Why is business so hard? Simply put, we think it is due to a lack of humanity. Our obsession with data is conflated with a belief that emotion in business is bad: Data and emotion are incompatible, so we have a bias against connecting emotion to business and we work in sterile workplaces that do not value our humanity.
But what happens, when the data support the paradox that it is our emotional connections that create better, more efficient, smarter work? That is exactly what Google discovered.
There is a coming tsunami of change around the recognition that the future of work is about culture, and the connections that we facilitate between people in our businesses.
When we start off our Creative Sessions with clients (our more effective form of focus groups), we often say that we want to have a real conversation, the kind of conversation that you might have at a bar after 3 or 4 beers. Why? Because, we try to encourage an environment of real, open, honest communication. The kind of communication that is not considered s.o.p. at work.
What Google discovered is what many people intuitively know about anything that involves people. We’re human at work and at home. We want to work with people who are kind, and make us feel good about ourselves. We want to, as Graham Weston, Chairman of Rackspace says, “Be part of a winning team on an inspiring mission”. It is that simple.
Going as far back as 1999, our friend Tony Hsieh over at Zappos, really pushed this hard. He understood through observation that it is social capital that drives organizational effectiveness. He saw that people who had richer emotional connections, were more effective. So, he co-created a culture that was designed to be a rich, real life, tapestry of social and emotional interactions. It’s not the weirdness of Zappos that makes it so powerful (and scary to other companies) but how they trigger the connections between people.
Tony has been kind enough to offer his insights on some of our illustrations and today is kicking off what will be occasional commentary in our daily email.
Thanks Tony 🙂
A note from Tony on what we wrote above:
At Zappos, we formalized the definition of our culture through our 10 core values:
1) Deliver WOW Through Service
2) Embrace and Drive Change
3) Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5) Pursue Growth and Learning
6) Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8) Do More With Less
9) Be Passionate and Determined
10) Be Humble
Some people are initially surprised by Core Value #3 – Create Fun and A Little Weirdness. Our belief is that everyone is a little weird somehow, and this is really just a fun way of saying that we recognize and celebrate each person’s individuality. We want our employees to bring their whole selves to the work, meaning we want people to express their true personalities at work and in their work.
To outsiders, that might come across as inconsistent or weird. But the consistency is in our belief that we function best when we can be ourselves. We want the weirdness in each of us to be expressed in our interactions with each other and in our work.
One of the side effects of encouraging weirdness is that it encourages people to think outside the box and be more innovative.When you combine a little weirdness with making sure everyone is also having fun at work, it ends up being a win-win for everyone: Employees are more engaged in the work that they do, and the company as a whole becomes more innovative.
Oh, and the other side effect is that employees end up forming true friendships, not just coworker relationships, with each other.
Because at the end of the day it’s really not so much about bringing weirdness to the workplace… It’s really more about bringing humanity back to the way business is done.