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

Tag: Intrinsic Motivation Tools

Tribal Wisdom and Organizational Improvement – Thoughts on dealing with a dead horse

Organizational engagement, workplace involvement, and leadership facilitation are all parts of an organizational alignment strategy. And while much has been written on the issue, we need to remember that many of the old strategies and tactics taken to resolve organizational issues are not new ones.

The Navajo nation is said to have a saying that rings true when one thinks of so many people in so many workplaces:

Navajo Not possible to awaken

HR can do all it wants to, but if the people at their desks are choosing not to be involved or engaged or high-performing, no amount of spending will make any difference.

Let me illustrate with a different tribe and a different perspective. If one looks at employment practices in many places, they may appear to be designed to not generate involvement or engagement. I am reminded of Samuel Goldwyn and his reported,

“When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”

NOT engaging people kinda reminds me about that Dakota Indian tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses and unengaged people, including the following:

  •   Buying a stronger whip or whips.
  •   Changing riders or changing the leadership team.
  •   Restructuring around the issue: “This is the way we always have ridden this horse.”
  •   Appointing a committee to study the horse, riding, training and support systems.
  •   Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  •   Increasing the standards for riding dead horses to exclude poor performers.
  •   Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
  •   Creating a training session with the desired outcome of increasing riding ability / best practices.
  •   Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment.
  •  Change the requirements declaring that “This horse is not dead.”
  •  Hire contractors to ride the dead horse.
  •  Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
  •  Declaring simply that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
  •  Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
  •  Do a Case Study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
  •  Purchase a product from a TV vendor to make dead horses run faster.
  •  Declare the horse is “better, faster and cheaper” dead than alive when stored on a bullet train.
  •  Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
  •  Revisit the performance requirements for horses.
  •  Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable to test financial system strength.
  •  Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position (again).

Please note: I am not picking on dead horses. I am just relating to Dakota Indian tribal wisdom, and using the metaphor of a dead horse, apparently. You can substitute your own animal or inanimate object like a desk or supervisor in the above explanation.

We make choices all the time. We ought to be choosing to better involve and engage people for workplace improvement and performance.

As Scott Adams said in The Dilbert Principles,

Mission - all good companies have one


and as Max DePree said in his neat little book, Leadership is an Art:

Max DePree - cannot become


Let’s do more to awaken our people and to help them work together more effectively. Let’s look for ways to improve engagement and increase intrinsic motivation for workplace improvement. The potential is out there!

Performance Management Company sells simple tools for involving and engaging people in workplace performance, including management team building exercises like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and our series of Square Wheels toolkits.

Check them out, sign up for our blog, and have some fun out there, too.


scott tiny casual


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.


<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

Seriously? How things work in most organizations.

People say that I can pretty much say it all in one cartoon, so here is my attempt to show how things really work in most organizations along with providing ideas for how to solve issues of involvement, engagement, work happiness, innovation, process improvement, intrinsic motivation, leadership development and performance improvement.

Tell me what I missed, if you will, and please feel free to share this for sure.

SWs One Dis-un-engagement choice

Are we having fun yet?

We sell simple toolkits that help managers drive performance improvement. See our tools at

You Make The Call Pin Balloon Drawing Board



Scott small pic

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:

<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

Employee Engagement for Everyone – a book by Kevin Kruse

Until Friday, the 28th of June, 2013 (thus this timely post!), you can download Kevin’s new book on engagement for free off of Amazon. It is a Kindle book and Amazon also offers a free reader for your computer or phones or whatever. I just downloaded it, scanned it, clicked to his links, etc.

Kevin focuses on personal engagement and choices we make. Funny thing, but I spent much of last night working and re-working my “Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly” article and poem, which I will upload to here this week. That is also about personal choices:


Two caterpillars are rolling along and a beautiful butterfly floats by.

The one caterpillar says to the other,
“You’ll never get ME up in one of those things…”

Well, sometimes change IS inevitable and sometimes we do not understand that we have are involved in that process. Engagement is one of those things that is essential for organizational success and those of us who are working in better working environments are more likely to personally prosper.

Kevin’s focus on choices and personal growth is one component of the overall engagement picture, in my beliefs. You can grab his book at this spot on Amazon.

Kevin also shares a pretty broad base of stats on the issues around engagement and the impacts it has on organizational performance. You can find those statistics on his website here.

My take is that the people at the back of the wagon do not have as many choices and opportunities as they might and that the leadership of the team needs to step back and look for opportunities to involve and engage people. I think that the leaders have a whole lot more influence over the kinds of things that can be changed to make the workplace a better one for people and processes.

Perception of how things work SWs One

We can do things to improve the workplace. And I think that a LOT of it has to do with how leaders involve and engage their people.I think the supervisors can do more to help people implement more of the best practices and fix more of the inefficient processes and systems that impact so much of the workday. I think that it is this leadership team that has the impact on team building and the growth of the people in the workplace. Coaching, mentoring, supporting, encouraging, and allowing people to improve themselves.

I see supervisors and managers improving their involvement and engagement skills and doing more to influence the work environment in positive ways. That is the leverage point for most workplaces; depending on the individuals to choose to be more involved might make sense, but it will not happen on its own. Those self-developing people are already self-developed, in my opinion. The key is generating supervisory change, as I see how things really work.

Butterflies make good wagon pullers

And, like Kevin,  I really do think that there are different choices that can be made.

Caterpillars can fly lighten up round

We use our Square Wheels cartoons and tools and our team building games as simple debriefing frameworks for involving and engaging people. The goal is to help them identify the things they can choose to improve and to build peer support for that continuous improvement.

Choosing to be involved and that working in teams for shared goals in intrinsically motivating and it also what Kevin is discussing.

For the FUN of It!

Discuss what you might do differently

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:

<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

You set YOUR price for our Facilitation Toolkit – Square Wheels Roll!

Square Wheels illustrations have been used worldwide for almost 20 years as tools for presentations on managing and leading change and involving and engaging people to make commitments to improve the workplace and others. Using these cartoons, you can make a powerful impact and leave a lasting memory — as people remember these presentations decades later! Time after time, I’ve received verbal and written proof of this.

Update: We never seemed to get any traction with this offer for setting your own price, so we stopped it. Maybe I did not blog about it enough or people felt that our regular retail price was a good value. One person actually paid MORE than retail, which was really appreciated as a great gesture.

If you are curious about our toolkit, drop me an email at

The metaphor of the Square Wheels Wagon is useful and bombproof. You show people a cartoon and allow participants to think about it and then discuss their ideas in small groups. You allow people to project their beliefs onto the cartoon to help build their ownership images and then allow them to apply that image onto their workplace through identifying the things that do not work smoothly along with their ideas for improvement.

You can download a complete Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit from our website and get the PowerPoint illustrations, instructions for use and for facilitation, in general, and worksheets you can print and use to have an effective 30 minute meeting or set the stage for a series of meetings focused on identifying, solving and implementing workplace improvement ideas and building intrinsic motivation of your people.

Heck, you can just use the handouts and not even need any LCD projector or other supporting equipment and be just as effective in involving and engaging everyone.

You can see how identifying something as a Square Wheel pretty much guarantees that your people will find some Round Wheel solutions and workarounds, because that is just how our brain works and people are much better problem solvers than problem identifiers. And you can see how the tabletop discussions generated allow people to gain some peer support for actually implementing the ideas.

Millions of people have never tried the simple act of facilitating with our Square Wheels cartoons and we think that they all represent potential users. My own presentations using these materials in 38 countries along with hundreds of testimonials from consultants and managers, worldwide, allow me to feel quite confident that you can use these illustrations in your improvement initiatives in the workplace, and elsewhere, for coaching improved performance and impacting organizational and personal momentum. So, go ahead and try out one of our very unique tools!

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company


The Customer sets the price for our Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit!

Please note: We stopped this promotion a while back. People continued to pay our retail price for the toolkit, understanding it was a great value as is. Thank you for that and have fun out there!

We just sent out a Press Release on customers setting their own price:

Taylors, SC – (5/10/12) Performance Management Company is supporting collaboration with its customers by offering them an opportunity to “name their own price” for the Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit. This complete training package normally sells for $49.95 and contains:

  • A Facilitation Guide with instructions for use
  • A PowerPoint Presentation containing 64 slides, notes, quotes plus illustrations / cartoons
  • A variety of ready-to-use handouts for generating involvement and engagement including:
  • –a Worksheet for mind mapping ideas generated by the main Square Wheels concept
  • –a Round Wheels Worksheet for identifying ideas and opportunities for improvement
  • –a Key Learning Points Summary Handout of Square Wheels themes for implementation
  • The “Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly” article by Scott Simmerman, focusing on managing and leading change for organizations and individuals

Based on the Square Wheels One illustration that is a proven, powerful tool for promoting a participative learning approach, it allows people to “step back from the wagon” and disclose their views about how things are really working, engage each other in a creative discovery process and use the diversity of ideas and perspective to generate thinking, innovation and communications. It’s a great facilitation tool for leadership development skills, employee engagement, team building and motivation.

Why use Square Wheels? Round Wheels aready exist!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels illustration series, believes that “Nobody ever washes a rental car” and that people become more engaged and motivated if they feel a sense of ownership in the journey forward. Therefore, Scott hopes that by your setting the price for this Toolkit, you’ll enjoy a keener sense of ownership/motivation for its use.

You’ll find the Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit (an Asian version is also available with some of the illustrations more “Oriental” in appearance) on our website at or go there directly with this link.

Scott J. Simmerman, Ph.D., is Managing Partner of Performance Management Company and has presented his Square Wheels Illustrations series for Organizational Improvement and Team Building Games such as “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” in 38 countries. The products are available at

People basically liked this idea, thinking that we have really great and simple tools for engagement and performance improvement. The amazing thing is that so few people paid only a little — most people paid the full price and a couple paid even more for it! THAT was most surprising. Guess they had seen the tool and felt it was a really good value.

If YOU need a great tool for involving and engaging people, give our Square Wheels tools a try. Click here for more information.

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:

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company. Materials copyright © PMC since 1993. All rights reserved.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén