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Posted By Ted Baumhauer

Humor at work, is it an oxymoron?
Can you have fun at work? Should you have fun at work? Well the short answer is yes to both. Humor in the workplace is not an oxymoron and in fact has been shown to have positive impact on creativity and productivity in the workplace.   
The effects of humor at work, as long as it is positive humor, are numerous. One interesting effect is that it increases employee citizenship. 
This refers to employees helping each other, being loyal to and showing pride in their organization. 
Fortune Magazine rates the top 100 places to work every year. One of the differences that has shown up between great and good companies is if employees think it is a fun place to work. Employees at great companies report far more often that they work in a fun environment. 

If you want more information I’ve posted a short presentation on line.  If you want to see that short video click the picture of me and the "fish."

 Humor at work?

Posted By Ted Baumhauer

In his latest article Testing, Testing in the New Yorker Atul Gawande presents a model for taking on health care reform by linking it to the model the USDA used to improve farmers yields over a hundred years ago. In the early 1900’s 40% of a US family’s income went to buying food and it took about 50% of the US labor force to produce the food. It wasn’t a very efficient or effective system.   

In other countries in similar situations the government went in and dictated how farming would be improved. In many of those cases disaster resulted and thousands starved. In the US with our strong sense of individualism a different method was used. In short, instead of telling the farmers how to farm one lone Extension Agent (Seaman Asahel Knapp) convinced one farmer (Walter C. Porter) in Texas to experiment with a mere 70 acres of cotton. When that little experiment yielded the farmer an extra $700 (that’s a lot in 1903!), despite the boll weevil blight that year, other farmers took notice and changed their methods.
Gawande makes a great argument but this method isn’t just about the health care debate. He has outlined a process that underlies all real change. A lot of folks in leadership positions believe they can mandate change from their position of power. That usually gets the opposition to circle the wagons and prepare for a fight. What the USDA knew, or stumbled upon, was A. change usually starts on the outside and B. we believe the results we get for ourselves. As Seaman Asahel Knapp said "What a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees, he may possibly doubt; but what he does himself, he cannot doubt."
When that first farmer was convinced other farmers took notice and wanted in on the new methods too. The change started out small as a pilot away from central headquarters and worked its way into common practice.  What changes need to happen where you work? What can you do to put some small pilot programs in to practice to see what works? When you find some new practice that works spread the word.



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Ted Baumhauer


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