The Square Wheels Project Interview
The Square Wheels Project is an online training program focused on supervisors and facilitation / engagement skills. Managers can access the Square Wheels image and tools to involve and engage their people in workplace innovation and motivation. This is easy to do, fast to learn, impactful on people and helps improve productivity and performance. We have conducted an interview with one of the developers Scott Simmerman.
Dr. Simmerman, you and Dan Stones have developed an online training program to teach facilitation skills to supervisors of any organization, and you are sharing your wonderful Square Wheels images as tools for communications, calling this "The Square Wheels Project". It sounds like an interesting way to develop management skills. Can you tell me more about this?
What is the basic idea of The Square Wheels Project?
Supervisors and managers need tools to improve involvement and engagement, to help their people focus on issues of innovation and to build more teamwork and motivation within their workplaces. And they really cannot depend on their training department or human resources to provide them with the training and support. The Square Wheels Project will do both in a fun way, seamlessly and elegantly. You can access the training and tools at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com
Why do you think it important? What are the issues in the workplace?
All kinds of statistics support the reality that workers and even supervisors are un-involved, dis-engaged, and not aligned to the goals and missions of their work. Everyone is extraordinarily busy doing the same things over and over and few people are taking the time to look for and implement new ideas and best practices that would make real differences in how things work. People want to know what is going on, to be part of a team, to be recognized for suggesting ideas and to be listened to and respected. While each of these is somewhat different, they are all related to the best practices of the best managers.
The program is a toolkit to improve the above. It is built on simple facilitation skills supported by a simple message: "Give us your ideas on what can be improved and how we improve it."
Are basic facilitation skills a good competency for most managers?
Absolutely. A good leader involves people and aligns them toward shared goals and expectations. A good leader does not push people as much as involve and engage them to generate intrinsic motivation. The facilitation approach is also one of employee development and it allows for collaboration and teamwork.
What can a supervisor or manager expect from completing the course?
They will get a solid overview of ideas about facilitating innovation and workplace improvement, in addition to the Square Wheels tools they need to generate active involvement. This is a basic course that empowers them to generate active ownership of workplace improvement ideas and the implementation of best practices that likely already exist among their people. Top performers simply do things differently and this facilitates those discussions.
And we give them badges and a certificate to recognize their efforts! But the reality is that we give them something very useful for their leadership and motivation of their people.
What is unique about Square Wheels as an organizational development tool?
We know of nothing else out there that works like this.
People project their issues and ideas onto the main illustration like an inkblot test, sometimes almost unconsciously. This generates lots of thinking and consideration.
Something labeled a "Square Wheel" is something that already works but that simply does not work smoothly. Almost by definition, Round Wheels exist, and closing the gap by implementing a round wheel is something people are driven to accomplish. It's called "cognitive dissonance" and it is a natural motivator of change and improvement. And having group discussions about issues is something that helps build consensus and motivation to improve, that peer support stuff...
Plus, using these tools sets up a language of continuous workplace improvement, since "The Round Wheels of Today become the Square Wheels of Tomorrow." We help to set up a collaborative culture focused on issues and ideas for improvement. Square Wheels exist and they are everywhere. And there ARE solutions and better ways of operating that can smooth the path forward in most workgroups.
Lastly, this is really, really simple to do.
Why would a supervisor want to take this course? What are the real benefits to them?
For the cost of tickets to a ballgame, a supervisor can add a toolkit of materials and an important and useful skillset to their management competencies. something that can provide them with continuous, long-term, positive impacts.
Think of how much better a workplace will be when the people feel that the manager listens to and even encourages their ideas about improvement. Think of how positive the impact when people are internally motivated to collaborate and make improvements. Change is done with the involvement of people, rather than done TO them. This is a big difference, this reduction of resistance to change.
PLUS, they can work to develop a network of people sharing similar issues and ideas from a variety of workplaces. "Inside The Wagon" is our social media back-end to allow and encourage peer-support and peer-coaching for skills improvement. We are not about re-inventing the wheel here, but about sharing ideas that work and suggestions to make improvements in worldwide workplaces everywhere.
One can find out more and access the facilitation skills training and the Square Wheels tools at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com
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