Can We Be Agile and Still Have Fun?

Can We Be Agile and Still Have Fun?

Working in the corporate world, I spend much of my time coaching teams to become self-organised and deliver greater returns on the money invested in them.

However, one mention of the “F” word, and suddenly sponsors and cost centre controllers become very nervous.

Yes I'm talking about “Fun.” The stuff we seek outside of work and long to experience in the workplace. If as human beings we are so naturally inclined towards happiness, then why do we find it so difficult to combine the act of work with the pure delight of having fun as a team?

There has been countless research into the subject from the Danish Happiness Institute to former British PM David Cameron's obsession with the happiness index, and measuring how fulfilled anyone felt at a given point. 

He speculated that this could provide a better indicator of economic performance than the more traditional GDP (gross domestic product). What he and his government ministers discovered is that happiness is notoriously difficult to measure.

So why measure it?

Many of the teams I've had the fortune to work with often capture a satisfaction score using the popular “fist of five” technique. 

While questionable as a scientific means of measuring happiness, it has one great quality: it's fun and it taps into the emotional state of a team at that point in time.

In addition, when captured regularly, such as the beginning of retrospectives, it is a remarkably powerful leading indicator. It never ceases to amaze me how this simple leading indicator goes south immediately before other quantifiable metrics such as predictability, quality or release burn-up charts.

So whether or not your teams choose to measure it, team happiness is that undeniable bond a loose collection of individuals never seems to reach and a great team always achieves!

What do you think? I welcome your feedback in the comments below. (And for readers based in the UK, I will be hosting my next meetup in London on October 20, which is going to form the basis of my next article.)   


Tony Richards is an agile coach at Aviva in the United Kingdom.

Learn More
comments powered by Disqus