Task Completion or Enjoyment

This is a trick question:

The reason it is a trick question is that the guy on the left completed his task too.  However, most organizations align themselves to only solve some form of task completion.  Most software does not let you enjoy the task while you do this.  At best, you are satisfied, but not thrilled.

Why does everyone focus so hard on task completion and so little on task enjoyment?

It might have something to do with our education.  We are taught from an early age that you must do your homework.  You must clean your room.  You must learn to drive.  You must practice your violin.  You must swing the bat correctly.  However, we are rarely taught to love the task and to enjoy it for the tasks sake.  All of those early lessons are to gain the enjoyment of a different kind.  The enjoyment of having good grades or a clean room is the priority, not the enjoyment of cleaning or studying.

My approach is to change the dynamics.  I want people to love the task, not just the outcome.  It can be done, but you need to make it creative and colorful and fun.  It’s not that the outcome was acceptable, it’s that the process was enjoyable.  People need to enjoy their work.  Software can help, but we need to choose the right priorities and approach.

Do you care if your customer enjoys their task?  What have you done to make it enjoyable?  If you don’t make it a priority, you will have the same cardboard flavored app as everyone else.

2 replies on “Task Completion or Enjoyment”

The question is, who did their task better (or faster). This is where is gets tricky. Some people enjoy their task because they are screwing around, or otherwise being distracted by something (and it is that something that they really enjoy). However, by making the task itself enjoyable, people might want it to be done better, and have more accountability towards its succeed. The other thing is he enjoying the process of the task or the results of the task. For example, I don’t enjoy the process of planning a music festival; however, I enjoy the accomplishment once its finished. My motivations comes from either anticipating that enjoyment or remembering previous enjoyment. I find this whole concept very interesting and can see mainstream consultants making a good living on creating an “enjoyment” environment in organizations.

Watch Mary Poppins. A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.

It’s not about screwing around. That misses the point. It’s about enjoying the process, not just the outcome. Bobby Knight’s comment about “Preparing to Win” hits the nail on the head. If the outcome is the only incentive then only strong willed people will reach it. If the process is enjoyable, more people will reach the outcome and probably they will create better outcomes.

Most specifically, the case of designing software is what I was centering on. So much software is torturous to people because they focus exclusively on task completion, not task enjoyment.

Whatya think?