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I'm starting to write another column for BusinessWeek Online, this time on something around the subject of happiness and innovative behavior.
I need your help.
What are your thoughts on this subject? What stories do you have for or against? Please comment below or drop me a line.
Many thanks. Mahalo.
15 November 2005 | Permalink
Well.. Since "Using innovation to make your business more fun to run" is our purpose and core message I would say that the topic is huge. Slogging through the same and mundane does not equal fun.
Innovation, no matter how small, is fresh and exciting. Fresh and exciting is fun. To me, the more fun you are having the happier you are.
Too many people are not truly happy doing what they do everyday. Capturing an inventive/curious spirit to everything that you do is a great start to happiness. Waking up every day with a mindset of innovation is a lot happier than worrying about what problems the day will bring or feeling that today will be just like all the others.
Just some early thoughts. Look forward to seeing what others have to say.
Howard Mann |
15 November 2005 at 09:38 AM
I think there's a big difference between "fun" and "happiness".
My work is rarely fun, but it makes me very happy.
15 November 2005 at 09:58 AM
"My work is rarely fun, but it makes me very happy."
My immediate reaction is I am sorry to hear that.
Perhaps it is simply 2 different perspectives. Do you think that you would be happier if your work was more fun?
Howard Mann |
15 November 2005 at 05:26 PM
No -- my version of fun is giggling with my daughter. Work is work and is, by definition, not fun.
My fun may not be your fun. I'll say more in my column.
15 November 2005 at 06:10 PM
Excellent topic!. Here are a few thoughts:
* Happy people are more creative
Creativity and innovation are processes that demand an ability to let go of the present and seek a new future. People who are happy and feel safe do this more easily.
* All people are naturally creative
And the corollary to that is, that if they are allowed to unfold and use their creativity they will be happy.
* All people are ALWAYS creative
In fact, they will be creative no matter what. In Solange deSantis' excellent book "Life on the line" (review here: http://www.positivesharing.com/journal/00000545.htm), she describes how workers at a GM plant are incredibly creative in coming up with ideas to cut corners and make their jobs easier. If that creativity had instead been harnessed towards more efficient production, GM would have had a winner on their hands.
Alexander Kjerulf |
15 November 2005 at 11:56 PM
Interested to see this and also your comments about Soichiro Honda. I work at wieden + kennedy, Honda's ad agency in the UK. Much of our work for Honda is derived from Mr Honda's philosophies about life and work. The most famous recent example was our spot 'Grrr' for Honda diesel engines, which has received some acclaim in the industry. The interesting thing here was that Honda's chief engineer hated diesels and didn't want to build one unless he could start from scratch. He used the positive energy of hate to drive innovation and to build a better engine. This seemed to us a great demonstration of Honda's 'power of dreams' philosophy in action.
They apply this philosophy of risk taking and innovation to their approach to advertising too, which makes them inspiring and, yes, fun to work with.
16 November 2005 at 02:05 AM
great topic ;-) Well just recently I've participated at the WorldBlu Forum on organizational democracy in Washington/DC (http://www.worldblu.com/forum/speakers.html) where I've talked to Alexander Kjerulf who is the CEO of HAPPY AT WORK in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Alex might be a great contact you should connect to. You might get an idea about his projects at:
just scroll down the page or go directly to:
www.happyatworknow.com where you can find his email:
Much success! Ralf.
Ralf Beuker |
16 November 2005 at 04:26 AM
Thanks for all the thoughts so far.
16 November 2005 at 08:29 AM
Based on your comments above I will take the meaning of happiness to be more in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence's "pursuit of happiness" rather than as simply having fun.
I would agree with that direction. Innovation can be scary and frustrating and heartbreaking. If done right, it should be immensely challenging.
If innovators were merely "happy" why so many tortured genius writers and artists?
The pursuit of happiness and innovation are about a certain kind of freedom. One of the results of that freedom is a kind of happiness or satisfaction. Fun doesn't quite do it justice nor is it necessarily an end result.
I've spent the last year bringing my product to life. I have had the opportunity to innovate and be creative in the product development and the marketing. Am I happy? Some days, yes. Some days I am afraid, some days I am frustrated, some days I am just worn out. Most days I am all of the above. I am not doing it for the money. I am doing it for the joy of bringing the product to life and the joy of learning new things and facing new challenges. Maybe the word is en-joy-ment. It is an intellectual and emotional challenge.
What's the old mountain climber line? Why do you climb the mountain? Because it is there.
Why do we innovate? Because it is better to innovate than not to.
Patrick Misterovich |
16 November 2005 at 09:51 AM
I am from Hong Kong. This is the first time I visit your blog. Your blog got many interesting topics.
For this topic, wow, happiness and innovative behavior....it's a big topic.
I was studying language development. There is an experiment about infant baby's sucking rate. When babies are stimulated by new sound, their sucking rate will increase. Very soon, babies will be bored by the repeated/same sounds, the sucking rate decreases. Thus, if innovative means something "new", it is human nature that we are sensitive and respond and happy towards innovative/new things. "Innovative" comes from our creativity, curiousity and exploratory nature. I will argue that it is our nature to be "innovative", and we evolve and develop.
For some people, "Innovative" is rather high level and high sounding, like never-have-been-seen invention or someething that nobody think of, originality.
For me, "innovative behavior" is rather simple. Innovative is about "change" and "anything that is new to you". Innovative behavior that we experience is the behaviors that involve changes. We are addicted to new stuff. We like playing tv games, we like traveling, we like web-surfing. we want to experience something "new", something "different", something out of the actual world we are living - reality which we get bored - the unpredicable future, unknown, or surprise.
"Innovative behavior" in another way is the new thing that we create. Create something different and make yourself different from the others. What I think of would be "DIY culture", "Customerization" or "Personalziation" of a product, or "individuality". That's why a music playing device could be a "walkman", "discman", "mp3 players". They are the same thing basically, but with different look. People like to customize their desktop with different wallpaper and change it periodically.
If we are happy about innovative behavior, we are in fact bored by the old stuff. That's our nature to be innovative. I am not a scientist, I suspect that, biologically, there is a collection between innovativeness and age or brain ? Just attempt to make a supposition ^_^. Thanks for reading!
22 November 2005 at 01:26 AM
I love exploring this topic, and have been working on my "FLOW" in life since reading Csikszentmihalyi's book years ago. And, I'll comment here with a very personal example of how my innovative behavior and happiness are so interconnected.
I started taking horseback riding lessons a year ago. This is an "innovative" move for me personally - because this activity is SO outside of my usual athletic activities and I am absolutely not in control of the learning process, what the horse thinks of me and really, how much time I spend on it - because I so slowly tack up and "tack down" (I don't even know the real terms - which is another very hard thing for a writer to admit).
Only once or twice a month am I able to throw myself into this very uncomfortable, unknowing place where there are often tweens and teenagers literally riding circles around me. But, it has been incredibly rewarding in so many ways.
My life has been about continually trying new things. Taking riding lessons in my 40s is an innovation in my personal life that has really added to my overall happiness AND fed my creativity in my writing and speaking work.
When I drive the 30 minutes home from the stables on my lesson days, smelling of hay and manure - and covered with horse hair and mud, I feel a little spacey with bliss. Since I often take the lessons in the middle of the week, mid-day, I sometimes feel guilty about leaving my work to do this, but the confidence boost from finally getting the post-and-trot and being "outside the routine-ness" of my usual workday have been so worth it!
My spacey, blissful drive home often includes lightbulbs going on in my head about just how to break through a writing block or a new way to approach presenting a topic, or just a big new idea about an industry I should be considering from the women's market perspective.
For me - I have to nudge myself to innovate personally.. which always makes me much happier, in general. That resulting happiness closes the circle by helping me be more innovative in my work, as well.
I look forward to your article, Diego - and hope that lots of people read it and learn about how the two are connected.
Andrea Learned |
25 November 2005 at 08:49 AM
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Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society