Thursday, August 17, 2006


Hi'ya Bloggers,

OK, here's another business-related post - but it does relate to the wider concept of human happiness. Excuses, excuses...

I have been reading a guy called Bernd Schmitt. I highly recommend his books: he has lots of revolutionary ideas - and he's really funny! He has written books such as Experiental Marketing and Customer Experience Management. I've just finished reading the latter and found some exciting things in there. Here are some quotes:

"In most companies, employees simply do not care about their jobs. According to a Gallup survey based on a random sample of 800 employees, only 25% of employees are "actively engaged" in their jobs; the other 75% are just muddling through. Dave Ulrich, an HR expert and professor at the School of Business at the University of Michigan, observes that "job depression" is on the rise. Don't expect the job depressed to deliver a great experience to customers. Therefore, it is key for business to foster what Ulrich calls "employee contribution".

Employee contribution becomes a critical business issue because in trying to produce more output with fewer employees, companies have no choice but to try to engage not only the body but the mind and soul of every employee" (emphasis mine).

What does Schmitt suggest as the way to engage the mind and soul of every employee? The traditional methods (which are by no means implemented in all companies!!!) are good, but not sufficient:
  • empowerement
  • challenging work
  • teamwork
  • communication
  • fun at work
  • etc.

"If employees are internal customers, then let's treat them as customers, and let's find out what these customers want."

What do people want? According to Schmitt, people want to experience work as flow.

"What is flow? It is the state people achieve when they become so involved in what they are doing that they lose track of time. It is a kind of absorption in the process. Flow is about optimal experiences and enjoyment in life, and the ultimate goal is "turning all life into a unified flow experience". When that happens, work does not feel like work, and the separation of work and leisure becomes meaningless. Work and leisure are one whole - called life."

Now how can employees get to this state? What can management do to help make this happen? .....

  • learn about the experiential world of your employees
  • find out what they want
  • ask them what they would change
  • let employees help develop their own work environment
  • get employees involved in the brand so they can live the brand
  • seek your employees' input about innovation

Schmitt concludes: "If you pay attention to your employees' experiences, you will be rewarded with a happier, more productive, more proactive workforce" (emphasis mine).

Schmitt continues: "Utopia? Yes, sadly, many companies today still operate according to a command-and-control system. Strategy is developed at the top and disseminated to the front lines in an environment of fear. This experience-destroying, military model of the organization fails to recognize the innovative and value-creating forces that a positive employee experience can unleash".

So is that the secret to happiness: flow? I guess it's why e.g. artists are so happy with their jobs. The book The Hacker Ethic explores similar issues, but concentrates on knowledge workers. Schmitt, however, talks about service workers too: salespeople, people who work in coffee shops - anywhere really. In a previous post I quote Peter Drucker saying that the "productivity of knowledge workers and the dignity of service workers" are the most important things in the near future. The ideas that Schmitt presents seem to give an answer to how to achieve these goals.

Schmitt and Pink Lady have spoken

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