Happy or not?

Tracking the mood of the team is something that agile practitioners are doing for quite a long time. For example, in 2006, Akinori Sakata, explained in this article the use of Niko-niko calendar.

The idea is to tighten the feedback loop, and to detect problems even before they become really conscious to an individual, or to the team.

By exploring how we feel at the end of the day, it helps us to take a step back, and sometime to express what is not going well from our point of view.

So, I used it for teams, co-localized or distributed, for quite some time. The tooling is really simple if you only want to deal with the mood of one team.

At some point, I wanted to expand this to track the mood of an entire company, so we could be able to get more feedback, and to adapt what we were doing.

I had a look at what was on the market, and at this time, hppy.com provided a tool to allow a quick feedback using a smiley ( 🙂 😐 🙁 ) and to leave a short text message associated to that.

There’s now a lot of tools on the market that are exploring employee engagement, like Niko-Niko or Happify.

Is it a tooling problem?

Obviously the quality of the tool you will use, will have an impact on your ability to run analysis, or to scale the mood measurement, but my take after several experiments is that it’s not a tooling problem.

It’s how you will take into account the feedback and act accordingly.

 

 

You could also be interested in this article Manage Your Emotional Culture published in the Harvard Business Review at the beginning of the year.

 

 

 

What science knows about happiness that could tranform OpenStack

A short article to publish the video recording and the slides of the talk I gave today at the OpenStack summit in Austin.

 

 

Header picture is from Ryan McGuire.

The Search for Happiness

During the past days, I had the opportunity to give two conferences. One in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 20, 2015, for the Red Hat Agile Day. The other, in Bordeaux, France, for the closing keynote of AgileTour Bordeaux, on October 30, 2015. I adapted the content according to the feedback received after my opening keynote of the Drupal Developer Days.

Agile

The first sentence of the Agile Manifesto is often ignored:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Studying this sentence helps to understand the state of mind of the manifesto writers, continuous improvement, mutual aid, listening. We could apply the same way of doing things to other areas than software development ones. And, of course, there’s no reason to restrain the application to one team. Some practices and tools proposed by some framework limit the application to a team.

Culture

Culture is the immerse part of the iceberg. When you observe an organization, you will be able to see the tools and practices. The principles and values that define the culture are seen through the actions of the organization members. When you try to introduce practice and tools that will not fit the organization culture, even if there’s an improvement at the beginning, things will be back to “normal” after some time.

That’s why Peter Druker said:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast, technology for lunch, products for dinner and soon thereafter everything else too.

An agile company

Some years ago, I was facilitating a meeting with the leadership team of a small company, they were around 20 at that time. We were working on the organization principles of the company. The team knew the company will need to grow fast, and they wanted to keep the creativity and innovation that made the success. Long story, short : we ended up with 6 principles organized on a main one:

Employees Happiness

Those principles were: autonomy, responsibility, trust, transparency, communication, and the conviction was that growing agile would be the way to achieve it.

how-do-feelAs the company was growing fast, we wanted to know if we were heading in the good direction, and if employees were really happy. And the best idea we found to get this information was to ask people on a day to day basis, using 3 simple buttons and a form to collect feedbacks so we can know what we could continue doing, what we could change or stop doing.

When I start explaining that idea, during one of the new comers breakfast session, one person asked me a simple question:

What do you mean by happiness?

A simple question, I was not able to give an answer to. Everybody knows what is happiness, but I was not able to define it. That leads me to follow the Science of Happiness Berkeley course of Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. I learned a lot on what is happiness, differences between happy and unhappy people, and mainly how to become a happier person.

« Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. »
Aristotle

Why be happy?

Scientific study shows what we may be able to guess. Happy people feel good, have a stronger immune system, are physically healthier, live longer, are more sociable, better liked by others, more resilient, more cooperative, more productive, more energetic, have more social support, are better leaders and negotiators, have a richer network of friends, earn more money, are more charitable, demonstrate more flexibility and ingenuity to solve problems

What makes us happy?

circumstances-daily-activities-set-pointAnswer may not surprise you, it’s not a new car, even a fancy one. Circumstances like that will have an effect on our happiness level, but we will go back to our set point soon or later. The most important finding, according to me, is that our happiness depends by 40% on our activities, and not on our genes or the circumstances. We can choose to have an impact on our happiness level.

How?

Being positive. Trying to look at situations from other angles in every day to day life situation and relationship with others.

Optimism

Being optimistic. Investing time as an individual and as a team to define what could be our best possible future. Working to create the conditions that help people to do their best. One of the proposed exercises is for example to write your self portrait, your best possible self. Taking 10 minutes a day to write and refine this portrait during 10 days will learn you a lot on yourself and what you can do.

Gratitude

Expressing gratitude. Creating the conditions that help people to do the same. In organizations, Retrospectives are good opportunity to do so, you can organize Kudos Box, or distribute Wow cards. It could be done using a diary, encouraging people to do the same, especially interns and new comers, so they can keep a trace of their surprises and learnings that could be useful in the future.

Kindness

Practicing kindness. Kindness letters are a simple way to do so. There’s even a world kindness day on November 13th, that could be a good opportunity to do something as a team.

Forgiveness

Forgive, a practice simpler to say that to do, especially when it’s our turn to forgive. A practice that, like gratitude and kindness, is the more beneficial to the sender than the receiver. Practices that work even in the absence of the receiver.

Carpe Diem

Seize the day, an idea simpler to understand, harder to practice. I will cover several different notions around time management. Flow from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that helps to understand those time when time flied and when we were incredibly focus and efficient as an individual or a team. We can enjoying those kind of moment when we maximize the focus and minimize interruptions. I even seen a team synchronize the work around pomodoros cycles to avoid interruptions.

As recommended by Philip Zimbardo “the optimal temporal mix is what you get from the past — past-positive gives you roots. You connect your family, identity and your self. What you get from the future is wings to soar to new destinations, new challenges. What you get from the present hedonism is the energy, the energy to explore yourself, places, people, sensuality.”

Celebrate

Savoring life’s joy is a way of life. Celebrate success, our own successes or the successes of a team or an organization, is an important, not so usual, activity. There’s several ways to celebrate success and we need to find our own, a way to do it is to set up a work expo as proposed in Workout from Jurgen Appelo.

Goal

Celebrate success supposed to define goals. Several scientific studies on this subject demonstrate that goals must be intrinsic and not extrinsic (like money). Defining goals, prefer approaching ones to avoiding ones. That’s why I like the OKR approach (Objectives and Key Results). Because the objectives and key results are created through the conversation of all stakeholders and not hierarchically imposed. This is also an excellent opportunity to look at objectives in more shades than the binary black and white, and to consider each steps in the good direction as a partial success that we could celebrate.

Nurturing relationship

Contribute to a goal bigger than self, with people you appreciate. Create your tribe, troop, group in which you will be able to connect, share, learn. Your surrounding will have a dramatic influence on your ability to deliver. Surround yourself with passionate people will give you a lot of energy. You can also provide this energy to the people that surround you.

Soul and body

« A sound mind in a sound body.»

This quote from Juvenal has been repeated for a long time, is there to remind us that we have a body and that when we take care of it, it has an influence on our mind… and so the opposite. And more than sport, ideal activities to practice with personal or professional relationships, meditation can be an opener on the happiness journey.

Balance

Happiness at Work implies that we could be happy or not depending on where we are. Work life balance separates two worlds in where we will not be the same person. Maybe it’s time to behave as only one person, without any professional mask? Maybe it’s time to be happy in life? Maybe it starts with us, with our smile?

 

Thank you for your feedbacks at the end of the conferences and your messages on Twitter.

 

Some links to go further:

World Happiness Day

March 20th, it is World Happiness Day.

I am writing this short post listening to Happiness Sounds Like playlist.

What recommandation for this day?

dayofhappinessMaybe follow some of the suggestions of The Year of Happy and learn things about happiness that can surprise you? Or maybe follow on your pace the UC Berkeley course about Science of Happiness? Or one of those of the DayOfHappiness website summed up on the image on the right?

Or even simpler, smile to those your will cross today?

I close with an announcement, I am happy to announce that I will deliver a keynote on happiness during the Drupal Developer Days at Montpellier on April 18th.

The header image came from here.

This post in French

The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness is presented as the first MOOC to teach positive psychology. An opportunity to learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.

I announced this in this previous article about The Happiness Advantage, I followed the ten-week course on edx.org until last week.

Happiness-Factors

The most important finding, according to me, is that our happiness depends by 40% on our activities, and not on our genes or the circumstances. So we can learn things that will change our day to day life, improve our relationship and our health.

I want to thank the course instructors, Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas for all the learnings that I put into practice, and that I try to transmit to others.

You can see them introducing the course in the video below.

I recommend this great course. If you are interested, a new “self-paced” session starts on December 1st: The Science of Happiness.

This course is proposed by the Greater Good Science Center of University of California, Berkeley.

ggsc-uc-berkeley

The Happiness Advantage

TheHappinessAdvantage

The Happiness Advantage is a book from Shawn Achor describing the seven principles that fuel success and performance at work and in life in general.

The main idea of positive psychology is that happiness comes before success.

What are those 7 principles:

  1. The Happiness Advantage. Training ourselves to focus on the positive boost our performance and our relationship ability.
  2. The Fulcrum and the lever. The fulcrum is our mindset, the way we see the events that occurs. The lever is our potential (we believe we have…)
  3. The Tetris Effect. Training ourselves to look for positive patterns drives us to detect and seize opportunities.
  4. Falling Up. There’s two different paths after failure down toward depression, or up to learning and growth. It’s up to us to choose the one we want to follow.
  5. The Zorro Circle. Agilists will find this one obvious. When faced with a complex situation, focus on small steps we can handle.
  6. The 20-second Rule. Form habits with small tasks that can be started fast.
  7. Social Investment. Because social support is the predictor of your future success.

Shawn Achor finishes is book explaining how behavior (good or bad) is contagious. Probably a good thing to know to start something 🙂

I recommend this useful book 🙂

In future posts, I will tell you about how we are struggling with our Happiness Index at eNovance, and what I learn from “The Science of Happiness”, the Berkeley course I am following on edx.

You can also watch this TED Talk from the Author:

Header picture by Jarno, Creative Commons 2.0.

Version française de ce billet.