Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Happiness Challenge

The old management rule to measure what matters is a good one. The problem is that the stuff that matters is always the hardest to measure, but we can’t let that stop us. Let’s measure up, rather than measure down.

With the launch of Saatchi & Saatchi S earlier this year, the challenge of relevant, sensible and practical measurements for a sustainable world has been on my mind. Adam Werbach is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S and he recently gave a speech at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. Birth of Blue covers a lot of ground and has attracted a lot of attention, but there is a simple idea at the heart of it that I love. The dream of happy people contributing to a healthy planet. We have metrics for the healthy planet part, but we are still inventing how you measure happiness and we are still working out how to increase it. A recent article reported a study showing that in spite of a significant raise in their standard of living, people were no happier than they were 30 years ago. So while we’ve got measures of our living standards running out our ears, as happens so often, we seem to be pointing in the wrong direction.

Here are four factors that can help make us happier.

1) Be of service to something larger than yourself. I often draw on a great thought from philosopher Daniel Dennett: “The secret of happiness is to find something bigger than yourself and then to devote your life to it.”

2) To experience “flow,” or full engagement, on a regular basis. This is one of the fundamentals of Peak Performance. Flow happens when people are unleashed and inspired against the Dream. And what a Dream the aspiration to make the world a better place is!

3) To show your gratitude to the people in your life. Simple, direct and action-focused. If we all followed that one sentence, the self-help publishing industry could pack up and go home to look after its own friends and family.

4) To have at least three people who are emotionally close enough to share your life with. And if you’re lucky, it might be more than three.


Pi said...

Hi KR.
All positive initiatives which is fantastic to see and I look forward to seeing how the Saatchi & Saatchi S develops.
I think that attempting to measure the 'things that matter' is way off the mark though. I reaslise the value of being able to show potential advertisers, clients and investors a measurable version of these 'things', but the only way they will be able to accept your stats is with results obtained from a contrived linear measurement.
I'm no Hippy or tree hugger (actually I did hug a tree on the slopes of Table Mountain last weekend when a came off my Mountain Bike)but I reckon that the measure of these 'things' like love are communicated just by being in the presence of someone who has grown in that aspect. The communication that takes place is not plotted on a graph and does not fit into an Excel spreadsheet. It is far more powerful than that and spreads exponentially quicker and more effectively than word of mouth or emails.
Life supports life, that is positive and worthwhile energy (that which matters)will become apparent just because it is there. Not something you can sell as a management rule I understand but far more important if the dream really is happy people contributing to a healthy planet.

post script(asside from blog comment): Good luck v the Irish this weekend. The Springboks are playing those Passionate Welsh which should be challenging - come on the South). Oh and have I ever sent you the link to my blog ? I think I have, well here it is again. Ciao

Ryan Jones said...


I just enjoyed a great Saatchi & Saatchi S presentation from David Steuer over at the P&G Geneva HQ. The session was great and triggered a blog post from me over on

Wish you guys all the best in the new world of BLUE!


PS: I also added you to my blogroll. Great blog!

Kevin Roberts said...

Pi, No-one believes in intuition, gut reaction or rule of thumb more than me. But, that said, there is some powerful supporting evidence by heavy hitters, including Richard Kahneman, a Princeton economist and Nobel Laureate. As far as happiness goes, the metrics are there. What we do with them is another thing altogether!