Lessons We’ve Forgotten As Adults

by | Feb 18, 2021 | knowledge, processes, simplicity

I attended a course via Zoom today about and creating engaging marketing content. I took this class for a couple of reasons. At a high-level, I am interested in getting our message out so we can help more people. I am also interested in these discussions because our offering, aside from being an incredible compliance tool, is an excellent way to engage employees and get them excited about what they do at your company. This thinking is a bit of a shift for some people, but to effectively engage your people, there is a bit of marketing and elegance involved – to do it well.  

During the class, a large marketing agency presented several case studies highlighting various successful campaigns – the desired outcome, the budget, how they got there, and the overall results. One of the campaigns they presented was for James Patterson, the author. Mr. Patterson has been working on a series of children’s books. When asked what the most critical factor was for a child’s reading success, he responded, “You have to make it fun. If kids don’t like what they are reading, if they don’t care about what they are reading, they won’t read. It is as simple – and as complex – as that.” He is right. You don’t have to think back too far or too hard to know this is the truth. I have three boys of my own, and while they were growing up, they were super interested in reading comic books and animated novels. They were not so interested in reading their textbooks or assignments. As they got older, they started reading “more serious” books aligned with their interests but still did not display too much excitement with their required studies. I think this is true for most children and young adults. Some schools and educators have begun to figure this out, but by and large, most of the material presented to school-age children is dull and uninteresting. We’ve unintentionally trained our children that many of the things they “need” to learn will be stale and difficult to get through. As James Patterson says, this is a mistake. 

It’s no surprise then that this learned belief would carry over into adulthood. Arriving at their first job, they learn that all of the processes and procedures are also uninteresting and un-engaging – just like it was in school. Perhaps this is why there has not been a charge led to change it. Maybe you’ve never considered this at your company. I think it’s time to ask this somewhat ridiculous question: What would my company processes look like if the outcome was that reading them would be fun? Of course, this is not the actual objective; it’s to convey information. However, if being fun was the objective, the result of such a rewrite and release of material would be engaging, stimulating, and of great interest to your employees – which would, in turn, improve everything in your company.

I imagine some of you may be rolling your eyes at this notion. There seems to be a prevalent attitude across all industries that making your internal processes and procedures enjoyable is unnecessary. I’ve sat through client meetings where a higher-up shouts, “It’s not our job to make it interesting. It’s their damn job to read it. If they don’t like it, they can go somewhere else!” Well, to that short-sighted CEO, I would counter with, “It’s your job to make the company profitable. If your ego is more important than their happiness and resultant profitability, you should go somewhere else.” Regrettably, I did not say that in that particular meeting. Based on what I’ve seen in the last two decades, however, I would say a softer version of it today. The complete disregard at most companies to streamline and make things readily available and exciting is appalling. In fairness, I do believe that most companies are NOT like the CEO I described above. I think most have either never thought about it or don’t know what to do about it. It’s time to start asking those questions. Everyone in your organization will be glad you did.