Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: workplace engagement

Elephants, Line Managers and Workplace Engagement

More and more, I am convinced that the key training people in organizations do not reside in HR / Training Departments but exist in the ranks of the line managers. The complexity of their job roles, however, can block their efforts to involve and engage their people to implement change and improvement. We need to look at that reality. Here are some thoughts and ideas.

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Managers are responsible for performance. Managers are responsible for quality and service. Managers are responsible for productivity and results. Managers do reports and attend meetings. And, more and more, we are driven away from the simple act of focusing on skills needed to motivate and retain people (including the managers!).

Yet these same managers are the only ones who have the direct influence on the workers to understand issues and generate changes.

The reality of the supervisors and managers will probably look something like this when it comes to opportunities to involve and engage their people:

Engagement Elephant Birth Process

So, what are we doing to provide managers with the tools they need to function as organizational performance improvement consultants, coaches for identifying best practices and communicating and implementing changes and improvements? Are we giving them the time they need and freeing up worker time for them to be asking, listening and considering?

Are managers involving and engaging their people or are we just wasting time and energy thinking that they might?

This could be brainstorming and an action to involve and engage people in workplace improvement. Or, this might represent another “Yell and Tell” training session.

In most workplaces, people are NOT involved and engaged — sure, the BEST Bosses are good at leading people forward, building ownership and engaging people in teamwork and process improvement. But in most organizations, BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory (email me and I will explain privately, if this euphemism is not immediately understood!) and people are not being engaged — the boss is too busy, as in the haiku below:

LEGO SWs One Business Haiku Talk and Trust

What do our managers need to do to shift the energy of these meetings and discussions from negative to positive? One solution is to use better tools and an approach that is facilitative rather than confrontational. This simply requires the right tools and some simple, self-taught facilitation training.

Asking is a much better approach than Telling. Engaging is a much better approach than generating resistance to change. Generate SMILES, not frowns.

For the past 20 years, I have been developing simple but powerful tools for involving and engaging people and generating ownership and performance improvement.

My view is that the solution to the work situation looks something like this:

LEGO POSTER - WORKPLACE HAPPINESS at hand

And we need to allow the team and the managers the time to consider possibilities and plan actions.

If you have any questions about how your organization might accomplish more of this, drift around randomly through the PMC website and generate your own thoughts on how people can be more intrinsically motivated and build a better sense of team and “US.”

SWs - Why use SWs RWs

People have ideas for improvement and supervisors can do a better job of asking and engaging and implementing, don’t you think? Could people simply choose to do things better and more efficiently?

 

For the FUN of It!
Scott small picDr. 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.

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

The Actual Impossibility of Engagement – An Organizational Reality

Check me on this if you can, but we keep talking about improving workplace performance by the active involvement and engagement of people doing their jobs. There are lots of reasons as well as lots of data that support this as a REALLY good idea because of the widespread impacts on results.

Just back from ASTD and after conversations with colleagues, both there as well as in a variety of email connections, it seems that this engagement idea is a non-starter and doomed for failure in so many organizations. In a simple illustration, let me anchor down my thoughts:

Square Wheels Supervisor leads teams forward Rat Cage words

Does anyone really think that HR is going to be able to do some kind of training event or lead some kind of organizational improvement initiative to involve and engage all the workers? Maybe, and I can think of a couple of organizations that have the culture to pull that off. But the day-to-day reality of the supervisory environment would suggest that improvement generated by active involvement and participation is a high-risk activity for most supervisors in most organizations.

After all, are they not already busy right now? Are they not up to their eyeballs in tasks and reports and meetings and reports and tasks? Do we simply expect that they would be motivated to do some “public speaking” and set up meetings where they involve people to share ideas about workplace issues and problems (and then expect some resolution and improvement) or is it a lot safer just to continue to do things the same way.

What is the Reality of this (from their perspective)?

Lee Ellis popped up a nice blog post here that I summarize:

Three strong indicators of an unhealthy organization are:

• A lack of trust leading to poor teamwork and alignment.
• A lack of clarity about mission, vision, and values.
• A fear of conflict. People are not allowed to say what they really think.

A healthy organization, alternatively, has management who:

1. Build Trust
2. Clarify and Over-Communicate
3. Create a Safe Environment and Encourage Debate
4. Are Courageous

All this stuff is fine, well and good, but anecdotal conversations continue to support the very basic idea that supervisors are incredibly busy with what is already expected of them (they do not even take all their earned vacation days, it seems and they work while they are off the job with emails and calls, etc.).

So, can we really expect them to add the risky activity of asking about the problems that their people feel exist and be expected to implement some solutions? Sure, they could implement teamwork, but that is a whole different set of worms…

Do most of them really want to start up performance improvement teams and use up even more of their time and the time of their people? And, a lot of supervisors are fearful of teams because of the potential loss of control that they perceive might occur. Plus, they often need the support of their managers and maybe even HR.

So, is engagement of people for workplace improvement even a reality for most organizations doing things the same way and expecting things to change and improve?

I think that there are good possibilities for change and improvement and we sell some very simple tools to generate ideas in a pretty safe and effective manner with our Square Wheels toolkits. This one on basic facilitation is cheap and easily used.

An organizational motivational reality might look like this:

Square Wheels One poem Always Do Pretty Rotten

And thus, my basic suggestion is pretty simple:

Square Wheels One Don't Just DO Stand red border

Make things happen. Your choice.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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.

We also sell a powerful team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. You can view a slideshare overview of the exercise here:

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine prices

What are The Square Wheels Toolkits and why do they work so well?

Since 1993, we have been working with interactive “cartoons” and sharing the related tools as worksheets in seminars and powerpoint-based toolkits downloadable from our websites. My conference presentations most often include a free set of these materials that the participants can use back on the job. My focus has been on the themes of continuous continuous improvement and the active involvement and engagement of people in workplace performance.

How things roll in most organizations and most workplaces

How things roll in most organizations and most workplaces

What makes our toolkits unique:

If you purchase one of our toolkits, you get a complete training package, with ideas and instructions for facilitating discussions and generate the necessary involvement to help implement change. I firmly believe that,

Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car

and that if people are not involved, they cannot be expected to have any commitment for success. Often and commonly, people will resist things done to them when it comes to change and improvement. So, our unique illustrations get people involved and engaged in discussing issues and opportunities.

With a one-time cost, you get slides around the package theme along with handouts that help capture attention and ideas. Most things are designed for small group facilitation, to generate teamwork and shared ideas. Everything is based on the tools and approach that I have personally used to address some issue. And each toolkit has plenty of ideas and instructional support — plus you can connect directly with me, for free!

I sell facilitation; you generate engagement.

And all this for a one-time cost = Cheap! You get the tools and the materials gain exposure  to future managers and prospects. After 20 years, the nature of the referrals we get are surprising and rewarding; it’s nice to create materials that can be remembered for improving effectiveness.

Why should you take a chance on using the illustrations?

Because they work. You can easily develop an interactive training program focused on team-based problem identification and problem solving. They generate involvement and teamwork. They get people thinking about issues and opportunities.

Because they are easy to use. There is really not much downside to showing the illustration and asking for ideas. They do not generate any defensiveness (they actually spark some humor) and do get everyone contributing when done as small-group discussions. They are easily used by new supervisors and grizzled senior managers. They work tops-down and bottoms-up as good communications tools.

Because they are complete. Most people get the tools, use the tools and then sometimes contact me, not with questions about using them but to talk about how well they worked. These are complete toolkits, with all sorts of facilitation ideas and potential uses explained.

Because they are bombproof. Their nature is engaging and they are shown as a general framework of how things really work in most organizations. They start as silent contemplation followed by group discussions followed by room insights and ideas. They frame issues as Square Wheels and possibilities as Round ones. There is never any defensiveness, since they are telling you their ideas.

Because they are flexible. There is no underlying specific or rigid model; it is just a cartoon or a series of cartoons. You use these to ASK people for their thoughts and ideas. They anchor to your organization’s key issues and opportunities.

And because of their general nature, people will project their ideas onto the illustrations. They will see what they see and think about the organizational realities. They give you their ideas and you can generate their commitment and involvement. They can help you link lots of issues to commitments to improvements.

Square Wheels are Really Good Stuff.
Easy to use. Highly effective.

I’ve used them with thousands of people in hundreds of venues on dozens of different organizational issues, in 38 countries so far. But that is simply for testing. You can do this yourself.

Lastly, we completely guarantee your satisfaction. 

You are buying simple to  use materials from me, personally, and I take pride in their effectiveness. Call me if you would like to chat – 864-292-8700 or chat with me on Skype – SquareWheelsGuy

And if you need a new and different approach or toolkit, let’s develop one,

For the FUN of It!

Elegant Solutions

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/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Simple thoughts on Extrinsic Motivation

Sometimes, I am not sure what triggers the motivation for me to pop into here and write up a blog. This one was triggered from “the holiday spirit” + some advertising on TV + a new LinkedIn discussion post on a similar topic + some of my own diabolical thinking and critical reflection.

This one is about motivating people through extrinsic rewards. Or, more about how that stuff actually demotivates people.

Extrinsic Motivation. What might make it effective? When might it not be effective and why? We really do know a lot about rewards, reinforcement and behavior and extrinsic rewards can control behavior in many ways — but some of them are somewhat surprising.

One is struck by all the ads on TV that suggest that viewers of football games and other TV shows will simply go out and buy someone a Lexus as a surprise gift for Christmas. I mean, really? Just hit the auto store and get that new car for a person who might be your wife or girlfriend simply because it IS Christmas (add theme of Jingle Bells here). (And you see the same kinds of ads for diamonds and other expensive jewelry — you are not a worthy person unless you spend lots of money on that other person on an extravagant or useless gift.)

Small Rant – Diamonds are always presented as a “very worthwhile investment.” one that holds its value. The gift that keeps on giving and that kind of thing. It is CARBON, people, and labs now can churn out truly flawless chunks of clear carbon (or colored clear carbon effortlessly)! The industry even suggests you give up 3 months of salary to get a “representative stone” for your marriage. Three months for a rock of carbon? Four years of car payments to demonstrate you are worthy? (Yeah, I rant…But how many people make money when they resell those things?)

Behind those ads, there must be some kind of hidden behavioral motivator that would cause one to want to buy a new expensive luxury car — I mean, most of us are not at all that altruistic, are we? So, what behaviors of that other person are you trying to motivate by getting that expensive gift?

There exists an extensive literature on BF Skinner’s concepts around the development of Superstitious Behavior, finding that a reinforcer following some random behavior will tend to make that random behavior get repeated. So, if the wife is washing dishes on Christmas morning when you say, “Honey, look out front!”, getting her a new car will reinforce her washing dishes… (More likely, she is sitting on the couch — remember, you made this choice of timing!)

A reality is that not all extrinsic rewards are rewarding to all people. That is one of the problems with using the to improve organizational performance. Generally, only the top performers actually get the rewards. And it is even worse than that. Bersin, in its “State of Employee Recognition in 2012” survey, reports that nearly 75% of organizations have a recognition program  — despite the fact that only 58% of employees think that their organizations have one.

Obviously, corporate programs, which represent 1% of total payroll on such extrinsic programs, are not getting much bang for the buck. But remember that it is the “winners” of these programs who get selected to be supervisors and the winners of those jobs get to be managers and the winners among them become their bosses. Gee, winners are the managers and who makes the decisions to keep these programs to reward the winners in place?

Why not simply focus on the bottom 80% of all the people, many of whom are disengaged and un-involved.

I share some statistics and thoughts on involving and engaging the mass of workers through something I am calling “engagimentation.” It is a program on Dis-Un-Engagement. It builds on teamwork and on involvement and can help to generate intrinsic motivation, which is much more effective.

You can download a pretty detailed article on engagimentation and motivation by clicking here: I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…

You can read a bit more on the situation there. Personally, I think that the best motivators are not extrinsic and are not given to employees with a goal of improving results of some kind. Why? Because they don’t always work. For an example, let me illustrate with a puppy. I mean, is this a cutie or what?

puppy

So, here is the deal: Make a comment on this article and I will find one of these little puppy guys at a nearby animal shelter and give it to you, free. I will reward your comment with a dog that you can take care of for the next 10 to 15 years! What could be better than that? And this particular one is a Saint Bernard, a lovely little guy who will get bigger and bigger (and bigger). If I cannot find you one of those, I am sure that there are some Great Danes and other ones that you would surely enjoy in your place of abode.

I mean, would this not be a great motivator one could give to everyone who had good performance?

(Me, I do not want a puppy at the moment! One cat is more than enough!)

Get a reasonable gift for those you love during this holiday season. And remember that you wife probably does NOT want a new electric drill or leaf blower.

And when you think about rewarding workplace behavior with extrinsic rewards, recognize that “not everyone wants a puppy” and that you just may be rewarding behavior that you do not really want to re-occur. You give someone a cash award after they return from a sick day and you may be rewarding them not to come in to work!  Or, your timing is such that they just told a customer to go away, so you might be rewarding that…

Better to look for intrinsic ways to reward performance. Look to improve feedback systems and improve peer support of change and improved results.

Oh, if you like this post, you could buy me a new Tesla Model D. Ya think?

For the FUN of It!

Catie

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 and owner of Catie the Cat.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

Improve Your Engagement of People: The Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit!

If you are looking for a simply toolkit to impact people and workplace performance improvement, here is a great solution. Using our Square Wheels illustrations as part of an interactive discussion about issues and opportunities is really straightforward and quite easy, actually.

My little company, Performance Management Company, has been focusing on improving results through team building and employee engagement, involvement and ownership activities for decades. Since 1984, it has been offering its tools and simple approach to companies everywhere and offers a high impact toolkit in an unusually collaborative way.

PMC is supporting collaboration with its customers by offering our easy to use, bombproof and powerful Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit. It is a flexible and engaging set of simple tools to get people talking about issues and opportunities.

This complete training package sells for $49.95 and contains:

  • A Facilitation Guide with clear and simple instructions for use
  • A PowerPoint file containing 64 slides of images, notes, and ideas – ALL you need to roll forward (more than you need, actually!)
  • Ready-to-use handouts for generating involvement and engaging participants in the concept, including:
    • –a Worksheet for mind mapping ideas generated by the main Square Wheels idea
    • –a Round Wheels Worksheet for identifying 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. This is background as well as an optional handout.

You can see more about the toolkit and its contents in a one-minute video here.

The approach is anchored to the Square Wheels One illustration that is a proven, powerful tool for promoting a participative learning approach, the concept pushes 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.

We can use the Square Wheels theme to set up all kinds of discussions.

RWs Sig File iconWe can also use the themes to get people to discuss possibilities and generate ideas for improvement, discuss ideas for implementation, and improve their active involvement in making changes occur:

Intrinsic Motivation color green

Facilitating Square Wheels is an easy process, something that we discuss in detail in the supporting documents in the toolkit. It is simple for a manager to use the materials to engage the workers on innovating ideas they have for workplace improvement. It changes the language of innovation and change and sets up cognitive dissonance — an unwillingness to allow things to remain as they are.

You engage and thus motivate people to make some of
the changes they feel will improve their performance!

You can see a 2-minute video about why Square Wheels work so well here.

It’s my ardent belief 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, it’s my hope that by your setting the price for this Toolkit, you’ll enjoy a keener sense of ownership/motivation for its use as well as discover, first hand, how this simple cartoon can create an empowering situation for participants as it stimulates  communications, ideas and improvements around workplace issues.

Intrinsic feel really good downhill PG

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 www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com 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 in 38 countries.

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 easily reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

Commitment to Employee Development is good! Engagement? Coaching?

In 2010, employers spent more on employees’ development than ever before: businesses in the United States spent $171.5 billion on employee learning in 2010, up from $125.8 billion in 2009, according to ASTD in their recent survey. Apparently, companies are seeing a benefit in investing in the development of their people and that there may be payoffs for that in terms of employee retention and improved performance.

Training can be good!

Companies need to invest in employee development

Numerous surveys are finding, however, that the levels of employee engagement are low and that many are ready to leave their present organizations should another job opportunity appear. Training may not be actually working all that well to improve results…

A Fierce, Inc., survey of more than 1,400 corporate executives, employees, and educators across industries found that poor communication between decision-makers and employees, which heavily impacts human capital ROI. Some findings include:

  • 86 percent of respondents blame lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures; similarly, 92 percent of respondents also agree that a company’s tendency to hit or miss a deadline impacts results.
  • More than 70 percent of individuals either agree or strongly agree that a lack of CANDOR impacts the company’s ability to perform optimally.
  • More than 97 percent of those surveyed believe the lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of any given task or project.
  • 90 percent of respondents believe decision-makers should seek out other opinions before making a final decision; approximately 40 percent feel leaders and decision-makers consistently fail to do so.
  • Nearly 100 percent (99.1) prefer a workplace in which people identify and discuss issues truthfully and effectively, yet less than half said their organization’s tendency is to do so.

While ASTD’s report found that the value of a highly skilled workforce continues to rise, companies are still missing the boat when it comes to training. Training will not solve the kinds of problems mentioned above. Skill training often seems to generate results that look like this:

Even with improved training-related strengths, failures to improve the workplace and involve and engage workers will not lead to great improvements in performance

Skills are important. But what are we doing to better engage workers in workplace improvement? Businesses with highly engaged workforces have many advantages over its competitors:

• On average, they rate 86% higher with their customers and build higher levels of customer loyalty, which has many positive impacts on sales and referrals, marketing costs, etc.
• They have 70% more success in lowering employee turnover
• They are 70% more likely to have higher productivity
• They enjoy higher profitability, have better safety records and deliver greater earnings per share to their stockholders

Senior executives seem to understand that a highly skilled workforce, and the continued development of those employees, can be a strategic differentiator in today’s competitive business environment. What they seem to miss is the issue of involvement.

While the expenditure per employee increased, learning hours per employee remained the same — the amount of training is the same, but the costs have risen. My guess is that they have downsized their training departments so much that they now rely more on outside vendors, spending more for each hour of learning content used. Some other key findings include:

  • Use of technology to deliver training, especially mobile learning, continues to grow – Fortune Global 500 companies set a new high of 40.1 percent of formal learning hours used being delivered via technology-based methods.
  • Managerial and supervisory training was the most offered content (12.8 percent) followed by profession- or industry-specific content (11.3 percent), and mandatory and compliance content (10 percent).

Sounds like same old, same old, right? For zillions of years, companies chose to not involve and engage workers. This tended to be a basis of the initial formation of unions so long ago (Read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” for a view of how things were in the workplace around the turn of the 20th century).

People were trained to do the job at hand, but they were NOT a part of the company. They were cogs to be trashed when they were broken. They did not have any workplace ownership involvement and were not treated as humabn capital. They were a cost.

Now, look at GM and Chrysler and Ford and what they are doing with a more involved workforce (and a union). They have productive, skilled, knowledgeable, involved and let me say productive people again. If we treat workers well and involve them in workplace decisions and keep them aligned toward expectations, goals and the future, we can accomplish a lot more than by simply training them to perform some task, in my opinion.

The Round Wheels are already in the Wagon!

If we focus more on Managers as Trainers, and focus more on teaching more of the existing Best Practices in the workplace to more of the people in the workplaces, and we focus more on engaging and motivating the people in the bottom half of the organization, can profit-improvement be far behind?

We should focus more attention on coaching the below-average performers to improve. They have the skills to improve, but not the support

You can see a short video presentation on this on my YouTube Site — it is about coaching the below average performer for workplace improvement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cohrhcYpDCk&list=UUH7_vvqDOBSBrQ2un7jTo8A&index=7&feature=plcp

If we’re not getting more better faster than they are getting more better faster,
then we’re getting less better or more worse.

The Elephant in the Room – Line Managers are the Trainers (All others fail)

More and more, I am  convinced that the KEY training people in organizations do not reside in the HR or Training Departments –they are the ranks of the line managers.

Managers are responsible for performance. Managers are responsible for quality and service. Managers are responsible for productivity and results. And, more and more, the continued budget cuts in these “training departments” are now more focused on issues of basic skills training, orientation training, and similar kinds of outcomes.

So, what are we doing to provide managers with the skills they need to function as organizational performance improvement consultants, coaches for identifying best practices and communicating and implementing changes and improvements? Are most managers involving and engaging people, or just wasting time and energy?

This could be brainstorming and an action to involve and engage people in workplace improvement. Or, it might represent another “Yell and Tell” training session.

My belief, as so much data shows, is that people are NOT involved and engaged by the acts and actions of most managers — sure, the BEST Bosses are good at leading people forward, building ownership and engaging people in teamwork and process improvement. But it is still true, in most organizations, that BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory (email me and I will explain privately, if this euphemism is not immediately understood!).

What do they need to do to shift the energy of these meetings from negative to positive? One solution is to use better tools and an approach that is facilitative rather than confrontational.

Asking is a much better approach than Telling. Engaging is a much better approach than generating resistance to change. Generate SMILES, not frowns.

For the past 20 years, I have been developing simple but powerful tools for involving and engaging people and generating ownership and performance improvement. If you have any questions, drift around randomly through the PMC website and generate your own thoughts on how people can be more intrinsically motivated and build a better sense of team and US.

SWs - Why use SWs RWs

People have ideas for improvement and supervisors can do such a better job of asking and engaging and implementing, don’t you think. Could people simply choose to do things better and more efficiently?
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 atscott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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