Square Wheels LO5769

Dr. Scott J. Simmerman (74170.1061@compuserve.com)
21 Feb 96 15:37:56 EST

Replying to LO5744 -- was: Conversational Paradigm
[Subject line changed by your host...]

Hi. Ginger Shafer suggested protocol was to introduce oneself when
new in this forum and then try to have something of interest to say.
Host's Note: Anyone is welcome to introduce themselves with or without
a comment...

The first is easy: I sell books of management cartoons as well as a
team development exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold
Mine. Consulting and training on and off since 1978, I have a
degree in Psychology from North Carolina and live in South Carolina
where I've operated Performance Management Company (with my wife)
since 1984. And I've enjoyed reading all the comments -- this is a
wonderful forum with excellent dialog.

The second step of something of interest is harder. But I'll reply
to the threads of LO5713 and L05744

<<Don DeGuerre's comments: " We use language just as the
carpenter uses a hammer...>>

"With people as with wood, a little glue and slight pressure
produces a much stronger bond than a big hammer and a bunch of
nails." We need to be careful about how we use our language as
leaders -- often to give 'constructive criticism' and not often
enough to support change and personal development. Jerry
Richardson's work with The Magic of Rapport (NLP) and other
communications paradigms are helpful in the way we relate to others.

and adding to Mariann Jelinek's comments about how organizations

>>The conversation metaphor also evokes the biases,
misunderstandings and difficulties that can arise - because one
party "gets no respect," because another lacks appropriate
perspective, or because "groupthink" blinds a group to what seems
obvious to others, for example. <<

"We trained hard -- but it seemed that every time we were beginning
to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn
later in life we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and
a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress
while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization." --
This quote led a 12/95 Quality Progress article by Peter Scholtes
called, "Teams in the Age of Systems" and focused on leadership
mind-sets and the need for change. Interesting stuff, especially
since the quote was by _Petronius, 66 A.D.!_

Some things change slowly, others not at all. For me, though, it
isn't that people can't FIND the solution; it's that they can't SEE
the problem. People seem to be much better problem solvers than

The cartoon metaphor I use is Square Wheels (tm). The basic
description is a wagon being pulled by leadership and being pushed
by the support people. One the wagon are Square Wheels -- they work
but not smoothly. But Square Wheels are the way we've done things
around here. you know.

Illustrated (with advance apologies for the font type-dependency for
clarity), it appears thusly:

00 ############_____ 0
||< ############ |<
/ /\. [_] [_] /\.

(with the pushers at the rear, the leader at the front and square
wheels under the wagon body).

What is important to recognize is that the cargo of the wagon is
ROUND WHEELS! The paradox is that the pullers are too busy trying
to meet their (delivery) goals and isolated (by the rope which they
use to pull) as to how things get done. Notice also that the
pushers see nothing but boards and hands, an obvious opportunity to
blame them for a lack of vision and for not being motivated. Thump,
Thump. Thump, Thump. On moves the organization. And No one takes
the time to step back and observe possibilities for improvement.

In any organization, perspective is critical. "Don't Just Do
Something, Stand There." But we're too caught up in past practices
that have always worked before and short-term goals to attain. It's
hard to make improvements. Yet the Round Wheels are already in the
wagon! Best practices already exist, if only we'd take the time to
be more objective about change, discuss opportunities and
possibilities, and challenge the way things are done.

So Square Wheels is a theme of our work with organizations -- Let's
stop working for a moment and consider some illustrations and ideas
about how things work. (We also add mud, alligators, butterflies
and other metaphors to the mix.)

BTW, I would be most pleased to send copies of the artwork, on a
transparency with an instruction sheet FREE to anyone. I'll do this
until my postage machine drops from overuse! These cartoons are the
core of my books -- trainer and leadership tools. (So you can also
expect a bit of marketing materials to be included).

For the FUN of It!


"Dr. Scott J. Simmerman" <74170.1061@compuserve.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>