Tag Archives: steering

Ecopolicy game – Coaching at performance review meetings

Ecopolicy game

Ecopolicy game

In June we did the Ecopolicy game as an exercise for coaching at performance review meetings (or also: steering meetings).

The game was done in two phases and the goal was:

  1. To lead or attend a performance review meeting and have a similar experience like the management of your organization has each week, month, quarter, …
  2. To coach an attendee of the performance review meeting and practice your coaching skills.

Game contents

You and your team are the leaders of Cybernetia, a cyber state that needs a government to survive. Politics, production, environmental stress, quality of life, education and population are the measured sectors of human life and are expressed in KPIs. In the game these KPIs are all interlinked in such a way by mathematical relations that each decision results in a chain of effects and repercussions just like in real life.

Lead or attend a performance review meeting

In a 20 minute long performance review meeting the ambassador decides together with his 5 ministers on the policy of Cybernetia. Some and certainly not all KPIs are under the influence of the government.

You get 5 attempts of 20 minutes to lead your nation, Cybernetia. In one session, the goal is to take at least 12 decisions in up/down grading the KPIs which you can influence.

If the quality of life for your population is getting worse, your population will question your policy. When it escalates, the population does a coup d’etat and you loose.

What did I learn as board member?

In the first round I was the ambassador of Cybernetia and together with the board, we determined the policy.

  • A performance review meeting can be very stressful! The first round went almost completely to trying to understand the tool.
  • When all board members are coached individually you see strange behavior and changes in behavior between the board meetings.
  • Because you are also coached individually, the board sees your behavior changes and reacts on it.
  • Group dynamics are always happening. I repeat: group dynamics are always happening! Even if the team work moments are very short, the group will go through the forming, storming, norming and performing stages. Be aware of it.
  • After each performance review meeting there is a recap session. Use it as ambassador to give feedback on people behavior. But don’t wait to the recap session if the behavior is not acceptable during the PRM.
  • Use your dashboard. Look at the facts. When emotions take over, our rationality stays behind.
  • It is not needed as team leader to know all the details.
  • It is not needed as team leader to facilitate the discussion. If somebody else is better, let him do it.
  • It is needed as team leader to take decisions based on uncertain elements.

What did I learn as coach?

In the second round I was the coach of a minister of Cybernetia. I watched my coachees behavior, the group interaction and the process.

  • Write down facts and observations, not interpretations. Interpretations are assumptions that you have the right answer.
  • Coaching on behavior and facts is a hard job. You need to be observing and writing at top speed to get everything right.
  • Giving feedback is not always easy. You coachee can go in resistance. Use a much facts as possible. Pick your battles.
  • Try to ask questions during feedback talks. Challenge, but try to understand. Why did he do that? Did it have the wanted result? What could have gone better?
  • If your coachee doesn’t do anything, he still doing something! Don’t fall in sleep when your coachee remains below the radar. Why is he doing so? What does his body language see? How is the group interaction?
  • Observe the process of decision making.
  • After the coaching talk, make a summary. What is the most important thing he learned? What will he do different next time?

More information on the game



News message


The inventor


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The PDCA cycle applied to your diet

For the readers that got here searching for an approach for their diet: please read further and work out your plan!

Explaining the need for installing a performance management culture in your organization is not an easy job. There are many approaches for it and each has its disadvantages. The key is that you’ll have to attune your approach to your audience.

Following metaphor has worked good for me when explaining the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, the base for a performance management culture, to people on the work floor.

PDCA cycle

PDCA cycle

The PDCA cycle applied to your diet

It’s January first and you decided in your new year’s promise that you want to lose weight. It’s the same promise as the year before, but this year you’ll make it stick.


First of all, you plan for results and pick an ambitious target: by the end of the year I want to weigh 10 kilograms less. The target is ambitious, but not unrealistic.


How are you going to do it? For losing so much weight, you need some adjustments to your diet. No more sugared soda drinks, only one time a week French fries and no whipped cream, except for at celebration parties.


To make sure you are on track to losing 10 kilograms by the end of the year, you need to check upon your progress. There are two types of measurements here:

  • Lagging: after the facts. These are history and cannot be controlled anymore.
  • Leading: predictors. These can be monitored and controlled.

As a lagging KPI you can follow-up the grams and calories you have eaten every day in your diary. Other measurements could be the number of “good” and “beat” food you have eaten that day and a smiley face with your personal perception on the day (I have actually seen this in practice!).

Because the lagging KPIs cannot be controlled anymore, you also need a measurement you can influence. As a leading KPI you measure your weight every week. But wait, isn’t this a lagging indicator too? Indeed, the facts have already taken place, but measuring and checking up upon your weight is a predictor for you making your target in time: 10 kilograms less by the end of the year.

To make sure you reach the target, you can create a plan for your weight with milestones along the way (during the year). For setting out this KPI, you need a base (starting point) too: your current weight.

Create a realistic plan for your weight loss: the summer holiday period is probably not the best time to lose much weight.

When you have a base (starting point), target and plan (intermediary milestones), you have your plan for action! (see figure)

Diet plan

Diet plan


Time to follow-up and act upon your progress. When your measurements are not according to plan (see February), it’s time to act. What is the reason you’re not making your target? It could be many: wrong KPI, wrong base, your diet is not strict enough, too ambitious target, too ambitious plan, defect scale, … Do a Root Cause Analysis and find out the real reasons why.

If you know the reason why, you can adjust can take the lessons learned along in the Plan and Do steps of the PDCA cycle. You can adjust the Plan (less weight loss, other deadline) or adjust the Do (more strict rules for not eating unhealthy food).

PDCA cycle for your diet

PDCA cycle for your diet

Lessons learned from positive formulation

The careful reader has probably noticed that it’s difficult to pick to items in the “Do” list of the PDCA cycle. The way is formulated now, it’s an exhaustive list that needs to be adjusted every time again when we see the diet is not working.

If we use the power of positive formulation then the Do step can be reformulated in such a way that it triggers our brain in the right way and is more durable.

Do-step positive formulated

Do-step positive formulated

Much success for the readers actually on a diet!

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Steering on criteria

Some time ago, i asked a friend of mine to develop a poster for a staff association event. He pretty much got carte blanche for designing it. After a week, he send me the first proposal. The design was real good, but I was surprised to find that the club logo was not on the poster, so i gave him the “feedback sandwich”: positive – negative – positive remarks.

Next version i got was better, but after thorough review, i noticed that the location and website details were not displayed like on all our other posters. So i asked him to change, again. Afterwards it came to me what i was doing wrong: i was involving on the “how” of the job. I was my task to steer on output, on criteria, not on the how.

If you specify the criteria, the designer still has carte blanche, but his solution needs to meet certain criteria. To get back to our story, for the next poster i decided to steer on criteria. He could make whatever he wanted, but on the poster, the address, website, club logo and responsible editor needed to be mentioned. And so it was.

The output manager

By steering on criteria, you do not get involved as manager in the how of the assignment. This gives you some control of the results to be produced, and the assignee the freedom to use his creativity. Success is defined by meeting the criteria of the assignment.

The challenge here is actually for the manager: managers tend to hit the pitfall of “knowing it better” and getting involved in the how of the assignment. This will give the assignee the impression of distrust and is known as a killer for motivation and creative ideas.

Another example

You decide to replace the central heating system of your house. It’s not a job you can do yourself, so you contact a contractor. At your home, you ask for heating system XYZ because you heard it was a very energy efficient system. Also, the living room has to have 2 nice design radiators of 1 on 1,5m. The contractor can fill in the rest of the details.

When you pick this approach you might have some problems in a strong winter: it looks like your heating system is not up for the challenge and cannot produce the cozy warmth of 21 degrees Celcius. The problem here is that you were involved in the “how” of the job of an expert, and have made some wrong choices. You cannot take this up with the contractor, because he has delivered what you asked for.

How would you give the same assignment when steering on criteria? Specify why you want the new heating system: it needs to be energy efficient. Further, you can specify the brand of your radiators, but not the exact size. Last but not least, during the winters the heating system needs to be able to produce 21 degrees Celcius inside when the temperature outside is -15 degrees Celcius.

This way the contractor can choose the best solution because he knows what your needs are.

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