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The Square Wheels Newsletter - Issue 10


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Main Article –


PowerPoint Version of "The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine"

Seven Seas Quest – a team building game

Buccaneer - our newest team building game

Jokes and all that

On Alligators

The Pluperfect Virus By Bob Hirschfeld


On Optimists and Pessimists:

On Planning

Closing Remarks


Main Article:


My initial intention was to write some ideas on the use of metaphor for change and leadership and I got well down the road on it. But, as I sit here in a bus going from Milford Sound to Queensland NZ, and after having delivered a couple of well-received sessions with the cartoons down here over the past week, I thought to embellish what people thought was a main problem: HOW DO WE IMPLEMENT THESE IDEAS?

So, the question was posed to me and I made a commitment to write an article for the New Zealand Institute of Management on this subject. spinning the old round wheels a bit. I have, of course, focused on how to use Square Wheels as the main tool for change. But I think that these general thoughts would apply to implementing most kinds of change and development programs.

Remember, if you want a copy of Square Wheels One, just email me and I can send it along and include a facilitator's guide with it.


Thoughts on Implementation

Here are some suggestions for using Square Wheels® in virtually any kind of improvement effort. They are meant to be general suggestions rather than a specific rationale. We have also included a few of the quotes that we find useful. Please note that you also need only the Square Wheels One illustration to accomplish these steps but that the use of some of our other illustrations can allow you to make the discussion more interesting.

Remember that the most successful programs ever implemented in your organization will contain a pattern of key steps and ideas. Contrast these ideas with the programs that were not successful -- those programs are often missing key steps or some of those success factors. Building on previous successes is the best way of designing a successful intervention - people are more comfortable with the change initiative itself and you tend to avoid those things that were paired with previous failures.

This process is about Continuous Continuous Improvement -- recognize that people will improve (generally) in small steps.

"Put a good person in a bad system and the bad systems wins, no contest."

Remember also that:

"Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car."

Now, maybe the above is not completely true in that some people have on one occasion or two gotten these rental cars so completely filthy that they were embarrassed to return it in that condition, thus they did actually wash it. But it got that dirty because they just did not care! <grin>

Please also remember that this is not an attempt to provide The Answer to the implementation paradox, just some ideas that you can consider as you think about optimal ways to generate involvement, gather people's ideas about problems and potential solutions, and generate a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Consider looking at our exercise on Managing Roadblocks that can be found on our website -

The first suggested step is to generate some communications and involvement, as well as wheely good ideas. Show the Square Wheels One illustration and let small groups of people become teams focused on generating ideas about "How this illustration represents how most organizations really work,"

Now, you want to generate a discussion about the Square Wheels that might exist in the workplace(s). You can ask, "What are some of our Square Wheels" and allow teams to capture ideas on flip chart paper or anything else where they can write. Definitely write things down and generate as many of these as you can. Allow everyone to contribute.

Note: Top Performers may actually not contribute as much to this discussion and / or may see things quite differently. They may have put more thought into improving the ways of work more than the others but not necessarily. Some of these ideas will have little merit and only a small potential payoff while some may seem WAY too imposing and impossible. The latter obviously take more time! If you have multiple departments in the same session, the views of the departments will often differ.

Generate as many Square Wheels as you can!

We will generally put time in between a discussion of the things that need improvement and the generation of ideas. People will often want to jump right in and fix the problem -- this is a common characteristic of most managers!

We also find, however, that generating ALL the Square Wheels you can in this initial step is of benefit. Thus we will suggest that you take a week or so between this initial generation meeting and the next meeting where your goal is to generate as many Round Wheels as you can. Allow people to discuss possibilities and think about issues. And encourage team-based problem solving and solution generation.

Rushing into solving problems can generate second-rate solutions or ideas that may not work out as well as other possible solutions. And one wheely "bad" idea might generate a thought for a wheely good one. Thus, in this creative problem solving initiative, allow people T-I-M-E to let ideas float around as well as generating perspective.

Often, this will decrease resistance to change and lessen any defensiveness or "stick to the old ways" behaviors that are common. You should also move toward problem solving teams - formal or informal - that will address this as well as other issues and opportunities. Thus, create some space and time and don't jump right in and try to solve the problem.

But keep moving forward, especially when the organization has a past experience of all talk and no action. Be sure to generate some action and build a momentum for change and improvement.

There are also issues of politics and past experience that will come into play and affect perceptions. Do what you can to deal with these.

By all means, even if you KNOW The Answer, allow them to arrive at their own conclusions. You want them to generate the ideas and consider possible solutions -- you want them to be proud of their accomplishments. You also want to minimize resistance to change. Your role is one of support and implementation.

Now that you have identified Square Wheels, you can now focus on generating the Round Wheels. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.

One is to simply generate a long generic list of possible Round Wheels without anchoring them to specific problems. Just brainstorm a list of things that might be done and then come back to the specific Square Wheels and apply what might work.

Another is to select some of the more important Square Wheels and ask for a group to select one of them and propose some Round Wheel solutions to them.

Again, it may make sense NOT to go fast and select the solution as well as define the action plan and implementation strategy in one single meeting. it might make more sense for the team to spend a little time selecting the issues and talking about some general solutions and then meeting at a later time to talk about it some more. Teams need some reflection time in order to optimize solutions.

Depending with your organization's past history with teams, you may be able to allow them to self-manage the implementation, calling on you for extra resources or assistance as needed. New teams or organizations newly working with teams might consider having the supervisor actively working with the groups to finalize implementation plans. This insures adequate resources and support.

You are well into the issues of managing and leading change.

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you've always gotten.


One of the issues is pace. You need to go fast enough to make visible progress but go slow enough so that you make good decisions and accomplish things with a minimal amount of wheel spinning.

Comedian Steven Wright got it correct when it comes to change when he said,

"I have a microwave fireplace at home. You can lay down in front
of the fire all night in eight minutes."


Sometimes we expect microwave fireplace results when it comes to improvement and change. But improvement is never fast; it depends on the creation and realization of new possibilities and occurs with some amount of trial and error.

Remember also:

We cannot become what we want to be

by remaining what we are.

(Max DePree)

So, best of luck engaging your people in the process of identifying issues and generating possible solutions. The rubber will hit the road when the teams become engaged and a bit less fearful of implementing ideas. Over time, they can be expected to become more and more expert at the process of improvement.

And go fifty feet farther than last year... (See my Moose Joke on the website! <grin> You might also find the article on managing Roadblocks to be of help and impact.)

Square Wheels® is a registered servicemark of Performance Management Company.



On Alligators

The Louisiana State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen, and golfers to take extra precautions and keep alert for alligators while in St. Tammany, Jefferson & Orleans Parish.

They advise people to wear noise-producing devices such as "little bells" on their clothing to alert, but not startle the alligators, unexpectedly. They also advise the carrying of "pepper spray" in case of an encounter with an alligator.

It's also a good idea to watch for fresh signs of alligator activity and be able to recognize the difference between young alligator and adult alligator droppings.

Young alligator droppings are small, contain fish bones and possibly bird feathers.

Adult alligators droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper.


The Pluperfect Virus By Bob Hirschfeld

A new computer virus is spreading throughout the Internet, and it is far more insidious than last week's Chernobyl menace. Named Strunkenwhite after the authors of a classic guide to good writing, it returns e-mail messages that have grammatical or spelling errors. It is deadly accurate in its detection abilities, unlike the dubious spell checkers that come with word processing programs.

The virus is causing something akin to panic throughout corporate America, which has become used to the typos, misspellings, missing words and mangled syntax so acceptable in cyberspace. The CEO of, an Internet startup, said the virus has engendered him helpless. "Each time I tried to send one particular e-mail this morning, I got back this error message: 'Your dependent clause preceding your independent clause must be set off by commas, but one must not precede the conjunction.' I threw my laptop across the room."

A top executive at a telecommunications and long-distance company, 10-10-10-10-10-10-123, said: "This morning, the same damned e-mail kept coming back to me with a pesky notation claiming I needed to use a pronoun's possessive case before a gerund. With the number of e-mails I crank out each day, who has time for proper grammar? Whoever created this virus should have their programming fingers broken."

A broker at Begg, Barow and Steel said he couldn't return to the "bad, old" days when he had to send paper memos in proper English. He speculated that the hacker who created Strunkenwhite was a "disgruntled English major who couldn't make it on a trading floor. When you're buying and selling on margin, I don't think it's anybody's business if I write that 'i meetinged through the morning, then cinched the deal on the cel phone while bareling down the xway.' "

If Strunkenwhite makes e-mailing impossible, it could mean the end to a communication revolution once hailed as a significant timesaver. A study of 1,254 office workers in Leonia, NJ., found that e-mail increased employees' productivity by 1.8 hours a day because they took less time to formulate their thoughts. (The same study also found that they lost 2.2 hours of productivity because they were e-mailing so many jokes to their spouses, parents and stockbrokers.)

Strunkenwhite is particularly difficult to detect because it doesn't come as an e-mail attachment (which requires the recipient to open it before it becomes active). Instead, it is disguised within the text of an e-mail entitled "Congratulations on your pay raise." The message asks the recipient to "click here to find out about how your raise effects your pension." The use of "effects" rather than the grammatically correct "affects" appears to be an inside joke from Strunkenwhite's mischievous creator.

The virus also has left government e-mail systems in disarray. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget can no longer transmit electronic versions of federal regulations because their highly technical language seems to run afoul of Strunkenwhite's dictum that "vigorous writing is concise. " The White House speechwriting office reported that it had received the same message, along with a caution to avoid phrases such as "the truth is. . ." and "in fact. . . ."

Home computer users also are reporting snafus, although an e-mailer who used the word "snafu" said she had come to regret it. The virus can have an even more devastating impact if it infects an entire network. A cable news operation was forced to shut down its computer system for several hours when it discovered that Strunkenwhite had somehow infiltrated its TelePrompTer software, delaying newscasts and leaving news anchors nearly tongue-tied as they wrestled with proper sentence structure.

There is concern among law enforcement officials that Strunkenwhite is a harbinger of the increasingly sophisticated methods hackers are using to exploit the vulnerability of business's reliance on computers. "This is one of the most complex and invasive examples of computer code we have ever encountered. We just can't imagine what kind of devious mind would want to tamper with e-mails to create this burden on communications," said an FBI agent who insisted on speaking via the telephone out of concern that trying to email his comments could leave him tied up for hours. Meanwhile, bookstores and online booksellers reported a surge in orders for Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style."

Please ignore any messages regarding this "hoax" and do not pass on any messages regarding it. Passing on messages about this hoax serves only to further propagate it.


1. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say

2. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies

3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

4. Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case

5. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

6. Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?

7. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope

8. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

9. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands

10. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids

11. Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead

12. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told

13. Miners Refuse to Work After Death

14. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

15. Stolen Painting Found by Tree

16. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

17. War Dims Hope for Peace

18. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While

19. Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

20. Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge

21. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

22. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Space

23. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

24. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter

25. Typhoon Rips through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead


On Optimists and Pessimists:

An optimist sees the best in the world, while a pessimist sees only the worst. An optimist finds the positive in the negative, and a pessimist can only find the negative in the positive.

For example, an avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him.

He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, a pessimist by nature, and invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.

As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. they fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. This continued all day long; each time a duck fell, the dog walked across the surface of the water to retrieve it.

The pessimist watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.

On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, "Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?"

"I sure did," responded the pessimist. "He can't swim."

On Planning -

An insurance company asked for more information regarding a work-related accident claim. This was the response:

"I put 'poor planning' as the cause of my accident. I am an amateur radio operator and was working on the top section of my new 80 foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware.

Rather than carry the materials down by hand, I decided to lower the items using a pulley. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools into a small barrel.

Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 300 pounds of tools. You will note in block number 11 of the accident report that I weigh 155 pounds. Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower.

In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. I regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. At the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds.

I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body.

The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools so only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind, and I let go of the rope..."


If you like our materials, PLEASE feel free to mention the website or our newsletter to other trainers, managers and consultants who might find this of use. We try to constantly update the site and guess that most of you don't even know that there are thousands of jokes that have been uploaded, for example.

We LOVE those testimonial notes and referrals!!


We've been shipping the PowerPoint delivery version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine for about six months. The disk contains all the materials you need to print cards, print forms, deliver the exercise from a computer projection unit and debrief the exercise, along with very detailed instructions and training shows. Feedback continues to be strongly positive although we have continued to improve the game.

Cost is $695 and we guarantee satisfaction. This cd version will work for up to 6 teams of 6 people. We also have inexpensive poster maps and colored cards available.

The Professional Edition of Lost Dutchman sells for $6,995 for unlimited numbers of participants and designed for large meetings. This is a one-time cost and easily recouped with a delivery or two of this great exercise. It is a PROVEN profit center.

We've proven that Dutchman makes a tremendous team building tool for consultants and meeting planners looking for a high-impact exercise for large groups. We have handled 600 people with this game and could easily do 1000 or more if the situation presented itself.

Details at <>


Our newest exercise, "Seven Seas Quest," is a team building simulation involving sailing ships, The South Seas, and teams. The focus is on planning and collaboration. The play is fast and furious, it is very inexpensive to accessorize, and it is a nice addition to Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.

We also have "Buccaneer," a similar Pirate-themed game available.

For a limited time, we are bundling the two exercises on one disk for a retail price is $795. Wholesale pricing is available for resellers. We can send them on approval or email parts of the program should you want to review it for possible purchase.

See our website Home Page for the newest information.


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Comments, thought, ideas and suggestions are always appreciated,

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, Performance Management Company
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