Some thoughts on happiness in business
I have just finished reading the book about Zappos ‘delivering happiness‘. I love the story and ideas in it and I am exploring how it applies to our company. My general view on the business world is that most is about objectivity, about money, about ‘boring stuff’. Many businesses are built around things that are far away from affecting humans in our daily life. Eventually, the only things that drive our lives are survival and reproduction (right?). In the current era, those two things are almost taken for granted and in the advanced economies, we invent very advanced ‘stuff’ to keep ourselves busy. So companies invent fancy products and services, many without a ‘heart’. We invent nice sounding mission statements and write down core values that we write on walls and never look back at.
What inspired me in the book is that Zappos took something which is to me somehow inherently ‘boring’ (selling shoes through a website) and grew it into a business that is all about ‘company culture’, ‘core values’ and ‘happiness’. Just read the ten core values of Zappos and you can see that there is emotion in it, they sound and feel inspiring. The way Tony Hiesh described the connection between their service and happiness: ‘We’ve always had customers tell us that they think of the experience of opening up a Zappos shipment as ‘Happiness in a Box’. Whether it’s the happiness that customers feel when they receive the perfect pair of shoes or the perfect outfit, or the happiness that customers feel from our surprise upgrades to overnight shipping or when they talk to someone on our Customer Loyaly Team, or the happiness that employees feel from being part of a culture whose values match their own personal values – the thing that ties all of these things together is happiness‘.
The question underlying getting happiness from business (which is an outcome) is ‘why?’. Why are we in this business? Why do we do what we do?
We’ve thought a lot about these questions within Bridge the past years. Some thoughts havecome up lately. One of my Indian colleagues (Sanjay) put it this way: ‘each client comes to us with a dream and we help them achieve this’.John, our Swedish sales-machine said, let’s cut all the crap, I believe that the essence of what we’re doing is to make it possible for people globally spread to work together, have fun together and to make great results together! It is about fun and making the gap smaller.
For me the why is at the core about creating a better balance in the world. I strongly believe that offshoring is an effective way to fight poverty. We create jobs in developing countries (in our case India and Ukraine). The people working for us get a good salary, which they use to provide their families with a good living. At the same time, vacancies that are hard to fill in Europe because there are not enough people, are more easily filled and companies in the West grow, create more profit and eventually create jobs in the West as well.
On top of this why there are more answers to the why. Every day I sit behind my pc, which I see as my ‘window to the world’. I talk to people from all over the world, linking human beings from one country with humans from other countries. They work together to accomplish ‘stuff’ together. Accomplishing things together brings happiness. Working together with ‘nice guys’ brings happiness. Putting cake in each others face and throwing colors at each other brings happiness (Maslow would say it’s only pleasure, not happiness but in our company we keep repeating the same joke, so it’s long term :)). It makes me happy if I see that what we’ve learned in the past 8 years on how to make global cooperation’s work, works for our customers.
Maybe we should refer to this not as ‘happiness in a box’ but ‘happiness through a wire’.
These were my thoughts on happiness in our business. I wonder what are yours…