Happy Melly: A Business Network to Help People to Become Happy Workers
In November 2012, Jurgen Appelo, Maarten Volders and Vasco Duarto came together because they discovered that they shared a purpose: “to help people to become happy workers and live better lives”. They were inspired by the photo “Melly Shum hates her job” by Ken Lum.
Earlier this year, the Happy Melly team was announced. It will drive the Happy Melly business, which is “an experimental organization implemented as a business network”. InfoQ did an interview with Lisette Sutherland, who is the Collaborative Community Creator for Happy Melly.
InfoQ: What is Happy Melly?
Lisette: Happy Melly is a business that improves the lives of knowledge workers through inspiring books, courseware, conferences, podcasts, workshops, games, and apps.
The goal of Happy Melly is to turn work into a great and gratifying experience specifically by:
publishing great ideas, and getting people together to inspire each other
working with writers and designers to produce inspiring books and videos
bringing great games and courseware to trainers and facilitators
assisting with apps, videos, and websites around important topics
coordinating reviews, illustrations, and translations
supporting conferences, workshops, seminars, and other events
seeking, collecting, and sharing stories of happier people
InfoQ: Why did Happy Melly come into being, what's it's purpose?
Lisette: Many people don't like their jobs, and because of this, many businesses fail to survive in changing environments. When we are happy at work, we are more motivated to engage and contribute!
Happy Melly believes that a business is a community of people working together for a shared purpose and creating value - and it’s best to grow it like that. We want people to join us, and help grow healthy, adaptive organizations that are more like communities. So that we can increase happiness at work and do great things together.
InfoQ: What makes Happy Melly different compared to other companies or collaborations?
Lisette: Most businesses are usually formed using a hierarchical design, with directors, departments, superiors, and subordinates. But Happy Melly is experimenting with something different… it’s a business network with distributed governance where management is implemented with a Constitution.
InfoQ: Happy Melly is an example of a tribal business. What is a tribal business, and how does Happy Melly apply this concept?
Lisette: There ‘s no official definition of a tribal business. We refer to Happy Melly as being “tribal” because we see ourselves as a community rallying around a clear purpose, with a clear identity and values. Instead of having a hierarchy, and allowing people to form/dissolve networks, we have a network, and we allow people to create/destroy hierarchies. We have a Constitution that arranges who can manage the business. The Constitution calls for Gatherings of legal entities and Huddles of stakeholders. Together they decide who is the CEO and who sits on the board of directors. The CEO and board stay as long as they are trusted - making it a tribe, or an ecosystem.
We expect that all Happy Melly entities will self-organize around the things they like doing best. For example, maybe a Happy Melly in China wants to specialize in creating cool videos, while a Happy Melly in Poland wants to co-ordinate courseware licensing for Eastern Europe. Maybe a Happy Melly in the USA will deal with publishing books and articles world-wide in the English language, while a Happy Melly in Argentina does localization of all materials for all Spanish-speaking countries. And every Happy Melly could be involved in organizing or supporting local events.
InfoQ: Can you tell us more about some of the initiatives that have been started through Happy Melly?
Lisette: We are currently looking forward to our conference in Antwerp, BE on June 14/15 called “DARE”. The conference is focused on how to change organizations to be a more productive, creative, and engaging environment for everybody involved - and to continue improving products at great speed while growing exponentially.
We are also working on a collaborative book which answers the questions that Management 3.0 facilitators receive most often in their courses.
We are busy working on a workshop around team collaboration that will teach people how to solve complex problems and do real-time work in any size group.
There is a Happy Melly video in the works which explains what Happy Melly is and can do. And of course, we have a long pipeline full of ideas that are in the process of being brought to life. Keep an eye on the Happy Melly website for all the latest.
InfoQ: If the InfoQ readers want to get involved with Happy Melly, what can they do?
Lisette: The three main ways that you can join Happy Melly and help transform businesses into thriving communities are by 1) launching a legal entity, 2) joining as a stakeholder, and 3) inspiring others to become a Happy Melly themselves.
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