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The Square Wheels Newsletter - Issue 7

Managing and Leading Change - Some Ideas

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Main Article —

The Square Wheels of Managing and Leading Change

Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly - A Poem

On Change

The Model of Change

On Motivating People

NEW CD-Version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

Jokes —

The Top 18 Things on a Y2K Survivalist's To-Do List

Publishing and Advertising goofs - a new one

I Read It On The Internet!

Good Definitions

Garden of Eden

Oil Changing Instructions

Three beggars are asking for money in New York City.


On Managing and Leading Change

I've written a good bit on the website on this issue but realized that I have not said much about it in the newsletters. You can find a long and detailed article about this at


entitled Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly.

And now announcing my newest poem on the same theme:


Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly -- A work in progress

The caterpillar crawls and eats and eats.
And grows, shedding its skin but little more.
Crawl, climb, eat. Crawl, climb, eat.|
Of all of our lives, can we not soar?

One day as two caterpillars looked
As a beautiful butterfly sailed by.
Of course one said to the other:
"You'll never get me in a butterfly, high."

Gratefulness, laughing and smiles.
But no clear understanding or view
Of these ironies and implications
What was The Answer you knew?

Resistance. Perspective. and Change.
All of these and more are involved.
Yet insight is limited. And self-perspective too.
My mother was a moth - this problem is solved.

One must STOP in the caterpillar journey
For transformation, what we can become.
One must change to a much gooey mess
to undergo metamorphosis and change.

Is the potential understood? Is it realized?
We just don't know. Yet it does.
The Call of The Wild. And the need to Become.
Gain the wings, lose the teeth and the fuzz.

It is about letting go, trust the process
Of growth and experience and your view.
It is Becoming. You are more than you are
With things you already had. And you knew?

The colors are on the butterfly
And already within what we were.
Can we all learn from this? Can we help?
These changes will most surely occur.

By Scott J. Simmerman © 2000

Not only is this my newest poem, it is my first poem in about 40 years! But the thinking is about change and the theme is about transformation. (BTW, please feel free to republish or link to this if that would be of interest - the website is

On Change:

In my model of the world, there is a very straightforward and simple model for managing and leading change in organizations, teams, and individuals.

"When we come to the end of our light and must move into the dark of the unknown, we must believe we will find something solid on which to stand or that we will understand how to fly." (author unknown)


"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed."
Michael Pritchard

There are many inhibitory factors operating in any personal change, and all change is personal! One's past history is most influential in that if previous efforts are judged, by ourselves, to be successful, we are more open to change. And vice versa. (This is behavioral psychology 101 - reinforcement theory).

After all, it about success. And ownership:

"No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings."
William Blake

It is also about fit and pushing the boundaries:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw

But change is also about one goals, expectations and objectives. One of my all time favorites is:

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

The Model of Change

In our model of change, I suggest four factors that all work jointly to

influence the probability of change occurring in any individual or group.

These are:

1. The current level of discomfort with the way things are now.

2. The attractiveness of the vision of the future (Gene's "purpose")

3. The individual or group's previous success with change

4. The level of group or peer support for the change.

(If you would like a .pdf file of this Change Model, please email me)

Without going into a long explanation, we need to create some discomfort with the way things are (in my model, labeling some things as Square Wheels and identifying round wheel potential solutions). This can also be linked to the cognitive dissonance stuff for those of you with a psych background.

Please do NOT confuse discomfort with the way things are now and PAIN. Pain causes something caused "learned helplessness" (Marty Seligman's extensive research) and causes people to freeze instead of alter their behavior. What we want is a level of discomfort so that they will search out other possibilities to make things more comfortable.

We DO need an engaging vision of where we are headed.

But we also need to build some trust among the people and some support.

If there is an individual history of failure, individuals are less likely to want to extend. If the group has a history of antagonism or whatever, they will not support a change initiative with any enthusiasm and there may even be a person or two engaged as a saboteur, ESPECIALLY if there is a large group.

In essence, we need to look at the nature of the group itself. If they see a need to change, have a sense of where they are headed, have some previous success (or if other teams are perceived to be successful), and have some support from the others, then our efforts are more likely to be successful, all things considered.

Thus, if you are just getting things started, it is a LOT easier to do things in small groups to build a shared consensus. Bigger groups will get more political ("up to their axles in mud") and will more often have trouble making progress.

Thus, if we can introduce some dissonance about the way things are now and the way things can be, create a more attractive vision of the future, create and reinforce some successes and create some intrinsic motivation and generate some teamwork on problem solving, we can increase the likelihood that change will occur.

These factors all work in conjunction with each other. They are independent as well as aligned. Consider…


On Motivating People

Most of us have a regular need to motivate others. But the art of motivation isn't a simple one. For my way of thinking, there are only 8 Basic Rules:

Ask ASK ask Ask ASK ask Ask ASK

We, I guess that is a bit simple BUT by asking people what can be improved, as in what are the Square Wheels and what are some Round Wheel possibilities, we can easily engage them in the work improvement process. By doing this, we do things WITH them rather than TO them and help create a supportive and improvement-oriented workplace.

Since most of us are really not experts on motivating others (heck, I've got a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology and I really do not understand this a great deal!), it would seem easier to let them motivate themselves.

I've written earlier on Dis-Un-Empowerment, the removal of perceived roadblocks that works to actually empower most people. (see <> and related hotlinks.)

Extrinsic Motivation is the kind of stuff you add from the outside. Most common in organizations is money - the so-called "cash incentives." But these kinds of extrinsic motivators more often than not create downstream problems. You set up an expectancy that they are needed in order to motivate, rather than the more intrinsic ones that come from the inside and deal with the desire to do a good job, contribute to the workplace, meet the goals and expectations and those kinds of drivers.

The other kind of extrinsic motivators tend to be the negative ones - those having to do with "aversive control" such as criticism, fear of termination or embarassment, etc. Those will often operate to keep someone "off the bottom" of the list but will never drive high performance. One generates compliance, not motivation for success. And, when one is using these negative controllers, you will often get sabotage and the like. Key behavior: Don't turn your back!


Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is much more natural. In my way of thinking, it is the cartoon where the wagon pusher feels good about actually implementing a round wheel on his side of the wagon. It may not make much difference to the actual overall effectiveness of the wagon, but it makes a difference to HIM! And talk "gets around" (pun). The other wagon pushers will often then be motivated to make improvements.

We get innovation because of peer support for the change along with the pride that comes from doing something right.

And this kind of motivation is more permanent, because people will remember their successes. It also encourages continuous continuous improvement of the systems and processes in the workplace.

In Zig Zigler's writings, he talks of three key factors - The Three A's:

1. Awareness. Understanding why things are the way they are -- for me, it is stepping back from the wagon and identifying the Square Wheels and the Round ones too!

2. Analysis is the second A. As a manager, you must educate yourself about the attitudes and perceptions of your staff. What are they thinking? What's happening to them? You've got to know this information. You can do this with by facilitating discussions with the illustrations.

3. The final A is Action. Get involved in motivating your staff. Find out what they need, be sure you understand their experiences, and then do something about it. Provide the "growth" opportunities that will motivate your staff. Also, get your staff involved in the work. Don't do the job yourself. Empower your staff to get involved. That's motivating!

Now, I don't use "empowerment" but I do believe in doing things to get them involved.


Enough serious stuff — how ‘bout some jokes and all that…

BTW, you can find a lot of trainers jokes on the website by clicking here

The Top 18 Things on a Y2K Survivalist's To-Do List

18) Find grocery store receipt for 10,000 packets of ramen noodles.

17) Apologize to neighbors about the tripwire incident; offer to replace dog.

16) Take up pork & beans skeet shooting.

15) Gather recipes for Spam, dehydrated potatoes, and crow.

14) Cancel subscription to Stockpilers Quarterly, but keep the free can opener.

13) Convert weapons back to semi-auto.

12) Pitch "1000 Ideas for Wheat Gluten" to Martha Stewart's people.

11) Return 753 videos to Blockbuster.

10) Water yard, one lousy gallon at a time.

9) Prepare for the dreaded but little-known "Arbor Day Bug."

8) Shoot first--forget the damn questions.

7) Learn how to disarm a Claymore mine.

6) Laugh at all those losers out there fighting each other for scraps of food, and thank the Lord for the safety of the bunker, cut off from all connection with the outside world.

5) Find the bum who sold me all that dehydrated water.

4) Find the Sears receipts for all eight generators.

3) Convert my anti-Y2K-Bug tin-foil hat back into an anti-Katie-Couric-Mind-Control tin-foil hat.

2) Make sure the babes in the bunker still think we need to repopulate earth.

And the Number 1 Thing on a Y2K Survivalist's To-Do List...

1) Make friends with the 6 billion other Y2K survivors.



Publishing and Advertising goofs - a new one

The WoodDoody Company designed a "buy-two, get two free" promotion to improve ticket sales for the baseball Dodgers. In the ad they created, they said you could give the extra pair of tickets to, "your kids, your clients or the two schmucks down the street…" Cool. Until the Dodgers discovered that neither the copywriter nor the exec who approved the ad realized that the Yiddish word "schmuck" refers to male genetalia. Whoops!


I Read It On The Internet!

I was on my way to the post office to pick up my case of free M&M's, (sent to me because I forwarded their e-mail to five other people, celebrating the fact that the year 2000 is "MM" in Roman numerals), when I ran into a friend whose neighbor, a young man, was home recovering from having been served a rat in his bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken - which is predictable, since as everyone knows, there's no actual chicken in Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is why the government made them change their name to KFC.

Anyway, one day this guy went to sleep and when he awoke he was in his bathtub and it was full of ice and he was sore all over and when he got out of the tub he realized that HIS KIDNEYS HAD BEEN STOLEN. He saw a note on his mirror that said "Call 911!" but he was afraid to use his phone because it was connected to his computer, and there was a virus on his computer that would destroy his hard drive if he opened e-mail entitled "Join the crew!"

He knew it wasn't a hoax because he himself was a computer programmer who was working on software to prevent a global disaster in which all the computers get together and distribute the $250.00 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe under the leadership of Bill Gates. (It's true - I read it all last week in a mass e-mail from BILL GATES HIMSELF, who was also promising me a free Disney World vacation and $5,000 if I would forward the e-mail to everyone I know.)

The poor man then tried to call 911 from a pay phone to report his missing kidneys, but a voice on the line first asked him to press #90, which unwittingly gave the bandit full access to the phone line at the guy's expense. Then reaching into the coin-return slot he got jabbed with an HIV-infected needle around which was wrapped around a note that said, "Welcome to the world of AIDS." Luckily he was only a few blocks from the hospital - the one where that little boy who is dying of cancer is, the one whose last wish is for everyone in the world to send him an e-mail and the American Cancer Society has agreed to pay him a nickel for every e-mail he receives.

I sent him two e-mails and one of them was a bunch of x's and o's in the shape of an angel (if you get it and forward it to more than 10 people, you will have good luck but for 10 people you will only have OK luck and if you send it to fewer than 10 people you will have BAD LUCK FOR SEVEN YEARS). So anyway the poor guy tried to drive himself to the hospital, but on the way he noticed another car driving without its lights on. To be helpful, he flashed his lights at him and was promptly shot as part of a gang initiation.

Send THIS to all the friends who send you their junk mail and you will receive 4 green M&Ms, but if you don't the owner of Proctor and Gamble will report you to his Satanist friends and you will have more bad luck: you will get cancer from the Sodium Laureth Sulfate in your shampoo, your wife will develop breast cancer from using the antiperspirant which clogs the pores under your arms (what will husbands get?), and the government will put a tax on your e-mails forever.

I know this is all true 'cause I read it on the Internet.


Good Definitions

**Contributed to Swenny's E-Mail Funnies by Bob Laurie, Juneau, Alaska**

The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:

Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.

Karmageddon: It's, like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's, like, a serious bummer.

Glibido: All talk and no action.

Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

And, the pick of the bunch:

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and a butthole.



Garden of Eden

**Contributed to Swenny's E-Mail Funnies by Deanna Sinclair, Detroit Lakes, MN**

One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to God. "Lord, I have a problem!"

"What's the problem, Eve?"

"Lord, I know you created me and provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals and that hilarious comedic snake, but I'm just not happy."

"Why is that, Eve?" came the reply from above.

"Lord, I am lonely, and I'm sick to death of apples."

"Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you."

"What's a man, Lord?"

"This man will be a flawed creature, with many bad traits. He'll lie, cheat, and be vain, glorious; all in all, he'll give you a hard time. But ...he'll be bigger, faster, and will like to hunt and kill things. He will look silly when he's aroused, but since you've been complaining, I'll create him in such a way that he will satisfy your physical needs. He will be witless and will revel in childish things like fighting and kicking a ball about. He won't be too smart, so he'll also need your advice to think properly."

"Sounds great." says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow. "What's the catch, Lord?"

"Well ... you can have him on one condition."

"What's that, Lord?"

"As I said, he'll be proud, arrogant, and self-admiring... So you'll have to let him believe that I made him first. Just remember, it's our little secret...You know, woman to woman."


Oil Changing Instructions

**Contributed to Swenny's E-Mail Funnies by Lori Wichman, Maple Grove, MN**



1. Pull up to Jiffy Lube when the mileage reaches 3000 since the last oil change.

2. Drink a cup of coffee.

3. 15 minutes later, write a check and leave with a properly maintained vehicle.



1. Go to O'Reilly auto parts and write a check for 50 dollars for oil, filter, oil lift (AKA kitty litter), hand cleaner and scented tree.

2. Discover that the used oil container is full. Instead of taking back to

O'Reilly to recycle, dump in hole in back yard.

3. Open a beer and drink it.

4. Jack car up. Spend 30 minutes looking for jack stands.

5. Find jack stands under kid's pedal car.

6. In frustration, open another beer and drink it.

7. Place drain pan under engine.

8. Look for 9/16 box end wrench.

9. Give up and use crescent wrench.

10. Unscrew drain plug.

11. Drop drain plug in pan of hot oil; get hot oil on you in process.

12. Clean up.

13. Have another beer while oil is draining.

14. Look for oil filter wrench.

15. Give up; poke oil filter with Phillips screwdriver and twist it off.

16. Beer.

17. Buddy shows up; finish case with him. Finish oil change tomorrow.

18. Next day, drag pan full of old oil out from underneath car.

19. Throw oil lift (AKA kitty litter) on oil spilled during step 18.

20. Beer? No, drank it all yesterday.

21. Walk to 7-11; buy beer.

22. Install new oil filter making sure to apply thin coat of clean oil to gasket first.

23. Dump first quart of fresh oil into engine.

24. Remember drain plug from step 11.

25. Hurry to find drain plug in drain pan.

26. Hurry to replace drain plug before the whole quart of fresh oil drains onto floor.

27. Slip with wrench and bang knuckles on frame.

28. Bang head on floor board in reaction.

29. Begin cussing fit.

30. Throw wrench.

31. Cuss for additional 10 minutes because wrench hit Miss December(1992) in the left boob.

32. Clean up; apply Band-Aid to knuckle.

33. Beer.

34. Beer.

35. Dump in additional 4 quarts of oil.

36. Beer.

37. Lower car from jack stands

38. Accidentally crush one of the jack stands

39. Move car back to apply more oil lift (AKA kitty litter) to fresh oil spilled during step 23.

40. Drive car.


Three beggars are asking for money in New York City.

The first one wrote "beg" on his broken steel cup and he received 10 bucks after one day.

The second one wrote "" on his cup and after one day he received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Someone even offered to do an IPO and list him on Nasdaq.

The third one wrote "e-beg" on his cup. Both IBM and HP sent Vice-Presidents of corporate development to talk to him about a strategic alliance and offered him co-branding and free professional help.


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These newsletters will be published roughly monthly. This can also be found in an archive on our website in the Newsletter section.

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Comments, thought, ideas and suggestions are always appreciated,


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, Performance Management Company
864-292-8700 or


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