Using “happy events” to facilitate trust and cooperation

Jurgen Appelo, management 3.0 leader, claims that 95% of management’s time should be dedicated to communicating and 5% to issuing instructions. Appelo argues that reducing the distance between employees across all levels of the hierarchy promotes mutual understanding, communication, and creativity. But how do you achieve these goals in practical terms?

When nature fails, it often proves fatal — which is why the human brain tends to grant more importance to failure than success. But recognizing and celebrating a team’s success helps develop optimism, positive behaviors, and cohesion. One way to do this lies in a very simple activity known as “happy events”, which has proved its worth in organizations where it has been tested. Two rules are established at the start of these happy meetings: everyone should share a positive event that he or she has personally witnessed; and commenting on the happy event is strictly forbidden. The benefits are clear after just a few months: high-quality information is shared; there is a natural focus on important issues; the synergy between team members is improved; the team culture and identity are enhanced; and individual employees become more closely aligned with the team’s objectives.

Still not convinced? Well, happy events increase transparency (which boosts trust) by pooling strategic information and sharing issues. And trust within a group is one of the prerequisites for developing collective intelligence.


For more information:

Startup, Scaleup, Screwup by Jurgen Appel (Wiley, April 2019).