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

Tag: involving and motivating workplace improvement

Challenging Mediocrity – Continuous Continuous Improvement

Dan Rockwell shared another good post, this one on pursuing excellence and dealing with mediocrity. Ever since Tom Peter’s and Bob Waterman published In Search of Excellence (1982), I have found that concept to be a really solid and inspiring one to use. And one does not often hear the word “excellence” used much these days when talking about leadership or organizational improvement. Those thoughts of Peter’s have been strong influencers of my work for the past 30 years, the things like MBWA and sticking to the knitting.

Dan’s summary bullets included these:

  1. Ask teams, who believe in the mission, where they can be better. Don’t point out their failures. Let them point out their aspirations.
  2. Every time you feel like pointing out a problem, ask, “How can we make that better?”
  3. Never allow conversations about issues or problems to end without finding some corrective action. At the least, set a “make it better” meeting.
  4. Ask, “What can we do about that,” when someone points out a problem or shortfall.
  5. Reject the need for big solutions. The need for big solutions is the reason teams end up doing nothing, except complaining.
  6. When someone says, “That won’t work,” ask, “What might help?”
  7. Focus more on where you’re going than where you’ve been. Apply Pareto’s 80/20 principle.
  8. Think of the pursuit of excellence in terms of people, then systems. How can you maximize talent and passion?

(You can find Dan’s whole list here)

While the Excellence book did get panned because of some of the companies they selected, the principles that Peters and Waterman expressed seemed really solid ones and I think if more companies did these kinds of things, we would probably see higher levels of employee engagement and innovation today. Those eight key points, taken from the Wikipedia article, are:

  1. A bias for action, active decision making – ‘getting on with it’. Facilitate quick decision making & problem solving tends to avoid bureaucratic control
  2. Close to the customer – learning from the people served by the business.
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship – fostering innovation and nurturing ‘champions’.
  4. Productivity through people- treating rank and file employees as a source of quality.
  5. Hands-on, value-driven – management philosophy that guides everyday practice – management showing its commitment.
  6. Stick to the knitting – stay with the business that you know.
  7. Simple form, lean staff – some of the best companies have minimal HQ staff.
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – autonomy in shop-floor activities plus centralized values.

Most of these are people / philosophy issues, as I see them. And people ARE about performance!

My personal approach for the past 20+ years is to view people and performance issues within the realm of my Square Wheels frameworks, which I think meld really nicely with Dan’s thinking. Languaging around Square Wheels for issues and Round Wheels for possibilities takes a lot of the negative out of improvement discussions, since we can all accept that the Square Wheels are everywhere and the Round Wheels already exist.

So here is a little ditty on Mediocrity that I spun up for this blog.

Square Wheels images like these are the designs of Dr. Scott Simmerman

Don’t let all those Round Wheels seem like roadblocks to your performance improvement or your journey forward. There are ideas for performance improvement everywhere and managing improving excellence is a simple process of working with people with a degree of alignment and collaboration.

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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Positive Possibilities – Square Wheels for Performance Improvement

A few people have recently written that the Square Wheels One image is a negative view of how organizations really work and that it portrays the leadership in a negative way. And they seem to say that my haiku posts are also somewhat negative about how things work, too.

I guess that this reinforces my key concept that it is all about perspective — the fact that people see things differently and only through discussion can then better understand each other. That this perfectly illustrates the power of the tool is actually most wonderful. It generates different perceptions about things and allows for discussion!

As a “possibilities sorter” and a “future-focused sorter” of information and a performance improvement consultant starting back in 1978, I would simply suggest that my purpose of using the Square Wheels cartoons (back in 1993) was much more about looking for ideas for improvement than a focus on any negatives. What we do can always be improved.

The basic cartoon that started this all was framed up like this:

Square Wheels One imageand we asked, “How might this illustration represent how organizations really work?

We then allow people to talk about what they see and that is projective, it works much like an inkblot or Rorschach Test where people look at an image and then share their thoughts about what it represents. These are “projective instruments” in that people project their perceptions and beliefs onto the tool. And the use of the cartoon helps us get LOTS of ideas. What also happens is that the general thinking about the cartoon often becomes attached to how they see their organizations. They see real issues and opportunities in their own workplaces.

(you can see a post about just how many ideas result from such brainstorming and open discussion by clicking on this link and going to another post.)

Sometimes, if they are management, they see themselves in the front. More often, they feel that they are pushing someone else’s wagon, based on their responses. They also think that the ideas for improvement already exist but that communications between front and back are tough to accomplish.

Negative? Well, maybe.

Maybe if the phrase,
continuous continuous improvement”
is negative… I personally think it represents
possibilities.

I do frame things up with poetry and similar, sometimes taking managers to task for not fixing things that need fixing, those improvements that would make things better for all those involved… I see organizations doing more to generate intrinsic motivation and engagement.

Square Wheels Brainstorming Haiku Tomorrow is today

I think all we are doing through the illustration is anchoring to the existing reality and with the hopes that things can improve, be that about systems and processes, ideas for improvement, leadership involvement, communications or some other aspect of people and performance.

We sell tools for involving, engaging and motivating people and for leading all sorts of organizational involvement initiatives.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Have FUN out there, for sure!

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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