Edit ModuleShow Tags

Profiting from play


Published:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

—George Bernard Shaw

I’m testing the theory that if I don’t act my age, I won’t grow old. When I look in the mirror, it appears that my theory is bunk, but damn I’m having fun! Luckily, my wife believes in this theory as well.

Some of you started work in, or maybe even founded, a small organization. Then, through success, you ended up in a larger organization, either because yours grew or you went somewhere else. If it was Microsoft, Apple or eBay, you might be reading this while you jet to Paris for dinner.

I was fortunate to spend 20 years helping grow Kinko’s. FedEx eventually bought the company and eliminated the name, but before that, a large private equity firm purchased Kinko’s.

In our “formative” years, we had lots of fun. Perhaps too much fun. However, many of us were willing to work obscene hours partly because we had so much fun with our co-workers. We had an annual event called “The Picnic” where we flew thousands of people to a beach location (e.g., Hawaii or San Diego) and had some meetings but mostly had lots of fun.

Guess what we talked about when we were having fun? Work! Who had the best store, region, division and why? “Hand me another beer, and while you’re doing that, explain how you grew so fast last year or have such low labor costs or such high service quality scores.”

After a few of us left, the new management team weren’t as excited about fun. It was too expensive in their minds. Maybe they were right, but I don’t think so. Correlation is not causation, but growth plummeted.

When companies grow, they need to standardize processes, leverage size, systematize the business, add layers of management and perhaps even become professional. But they don’t need to quit having fun. To paraphrase Shaw, we don’t get “professional” or big because we quit having fun; we quit having fun because we get “professional” or big. And then, we too frequently get smaller.

Edit Module
Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

Get more content like this: Subscribe to the magazine | Sign up for our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

How to stop being frustrated

It is in the power of the pause that we regain our ability to discern the flow of meaning that takes place within our conversations.

Three tips for navigating workplace differences of opinion

Workplaces will always encounter differences of opinion – whether it involves varied solutions about how to tackle a challenging project, or two people who just can’t seem to see eye to eye on anything, professionally or personally.

30th Anniversary Top Company 2017

Now in its 30th year, Top Company remains Colorado's most competitive and rigorously judged business award of its kind.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module