Fun as a tool in the managerial toolkit – Study Case(?)

Well… I’m back! after who knows how long since I’ve written anything 😀

AKA My blog is telling me

Well well well… the prog… the prodigal… …my. son returnsssss

During the quiet time (by quiet time, I mean, that time I didn’t write anything 😂 ) I was working (duh) and mostly realized that something is missing, some magic spice to translate many good articles I read, to the reality that will yield results in my team

Either on a company-level of our processes, engagement of my team, or just learning to share… all articles were similar, and all of them didn’t translate very well to reality when we tried them out…

After feeling like one of our biggest and most important meetings at our Company wasn’t getting the same engagement level, and it was my turn to run it, I force myself to turn it around.

What did I do?

Let’s start with the outcome rather than the story, or at least, the reaction Yael my spouse had when I showed her my slides

I showed my spouse my first meeting deck

This is Yael

First, who’s my spouse? / what makes her tick

  1. Very different from me in every aspect – 
    1. She’s in Product
    2. She’s very serious 
    3. She is more old-school professional rather than the clown I am
    4. She completely understands why what I do works, but she doesn’t get it as well in a sense
  2. Very similar to me on
    1. Results orientation

And her reaction to the deck was:

This is Yael

“This looks like your brain vomited on a slide deck! What are you trying to do here?”

Oh well, let’s try to answer that question, shall we?

This is Raz ;P

What was I trying to do?  – Let’s first ask what is the meeting trying to do?

  1. The meeting has been in a rut for a while in my opinion
    1. To me, it feels like most people were in the meeting because they had to, but didn’t listen or engage in it…
  2. The meeting started to be more “serious”, and “serious” can feel blameful 
  3. The goals of the meeting were always the same, promote best practices, learn and teach, and improve overall reliability, scalability, and productivity for our org

SO, what was I trying to do?

The goals of the meeting were always the same, promote best practices, learn and teach, and improve overall reliability, scalability, and productivity for our org

Exactly the goals of the meeting

What was missing?

I thought a lot about it and categorized it into a very simple metric

  • What do I need to do, to make it happen? 
  • What I can control to encourage it to happen?

What do I need to do, to make it HAPPEN? 

I need people to…

Engage! This meeting has to be one that participants are taking part in, not just the regulars, but everyone – if people don’t engage, they will just turn up, keep their cameras off and mute themselves, most likely work on other things while it’s in the background – It’s always have been about the people in the meeting for them.

If all I need is to make people engage,

I need to…

  • Try to incentivize people to open their cameras, I thought an opener “shock value” joke of the meeting being canceled and then re-branded to the Fun version of the meeting could wake up some
  • Make it fun!!!! Sprinkle some fun references to our day-to-day in the meeting, to set the tone, it’s not “serious”  it’s about learning, and learning is fun!
  • Answer the WIIFMWhat’s in it for me? I think some of us have forgotten that it’s just 1 hour a week, if we engage, instead of something I Must do, it can be something I Want to do 
  • Make sure to give the people talking space to be themselves, to keep the tone – positive
  • Most importantly – make the incidents discussions feel more relaxed

Most importantlyMake the incidents discussions feel more relaxed

How do we do this?

  1. Notify the people in advance, that they will be called upon… 
  2. Tell a story about me in my career when I made mistakes before we go to explore incidents, why you ask? Simple, it changes the tone from “scary” to lightweight – “I can talk about  it because it’s not going to be judgy, the facilitator can be wrong too”
  3. Shift the dynamic from “Explaining why we failed”  to “Teaching what we learned” for the presenters (Including telling all the meeting participants to start chanting at the end of each incident presented to say: “Thanks for teaching us”

What was missing?

I truly believe that making the meeting fun enabled the rest, fun was a tone-setter, and fun became a secondary goal… the goal of WOR never changed for me, I just wanted to solve the engagement part of it…

When (as Yael said it): My brain vomited on a slide deck, I was trying to get people to see we can do this meeting in a way that they can engage in, to lower the “serious” part of it, but retain the learnings + more people can speak and shift the power dynamic, those who speak about incidents are teaching us as an audience, instead of a hot-seat feeling…

I don’t believe I read a lot of articles talking about fun as an addition to make things better, but it is quite obvious that fun makes routine things better… man, I wouldn’t work in my profession if it wasn’t fun, so why not insert it to anything we do if we can… just a bit of fun make everything better.

How did Yael react after I explained it to her?

This is Yael

“I would have never done it like that, but I think you nailed it”

A message from Raz

This is Raz ;P

“Suck it, Yael!!!!”

Also know as, well well well, how the turntables

well well well, how the turntables

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