Monthly Archives: June 2013


“Wouldn’t it be nice if…?”

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard this in product design meetings, I’d be a very wealthy man.

Of course, coming up with bright ideas can be valuable – if those ideas are relevant and suggest solutions to problems that potential customers and users actually have.

But far too often these nice-to-haves consume an inordinate amount of time, effort and creative juices because the folks discussing them have no clear context within which to evaluate (filter) each idea before spending time on discussing and elaborating it. And no idea of the relative impact of such ideas on the likely success of the product under development.

Without such a context – expressed for example in Planguage (cf Gilb) or as a set of Quantified Quality Objectives for the product – such ideas and discussions doom us to a lifetime of wasted creativity and random design “enhancements”.

Would you be willing to share your views and experiences on this topic?

– Bob

Further Reading

Principles of Software Engineering Management ~ Tom Gilb
Competitive Engineering ~ Tom Gilb



Seligman refers to it as “flourishing”. Ackoff as “fun and meaningfulness”. Deming (originally) as “pride”. And Rosenberg builds the whole of Nonviolent Communication on the cornerstone of “joy”.

“Management’s job is to create an environment where everybody may take joy in his work.”

~ WE Deming

“If there isn’t joy in in work, you won’t get productivity, and you won’t get quality.”

~ Russell L. Ackoff

I don’t see joy being the explicit focus of much attention in the world of software and product development (or in many other theatres of work either, for that matter). This in itself makes me feel sad, for I have a need to see folks living a full and flourishing life. And I see work – for good or ill – as a major part of life in today’s world.

“I believe that the most joyful and intrinsic motivation human beings have for taking any action is the desire to meet our needs and the needs of others.”

~ Marshall B. Rosenberg

I feel even more sad when so many of the folks I ask seem to think that joy at work is not part of the equation or of the implicit “contract” of working for an employer. Although many folks do seem to have an interest in the subject, once it’s brought to their attention.

Even Dan Pink (Drive) has little to say about joy, directly.

I believe, as did Deming, that joy in work “unleashes the power of human resource contained in intrinsic motivation”, and that doing “quality” work is the source of much of that joy.

And as a practising Organisational Therapist with an keen interest in Positive Psychology, I’d rather devote my efforts to spreading joy than to e.g. correcting deficiencies and dealing with the inevitable consequences of a lack of joy.

I’ve given this post the title “hyper-joyful” in reaction to the concept of “hyper-productivity” which I’ve seen bandied-about more and more often recently. I can’t help but feel scornful and dismissive – and yes, sad, too – every time I hear or see the term “hyper-productive”. It’s not like Agile often lives up to that aspiration, in any case. Who, in fact, can get a feel-good feeling about hyper-productivity?

“The 14 Points all have one aim: to make it possible for people to work with joy.”

~ WE Deming

Personally, I’d feel much happier if more folks talked a bit more about hyper-joyfulness – and a bit less about hyper-productivity.

How about you? Would you be willing to raise the topic of joy and joyfulness in your workplace, and with your peers?

Semper mirabilis!

– Bob

Further Reading

Dr. Deming’s Joy at Work, Happiness, & the High Performance Organization ~ Lawrence M. Miller
Nonviolent Communication ~  Marshall B. Rosenberg
Drive ~ Dan Pink
What the heck is arbejdsglaede!?

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