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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at www.noop.nl, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Management Dysfunction: Measuring Happiness

02.17.2013
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I recently had a group of employees from one company who said their management was trying to measure and improve people’s happiness. Management did that by sending feedback forms to everyone, once every three months, which people had to fill out and send back.

So I asked them, “How do you feel about that?”

Then somebody answered, “I hate those forms!”

Several people in the room nodded their heads in agreement.

I said, “OK, so the practice which is supposed to measure happiness is actually destroying happiness?”

Again, several people nodded their heads eagerly.

Measurement Dysfunction


It is a common dysfunction of management. The metrics that managers put in place have the opposite effect of what the managers are trying to achieve. There is a severe lack of complexity thinking.

Managers, and their practices, are not objective observers of the system. They are part of the system, and influencing it with everything they do.

Therefore, if your goal is to understand and improve happiness, you should introduce observation practices that have a built-in tendency to improve happiness. Such as the Happiness Door. Granted, the happiness door is far from perfect. But I'd rather have a flawed metric suggesting improved happiness, than a perfect measurement proving destroyed happiness.

If I was an employee confronted with annoying three-monthly feedback forms about happiness, I would collect all those forms and walk out of the building. I would then set those forms on fire, make a video of it, upload the video to YouTube, and then tweet about it. Then I would send a message to management saying, “You should introduce a happiness door right now, because I just made myself very happy.”

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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