Greetings. This is Issue 2 of Scott Simmerman's Square Wheels Newsletter.

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Some Favorite Quotes
and sources of quotations

Learning Organizations and Learning Disabilities (skip to)

Ed Westerdahl and The Zen of Square Wheels

Simple Tools for Training and Development! (skip to)

Question for Newsletter Readers

Planning and facilitating Square Wheels team meetings (skip to)

A couple of Training Jokes (skip to)
Words of Wisdom

Testimonial from Curt Tueffert


Some of my favorite Square Wheels related quotes that you might find of interest and benefit:

Don't Just DO Something, Stand There!

(get perspective, be objective)


Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.

(it's all about our behavior)


Caterpillars can fly if they would just lighten up.

(managers need to let go and lighten up to motivate people)


We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.

(obvious!) (Max DePree)


Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car.

(create ownership to get commitment and caring)


The Square Wheels really are everywhere and the round ones are already
in the wagon -- but often only viewed as heavy cargo by leaders.


Some other places to get quotes:


<>. They've got a large searchable collection of quotes dedicated to learning.

<> Jim Clemmer's site also has quotes


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Learning Organizations And Learning Disabilities

Wanda Horne, in the Learning Organization ListServe asked:

> We are studying the LEARNING ORGANIZATION (LO) and I am seeking

> articles/information on learning disabilities as it pertains to the

> organization.


Here is how I responded from my Square Wheels Perspective:

Most organizations have the capabilities to improve, as witnessed by the impacts of new leadership, a new and engaging vision, a new manager, an effective consultant, a new business paradigm and the like. There are countless success stories as organizations use the "same old people" and "same old products" and reframing the organization into a vital and growing new company.

Thus, any of these relatively common success stories might be wrapped into the systems thinking and change management framework that the LO approach supports. They can be easily explained in that context.

By the same token, many organizations go by the wayside, with talented people and good products. They just seem to "miss things" in some way.


I am of the distinct impression that learning disabilities are present throughout most organizations. Using my metaphor of the Square Wheels, the person at the front is "deaf" and not listening and the people at the back are "blind" and without perspective.

ALL of them are so busy caught up in meeting goals and objectives as defined by their CURRENT practices, procedures and measures that they generally do not have the time to stop, step back and look for obvious better ways of doing things. Knowledge Management and all the other "tools" for improvement are not going to work if the people feel they cannot make improvements AND are in the rut of actually being comfortable with the way things are. Most surveys of organizational climate show that many people are un-empowered and feel roadblocked by management.

There is also a paradox involved in meeting current goals: Recognize that most teams WILL reach their actual goals on a regular basis and thus may have very little incentive to actually do something differently. Even though the best practices are already there (round wheels in the wagon), that does not mean that they are easily implemented or always implemented with success.

It is also my belief that the exemplary performers, the ones already doing thing differently are commonly blind to their own differences and unfeeling as to what they are doing differently than the average performers. This "tacit knowledge and behavior" may even be unrecognized by co-workers, who do not notice the nuances of an exemplary performer's behavior.

THIS is where a more systematic approach can pay benefits. Learning is an individual thing, with a lot of team and peer support aspects. Creating a new, shared vision about how things can be, challenging each and every member of a workgroup to personally make an improvement in quality, productivity or another aspect of performance will add up, even though it may not be measurable or quantifiable.

In a sales organization, often the sales managers will accompany their people on sales calls. Instead of observing and listening, however, many of them see their role as Sales Manager and actively participate in the meeting (maybe even taking over the contact?). Thus, they remain deaf and blind, although most certainly not dumb as to the process. (pun)

Universities tend to work the same way, with the old lecture paradigms much more common that the more effective active learning, interactive, distance learning kinds of paradigms. Amazing how many universities are still focused on bricks and mortar...

Hope that this helps a little. Maybe even the professors can understand,


For the FUN of It!

(signed: Scott Simmerman)



When I was considering the above response, it was my feeling that ALL organizations are somewhat "learning disabled" and for a variety of reasons.

It is also why people find the Square Wheels approach to be effective. People can facilitate employee and management discussions about issues and perceived problems. They can then engage and enlist these same groups of people into defining and refining potential ideas for improvement into actionable process improvements.

It seems to be a relatively common workplace experience that individuals are often fearful of taking actions and initiative and thus do not share common perceptions that things can be improved. By allowing them to share "group thinking" about what might be improved, it becomes less intimidating and people will discover that there are lots of things that can be improved.

And by getting management actively involved in these discussions, we increase the likelihood that they will take actions. People's intentions are almost always positive and they shouldn't have to be fearful of making suggestions. By the same token, comments and suggestions are often perceived to be punished.

The other issue is "perceived need" or a "gap" between the goals and expectations and the reality of the way things are. If things are "okay," people are not likely to have the readiness to change. By labeling a process as a "Square Wheel," we communicate the theme that it works but improvements are possible. This gap between Square Wheels and Round Wheels produces what is called, "cognitive dissonance." It creates a psychological need to close the gap -- done through the implementation of the new ideas.

These mental processes are simple to understand and the Square Wheels tools allows one to address them easily in a non-threatening and very simple way.


Check out my Roadblocks Article for ideas on managing roadblocks through Dis-Un-Empowerment



Ed Westerdahl shared his reactions to my signature file

> "Bosses think that Square Wheels to triangular wheels simply produces

> One Less Bump per Revolution. Don't just DO something, Stand There!"

I had to think about this one several times, Scott. Each time a different idea came to mind. You are either very right-brained and have a different slant on life or you are just a very gifted right-handed person.

(I think that it's my slant on life!!)

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I very much like Simple Tools For Training And Development!

Lots of what we see in the training marketplace is complicated and demanding, thus making the profit margins high and creating the requirement for certification and licensing.

But ARE things really that complicated? And do we need such expensive tools?

Take for example the concept of Leadership and how to teach it. There is an excellent ongoing conversation in the Learning Organization ListServe, for example ( <> ). (Search on "Leadership") There is an extended discussion about what leadership is and is not and also a framework for what it SHOULD be. But it isn't easy to follow and people are not always in agreement.

Some people focus on the details and use a framework such as a competency model. Others use a behavioral model or a situational leadership framework such as Blanchard's. Kouses and Posner's training materials are excellent. As it the simple book, Leadership is an Art by Max DePree. And so forth.

I know that we can make things complicated and convoluted. But, as a friend of mine says, "Do we always need to focus on picking the fly specks out of the pepper?" I think NOT.

Leadership for me is about involvement and enlistment. It is about generating teamwork and peer support for improvement. It is about making people a bit uncomfortable with the way things are and getting their aid in redefining how to get things done more effectively toward reaching a common goal and objective. It is about group dynamics as well as individual effectiveness.

The difficulty with a lot of the products out there is that they DO make good sense but are often very hard for managers to use back on the job.

It is like my intellectual problem with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI):

If it takes weeks of training to understand how it works, how can we expect a line manager with an hour or two of training to understand how to use it? (I know, I know -- I am just speaking metaphorically!).

All these indexing tools are good tools but some get so difficult to employ. The MBTI is based on Jungian philosophy and basic human temperaments (You need a Ph.D. to understand it -- I have one and I don't!).

I think one can teach the essentials of leadership with Square Wheels Facilitation Skills Training (I do not offer that course because I do not think it essential!) and a few other tools. Give the manager an understanding that not everyone thinks exactly like they do (Duh!) by using one of the inexpensive instruments and then teach them how to involve their people by using the illustrations and a participative / interactive approach. (You can model this in your session).

I would personally use a tool like this or DiSC or Extended DISC rather than the more complicated models like MBTI. It is about effectiveness. I would prefer that the tool be effective more than it be exact. One spends so much time validating the instruments and then some person like me takes the same one three times and gets three different results. Sure, the trends and tendencies are alike, but the details shift based on my framework at that instant!

Michael Ericson, an accomplished "instructional artist or artistic consultant" with Boeing developed a page on how to draw to engage and explain. The concept is useful and effective and simplifies the "conceptualistic innuendo and spatial forbearance" of using illustrations in training and development. Simple! Google him, since his link stopped working.

Ed DeBono's "Six Thinking Hats" is another example of a very simple approach to getting performance improvement. I read the book, understood the model quite well, and used the framework effectively. The simplicity is elegant -- each color hat becomes anchored to a different model of thinking. By using the metaphor, you can get people to move from the way they do things into another framework.

Six Hats is simple to understand and deliver, like Square Wheels. The problem is that Ed is now "licensing" people in a multiple day training to be able to use his metaphor. The suggestion is that there is some special skill needed to facilitate this -- "Bogus!" as my son says! Conceptually, Six Hats is a VERY simple model, with the materials are explicitly described in the book...

(I am not suggesting you just USE them without being licensed. You might chat with their organization about this process and its legal ramifications.)

There are lots of these tools available. The benefit is that the learning is VERY TRANSFERABLE to the trainees. If our goal is to see them actually do something differently as a result of the training process,

Keep It Simple!


Question for Newsletter Readers -

Is anyone interested in co-developing an interactive Square Wheels training website for management development?

I've an interest in developing a simple program to teach coaching or facilitation skills, using the Square Wheels illustrations.

I'd love to work on that project with someone as a collaboration. Any ideas?

Please get back to me directly:

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Planning and facilitating Square Wheels team meetings

Here are some ideas about facilitating a GREAT team problem-solving session with one or more teams

The first steps help your team prepare to do its work; they take a few minutes but set the stage for productivity. The other steps help people to understand the framework for the discussion as well as teaching them a problem solving approach for other uses in the future.

1. Clarify the session objective

Ensure that everyone understands and agrees on what is to be accomplished by the end of the meeting. If this is the first introduction of Square Wheels, you might say something like this:

"The goal of this meeting is to discuss issues of productivity and what we can do to improve our results. We'll begin with a brief exercise and give you a few minutes to discuss ideas among yourselves. Each group will then have a few minutes to present their ideas so you will want to select a presenter in addition to having someone record ideas. This should take about 5 minutes to brainstorm and another 2 minutes to report out ideas (for each group)."

"When we are through, we'll then discuss some of the realities of our present situation and some ideas about what we might do differently to improve. This meeting should take us (about an hour) and we will get together in about a week to talk in more detail about specifics."

If this is a second or later meeting, where the teams are focusing on problem identification and the generation of ideas and solutions, you would address them accordingly. If possible, an agenda might pre-select some specific and previously-identified Square Wheels for discussion.

Remember, "Nobody ever washes a rental car."

Give them a chance to get engaged and involved!

2. Establish Roles

The team confirms who will be taking on specific roles for the meeting: team members, leader / presenter, recorder, and timekeeper. By setting up roles at this point, you can train the team members to use similar structures in future meetings.

3. Establish the agenda and the tools

Each step of your teaching and learning process should include the method or tools that will be employed for the problem solving (e.g., brainstorming, cause and effect diagram, or other quality tools that your people have used in the past) for that item as well as the amount of time to be devoted to each item. Setting time limits will keep teams on track -- time is easier to expand than to contract!

For example, once the teams have processed the Square Wheels One illustration, you should suggest that each team identify one Square Wheel that is in operation and that should be addressed. This should have links to quality, productivity, or other economic or effectiveness issues. They can apply their analysis tools to this.

Once they have selected a Square Wheel, the team can then brainstorm ideas that would serve as Round Wheels.

4. Work Through the Process

There may be one or several agenda items for a particular meeting so allow them to process the information using the tools that they have available. Keep them moving with time limits and agenda.

5. Review the Meeting Record and Results

Team members should record ideas and information during their meeting to later refresh their memories about what has occurred and what has been decided for the future. Flipcharts work well, but prove difficult to handle and summarize for management. A Record Keeper may capture the information and make it easy to photocopy the results for later summary.

Make your process fit with the organizational culture. If the style is fast and loose, do not attempt to be overly detailed in the record-keeping other than what is absolutely necessary for continued progress forward. On the other hand, some organizations like a lot of detail and NOT keeping these kinds of records could lose your group some support.

The key is being effective within the organization. Results are generally more important than progress, but both are necessary for sustainable improvements.

In this step, the team also checks for corrections or additions to the meeting record and decides what information needs to be kept in the team's permanent record.

6. Plan Next Steps and Next Meeting Agenda.

The last minutes of the meeting should be for the team to take the time to consider and agree on the work that needs to be done in order to move forward -- often this can be accomplished by setting the goals for the next meeting.

The team plans out the work effort that lies ahead and ensures that everyone will have the opportunity to get things done and prepare for the next meeting.

7. Evaluate the Meeting

Team members should answer these questions:

* What went well that we should continue doing?

* How could we improve the next meeting?

By discussing the process and the impacts, we set the stage for continuous continuous improvement.

In many cases, the PROCESS that the workgroups have used in the past can become Square Wheels! By reviewing what went well and what could be done differently, we can look for the opportunities for improvement that already exist within the wagon. The Square Wheels are Everywhere!

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A couple of Training Jokes:


In the restroom at work, the Boss had placed a sign directly above the sink as a reminder to employees. It had a single word on it -- "Think!"

The next day, when the Boss went to the restroom, she looked at the sign and right below hers and immediately above the soap dispenser, someone had carefully lettered another sign -- "Thoap!"


Words of Wisdom

Hell hath no fury like the lawyer of a woman scorned.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

Drugs may lead to nowhere, but at least it's the scenic route.

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Everybody repeat after me: "We are all individuals"

Eagles may soar, but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.

The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

If at first your don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

from Just 4 Laughs!


Some unverified factoids:

A cockroach will live nine days without its head, before it starves to death

A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out

A snail can sleep for three years

All Polar bears are left-handed

American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class

Americans on average eat 18 acres of pizza every day

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain

Babies are born without knee caps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour

Butterflies taste with their feet

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, dogs only have about ten

Cat's urine glows under a black light

China has more English speakers than the United States

Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors

Elephants are the only animals that can't jump

Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon

Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure

I am. is the shortest complete sentence in the English language

If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall and have a neck twice the length of a normal human's neck

If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction

If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn white

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee

In ancient Egypt, priests plucked EVERY hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes

In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined

More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes

No word in the English language rhymes with month or orange

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously

One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today is because cotton growers in the '30s lobbied against hemp farmers, they saw it as competition

Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do

Shakespeare invented the word "assassination" and "bump"

Some lions mate over 50 times a day

Starfish haven't got brains

Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand

The ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated

The average human eats eight spiders in their lifetime at night

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds

The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns

The electric chair was invented by a dentist

The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off

The most common name in the world is Mohammed

The name of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with

The name Wendy was made up for the book "Peter Pan"

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites

The sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language

The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896 Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes

The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue

The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want

The words "race car" and "kayak" are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard

Women blink nearly twice as much as men

On average, people fear spiders more than they do death

You are more likely to be killed by a Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider

You can't kill yourself by holding your breath

You share your birthday with at least nine million other people in the world


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Square Wheels Testimonial:


That Square Wheels Suggestion Card is BRILLIANT and DIRECT.
Can't wait to let my network know about it and have them attack your site.

I always enjoy your site. In fact, I had to give a presentation last Saturday
and needed something "fresh" for an afternoon session on change.

I jumped on your site, read about the Butterfly and used some of that analogy
for the theme of moving from one type of company to another.... leaving a yellow, stickey mess!!!

Thanks for helping!

Curt Tueffert

(BTW, testimonials about the use of the illustrations are always appreciated!)

BTW, if you have any questions or have a new twist on how to use the illustrations that you would like to publish, let me know!

For the FUN of It!

Scott J. Simmerman, Ph.D.
Performance Management Company - 864-292-8700


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