Joy is a Business Strategy

It has often been said that innovation and ideas are the currency of modern organizations. Without being able to take information and assemble and reassemble it to reach new conclusions, businesses can't hope to gain the strategic advantage that comes with a completely fresh and compelling take on an old problem. Often left unsaid is how innovation occurs.

But one genuine parallel to innovation, I think, is improvisation. While reading professional facilitator and improv'ateur Johnnie Moore recently, it occurred to me that his take on Everything's an Offer contained an important insight into how innovation occurs. This was trenchant:

I'm currently reading Everything's an Offer, by Rob Poynton. He is probably the most articulate thinker about the value of improvisation in organisations. His book is a real treat.

When I met Rob a few years ago, he said something that lodged deeply in my mind. He repeats in in his book (my emphasis):

People laugh at improvisation not because it is funny, per se, but because it is joyful. If you go to an improv show and watch the audience rather than the players, what you will see is that they aren't laughing at jokes.

Poynton points out that bad, or even, banal, jokes can bring delight because the audience instinctively responds, not to the punch line, but to the interplay between the actors that produced that awful joke.

Could joy be a business strategy?