Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: leadership and engagement

Decision Making, Creativity, and Implementation

Maybe the title should be, “Engagement, Creative Problem Solving, Designing Solutions and then Not Failing to Implement,” but that seems a bit long. It is probably more realistic, though, when we look at the overall context of implementing ideas.

The data on the engagement of employees is really pretty awful, it has been pretty awful and it will probably stay pretty awful. Some relevant links from some previous writings are below, with lots of data and lots of simple ideas for generating more involvement and engagement of people in workplace improvement:

Engagement is actually pretty simple to accomplish and here is the key concept behind making improvements in that area:

Ask for Ideas

People will share ideas. Basically, the ideas around implementing workplace improvement ideas are pretty straightforward. Many approaches will work and some approaches will work much better in cultures that can generate a positive history of workplace improvements and small successes. The acceptance level is simply higher in those organizational cultures.

It is that last thing, “Not failing to implement,” that is my focus. In reading Dan Rockwell’s blog today called, “How to Say Yes to New Ideas Without Going Nuts,” Dan shared 12 ways to say Yes and to help to generate improvement. These are:

  1. Don’t expect people who resist change to lead change. Resistance stabilizes organizations.
  2. Let people who love new ideas try them. Ask, “Who can try this?”
  3. Say, “Yes,” in small ways.
  4. Minimize disruption with pilot programs and trial runs. Ask, “How can we try this?”
  5. Evaluate risk. Ask, “What happens if we try this?”
  6. Limit resources and finances. Creativity finds a way when limitations exist.
  7. Validate before big commitments or disruptions.
  8. Align with vision. “How does this take us where we want to go?”
  9. Align with values. “How does this express who we want to become?”
  10. Ask, “What happens if we don’t try this?”
  11. Define the win. “What will be better if it works?”
  12. Check your gut. “On a scale of one to ten, is it worth a try?” What gut-check number is acceptable for you?

I filter all the above through the looking glass of active ownership involvement. If YOU own the idea and keep that ownership, you can pretty much expect to see resistance to that idea as you push it out to others. BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory and people do not like being pushed — you can expect push-back in some fashion in most cases, I think.

Alignment and vision are key, for sure. I frame things something like this:

Square Wheels image BELIEVE this is reality

For the most part, there is isolation of leadership and the support people cannot be expected to understand everything about the journey forward. But what they do understand is that things are not working smoothly and that there exist better ideas for improvement that are right at hand. A key is implementation!

New ideas might just represent continuous continuous improvement, in that a new idea builds logically on an old new idea and in that way is not radical. We also need to attend to the issues of “interdepartmental collaboration” in that a new idea may also have impacts on another group upstream or downstream that may simply resist those, “new ideas that we did not develop ourselves.”

Collaboration is not the most natural behavioral response when it comes to inter-team workplace improvement. Competition is much more likely:

Square Wheels Teamwork interdepartmental collaboration poem

That kind of interdepartmental collaboration competition thing also puts the old kibosh on a lot of ideas and implementation. The real keys are “ownership involvement” and in analysis of impact. If we do a good job of involving and engaging people in the shared idea and its implementation strategy, that ownership will make a difference. If we do a good job of involving them in looking at the idea from a variety of perspectives and being able to report a variety of positive impacts and minimal threats, we also improve the likelihood of implementation.

Funny, but I just wrote a consultant friend in Singapore asking him for what might be a pragmatic idea for a short series of blogs and then this one falls into my lap. These thoughts from Dan were most helpful in anchoring my thoughts on this subject. Implementation is a real key to any improvement.

And a followup telephone conversation with a rental customer for my Lost Dutchman team building game found that the competition between the tabletops at her senior management retreat were very predictable: they tended to not share information and to focus only on their small part of the big organization, actively working to block the sharing of ideas and information about how to optimize the results during play. The debriefing was great because they could talk about all these game behaviors and infer the similarities in play to the realities of daily efforts to impact their customers. People tend to compete rather than collaborate.

Square Wheels One - Judge ourselves intentions borderSo, my suggestions are to look for ways to involve and engage people and ask for their ideas but to also give them ownership involvement. Let them do the impact analyses and look at cost / benefits and let them design strategies to involve and engage other departments and make things roll forward more better faster.

Rental Car quote


Square Wheels One and TS Eliot Shadow

Both of the ideas above link to real issues of people and performance. Involving and engaging people to share their ideas and to interact in some kind of implementation team helps generate the intrinsic motivation to do things differently. There are all sorts of positive impacts that can be implemented locally in most organizations.

PMC sells great team building games as well as Square Wheels Toolkits for organizational performance.

Performance Management Company website for team building

For the FUN of It!

Dr. 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:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.


Square Peg, Round Holes and Motivating and Engaging for Performance Improvement

This is a little ditty that Joan cooked up for an email to our customers and prospects and I thought it was really cute and well done. So, I thought to share it on Columbus Day, but it took us an extra day. Let me start with our Columbus Award, something which can be given posthumously (grin):

Christopher Columbus Award color

Know anyone who we need to send this to?

Okay. Back to business…

The title of the mailing is,


A “Square” Peg becomes a Round Peg!

Introducing Peg:

Square Peg Yellow

Peg is a workplace manager who thought she was managing well but usually came up short from her employees’ view. Many called her “Square” Peg because she always did what she’s always done. Prospects for change were bleak given as Peg did not communicate well and had no vehicle in place for others’ input and discussion.  

Her staff felt unmotivated and disengaged!

Peg’s View:

View Front color bPeg was pleased with and fully committed to her company’s vision of the future. However she felt that her staff didn’t have the same commitment and she had no clue as to how to get them on board sharing in her enthusiasm.

All was good from Peg’s view BUT it was only her view!

The Employees’ View: 

Square Wheels Image - View Back color redPeg’s staff described their view more like this. It was based on their not being keyed in on what was taking place. They were given no opportunity to give input about what improvements could be made and how they could be involved.

They were typical disengaged employees!

Square Wheels to the Rescue:  

Peg decided to set aside her square ways by using the Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit as a means of reaching out to her employees. It sets up an interactive discussion of issues and ideas for improvement that really gets energy rolling.

Square Wheels Image simple thoughts

Everyone shares their perspective!

The New, Better View:

After their first Square Wheels session, the employees felt a change had occurred that left them feeling part of the vision, therefore, making them more motivated and part of the plan. They were given an opportunity to express their thoughts and realities about what was happening with their jobs and what could be improved.

Square Wheels Image with Mission

They became involved and engaged!

From a Square Wheel (Peg) to a Round Wheel (Peg):  

Round Peg blue donut yellowPeg was excited about the positive changes and feelings that stemmed from her going beyond her “square old way” of doing things and giving Square Wheels a try.

Staff morale was at a new high and even Peg enjoyed the result of being better connected with everyone, especially when she heard herself being called a “Round” Peg. A good thing!

Communication and motivation was filling the workplace!


If you feel your employees or your workplace could use some “Stepping back from the wagon” to get new ideas and inspiration in place, give one of our many Square Wheels Toolkits a try. Square Wheels is a simple, unique way to motivate and engage everyone in the workplace around organizational issues of communications, change, leadership, planning, performance improvement and other topics.


 square wheels authorFor 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

 I came in contact with Square Wheels 13 years ago and since then I still have not found anything else quite like it. Being a trainer and facilitator in Singapore and regional countries, I’ve found that people of any culture would be able to identify with it. The Square Wheels One picture often helped to surface many organization and people issues and moved the session to a deeper level of open discussion and sharing. I highly recommend this very useful facilitation tool 🙂
Jason Ho, Singapore

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