Have Fun!

Caution - enjoyment pending

I’ve looked at 5 major improv principles so far:

Overaccepting
Co-creating
Yes, and..
Keeping it real

But if there’s only once principle you pay attention to, it’s this:

Improv Principle: Have Fun
Business Reframe: If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, do it differently or do something else – your enjoyment or lack thereof will speak volumes your customer

“What captured everyone’s attention more than Hsieh’s financial scorecard was his dedication to that quirky company culture that has brought Zappos so far. Company mandates include regular office parades, never reading from a script, shouting when tours come through and following the 10 core values, which include “create fun and a little weirdness” and “deliver wow through customer service.” All of these concepts, and many others, come together to unite employees and create a friends-and-family atmosphere.”
Success Magazine on Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and 2009 Achiever of the Year

There are a lot of principles behind improv theatre work, and many of them vary from place to place.  But if there’s one tried and true rule, one principle you can use anywhere and everywhere, under every circumstance, to improve anything immediately, it’s this:

Have fun.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a scene that just isn’t working – it’s going to crash and burn in spectacular fashion.  But, if we’re having fun, even in the midst of a scenic disaster, it’ll be hilarious and the audience will love it.  If we’re having fun with a disaster, it lets the audience know that everything’s okay, and they can enjoy it right along with us.

The same is true in your workplace.  Sometimes things are going to go wrong.  But if you’re having fun, you’ll bounce back faster, and you’ll be more disposed to taking risks in the future.

And when you’re having fun, you’re more creative, more resourceful, more resilient, and people want to be around you.

“Thanks Ken – I should have fun.  Great.  I should probably breathe from time to time too, right?”

The real problem isn’t knowing you should have more fun.  The problem is HOW to have fun at work.

Start with small steps, and keep building on them. Changing culture doesn’t happen overnight.  Changing directions takes energy and time.

Reward others for making things fun.  Get some candies or apples, then put a sign on your desk that says “Word of the day”.  Each day, post a new word (something simple, like “the” that everyone says all the time), and give anyone who says it an apple or a small piece of candy.  Keep a tally – see who’s said the daily-words the most at the end of the week.  Send an email to your colleagues and have them to submit “words of the day”. Or, if your workplace is more adventurous, have people shout “WOO-HOO” as loud as they can whenever someone says the word of the day.
(I just saw a whole theater of people doing this in the Broadway version of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”, and they laughed every time they did it)

Put up a Nerf basketball hoop in a conference room, and have your meeting shooting hoops instead of sitting down.

Games and small rituals are an easy way to get group buy-in on fun, because everyone knows the rules, and no one is singled out.  Just make sure the games are NOT tied into business (winning company-branded prizes, having the highest grossing sale, guessing how many hits the corporate website received yesterday, etc).  If it seems like it’s just about toting the company line, people will tune it out.  Those have their place, but not when you’re trying to create a universal culture of fun.

Once you get the group having fun, then fun becomes the standard – it will take a lot less energy to keep it going, and it will pull others in.

What sorts of small games or rituals could you build with customers?  March Madness brackets?  Secret handshakes?  Wine recommendations?

Try to make it something specific to your group or client.  If it seems generic, it probably won’t be fun for either of you. Look at what you have in common and build a game or ritual off of that.

Creating a culture of fun has more benefits than I could possibly list here, but the biggest one is this:  You get a lot more done when you’re having fun.  Just ask the people at Zappos, Apple and Pixar.

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    Fun ahead! woohooo……………!