Culture: September 2007 Archives

Shiny Happy People at Work

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This piece on the burgeoning "funsultant" business had me belly-laughing. A taste:

A considerable corpus of literature on their discipline is amassing. I use the word "literature" loosely, to mean a series of often ungrammatical double-spaced sentences put on paper, slapped between festively colored covers, and sold to mouth-readers with too much discretionary income. While most business books, according to Kihn, are written on about a 7th-grade level (there are exceptions like Who Moved My Cheese? for Teens that are written on a 5th-grade level), the funsultant literature regresses all the way back to primary school. Since we all forget to play as adults, as funsultants repeatedly tell us, they seem intent on speaking to us as though we're children.

Their books are thick with instances of how successful businessmen keep things loosey-goosey at work. Forget industriousness, talent, and know-how--the wellspring of employees' satisfaction, creativity, and prosperity is fun. In Mike Veeck's Fun Is Good, the cofounder of Hooters Restaurants reveals, "I don't know if we could've survived without humor," whereas to the untrained eye it looked like Buffalo Chicken Strips served with large sides of waitress's breasts were the secret to his success. Whatever. "Fun" is the cure-all for anything that ails your company.

If you thought there were only 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work, as suggested by the smash book that's been translated into 10 languages, then you're shortchanging yourself, because technically, there are 602 ways, according to the follow-up, 301 More Ways to Have Fun at Work. Using examples culled from real companies in real office parks throughout America, the authors suggest using fun as "an organizational strategy--a strategic weapon to achieve extraordinary results" by training your people to learn the "fun-damentals" so as "to create fun-atics" (most funsultants appear to be paid by the pun).

Here's an abbreviated list of the jollity that will ensue at your place of business if you follow their advice: "joy lists," koosh balls, office-chair relay races, marshmallow fights, funny caption contests, job interviews conducted in Groucho glasses or pajamas, wacky Olympics, memos by Frisbee, voicemails in cartoon-character voices, rap songs to convey what's learned at leadership institutes, "breakathons," bunny teeth, and asking job prospects to bring show and tell items such as "a stuffed Tigger doll symbolizing the interviewee's energetic and upbeat attitude" or perhaps a "neon-pink mask and snorkel worn to demonstrate a sense of humor, self-deprecating nature, and sense of adventure."

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Inappropriate

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Jeffrey Zaslow, writing in the Wall Street Journal has two recent columns (1, 2)about the growing tendency to cast men as potential child predators. The first is about the subtle messages that are being sent (example: a billboard campaign warning against predators that shows a man holding hands with a little girl), while the second features some reactions by male readers. Frustrating reading, these articles make. Yeah, men are more likely to abuse, but when a man eating lunch in an airport with his daughter gets reported to the cops, something has gone horribly wrong.

Of course some of this (like the airport episode) is due to ignorant people overreacting, but who wins when every child looks at every man as a potential abuser?

Hat-tip: Bettnet

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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from September 2007.

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