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

Tag: innovation and engagement ideas

Dance of Death, and other images of the workplace

I will blame my old friend, Bernie DeKoven, for this blog! (grin)

Bernie writes under the framework of Deep Fun and focuses on generating more fun in work and life as a practical matter of choice. I will let him comment more on his focus below. But you can see more about his thinking and a game frame using the image below by clicking on it.

This cartoon was done in 1493 for the Black Death Plague

I saw his post on this illustration and I had a different name / frame for the image. My email back to Bernie called the image, “Middle Management.”

Here is the worker, with no possibility of upward mobility, being “managed” by the middle managers, who also have limited upward mobility possibilities. As companies continue to become more efficient and more productive and use software for more and more operational processes, the requirement for skilled employees and for additional training and development becomes increasingly limited.

At least, that is one way of looking at things and looking at statistics, especially if one is focused on the older workers, those over 55 along with the shenanigans to limit access to things like social security and Medicare and similar resources for old age…

Another image that I have used before is this one. You can see some of my earlier thoughts on intrinsic motivation and innovation by clicking on the image:

Doom and gloom

Do you really think the average person wants to simply sit around and accomplish nothing? I think that goes against all the things I have learned about motivation over the years. But I DO think that people can be pushed and punished and beaten down repeatedly to make them less likely to try. That fear of failure and the loss of ambition and goals will generate conditioned helplessness.

An official publication of the US Army in how to sabotageThey can be dis-engaged and un-involved. We see that all the time in the workplace. But they can also take that abuse and become motivated to engage in organizational sabotage — there are many cases and examples of people becoming motivated to “get even.”

(see a detailed blog on this situation by clicking on the image of The US Army’s Field Manual to Strategic Sabotage (seriously) )

Motivation is a funny thing, and I would hope that we could do a better job of involving and engaging people in the workplace.

We need to pay attention to the choices we make about how we deal with people. And it is not rocket-science, it is about asking for their ideas and input on what might be done differently.

=Square Wheels Icebreaker icon

We can take the time to think about what we do and how our actions are perceived.

Stopping and Supporting Improvement, a Square Wheels image by Scott Simmerman

We can have more fun.
We can lighten up in our management style.
We can allow people some room to grow.

So, choose to rock and roll!

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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

Leadership Secrets and Teamwork

Dan Rockwell’s blog, Leadership Freak, is excellent. He offers up a very wide variety of actionable ideas on so many subjects. His blog today pushed me to share his key points and add a few of my own when it comes to leadership and interacting with teams. We can do so much more.

Read his blog for the expansion of his key points, but here they are as bullets:

  1. Offer solutions, but always begin with problems
  2. Forget perfection
  3. Learn while you take action
  4. Focus on getting people in the right roles
  5. Build energizing environments
  6. Embrace forward facing contrarians
  7. Results don’t define you

When reading through his explanation, my mind was operating within the framework of my actionable view of the world. Here is my view of the generality of how things really work in most organizations:

Square Wheels LEGO image of how things work in organizations

Take a second and think about this illustration…

It’s been my experience that things seldom work smoothly and that the people do not work exceptionally well with each other between the front and back of the wagon or from the viewpoint of there being multiple teams. In my view of things, leadership is often isolated from the hands-on reality of the people at the back of the wagon, thus it is critical that leadership do more asking and listening than offering suggestions or simply accepting that things are working okay. There is a great deal of research that suggests that many people are not involved or engaged and that their bosses are not asking for their ideas for workplace improvement.

Dan’s thoughts are right about perfection (#2) — I think about it this way:

  • A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. (John LeCarre)
  • The Round Wheels of today are the Square Wheels of tomorrow.
  • What we need is Continuous Continuous Improvement!
    (from the Department of Redundancy Department)

Peter Senge long ago wrote about the idea of a Learning Organization. Heck, I even read that whole book. And I think that, for the most part, the world is still looking for one of them. Most organizations do not come close to being focused on learning and teamwork and learning. Most organizations do NOT take the time to step back and look at issues or for possibilities. That kind of problem-solving teamwork is often seen in various “team bonding” kinds of challenges but not often rolled into the workplace.

For me, workplace reality should occasionally look more like this:

Square Wheels LEGO Poster on team perspective

What we also need to encourage are those individuals who step up and challenge the conformity and stale thinking of the group. Sometimes, these people can play the role of Devil’s Advocate, which can be politically difficult unless it is seen as useful (and which is sometimes actually taught in leadership training programs since it enhances problem solving and optimal solutions). The key, as Dan states in #6, if that this is forward looking and not just critical of things.

I see it thusly:Square Wheels LEGO image of devil's advocate

Someone needs to step up and challenge ideas, otherwise the tendency is to keep doing the same thing while expecting improved results. Muscle building (also know as training) will improve efficiencies, but only by a percent or two. What is needed is innovation and new ideas. Plus, those ideas generate a sense of teamwork, peer pressure for success, and an increased likelihood of generating that continuous continuous improvement I mentioned earlier. This is that positive, energizing of the environment that Dan refers to in #5.

Square Wheels LEGO team celebration poster

There are lots of things we choose to do as managers and leaders and most of them work okay. But there are also a lot of other things we can do to make even more contributions to our people and to our organizations.

So, Step back from your wagons and have a chat with your people about these things,

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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

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Innovation. Continuous Continuous Improvement. People. Engagement.

As I wrote this title, I thought: Keywords.

Innovation. Continuous Continuous Improvement. People. Engagement. Intrinsic Motivation. Team Building. 

And I also thought Connection. How all these things are connected and how they all play a part in the process of organizational improvement and intrinsic motivation. What happened was that I was engaged in a thread on innovation in LinkedIn’s Innovation Excellence group (join it!)

And Square Wheels. Opportunities for innovation are everywhere…

SWs One - How Things Work

There was a discussion on Should Individuals be More Accountable for Innovation? (link to blog is here) that got me thinking. Of course individuals are involved in the thinking around innovation but should they be held accountable for it or should they merely be more engaged and involved IN it? It is an interesting discussion. Yet it also got me thinking about Engagement, or more precisely, my thoughts on Engagimentation – the combination of engaging people and implementing ideas and improvements.

So, here is what I posted to the group:

Innovation. Yep. All People ALL the Time!

I never worked in innovation or creativity with the organizational development work I have been doing for 30+ years. Never called it that. We always focused on things like performance improvement and best practices, customer service, profitability and motivation of the intrinsic kind.  But it was always focused on people and performance.

The “top performers” do things differently than everyone else — basically because they do things differently! But getting more people more involved was always the challenge.

From all this stuff, I evolved an approach that generated involvement and engagement, made it okay to throw mud at the wire fence to see what ideas for improvement might exist, etc. We got groups involved in working together to do things differently.

Now, this is all framed up in “team building games” that one does to generate a sense of camaraderie and collaboration (All of us know more than ANY of us!) and the reality that different eyes see things differently and different hands do things differently. If we can capture those engaged individuals’ energies, we can accomplish a lot more.

Thus, my drift into “innovation” as part of improvement. While some think Quantum Leaps and Big Jumps, I think more continuous continuous improvement (Dept. of Redundancy Dept.) and about trying to involve and engage individuals and teams into looking for ideas and ways to make improvements and do things differently. Ideas seem to come from everywhere and link to everything…

So, now I tend to use cartoons as Rorschach Inkblots and let people see what they see and talk about what they feel is important.

If only we can get more supervisors to be more facilitative in their areas and generate more inter-departmental collaboration. That’s my new focus…

I really see the issues surrounding so many organizational issues to drop right on top of the shoulders of the supervisors. HR cannot do innovation, other than a workshop or two, and managers are too isolated. Sure, P&G can have 8,000 R&D people and roughly 4,000 engineers all working on innovation (from the blog article above) but that is because they ARE about innovation. For most companies, everyone needs to be an innovator, be it for process improvement and productivity purposes or for product improvement. It is the front line employee who is listening to customers and their issues (opportunities for improvement?).

After all, good ideas for improvement can come from anywhere and everywhere and often from unexpected places where people are thinking differently:

Stupid Duh Dumb Guy Improvement green

HOW do we improve the facilitation skills of the supervisors to involve and engage people to be more intrinsically motivated and to help improve all aspects of how the organisations perform?

How can we get there from here? And STAY there in that high performance state?

Brainstorming easel pad green

Answers must include The Supervisors!

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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