Happiness, Hope and Business Strategy

It seems to me that business leaders should pay more attention to the state of mind of their workforce when they engage in strategic planning. Businesses are after all, a system, or a network of people who must interact in certain ways to achieve the objectives of the system while meeting its constraints. Knowledge, and its application, transfer and transformation throughout the network is what fuels the business. So…the performance of the business is dependent on how effectively and efficiently knowledge moves through the network from where it is to where it needs to be. It’s my opinion, supported by my personal experience, the experience of others and numerous research studies that a workforce that is happier, and more hopeful, will be significantly more productive and creative in their knowledge transformation interactions and that will improve the business bottom line. Business leaders who understand this idea, and integrate it into their strategic plans and actions, will not only have a more fulfilled workforce, they’ll see significant business performance and growth results. The following paragraphs illustrate my thesis.
How often have you heard the phrase “Hope is not a strategy” around your work-place? These words, originally by Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean of the Business School of Webster University, were included in a letter he wrote to President Obama in 2009, providing advice on how to handle the economic crisis. What he meant to convey was that hope is not enough; it must be accompanied by actions. Since then, I’ve observed that the phrase has been adopted by some business leaders to motivate their workers to be more action oriented. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, we want people to take action. However, I’m here to say that hope is …must be, an integral part of any successful strategy. Strategies are conceived and executed by people with the expectation of accomplishing some desired result. That sounds like “hope” to me. I’m not talking about irrational, exuberant, foundationless emotion, but a thoughtful positive confidence that our collective skills, experience and mutual support will resolve problems and uncertainties in our favor. Business leaders must appreciate and nurture hope and positivity in their people and partner it with an action bias for meaningful results.
In May 2011 TED Talk, Shawn Achor made a presentation called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” In it he describes studies that show that 75% of job success is predicted by positivity, optimism, and social support. The happier our people are, the better they’ll perform and the better the business will perform. He also says that our conventional wisdom of work hard> be more successful > achieve happiness is in wrong and that what we should be doing is focus on being happier and more positive> which will improve our work > which will make us more successful. He goes on to offer three ideas for re-wiring the brains of our workforce to be more positive which include: a daily requirement for each person to cite 3 positive things in their lives; making time and facilitating meditation as a positivity building activity; and promoting the practice of daily random acts of kindness.
Finally, in a blog on the Psychology Today Website, “Smiling at Strangers,” by Alex Likerman, M.D., the author tells a story of the power of smiling at strangers and how it builds new and positive attitudes. Studies show that the physical act of moving the muscles of our face to smile, introduces changes in brain chemistry that makes us happier. Studies also show that when we smile at people, their brains are wired to smile in response. Smiling and happiness are “infectious.”

About donmcalister

I retired at the end of 2011, after a 39 year career in the Aerospace industry as a Propulsion Engineer, Engineering Manager and Program Manager. My professional interests and expertise are in the areas of Program, Risk and Knowledge Management. I'm passionate about life-long learning in a wide variety of topics and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge and ideas with those who are interested. I'm an Aerospace Industry Consultant. I serve my community as a Rotarian. My hobby is playing as a jazz keyboard.
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2 Responses to Happiness, Hope and Business Strategy

  1. drlynnkjones says:

    Hi Don! Nice post here! I recently posted this Achor video to my Facebook wall too–great stuff!
    https://www.facebook.com/Dr.LynnK.Jones I love your specialized insights on business/positivity coming from an Eng. background.

    Appreciatively, Lynn
    Dr. Lynn K. Jones
    Certified Personal and Executive Coach

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