Discovering some Key Themes of Square Wheels One


Clicking on various parts of the illustration will link you to some of the main themes of Square Wheels. Clicking on "back" will take you back to the illustration for more answers.

See if you can generate ideas before going to the answers.

The illustration links to a variety of organizational improvement issues. These include leadership, motivation, change management, missions and visions, systems thinking, productivity, process improvement, continuous improvement of quality, productivity, communications, and many others.

In delivering the program, we allow teams of people about 5 minutes to generate as many ideas as they can about the illustration. This gets them in an interactive, creative and fun mode and also generates ownership of their ideas and their active involvement in the discovery process. Another very interesting aspect of this is their tendency to project their beliefs onto the organization -- it functions like a Rorschach or Inkblot Test and can give you some insight into morale and beliefs about the way things work.

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There are critical themes of communication, leadership, motivation, perspective, managing and leading change, quality and productivity that must be addressed to make real progress forward. Don't Just DO Something, Stand There!

"Those who lead miss the need!" There can be real isolation between the front and the back

The illustration raises questions about perception of the vision of the future - looking forward?

Issues of communications between the front and the back of the wagon

Focus on next steps and making progress is important, but there is a Big Picture here!

Promoted for good wagon pushing (years ago?)

Has been successful in the past at meeting goals

Focused on distance, manpower, cost

Motivated to succeed: "Hard work produces success in my estimation."

"He can't do it without us wagon pushers!"

Meeting current goals and objectives

Does our leader have any idea of what the journey looks like?

The journey has always been like this.

Steering this operation is a real difficult task that must involve ALL of us.

We improved productivity based on last year's results doing it this way. It works!

If it didn't go "Thump Thump," it would be hard to know about progress

It is hard to make changes in direction once we get rolling

Issues of trust and support: "Are the people at the back pushing or pulling?"

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The Rope

The rope is an efficient way to put one's energy into pulling forward. But the rope can also insulate and isolate leadership from the hands-on reality of the journey forward. The rope can also choke or break and is not the optimal system for steering.

Practical and low cost way of efficient wagon pulling

Easy to grip and straightforward to pull

Ergonomically efficient technique for making progress

Complies with Safety Standards and Job Specs

May be about to break or come undone

Serves to isolate the Puller from the reality of the journey forward

Makes distance and communications more difficult

Often is MUCH longer that it appears, isolating leadership

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The Wagon Pushers

The people pushing at the back are critical. They have hands-on reality and know the thumps and bumps of the journey. But the view at the back is different than the view at the front and motivating and engaging these people to make improvements is difficult when all that seems to happen is that they are told to push. They need to be involved and engaged.

"Those who do have no clue!"

Limited vision of the journey and the future

View of Boards and Hands - not very engaging vision of the future

Very little long-term motivation to push hard

Required to work together as a team

May not be coordinating efforts

Not much fun - career options appear limited

Issue of TRUST in leadership - "What are they doing up there? Is he pulling forward?"

Puller may wonder: "Are they pushing or pulling"

They feel the Thump Thump of the journey forward:

It has always worked that way

There may be some better way to accomplish all this

They need perspective and distance:

Don't Just DO something, Stand There!

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Square Wheels

They work, but they do not work smoothly. They cause the wagon to thump and bump, wearing out people and processes. The paradox is that they have worked before and they will work now.

Represent the way things have always worked

They DO work, but better alternatives might be available

The bumps and thumps are normal to making progress

Things have always worked with a bunch of thumping and bumping

The corners will round themselves out over time

Not working in synch - may or may not be better

"Purchasing always gets the cheapest wheels they can find!"

The delivered design met the specifications of the initial order and we've been ordering things this way for a long time. (Wooden wheels postdated stone ones and predated rubber tires).

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Round Wheels

The ideas for improvement already exist in the wagon. Failure to implement may be a great demotivator. They are more obvious to the pushers than to the puller and perspective and a focus on continuous continuous improvement is an important aspect of leading and managing.

The round wheels already exist in the wagon

Would be a better alternative

Not all are immediately useful (no rims, no air, etc). but represent the potential for improvement

Not stacked efficiently

Represent unused ideas that build up the burden over time

Might be used by a competitor for a competitive advantage

Would increase productivity, quality, speed and effectiveness while reducing cost

Could be a competitive advantage if they were used properly

Not all the wheels are implementable now because some don't have rims. Some may not have air pressure inside. But others might!

Might not all be implemented at one time but could be tried - there are two axles and four places for testing and trial

Requires that the organization stop pulling and pushing:

Don't Just DO Something, Stand There!

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 The Body of the Wagon

Designed to do a job that it can do

Heavy but sturdy. can last a good while longer

Might be replaced by lighter and stronger materials, but at great immediate cost

No provision for a steering mechanism but the original specifications did not allow for that costly item and it was not deemed important

Can hold more cargo if things were slightly restructured - has the capability and capacity

Generally represents the body of the organization and the general structure and assets

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Other general facts. ideas and one-liners

It is a difficult journey forward and the people involved may or may not understand the task at hand

On the apparent lack of women or minorities:

Ask people how many people are involved in the journey and the answers will differ (3 or 4) so it is only the perception that there are no women involved. This is just a cartoon.

True Story:

A man stood up in a session and said, "The Square Wheels were obviously invented by a woman."

A woman in the same session stood up and said, "But the men are stupid enough to push it that way."

Square Wheels are better for going down steep grades and they are biodegradable; they are also better for cooking hot dogs and marshmallows

"Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy."

from The Eagles, "Take It Easy"

Don't Just DO Something, Stand There!
Perspective and objectivity are essential for process improvement

"The Round Wheels of Today are the Square Wheels of Tomorrow."

We're not exactly like this:

We push our wagon uphill

We're up to our axles in mud and alligators

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

It's about Continuous Continuous Improvement

from the Department of Redundancy Department

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

Max DePree, Leadership is an Art

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