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The Ideal Quadrant

Zappos.com operates on the simple principle that happy people make productive workers and productive workers make a successful enterprise. Thus, the policies and cultural accoutrements instituted at Zappos.com are thoughtfully and proactively designed to foster happiness without totally abdicating control. For Zappos.com, it’s not enough to have a “competitive” benefits and pay package – everyone (still in business) has to have one.

With that in mind, let’s explore the four quadrants in the simplistic table below. Right off the bat, we can ditch the two quadrants in the second row. After all, no org can remain viable for very long with an unproductive workforce – regardless of whether the emps are happy. No?

So that leaves us with the two quadrants in the first row. One would think that the holy grail for excellence-seeking orgs is the Productive-And-Happy (PAH) quadrant. However, a multitude of circumstantial evidence leads me to believe that most orgs are either consciously or unconsciously incompetent at catalyzing the development of a PAH workforce – regardless of what is espoused in the annual report. The legions of enterprises that fall into the CLORGs and DYSCOs category don’t even make an effort to develop “happy” employees. The SCOLs that run the show are too macho and they delude themselves into thinking that happiness doesn’t matter or it’s “not in their job description“. Should it be?

What comes first, productivity or happiness? Is one attribute a pre-requisite for attaining the other?

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