality issue. And by getting people involved in the solution, they become equity owners of the process and we do things with them rather than to them.

Improving service quality is often an issue of leadership and recognition. Organizations have a real need to implement change. But the dynamics involved are complicated, and yet simple. You would all agree that motivation comes from people who take pride in results, with pride being a strong natural reinforcer of behavior.

The impact of putting The Blame Frame around less than perfect attempts to improve will stifle improvement. We naturally generate defensiveness or defense instead of change and we punish innovation while we demand improvement. And then we wonder why people do not feel self-actualized and intrinsically motivated. All of us can support improvement of others!

Intrinsic motivation, then, looks like this:

Intrinsic Motivation color green

Most people already have the Round Wheels within their grasp but, because of negative self-talk, constructive criticism, past performance evaluations focused on the negative and other typical work dynamics, we may not recognize them. Getting a test back in school, for example, was an experience of seeing all of our wrong answers highlighted and marked in red.

You can read more about intrinsic motivation, as I have blogged about it extensively. This takes you to a summary page.

This focus on the negative does not work to bring out the positive. Focusing on the negative only brings out more negative!

Performance coaching and personal improvement should address the many positives of the situation, seeing that continuous improvement is continuous. There is a need for objectivity and perspective combined with management support. But because of people’s focus on personal issues, politics and pettiness, many do not get feedback that focuses on the things that could be done to correct and improve our results.

We can’t really focus on developing human capital and achieving highest potential if we treat people in ways that diminish self-esteem and limit opportunities. The only way to achieve high performance is to engage the best energies of the people within the organization. And they already exist — the challenge is to unleash them from within.

So, if we want people to fly, we’ve got to look at what influences their initiative and performance and get them involved and engaged.

We need to allow people to try new things and experiment with the systems and processes. By hooking things up in a new way, we can often generate that creative spark and innovation that will make a long-term fundamental improvement. Consider what you can do to have more fun and generate new ideas for change.

SWs One Caterpillars pie in sky poem

 

Change is inevitable. So why not make it both easier and fun? Involve and engage people in the changes that they think are needed and see if things do not roll a lot smoother. And remember that caterpillars can fly, if they would just lighten up!

Hope that these ideas help you some,

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 scott@squarewheels.com

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

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