This is the start of some information on sales. It is not linked to the other materials and meant to support both the illustrations and the games and shares the background of the development of these materials.
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These illustrations started with one cartoon, which we call Square Wheels One:
and which now number more than 300 (I got three more today as I put this together - March 9, 1998). There seems to be a continuing stream of ideas and themes coming from a variety of sources to add to the diversity and flexibility of these tools.
History and Development - My first presentation of the materials occured about 1993 when I had 11 illustrations. People asked me if they could receive copies of them so I was selling an envelope of transparencies. I sold a few, but people also wanted the narrative of how I presented. So, the first of the books was entitled "The Big Book of Square Wheels" and had descriptions and about 30 illustrations.
A second edition followed, then a third.
At ASTD, in 1994, a Finish publisher, Ilpo Linko, was interested in doing a translation and read the book overnight. The next day, he suggested that I produce a "slice" of the Big Book and focus it on quality. This was the start of the smaller toolkits and the Continuous Improvement booklet.
Square Wheels of Managing and Leading Change followed, then Asian version of The Big Book, then Personal Growth and Development. The latter was developed for the 1995 ASTD conference presentation of the same title. Reactions were strong, as shown below:
Scale is 1 to 4, with 4 being "Excellent". The majority of presenters fall in the 3.0 to 3.2 range.
Given the demanding audience, ASTD considers presenters receiving ratings over 3.5 outstanding.
Overall Session 3.75
Overall Performance 3.86
Presentation Skills 3.83
Knowledge of Subject 3.93
Clarity and completeness of session content 3.72
Relevance of content to you 3.70
Application to or impact on current job or organization 3.59
Usefulness of handouts 3.72
Quality of visual aids 3.82
Ability to respond to questions 3.81
The overall level of the content was - Just Right - 92.85%
After this, I was asked to produce a toolkit on Productivity by South Africa's National Productivity Institute to anchor a series of presentations throughout the country and to keynote the World Congress of Productivity Science's annual conference in Pretoria (which I will repeat in October of 1998).
Thus, there were then four Toolkits plus the Big Book, which made it to a fifth edition. The problem was not that these materials did not work well for transparency delivery -- they are actually better that way than through the use of an lcd projector. But the technology moved on and we were forced to make the materials available in powerpoint format because customer-conversion into digitized images often seemed to show our materials in less-than-professional quality.
You can download the file that describes the various powerpoint products and other accessories by clicking here.
We have used these cartoons worldwide, with audiences of very senior managers as well as beginning trainers and front-line workers. They are engaging but not confrontational. The discussions that are generated are relatively unemotional and objective -- people do not feel like they are being attacked.
The theme works because you quickly set up a language of performance based on:
Square Wheels (the things that work but that could be improved) and
Round Wheels (the ideas for improvement that already exist in the wagon).
I've also had a lot of fun with:
Spectator Sheep (the people who hang around expressing their negative opinions) and
Mud (the politics and bureaucracy that often interferes with progress).
Another good theme in selling the concept is to discuss:
The View From The Front (and describe the birds singing and the mountains and the sun) and
The View From The Back (boards and hands)
and the importance of good communications among the wagon pullers and the wagon pushers. Most people seem to understand this right away and admit that communications in their organization are generally less than good. So, you can generally get people actively engaged with you in this discussion and to quickly see the benefits of having tools to improve communications in the hands of the managers and trainers.
We now have hundreds of illustrations to make all sorts of different learning points, making these a really flexible set of training and development tools.
The materials can also be easily customized. With all the illustrations already done plus the ability of our artist to generate very customized cartoons on key points or with characteurs of key people, they can be easily adapted to most cultures and most organizations.
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