Happy New Year?

Happy New Year! No, really, I hope 2014 is very happy for you. How happy is ‘very happy’? Very happy indeed, I say.
 How will we all know if you’ve succeeded in having as happy a 2014 as I’m wishing you? Well, that’s a good question and I’m glad you asked it, as I have some ideas from what I’ve seen in 2013;

1. Happiness Index

happy 94%

We need a happiness index that takes the abstract idea of what makes us all happy and creates a measurable, basket of happiness. Love, wealth, respect, work success, what version of iPhone you’re rocking; all this and more will be thrown into the calculations completed by Government super-computers to work out your own, personal, happiness quotient. This leads us to…

2. Happiness league tables

You may be sat there comfortable in your own happiness, but let me ask you this: what if your neighbour or little sister is happier than you? That’s right, you’re being out-performed by your peers and have let yourself become complacent in your comfortable, happy state. There, not so happy now, are you! Despite the fact that you thought you were really happy, thank you very much, knowing that you’re in the bottom quartile for increasing your year-on-year happiness rating will be the spur happiness rankingyou need to get off your backside and bloody well make yourself happier. But “how can I do this?” You cry?
 Well, once you have league tables…


3. Happiness Benchmarking

You can benchmark yourself against your peers and learn how they made themselves happier than you. Your neighbours hit the happiness heights last year because they got married, so go book that registry office! Uncle Bob significantly boosted his score when he won six grand on the lottery. What are you waiting for; go buy a ticket!
Vera at no.24 was incredibly happy at running a sub-45 minute 10k race; go get some running shoes! What do you mean, you have a chronic heart complaint and that might kill you? It worked for Vera and league tables don’t lie you know. Based on our factual league tables, we can then measure how good you are at learning and get to work on the unhappy slackers in the bottom quartile…

4. Happiness Targets

Now for the final piece of the jigsaw; we think you’re generally a lazy sod, which is why you’re languishing in the lower quartile. You need an incentive to learn from your peers and improve your happiness performance in 2014. Therefore, I’m going to set you a target to judge your success. The national happiness quotient went up by 2.4% in 2013 (figures seasonally adjusted), so we think 4.8% is readily achievable once you start putting the effort in. Make your target and we’ll give you a happiness boost, by re-distributing extra happiness that we have confiscated from those who missed their own target. That way we reward the hard-working happiness elite, whilst punishing the lazy underclass of the less-happy. The happy get happier and the miserable bastards deserve all they get! Perfect.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, wow! yeah! great idea! You’re really reading the wrong blog. It’s crazy, nonsensical, deliberately OTT bonkersness that has no place in any, sane society. So why then, do we think it’s ok to do the same with schools, hospitals and any other public service you care to think of? Any outcomes based accountability scheme is reliant on this same nonsense: trying to measure something that is immeasurable. Happiness is a very personal, intangible feeling that cannot be translated into measurable performance ratings. Nor can we learn how to be happier from others; we all have different triggers for happiness.

Of course you know this, but how different is that really from measuring the quality of care or education that we receive, or our general living standards? Do we all have the same needs from those systems? Moreover, do any of those things need to be ranked in tables to generate performance improvements? Do nurses and teachers need to be named, shamed and blamed to stimulate a work ethic?

Here’s another question; does it actually work to punish the worst-performing, or should we help them? In my happiness example, what if your home is hit by floods this week? What if you’re trapped in an abusive relationship, too frightened to leave? What if you desperately want to do the right thing at work, but the system you work in makes it physically impossible? There are external factors that we have no control over, but they affect our happiness and cause us all to end up in the bottom quartile from time-to-time. Should we be punished for it, or offered help to overcome it? To me, consecutive Governments seem to be driving us further and further towards the former solution. Now, if only I could measure that…

*** Ironically, I wrote this between Christmas and New Year, but have had to delay posting it after falling ill early in the New Year. That’s my happiness target missed for the first quarter!

This entry was posted in Performance Measures, Targets, Uncategorized and tagged , , by Ian. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ian

Perfect Flow specialises in logistics, but good service is far too rare across all sectors in the UK. That is why I am driven by a strong desire to improve customer service levels. The Vanguard Method of Systems Thinking is my chosen methodology to achieve that aim. Why Vanguard Method? Because it works. I know it does, because I have used it myself. Perfect Flow have been named in the Smarta100 2012 - the 100 most innovative and disruptive small businesses in the UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *