At the Path to Agility, several of us got together and had an open discussion about what possible relationships Happiness, Joy, Purpose, and Passion had. In attendance was Ryan Ripley, Faye Thompson, Joe Astolfi, Jeremy Willets, and Kevin Goff. Others dropped in from time to time as well and provided some input. Ryan kickstarted it with a premise that focusing on pursing solely creating a happy team(s) destroy longterm joy and fulfillment. The discussions were contained in the photo of all the stickies (semi-organized into various areas):
We discussed many different things, and I’ll mostly focus on my take aways and contributions. We’re still discussing this (primarily via twitter currently), so it’s an ever evolving concept and I am not sure we’re all in agreement yet.
Happiness was felt to be a short term thing, while Joy yielded a long term gratification. I started my (useful) input showing how happiness of a team over time can be captured via a Niko-Niko calendar and that this is useful in understanding whether a team is working well together. Ryan still said that a happy team may not be joyous, but we did at one point all seem to agree that at some point if a team had little to no happiness occurring, then it was unlikely they would feel joy. This got me to drawing a stacked area chart; the x-axis is time and the y-axis is the amount of joy felt by the team. The areas that add up to this happiness (which is more volatile), passion (mildly volatile), and purpose (little volatility).
I wish we had spent more time coming to some form of agreement on Passion and what it means; I defined Passion as the collective sum of the motivations I have. I really like the CHAMPFROGS set that Jurgen Appelo has created. I think some of the inconsistencies showing up in our Twitter convos deals with each of us having a different mental model around passion. These passions can change some over time.
Alignment on a purpose is also very important and alignment of this purpose with my longterm passion is also very important. It’s this latter part that gives me motivation to pursue it, yet if it is a continuous unhappy environment then I will also find it difficult to stay focused. We ultimately settled into this equation, which I wrote onto the whiteboard under the advertisement for our session:
This equation states that Joy is a function of the Length of Happiness I feel multiplied in the pursuit of Purpose in addition to the Passion I bring to it. Thus if I have little time I spend feeling happy as I pursue a purpose, then I will not feel longterm Joy. Likewise, if I have no purpose, I also get no Joy either; this because Joy is the feeling of Fulfillment we get (Joy = Fulfillment). Lastly, it needs to be aligned with passion as if my passion would rather pursue something else, then I likewise will have little Joy. If we bump this from an I to a We for a team or organization, it means getting alignment on purpose and passion while having a supportive environment which increases happiness.
The important aspect to me though is the role of leadership in this; when exercising leadership, our job is to discover people’s passions, help them see how they align with a collective purpose. It also means that I want to create this supportive environment, but not pursue short term hygenic treatments to make people happy, they need to be factors that create longterm possibilities for team members to be happy. An example of a longer term factor would be one of safety as one would find in Anzeneering. To create Joy, leaders (which in a self-organizing team can actually be any team member) is the application of the Antimatter Principle to attend to people’s needs.
Addition (that I forgot to mention, but it was discussed and is very relevant), Tobias Mayer has an excellent post that if you attempt to encode someone’s values, you kill that person’s spirit. This can be true even what is being imposed is happiness; this will not create longterm Joy.