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Does it have to be fun?

It was Friday afternoon and we had a workshop from 1pm to 4pm. The members of this lovely group had expressed that they would like to have a little Friday feeling. Said and done, I prepared with disco music and the participants had on their own initiative some funny hats and scarves, and we brought snacks and good drinks.

It was a great workshop where we made a lot of progress in designing their process. The participants were really charged.

Serious about having fun?

Could we have fun and be serious at the same time? You bet. Because the group had a positive attitude and expectation from the start, as well as the relaxed atmosphere and clear focus on what we were going to achieve together, it was great.

I have also experienced the opposite where participants have stepped in with the expectation that they are there to defend their position or their department. Or where there is no understanding whatsoever that you can have fun at work.

This usually only ends one way; in a bad result. Or it takes an enormous amount of energy, from the person leading the workshop and the participants who still see that we are going to achieve something together, in order to get a good result.

After such a negative workshop, I am exhausted. The batteries definitely need charging before the next job.

But after the described Friday workshop, it is quite the opposite. I was full of energy. I ran straight into Friday night with an overload. The family noticed that something special had happened when it was time for dinner and Friday night fun.

I am convinced that when we have fun, we get a better result.

Threat to fun

The other day, a really good process manager contacted me. She said she was thinking of replanning a bit the implementation of a set of processes that she is responsible for and that we are now developing in new versions.

Her process teams had expressed that there was a bit too much to do at the moment. It stressed them out and made it not feel as fun anymore.

She wanted it to be fun and positive. Even if it means postponing the introduction for a few weeks.

We talked and I totally agreed with her. In this case, it is clearly more worthwhile for them to maintain the sense of fun and excitement, than to push through the introduction to a certain date.

It could be the other way around, that you are in such dire need of introducing a new version to salvage a situation where the process is not working well at all. But then the process team probably feels it too and has that as motivation to get the new process up and running.

Most of the time, however, this is not the case, and the process leader I mentioned above is absolutely right; it is more important to keep the group charged and positive than to win a week or two.

Speed and fun

When you work with your improvement work, the aim is to make it better, more positive and more fun to work in the business. Then the path must not feel negative, because then you will not succeed.

Apart from the fact that overstressed people do a bad job, improvement does not come with a positive feeling.

I often mention that there is a clear advantage in keeping a high pace.

This is for many reasons but the most important are;

to demonstrate rapid improvements in order to gain momentum in the development work, and
to give the signal that what we want to achieve is not something to be “stuck” in the usual grinding pace.

That said, there is a balance to be struck between high tempo and not overloading people so that it stops being fun.

We need to achieve both a high tempo and fun in our improvement work. These important elements need to interact with each other and both are incredibly important

Have a great week,