Happiness and Portfolio Careers

by Katie Ledger on December 16, 2009 · 1 comment

in New ways of working,portfolio careers

Our friend Bruce Lynn from Dynamic Work sent this to me recently. Some very interesting thoughts on happiness via portfolio careers…

I thought of an extension to the zoo analogy today after a customer meeting.  In the wild, you are prized for your speed and strength.  In the zoo, you are prized for being well groomed, posing for pictures, and doing a few cute tricks.  The lion in the zoo in the zoo feels that he would display great speed and be told off (‘Leo, stop running around…you are scaring the tourists and the they can’t get good photos’), and display great strength and be told off (‘Leo, stop going into the gazelle cage and eating them…’).  Different factors of success in the wild and in the zoo.

By the way, something I thought that you would appreciate is an observation from Scott Adam’s latest book ‘Stick to Drawing Comics Monkey Brains’.  He has a chapter on “Human Behavior” where he talks about the “Thermostat Wars” where “30 women [in an office] could never get the temperature to an agreeable level…[so] they installed 20 dummy thermostats around the office…Problem solved.  Now that everyone has ‘control’ of their own thermostat there is no problem.”  Interesting application of the ‘placebo effect’ on corporate life.  Made me think about how many other ‘dummy thermostats’ are put into corporate life to make people ‘feel in control’ when they really are not.  Performance reviews are a big, obvious one.  Also, just finished reading ‘The Smartest Guys in the Room’ on the Enron rise and fall (film coming out based on the book) and it has an incisive perspective on how useless, political and irrelevant performance reviews are in the corporate world.  Adams concludes, “The key to happiness is having control over a well-defined set of options, with a slow trickle of new options on the way, but not enough to confuse you.  That’s why I think clever aliens could easily enslave humans by providing individual cages [hmmm…there’s that ‘cage’ metaphor again’] with nothing but a dimmer switch and a choice of incense.”

Finally, Adams comments at one point, “I also have my best ideas in the shower…” and he actually goes on to describe the position in the shower that is most condusive to quality thinking (“backside towards the showerhead.”).

Ahhhh shower time…..thoughts?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Bruce Lynn December 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

There are of course downsides to life outside the corporate ‘zoo’ and living in the ‘wild’ of the business jungle. Primarily, that you always have to be hunting your next meal, and you yourself could be eaten by the competition. Those downsides are not everyone’s cuppa tea.

The upsides are great…you don’t stare at the same four walls everyday, living in your own excrement, being feb the same lion kibble while seven-year olds scrutinize your every move. And, when you catch a gazelle, you get to eat the whole thing all by yourself… 🙂

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