Managing for Happiness | Jurgen Appelo | TEDxLille

Managing for Happiness | Jurgen Appelo | TEDxLille

Translator: Damien Selosse
Reviewer: Juliet Vdt They are seen as untrustworthy,
narcissistic, inauthentic bullies and they drive you all completely nuts — (French) The managers. (English) Let’s say your manager is Bill. You want to negotiate
for a higher fee or salary but Bill said that, sadly,
there was no budget left, after he received his raise or bonus. Am I right? Or you ask for a better computer
or work phone that he didn’t give you, and he emails his rejection from his glass fiber titanium case
nuclear power station. Correct? (Sigh) Silly Billy. I know these stories well because,
I’m afraid to admit, I was a manager like Bill. In my defense I was actually
a software developer. But I may have been so bad at programming that my teammates begged our CEO
to promote me away into management. And like other managers,
I had no clue how to work with people. I drove the business like a machine. For me, software developers
were computers on legs with hair. (Laughter) I sucked as a manager. And bad management means bad performance. Every company I worked for, collapsed. But somehow, everything has changed. Now people ask me for advice
on how to run their businesses. And I travel the world
sharing stories and practices. It all comes down to this: manage the system for happiness
and offer products with meaning. We need companies to be purposeful. We want more Apples
and Teslas and Amazons. Not to have your next smart watch
delivered to you by smart drone while you’re driving your smart car.
Who cares? What we want are organizations
that make lives worth living. We want businesses to offer us
nanobots, solar power, gene therapy, quantum computing,
medical virtual reality. Because all these innovations can be turned into meaningful
products and services. But someone has got to manage this. And the purpose of management
is making organizations valuable to people and planet. Sadly there is no single silver
bullet to achieve this. But I changed from a bad manager
to a not-so-bad manager with seven silver bullets. Let me give you some examples. Let’s say that your manager is Taffy. Taffy wants to organize
corporate lunch meetings where she feeds everyone
pizzas and PowerPoints in the hope that afterwards
all the employees would feel engaged. But none of your colleagues said: “Those slides full of bullet points
were so inspiring!” And none of your colleagues said: “When is the next event
scheduled in my free time?” Let’s do a quick scientific test, if you know managers like Taffy,
organizing such meetings, at the count of 3, I want you all to say:
“Daffy Taffy”. Ok? Here we go: 1, 2, 3! Audience: Daffy Taffy! Jurgen Appelo: Oh my god!
73.4 % of the audience knows someone — I’m good at that, I’m good at counting — knows someone like Taffy. I organized such large
meetings as well, I admit. But I did something else recently. I know that change is easier
when people share food. So I [invited] colleagues
to my house for dinner. It was random people such as
two programmers, an account manager, a project manager, a system administrator, and the senior vice president
of pencils and paper clips. The day before they arrived
I found myself some easy-to-make recipes, that means: not French. I fetched the groceries,
prepared the kitchen. When the guests arrived I told them:
“And now you do the cooking, surprise!” After they had recovered from the shock, they figured out what to do. They started cooking and I stood there
watching the hard-working people; a typical management role. I did this 6 or 7 times
and it was always a success. Notice that I didn’t manage the people,
I managed the system around them. They self-organized in my kitchen and
they strengthened ties across departments. They baked lasagna
in my favorite salad bowl. But at least for a few hours,
there was happiness of employees. I’ll give you another example. Let’s say your manager is Jim. Jim wants to celebrate
a big new sales contract, maybe with a Moulin Rouge-style party. But he sort of forgot to ask
the production team if the new delivery deadline was even theoretically possible
and something worth celebrating. Another scientific test: If you know managers like Jim,
promising these things to customers, at the count of three say: “Swimmy Jimmy”. Here we go: 1, 2, 3!
Audience: Swimmy Jimmy! JA: Wow! 89.2 % of the audience
knows people like Jim. There is nothing wrong
with celebrating sales if the rest of the company
is happy as well. I once discussed it with my CEO
and I said: “I think it is good to help
our team celebrate things, maybe help them to make a bit of noise.” Two months later he came to my desk
with a big copper ship’s bell. He said: “Here is a bell,
now start celebrating!” I was like: “Oh, awesome! A big bell!” So I brought the bell
to the office police — Sorry, the office manager, I mean — and I asked her to place the bell
near the coffee machine. From that moment,
anyone was allowed to ring the bell, to celebrate success,
or to celebrate a learning experience. The bell added a bit
of playfulness to the office. It also added a big terrible noise
for 5 seconds when somebody rang it. Then 100 very curious
and slightly deaf employees would gather around the coffee machine to learn what the celebration
was all about. The last time I heard the bell was when
the CEO announced to the whole company that I had just quit my job. (Laughter) It is important to know that, for me, this bell was a learning experience,
a management experience. I thought: “Can I get 100 employees to just drop their work
and celebrate something together?” Well, I learned that I could. And by increasing these experiments,
I started learning faster. Here is another example: Let’s say your manager is Mick. You once asked Mick for some budget
to attend a conference, maybe a TEDx event, or you asked him to be allowed
to work from home, or maybe you just wanted
a more accurate job title. But no matter what you ask for,
Mick always says: “No, sorry. No, we cannot do
these things around here.” The last scientific test: If you know managers like Mick who
always say no to anything that you ask, at the count of three say: “Tricky Micky”. All right? Let’s test: 1, 2, 3!
Audience: Tricky Micky! JA: My god! 99.8%! Except those 2, they are facebooking
over there. I can see that! Managers make employees sign contracts, but the problem with contracts
is they impose limits on people’s freedoms and happiness. That’s why I have decided to have
no contracts with my current team members. It’s an experiment! This is the results
of the experiment so far. (Laughter) They seem happy to me. When anyone of them says: “Next month I would like to work
from Bali, at half of my productivity.” I say: “Well we have no contract
so go for it, we’ll figure out how to make it work.” Or when one of them says:
“I would like to have a different job.” They write their own job titles. Our chief geek, our zookeeper
and our project bottleneck… (Laughter) They have no contracts
limiting their creativity. And my own title of Emperor
God Overlord suits me quite well. (Laughter) I believe that having no contracts
forces us to keep everyone happy. Because at any moment,
any person can say: “Screw you guys, I’m out of here!” Some people see this
as innovative management. I see it as helping us to focus,
not on time and locations and titles, but on meaningful products and services. Here is one of the worst management
practices that I have ever experienced. It was many years ago,
when I was working at a big company. The top managers wanted to incentivize
some of their employees through a bonus system. Interesting idea. But in order to calculate
who should get how much, the CFO had a big spreadsheet
full of data about everyone. It contained people’s current salaries,
seniority levels, clocked hours, overtime hours, performance ratings,
years of employment, sick days, and much more. I’m quite sure somewhere in there, it also had people’s keystrokes per minute
and toilet breaks per day. Anyways. Once per year based on all this data
and the company’s annual profits, the spreadsheet would calculate
everyone’s individual bonuses. I remember one year when
the company profits were not that high some employees got an annual bonus
of a staggering 20 euros. The managers received a bit more. How many of you think that these
employees felt incentivized? I think it would have done
less damage to their motivation if they had been paid
with fish-flavored macarons. How did I change from being a bad
manager to not that bad? I showed you
the seven silver bullets already. Let’s look at them again one by one. We can only address
the world’s biggest challenges with meaningful products and services. This requires innovation delivery which is only possible
with innovative management. Due to the ever increasing
pace of change in the world, innovation needs faster learning. Researchers and scientists know that learning is optimal
when we run more experiments. As children we learned long ago
that experimentation is part of playing. But people only play and run experiments,
when they’re having fun and being happy. Finally, as managers
we cannot make people happy, but we can certainly create
an environment, a system for happiness. Those are the seven
silver bullets that I found. To make this all easier to understand
for the managers in this room, (French) and the directors and the CEOs, (English) I will now show them again as a list of boring bullet points
with some cheesy clipart. (Laughter) And I can make it even more impressive
by pointing at it with my laser beam. (Laughter) So with these seven silver bullets, you can now address
the world’s biggest challenges. Here’s a final example. I told you about a bad bonus system. This is how my current team
earns their bonus money now. At the start of the month,
each person has 100 points, and they use the rest of the month to credit each other
for their performance. 10 points to Vorums
for helping me out today, five points to Sergey
for your super-fast response, 15 points to Pillar for not killing me
when I screwed up today. These points that
they receive from each other, they build up over time. As the business owner,
every month I set aside some bonus money depending on the performance
of the whole company. Like a jackpot, this bonus money
also builds up over time. The only thing left to do
is to pick a good moment to decide when to confer those credits
that they received from each other into real money received. This is how we do that. (Video) Woman: Ok dice! Come on
big money! Big money! Everyone give it a kiss! Come on lucky dice, we love you. It’s a 6! (Cheering) Can you see that? JA: We have a simple company rule. At the start of the month,
one person throws a dice. If that person throws a six,
we pay up bonuses. No 6? No bonus! That’s it! (Laughter) The reason we do it like this
is so that none of us can predict when it is bonus payout time. After all, we all know what happens when people are promised
a bonus in December. They will have spent the money
before they even received it. And when it is less than expected,
as it often is, they will be demotivated. “Oh my god, only 20 euros but
I already shopped that Louis Vuitton.” That won’t happen on our team. Our team loves the bonus system. They think it is their own
little Monte Carlo Casino. And they can only win. I am not trying to convince you
to adopt a new bonus system, but I hope that you see
the seven silver bullets at work here that I apply as a not-so-bad manager. These crowdsourced bonuses,
that is a system that I manage. I do not manage the people. And the system is designed
to increase the chance of happiness. More happiness means more playfulness,
more playfulness, more experiments, more experiments, more learning,
more learning, more innovation. And hopefully more meaningful
products and services. The same seven silver bullets are
applied by other manages in the world. They invite people to get
to know each other better with personal maps in a playful manner. They play games in a colorful way
to explore intrinsic motivation. They visualize experiments and failures
to value the learning in the company. Or they emphasize thankfulness
and appreciation in the company, to create an environment
where it feels safe to innovate. Last year, one team member, Jennifer,
said something interesting to me, she said: “Jurgen, you’re my first
manager who doesn’t suck”. (Laughter) I had to think about that for a moment and I decided it was
probably a compliment. 20 years ago I was a terrible manager
but now I don’t suck anymore. It will probably take me another
20 years to be actually any good. I have no idea what you are all
planning to do for people and planet. But I hope that I can offer
something to you, which is: realize your ideas
with more purposeful organizations. That means: use the seven silver bullets. If you want to end up with innovative
management and meaningful products, start by managing the system
for happiness. I just hope that you are all
faster learners than I was. Thank you. (Applause)

Daniel Yohans

15 thoughts on “Managing for Happiness | Jurgen Appelo | TEDxLille

  1. Javo Santillán says:


  2. Douwe Attema says:

    Loved it, do it, and liked your presentation. I'd love your way of openness and happiness.

  3. Günther Kopperger says:

    Great presentation for a not so bad manager and a pretty good coach :-). Compliments.

  4. suman kumar says:

    Excellent !! Loved your Open Presentation

  5. Lars Hueper says:

    Great talk!

  6. Jörg Brode says:

    Jurgen is great! Read his book!

  7. Linda Hirzmann says:

    Top Talk from Jurgen!

  8. Henry Semwanga says:

    Great job Jurgen! Always value adding listening to you! Thank you for the work you do to make our workplaces more fun!

  9. Monica Colombo says:

    A pleasure to hear you again! Thanks to share it with us.

  10. Mario Lucero says:

    Great talk!!

  11. Bruno Monteiro says:

    All so simple, so human and, yet, strangely so far from most companies! Thanks for the talk, Jurgen!

  12. scottpduncan says:

    Maybe this was the wrong audience, but he got lots more laughs (and applause) at Agile 2016 in his Keynote this past week when he presented a version of this.  Everyone I spoke to loved his (longer) presentation at the conference.

  13. Bienve Espinosa Cano says:

    Happiness for working and happiness for living. Great and inspiring words, thanks Jurgen.

  14. Krisztina Csabai says:

    It is offical. THIS is my fav tedx talk!!! Thank you Jurgen, love it, and love your book management 3.0 too!

  15. gohliying1 says:

    Great talk!! Time to try out…. 🙂

    1. Manage the system
    2. Nurture happiness
    3. Embrace playfulness
    4. Run experiments
    5. Accelerate Learning
    6. Innovate management
    7. Build for meaning

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