Would you like more joy in your meetings? Do you need faster feedback in your workshops? Or are you looking for a way to engage an audience? I once held a workshop with 20 people from the same company. The employees told me that their managers measured the happiness of the workers in that company. “Hm, sounds interesting.” I said. “How do they do this?” “Well,” someone said, “Once every three months, they make us fill out forms, asking us for our happiness about projects, about the company, about coworkers, etcetera.” “OK,” I said, “How do you feel about those forms?” “I hate them!” someone said from the back of the room, and the others in the room started nodding their heads. “Well, isn’t that interesting,” I replied. “The way that management is measuring happiness is actually destroying your happiness!” This was a fine example of the observer influencing the observed. In a bad way! A few years ago, I was trying to assess the engagement of participants in a Management 3.0 class that I was facilitating. I wanted faster feedback from my attendees, because evaluations at the end of a class are usually too late. But I also wanted an indication of the happiness of the attendees in the room. And I wanted to get this information in a way that did not destroy people’s motivation. What could I do? I knew there was already an agile practice called the Feedback Wall. It simply asks participants of a workshop, meeting, or event to write their feedback on a sticky note and to put it on a wall. Easy enough. There is also another practice called the Happiness Index. It suggests that people rate their own happiness, about a certain topic or in a certain context, usually on a scale of one to five. That’s pretty easy too. For some strange reason, these two practices found each other in my brain, and started ehm… reproducing. What came out of this coupling was… the Happiness Door. In my Management 3.0 classes, I started asking for feedback, usually just before lunch, or at the end of the first day. I told the attendees, “Before you leave this room, please write some feedback on a sticky note. Something I can improve, something we can do better, or just how you feel right now. You can even leave the note empty. But when you exit the room, put your sticky on the door.” When you put it high, it means you’re very happy. Yay! When you put it near the bottom of the door, you indicate that you’re glad to be out of this room. Anywhere in between is fine as well.” In the beginning, I wrote happiness levels 1 to 5 on the door. But then I learned that in different cultures people attach different meanings to numbers. In the U.K., 5 means good. In Germany, it can mean bad, Confusion all around! So, now I usually have drawings on my happiness doors. With sunny smileys and nasty storm clouds. The meaning of these pictures is more universal. And you know what? People love it! The Happiness Door is simple to understand, and easy to implement. And a measurement like this actually increases motivation of people, instead of destroying it. I use the Happiness Door in pretty much every workshop and training that I do I find it to be the most effective way to get very fast feedback so I can adjust my approach. Yes, it’s definitely making people
happier because they see that the course is about them and it’s not about me. I’d definitely recommend managers, facilitators, trainers, anybody to use this technique because it’s really quick to do, it’s really easy, and it gives you a lot of feedback that you can take action on really, really quickly. Of course, the Happiness Door is not a scientific measurement. Obviously, the happiness of people who put up their sticky notes first will influence those who come after. Also, the more colorful you make the happiness door, the happier it will make the attendees. The measurement itself is influencing people’s motivation. But that’s OK. After all, what would you prefer? Do you want to know precisely how demotivated people are? Or would you rather have a somewhat vague confirmation that they’re feeling good? I know what I like. I’m OK with an observer influencing the observed, when this is done in a good way, and everyone is aware of it. The Happiness Door is a typical example of stealing and tweaking. It is a mojito method applied to the Feedback Wall and the Happiness Index. Those two ingredients are fine, but, nothing special. However, when you mix those two together [show image cocktail] and stir in a dash of playfulness, you get the Happiness Door. Awesome!