The Board Episode 33 — Arbejdsglaede “Happiness at Work”

By Rebecca Jones in Agile Other on November 17, 2014

In Episode 33 of The Board, we talk about:

Full Transcript

Gavin Coughlan: Hello.

Kirstin Donaldson: Hello. Welcome to “The Board.” This is episode 33.

I’m Kirstin Donaldson, this is Gavin Coughlan, and Paul Fluellen is joining us on the couch. We’re all back together again.

Today, we’re going to be talking about “Arbejdsglaede” [laughs] .

Paul Flewelling: That’s quite good pronunciation.

Kirstin: I read it phonetically, but I actually left it at my desk, but I’ve been practicing all my morning. Gav, how do you pronounce it?

Gavin: “Arbejdsglaede” [laughs] . It’s how I pronounce it.

I think that’s the correct pronunciation.

Kirstin: Cool. Paul, as you came up with the idea for the show, do you want to explain a wee bit about the concept first?

Paul: Yeah, sure.

Kirstin: And then we can talk further about them?

Paul: What triggered me thinking about this, I saw this a while ago at TED Talk, by Alexander Karif, I think his name is. A couple days ago, we had Sammy McMully, one of the local coaches, came in to talk with David Mull from Trade Week, to talk about their experiences while they were over in Sweden. Stockholm to be exact. Talking to the guys at Spotify.

They said that the Swedish have a unique disposition and I was saying, well not just the Swedish, it could be the whole of Scandinavia because they have this unique, they have a word which means….

Kirstin: I think what this you meant is apparently that only people, the Scandies, that have that word.

Paul: That word which means “happiness at work.”

Kirstin: Arbejdsglaede.

Gavin: Arbejdsglaede.

Paul: That’s right.

Kirstin: Arbejdsglaede.

Paul: “Arbejds” means work.

Kirstin: Work, yeah.

Paul: Glaede.

Kirstin: And “Glaede” means glad or happy.

Paul: Yes right. So they are the only…Those three countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway these three countries that can put those two words together.

Kirstin: Hmmm.

Paul: There are other countries in the world…

Gavin: Interesting japan has a word can you remember?

Kirstin: It starts with a K though.

Gavin: Starts with K and it is “worked to death.”

Kirstin: Yes.


Kirstin: The entirely opposite into the spectrum

Paul: Death by work.

Gavin: Yes.

Kirstin: Yeah, Yeah, so don’t go work in Japan.

Paul: Yeah, so just interesting. I watched the [indecipherable 1:56] a couple of times and I got fascinated by how important happiness is and what you do.

We spend a lot of time at work. You know it’s important to be happy at what you are doing otherwise it’s just a job. If you are not happy, you are not passionate and you’re not you know feeling full-filled and all those kinds of things.

Gavin: That’s interesting when sometimes we do workshops on Scrum. We talk to people about all the benefits of scrum. When we start to talk about team morale, team happiness, not everyone cares about that part, you can see them glaze over.

That’s not about delivering, that’s not about being on time on time or under budget. So some people actually don’t see the value in that, but really shocks me because they don’t see a happier work place as a, produces better…

Kirstin: More productive. They just don’t see the link to this. A lot of people are taught that success is about things like profit. Completing to deadlines and keeping the minister off the front page of the news and those sort of items.

Paul: That’s all.

Kirstin: They haven’t had that connection made between the fact that if people are happy then productivity follows.

Paul: The simple example they give in the TED talk is the bus driver who is really cheerful when people get onto his bus. This is the example he gave…

Kirstin: Who is this bus driver? I’ve never met a bus driver that’s cheerful when I get on the bus.

Paul: Exactly. Where does it make you feel…?


Kirstin: It is lovely when it does really happen isn’t it.

Paul: That’s right. When you get a great bus driver who is really friendly and really willing to help, it happens. The bus atmosphere is completely different from when that bus driver is a complete miserable sod. Driving badly, slamming the brakes on, cursing under his breath.


Kirstin: …Or not stopping for people.

Gavin: I’ve got some statistics about happiness in the workplace…

Kirstin: Have you now?

Gavin: …if you’d be interested in hearing any of them.

66 percent of satisfied employees put in extra effort at work. You need at least three hours of therapy to begin relieving depression or anxiety.

Kirstin: What relevance is that second item?

Gavin: I guess that’s…

Paul: If you’re depressed or anxious about work then you need to overcome that. A lot of people overcome that, the short answer is to go out and get drunk. I see that a lot in startup communities.

Kirstin: That’s therapy isn’t it?

Paul: It’s a form of therapy.

Kirstin: It’s talk therapy really isn’t it? Talking with your people.


Paul: Recreational therapy.

Gavin: I suppose they need to take time off for…

Kirstin: So that’s the impact it has on the business.

Gavin: Unsatisfied employees are 11 times more likely to move to new organizations, which makes sense really. The happiest workplaces ever seen have very low staff turnovers.

58 percent of employees seldom, if ever, receive thanks from their manager which I think is pretty shocking. People a lot of the time just get chastised for making mistakes but never get thumbs up for doing the good stuff.

Paul: We talked about that a couple of shows ago about the love languages thing…

Kirstin: And how people receive appreciation, recognize it.

Paul: The fact that a functional relationship needed a 5:1 ratio of…

Kirstin: That’s a lot.

Paul: …good to bad things said. A dysfunctional relationship was a 1:1 ratio or less.

Gavin: Happy workers are 22 percent more productive than unhappy workers. That’s from Andrew Oswald the Professor at Warwick Business School. Obviously there being 22 percent more productive is better for the business there.

Kirstin: That’s quite a bit.

Gavin: Happy workers are 28.4 percent less absent than unhappy workers. The stats go on basically and they attach some monetary value there, which mightn’t equate to new yield.

Obviously, if you do have a happy work force and you don’t people leaving all the time and that they’re being more productive, then why wouldn’t you try to maintain that and try to increase that?

Paul: In my mind, especially being a former supplement developer, Agile workers are especially hard to please because they are quite complex creatures, in terms of what they do. They solve problems all day and they’ve been doing that, for my example, I’ve been programming since I was 11 years old.

I’m quite passionate about that and if I don’t feel fulfilled…

Kirstin: That’s 30 years, as of yesterday!

Paul: It’s 33 years, to be exact.

Kirstin: 33, right. I want to [indecipherable 6:27] . Wow.

Paul: That’s my job and it was also a hobby to start with, but if I’m not feeling creative or fulfilled at work, then it’s going to be a humdrum for me and I’m just going to find other things to do to tax my brain.

Kirstin: That’s interesting that the big takeaway for me from, I only watched the television TED talk, the big takeaway for me was that responsibility starts with the individual.

When people are talking about happiness in the workplace and a lot of it is about managers or leaders or whoever putting measures in place so that people are able to do what they want and be happy.

This talk talked about people taking responsibility for themselves, for making change and it had a great example as well, which I’m just about to tell you about. [laughs]

Just quickly, it was about some junior nurses that started at a hospital, really excited about the job and they got there and found a quite toxic environment where no one was happy.

They started with one measure that they introduced whereby they would give one employee a day praise and would stick a little stuffed elephant on their uniform. Within six months, their workplace had turned around and that started with three of the most junior team members making a change and taking responsibility for that.

I thought that was quite an exciting concept rather than everything flowing downwards.

Paul: I think all management has to do, really, is say that you are allowed to be happy at work and if they recognize that there is a problem with the happiness levels at work, then say that you guys are allowed to be happy.

Kirstin: I don’t think, even in that case, no one said to these girls, these young nurses, they just took it into their own hands. It didn’t require any buy-in from management, it was just a little thing.

Paul: It’s just because they were new into that environment. I was thinking, if you had a toxic environment that you were trying to detoxify, you need some trigger points to get things started.

Kirstin: Absolutely! I think also the three steps to happiness that they mention in this talk is a really good start for everybody as well. Do you remember what they were?

Gavin: Yeah. The first one was a level five good morning. When you come in in the morning, you just give a big genuine good morning to the people there.

Paul: What does a level five look like to you, Gav?

Kirstin: Let’s try that. [laughs]

Gavin: Let’s see. [loudly] Good morning, Paul! You are looking fantastic.

Kirstin: That was quite loud.


Gavin: That was level five. It was [indecipherable 8:48] to level five. I’m probably more usually just a level…

Kirstin: You’re just like, “Sorry I’m late.” kind of a thing.

Gavin: [laughs] That’s right.

Kirstin: That’s how it was this morning.

Paul: I’ll just do the plastic key. Hello, yes.


Gavin: I think saying good morning is really important.

Kirstin: It is.

Paul: I don’t think the classic hello is a level five at all. I think it’s a level one to be honest with you. If you said, “You look fantastic today,” than that would make me shine all morning.

Kirstin: No one ever says that to me here.

Gavin: You do look good this morning.

Kirstin: You guys say that to each other and you say it to me, “it´s hopeless.” I want some more of that.

Paul: We should try all that.

Gavin: Another one was celebrating your victories, which she talked about as well. Not only concentrating on the things that didn’t go so well but really understanding things that did go well. We spoke a while back about project retrospectives.

One thing that that guy did in the project retrospective, which took three days, a very long one. He made people talk about the project and what went well on the project and use artifacts to describe what went well on the projects and what they achieved.

They actually started to realize all the good stuff that they did, where they had been concentrating on all the negative stuff and they realized that it wasn’t as much of a failure as they thought they had. They had a lot of successes.

Paul: How common is that, in retrospective? You rang up retrospective for that company and they said, “Wow, we are allowed to talk about the good things that happened. We’ve never been allowed to talk about the good things before.”

Kirstin: They spent too much time dwelling on the bad.

Paul: That’s what the retrospective stuff is focused on, what was wrong, what was right.

Kirstin: The last one of those steps interested in, I might have a bash at maybe today so if we get after that, is list three good things that have happened today, at the end of the day.

Obviously they can be quite simple things like, I managed to ace making my latte this morning, for example.

Gavin: It’s interesting because a lot of people think that, at least years ago, certain places I worked in anyway, I worked in a big telecommunications place and an awful financial center before.

The thing that everybody thought would increase workplace happiness was bonuses and money.

It was all money driven, it was all bonus driven and you could just step in there and you could see that it didn’t make anybody happy.

While it’s true that if you are paid too little, you feel undervalued and you can get really down about that. Paying people more and more and more isn’t what actually makes you happy, it’s not what you’re…

Paul: Obviously, it can’t. There is a ceiling on how much money is going to make you happy. If there is a fundamental problem in your work environment, then…

Kirstin: Nothing’s going to help.

Paul: [indecipherable 11:23] happy unless you, I don’t know.

It’s interesting, we’ve talked about this before, that the responsibility of the company to employ somebody is to take the issue of money of the table for them, so that they’re happy to come to work and do their jobs. They don’t have to think about…

Kirstin: The people who are chasing the money probably are not a good cultural fit for a company like ours. They will naturally leave. One of the things I liked about this talk was talking about liking your colleagues. That’s something that we really concentrate on here when we’re recruiting, as well.

It’s not just a lot of technical ability because, actually, a lot of that can be taught to the reasonably intelligent. It’s how will they fit in with the team because we spend so much time together, it’s nice if we can actually genuinely like each other.

Paul: We have to form very tight relationships. That’s the collaborative nature of what we do. We have to be comfortable, close to each other.

I’m just talking about the three levels of things, with the team that I am coaching, the three levels of things that you’re prepared to say. I think it was, one was things that you say to strangers or acquaintances. Two, the things you would say to your close friends, and three, the things you would say when drunk. I was… [laughs]

Kirstin: I was going choose to family because that’s always very blunt as well.

Paul: I was saying to these guys, “You work really closely together. You really should be, the organization is making a big ask on you in this case, you should really be saying the things…

Kirstin: Level three?

Paul: Yeah.

Kirstin: [loudly] No way.

Paul: You should be saying things at…

Kirstin: I’ve heard some of the things that you guys say at level three. I don’t think it’s appropriate.


Gavin: Honest.

Kirstin: Brutal, brutal.

Paul: It’s all lovely happy, fluffy stuff.


Gavin: There’s a lot things you can do to help increase your workplace happiness. A lot of things that management can do, as well.

Here, for example, there are some nice little touches, we have a bowl of fruit and we have a great coffee machine so you don’t have to spend 10 bucks a day on coffee and everybody loves that machine.

We have stand up desks because people went with that option.

Paul: Which is great, I love that stand up desk. I love standing up.

Gavin: Absolutely. It’s just little things, even when staff bake stuff and bring stuff in and people share stuff around…

Kirstin: Just me and Rucco, to be fair, most of the time.

Paul: And Bradley. Bradley needs to start packing.

Kirstin: He needs to do a little bit more because me and Rucco have really had it in the can the last year.

Gavin: We also socialize, at times. I think that’s really important.

Kirstin: There’s beers on Friday night which is a chance to sit down and talk about something other than work. If we sit around that table, sometimes stay for a little while, have some chips and beers.

Paul: Say things that you don’t normally say unless you are drunk, exactly.

Gavin: Exactly.


Paul: What I’m interested in, as well, is the fact that some companies try, I was in one of the incubators with a start up for a bit and they had these kind of distractions for basketball. They had a basketball court in the center of the office. It was great fun but it was really noisy.

Kirstin: That can really annoy people.

Paul: You ended up going down. As soon as someone started playing basketball, you would drift down there and start playing with them. It would completely distract you from your work. You get pool tables and foosball tables. There kind of distractions from what you are doing.

I appreciate that everyone needs a distraction but more often what we need as [indecipherable 14:47] workers, is a different space that they’re going to think about things.

Kirstin: Break out your ears. Quiet your ears.

Paul: Lateral thinking. I know this is going to sound a bit odd, I get most of my ideas…

Gavin: This is…I know where this is going.

Kirstin: Is it in the shower?

Paul: At 5 AM in the morning during a shower.

Kirstin: I think it’s a popular concept about lateral thinking in the shower. I’m the same. Things quite often occur to me in the middle of the night.


Paul: I was just thinking, what we are trying to do is encourage that kind of problem solving kind of approach and providing different environments for them to do it in. I think we have to rethink about how our offices are designed to achieve that. Rethink 21st century on this.

We’ve talked about activity-based working and I know people around town are doing activity-based working.

Kirstin: What does that mean?

Paul: Activity based working is where you co-locate with the people, so you’ve got the portable machine and you store your machine away each night. You’ve got a rack that you can all store your machines on at night.

Kirstin: What would I do with all the shoes under my desk?

Paul: That’s a good question.

Kirstin: This is one of the issues I have.

Gavin: You have to not treat your desk as your station, where you can bring in and dump all your stuff.

Kirstin: How can I cycle it in to work, which makes me happy and look presentable.

Paul: We can find a solution for you.

Kirstin: Would you? I’ll hold you personally responsible for that. [laughs]

Paul: We’ve got lockers and stuff. We can look at something similar.

The point is that every morning they come in and they choose the desk they want to work at, based upon activity.

Kirstin: I’ve actually worked in a place that was fully along those lines. We had a thing on wheels that we could drag around so we would lock away our laptops in there, our purse and license.

I didn’t find it that great, actually, because there were some people that refused to move and would always have piles of rubbish on their desk.

I found that people sort of spent a lot of time trying to get away from people they didn’t want to work with.

Paul: That’s interesting. We were talking about the disqualification that trade me, there were a couple of people that didn’t want to be in the same squad and they kept moving around.

Gavin: They were selecting their own squads, weren’t they? They just kept putting their names on other stuff, basically.


Kirstin: …Which is good because if they’re not like each other then they’re not going to work well together, are they?

Gavin: Self-organizing works out rather than being forced into situations they don’t want to be in.

Paul: It’s bad when the feeling isn’t reciprocal. This one person likes this person but the other person doesn’t like them back and it kind of gets a bit awkward. I think the space is, what they’ve got and what Spotify have got, for example, is they’ve got spaces for the teams to go and break out into.

Each team has their own space, so it can create the environment it needs for thinking, which I think is quite important.

They’ve also got the general areas, as well, the kitchen areas and their sort of food areas, that kind of stuff. They’ve also got places that you can go out and distract yourself completely with their array of different…They had a PlayStation, an Xbox, and a Mega Drive I think.

I’m don’t think that’s necessarily the solution. The distractions aren’t the solution. I think creating spaces that people can think and solve problems in is what we actually come to work for. That’s why I come to work, so anything that encourages that should be there.

Gavin: I’ve got another list that I printed out, which is stuff that makes people feel happy in the office. I think you’ve touched on some. There are some other stuff here as well.

Sociable colleagues. Smiling co-workers. Obviously not the sort of thing you can create, but, obviously, it makes people feel happy in the workplace.

Doing tasks that have actual meaning, good training programs, friendly environment, and short cigar breaks. They call them cigar breaks, but, like you were talking about, that’s a sort of space where you can actually have a think about things. I am a smoker, and sometimes I crack a problem when I go down for a cigarette.

Paul: I’m a former smoker, but I still go out with the smokers sometimes and chat. I think it’s a very good place. It’s a good place to go and think about things.

Kirstin: Having all that second-hand smoke?

Paul: That’s right.


Gavin: How do you measure workplace happiness? I’ve heard a few ideas…


Kirstin: …I was thinking about that this morning actually. I thought it would be quiet a nice thing to do, because one of them was…Someone talked about putting the smiley faces.

Gavin: The Niko-niko calendar.

Kirstin: Then there’s also workplace surveys. In fact, we do have one that we do every year with WorldBlu

Paul: That’s right.

Kirstin: It’s not necessarily about, actually, workplace happiness.

Paul: It’s more about democracy.

Kirstin: It is more about democracy, but that’s one of the things that people enjoy about working here. It’s one kind of measure I think.

Gavin: One thing I love to try out is you have buckets. You have a bucket which had a terrible day, it has an OK day, and had a really fantastic day today. Everybody’s got a tennis ball. It doesn’t have your name on it or anything. It’s just a plain tennis ball.

When you’re leaving at the end of the day, you put the tennis ball in the corresponding bucket. At the end of the day, you count it, and you get a good gauge as to how everybody felt.

Paul: It’s all about asking the right question, and that’s a great thing to do. As long as the question’s framed correctly, you get the response you want. You’re not talking about in general.

Kirstin: You’re generally happy about today. How was it for you?

Paul: How was your work day? How was your work day?

Kirstin: We should do that. Can we get some buckets please? Some tennis balls?

Gavin: Let’s do that.

Paul: Great. What I like about this and the agile way of working anyway. Once you take the lid off of these things and you put it in the team’s camp to organize how they want to do things and empower them, it’s really got no ceiling within reason. You’ve got no ceiling with ideas.

You can experiment. You can do all kinds of stuff. It’s much more fulfilling working this way than it is…I think about all those dreary offices I’ve worked in in the past.

A lot of times, when you’re in those kinds of environment, you expend a reasonable amount of energy trying to make it better. You’ve got to work around the things that you feel are impeding your progress and all that kind of stuff. You find alternatives.

The idea around this is that as much energy as possible goes into what actually you’ve been asked to do. You don’t have to expend any of that…


Kirstin: …You don’t have to do that.

Gavin: I remember working as a stock trader’s assistant in a stock trader’s office before. It’s just a highly stressed atmosphere, and everybody was incredibly aggressive to each other, just out right mean to each other all the time. It was really intense, and everybody just drank really, really heavily every single day after work to alleviate it.

Everybody had a lot of money. Everybody had second homes in Spain, and a Mercedes, but they were not happy people. For some people, that’s their main drivers, the money and the material stuff, but for me I just had to get out.

Kirstin: That’s a scientific contrast, isn’t it. It really makes you realize what you want to do and where you want to work.

Paul: I think we’ve all seen “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and those guys are just addicts. They’re addicted to all kinds of stuff.

Kirstin: Power.

Paul: Power, money, sex, drugs…


Kirstin: …Everything.

Paul: It doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that.


Paul: That’s right. It does become a bit of a burden if you do it day in and day out, I think, for most people.

Kirstin: It’s not sustainable, is it?

Paul: No. The thing from my experience is working in startups, we had similar things going on where you were working crazy hours, especially when you’re trying to get something off of the ground. You’d be working weekends and you’d be working 14 hours, 12 hours a day, whatever it was.

On the amount of coffee that we were drinking to sustain that, you had no option but to drink. Wine, alcohol, beer…


Kirstin: …Lower your blood pressure.

Paul: Depress your system enough, which alcohol is a depressant, so that you could sleep to counter-effect all of the caffeine that you’ve been sticking into your body.

Kirstin: What I found on the last pressure work days was that we were all pretty good friends, but in that prison mentality kind of way.

Things were so bad at work, so toxic, and we were so overworked and had so much pressure on us, that we spent a lot of time together just talking about our work and drinking. We formed really great relationships, but in a really toxic way.

Paul: That’s kind of like battlefield brotherhoods or sisterhoods.

Kirstin: It is. Interestingly, I met up with a bunch of them last week, and they’ve all gone into different things except for one person. We’ve maintained that friendship, but it’s so much better now because we’re not just sitting around, complaining, and finding that commonality in something that is very negative. We were talking about the new things that we’re doing, and it’s really a much more interesting and fun time.

Paul: Obviously, it’s an “us-against-them” situation.

Kirstin: It became very much that in terms of management and worker base.

Paul: That’s not going to get great result for the company at the end of the day.

Kirstin: We all left. There’s a bunch of us that just left, so they lost good people.

Gavin: Management are responsible for setting a culture. I remember working in the telecommunications place before, and we got a new manager. He came and he said, “You guys, I expect you to work hard. I expect you to put in the hours. We need to get stuff done. It’s my way, or the highway.” He actually used that term. Instantly, he turned out to be fired for embezzling funds…


Kirstin: …Way to do it his way…

Gavin: …Just a terrible culture to create, so management does have an impact.

Kirstin: Absolutely…


Paul: …If you look up the Toyota Way and the pillars of lean, the foundation is management and leadership.

Kirstin: I think here we’re really lucky, because we’ve got someone who’s really willing to experiment. He’s very people-oriented. He really believes in these principles.

We’ve got that coming from the business owner downwards, and then, obviously, we’re all working towards the same things as well.

Paul: That’s right.

Gavin: He’s the one who’s usually practicing fly fishing or skateboarding though the office.

Kirstin: He’s an ideas man. He’s being creative. He does that stuff. That’s nice. I’m just remembering an occasion that a friend of mine was telling me. They got this new boss and a new CEO. He came in and he gave a speech at the start and he said, “I just want you all to know that I have an open-door policy.” He followed it up with, “Of course, I don’t mean. It won’t literally be open.”


Kirstin: That’ why we laugh a lot. It’s a great example of what not to say. He had an office with a door.

Paul: There’s some great books where you can learn that stuff. “The Anatomy of Peace” is one example which talks about…If you’re with a conflict with somebody, you can’t treat them like a human being. When you’re in a warring state, you immediately objectify, because that’s the only way you literally, if you’re in a warring state, can kill someone, by treating them as an object.

Kirstin: That’s so dramatic. I didn’t kill anyone…


Paul: …I know…


Kirstin: You want to win basically.

Paul: It’s a win. There’s no option but winning. You have to objectify that person to beat them. I’ve heard it so many times. My wife was talking about this person. There was a yoga challenge, a 40-day yoga challenge.

Kirstin: So doing yoga for 40 days?

Paul: It’s the person who gets to the most…Sorry. There’s a certain threshold. Once they cross that threshold, they’re recognized as completing the challenge.

She was in competition with somebody else, and she completely objectified this person in order to achieve her win. That’s all I heard. The language she was using around this person wasn’t by name.

Kirstin: It’s so amazing to think of yoga as a competitive sport.

Paul: My wife’s that kind of “Mrs. I’m not Competitive.”

Kirstin: When you set yourself a challenge, sometimes things build on. By comparing yourself to someone else, it helps.

Paul: That’s right. I’m just saying you can still treat that person as a human.

Kirstin: Can you?

Paul: I think so. You don’t need to go to a warring state. The Anatomy of Peace talks about it in detail, the steps that you need to take to stop objectifying people and treat them like human beings. Part of that is like when…


Kirstin: …I do agree actually. I think offering each other support to achieve a personal goal, for me, would work better than someone saying, “Well I’ve done this many, and you’ve done this many.”

Paul: Part of my reason for saying that, about competition, is because a lot of teams that work in organizations get into a competitive state with each other. Who’s got the highest velocity? Who’s done the most stories?

Kirstin: Like on “Silicon Valley” the other night. You haven’t seen this yet, but we’ll give it to you. They’ve just introduced scrum, and Jarred said something like, “That’s just competition to see who can work fastest.”

Gavin: Scrum is just a way to get people to work harder.

Kirstin: That’s very funny. You’re going to love it.

Paul: The whole point is that they all work for the same organization. The ideal outcome for the organization is that they work together…


Kirstin: …They work together. Technically, for this situation, these guys are in a start-up.

Paul: What the organization can do to encourage that working together spirit should be…We’ve seen it so many times when we run those workshops.

The paper plane game, for example. You’ve got two teams, basically at war with each other trying to beat each other. Then, you remind them, in the final sprint, that they’re actually working together.

Gavin: Actually, it was the first time ever on Monday. There were two teams. They started out being a little bit competitive, but one team, as hard as they tried, could not make a successful paper airplane. First time I’ve ever seen that.

Kirstin: They weren’t ladies were they?

Gavin: No…


Kirstin: …Because I can’t make one and quiet a lot of ladies come.

Gavin: There’s two guys, and a woman.

Paul: We had the same on Friday, do you remember?

Gavin: But the teams, actually, at the end, the other team felt for them. They joined forces in the final round.

Kirstin: Was that without prompting from you? Because, I’ve always had to give a prompt, “You know, you could help those guys out.” That’s good. That works quite nicely.

Gavin: Absolutely. Then, at the end, it showed the power of self-organizing, working together, communicating, and everything. It was quiet good, but I was getting a little bit worried because people were getting quiet demoralized when they couldn’t make a paper airplane.

Kirstin: It is horrible when you can’t make even one to fly.

Paul: That’s right. I think we reminded the two teams on Friday that they were actually working together, that they want to share some tips about how to build planes, because obviously one team was really successful at building planes.

Kirstin: Your team didn’t need to be prompted on Monday?

Gavin: Yes. That’s great. I think that’s all we have time for today. It sounds like we’re going to start measuring our workplace happiness by using that bucket idea which should be interesting.

Paul: Maybe show some leadership happiness as well to give the guys at least permission to be happy at work.

Gavin: Exactly. Exactly.

Paul: Not really.

Gavin: OK, thank you we will see you…


Kirstin: …See you in a couple of weeks.

Gavin: Thank you.

Kirstin: Thank you.

Further reading

WorldBlu officially recognizes Boost New Media as a democratic workplace

Employee engagement: helping the team create company culture

Your business purpose: How to discover your organisation’s compass