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

Tag: trust is the residue of promises fulfilled

TeamBuilding – We judge ourselves by our intentions

Inspiration is a weird thing. I was cleaning out a lot of image files last night and earlier today and I came across a folder I called, Animal Giggles. I have no recollection as to where they came from since the file names are all things like these:

Google ChromeScreenSnapz003

Having been reasonably productive all day, I decided to open them up and see what they were. On inspection, they are from so I will ask them permission to post by posting a couple here. It is a site of funny cat pictures and similar (I linked them).


“Do I look like the bluebird of happiness?”, “Go on, without me,” and “Clyde never suspected the local pigeons would have Tasers”

So, of course I immediately made the link from those silly cartoons to the real workplace issues of teamwork and collaboration, to leadership and trust and to the alignment of work groups to desired organizational results. How you might ask?

Because we are attributing desired behavior in the cartoons to others, in this case small animals.

In the workplace, we routinely make all sorts of assumptions about others including themes of motivation and competency and collaboration. But those are simply guesses. One of the quotes I have liked for a long time is this one that I recall derives from the NLP literature:

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
We judge others by their behavior.

That bridges me over to team building. The above quote is the mental key. Understanding the issues of personal intentions versus behavior towards others is where the above cartoons pushed my thinking…

In our exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, we set a goal of “Mining as much gold as we can” and of maximizing ROI. The game is about the different tabletops planning and executing those plans. It is about optimizing results with available resources, with a very obvious situation where collaboration would be of benefit to generating results. Teams can choose to share information and resources, as well as ideas, as an integral part of the design. They can choose to collaborate in many ways.

But what they often choose to do is compete. We tell them that
the game is about collaboration but they choose to compete.

In order to win, they will intentionally withhold resources from other teams so that they can beat them, sometimes seemingly encouraging that other team to perish.

You can see more about Lost Dutchman and how it works by clicking on the link below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

The name of another one of our team building exercises is The Collaboration Journey. It says so right on the game board. And new users are often concerned that showing “Collaboration” on the board will negatively influence results. Well, my comment is that you can be rest assured that they will NOT pay a whole lot of attention to that and will often not collaborate but compete to win!


People in the workplace, like in our schools, most naturally tend to work toward competing to win, even when it serves to sub-optimize overall results. And they will often use Darwinism and “survival of the fittest” to help explain those choices, even though social societies benefit so much more from collaboration. Survival of the fittest is a concept that focuses on benefits to the social group much more so than to an individual.

All I can say is that it sure is fun to run a game and then focus on the results of that game as driven by the choices that people make, especially when it is totally clear that inter-organizational collaboration will offer a much more positive impact overall. Our organizations are ALL like that — collaboration is key.

And reflection is likely to help generate some improvements; that is why we play the games!

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Fore the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

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.

(* I actually tried to look up a source for this and the web is apparently attributing this to Ian Percy, but I’ve heard this for a lot longer than he could possibly be speaking on these issues. More likely Robert Dilts or one of the other key people in the NLP community, I might guess…)

Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car – some practical ideas about implementation, ownership and involvement

I just posted up some ideas on my poems and quips blog, which tend to be my short little ditties with a simple point and a cartoon or two. You can see that blog here and my post about this theme here. And your likes and subscriptions and comments would always be most appreciated. The whole idea is to try to keep the concepts simple and direct and actionable.

But after posting it up, it occurred to me that I should probably expand on the simple idea and theme a bit more, since it is an important one and I see that a lot of companies and leaders “kinda sorta seem to get it.” But the overall data about involvement and engagement and alignment tend to suggest that we are not really getting this job done very well. Thump. Thump.

(This is a pretty solid post around the issue above)

There are a lot of blogs and slideshows and articles out there about the issues of engagement and implementation. The data on strategy implementation makes it pretty clear that leaders are not doing the job all that well — here is an article about my friend Robin Speculand and his work on that issue in a journal in Singapore.

Simply put, managers are not involving and engaging people in their organizational change efforts. They still seem to believe that telling people about their ideas will be sufficient to generating actions on those ideas, that talk will equate to other people’s walk, something that is not likely at best!

So, I thought to illustrate that issue with a couple of cartoons that I think will be somewhat self-explanatory. Let’s start with this one:

SWs Nobody with Pride cartoon

Yeah, let me restate that key point one more time:

quote Nobody Rental Car

The issue is simple. Are we really doing the things that we could do to generate ownership? Are we really getting our people to not be somewhat active actors but real participants in the overall change we desire?

In my post on the theme of trust and trust building, I used a series of cartoons to illustrate the gap that exists between the view at the front and the view at the back as it relates to overall motivation. The view and perspective at the front is different and leadership tends to be somewhat isolated:

Square wheels image Trust Bubble Front

At the same time, the view from the back of the wagon is not necessarily all that great and there may also be issues caused by isolation:

Square wheels image Trust Bubble Back Navran.

So what we need to deal with are those gaps in how we view things

square wheels illustrations view front back

and find different ways to involve and engage.

  • We simply MUST pay more attention to the issues of involvement and engagement
  • We simply MUST do things to share the vision and align the participants in the journey
  • We simply MUST do things to get their understanding of the issues they face and the opportunities that exist for improvement

Otherwise, how can we expect things to change as we keep doing things the same way?

We cannot become what we want to be


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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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