If you think levity and lightheartedness are important to corporate America, join the crowd. In particular, join the good folks at Microsoft Finance. (My third job with Microsoft, my first with the Finance crew.)

I worked with this group recently in Seattle, Washington and, like most of my favorite clients, I learned at least as much from them as they learned from me.

I was totally impressed with this organization. (If you read my blog you know that I rarely say that.)

Why? Let me count the ways:

  • I was impressed with the transparency of the organization. I was impressed how everything was on the table…. I heard candid discussions on the recent (and odd) TV commercials, the aborted attempt to buy Yahoo, the fact that Vista’s popularity could still be better. Contrast this openness with many of my other (unnamed) clients who spend more time about what I cannot talk about than what their folks need to hear.
  • I was impressed the people. They are good people who love their families, work exceptionally hard, and are very loyal to each other and their company. And they are smart. Freaky smart.
  • This group was fun loving. They like each other, and it showed. They were, as my Grandmother always says, easy to be with. They were easy to laugh. Ready with fun anecdotes and conversation. They were a far cry from what any of us might expect from folks who work in a high tech industry in a department suck as “finance.”

Near the end of our time together we split into groups and brainstormed ideas about safe ways to create more levity and humor at Microsoft. We heard a bunch of great ideas…but check out one tables very specific ideas about how to increase the levity at the office.

1. Friday Jokes

2. Laugh at every meeting

3. Happy Button

4. Monday stories of weekend adventures

5. Share embarrassing stories

6. Dance in the focus rooms

7. Dance every time you hear or see a °?GO DO°±

8. Baby picture ID badges

9. Word Bingo _ Drowning the puppies – (who ever imagined we would here these words together!)

10. Hawaiian shirt day

11. Match the story to the person

12. e-flowers/emoticons

But what was my favorite part? It came 10 days after I left Seattle when I heard that CFO John Rex bought a Nerf Gun to attack his team. (And, as a follow up, his awesome assistant Amelia bought guns for the rest of the team so they can create a defensive strategy.) Fun? You bet. Soon? Now…”Let’s buy Nerf Guns!”

Humor, levity and lightheartedness help us with morale, creativity, energy, communication, and – in the end – productivity. It was unbelievably cool to share this message withi Microsoft Finance. But it was even cooler to see that they “got it.”

 

Thanks So Much, MSFNA!

 

Brad Montgomery

 

 

  • They were eager to ramp up the fun. They were ready to share best humor practices with each other and with me.