Few months ago, I was called to take the role of a scrum master in an emergency. Indeed, the team that I was called to work with was going through difficult times. As you can expect it, the team’s morale was at the lowest. Before coaching and training this team on the scrum framework, one of the very first objective that I had was to establish a solid sense of psychological safety. Indeed, one of the ways that contributed to this objective was using a management 3.0 practice, called the Niko-Niko calendar.
First, let’s explain the Practice
Niko-Niko is a Japanese word that means smile. The practice was created in 2005 first by Ms. Sachiko Kuroda at Fujitsu Software Technologies Limited.
Sam at Management 3.0 in his insightful article The Secret to Creating Successful Hybrid Teams | Management 3.0 (management30.com) describes 6 ways that companies can use to create successful hybrid teams here are two of them:
- Create a strong team culture
- Avoid burnout
Why did I decide to use this practice?
The main reason why I used the Niko-Niko calendar was to establish a sense of engagement. Indeed, racking the team happiness is engaging and can be even fun for everyone.
Once the psychological safety was coming back within the team, we started to implement the scrum framework in good conditions. The Niko-Niko Calendar helped me as well as the team to evaluate and balance the overall workload.
In this perspective, It was very clear for me that without engagement, psychological safety, any attempt to push the team to perform under those conditions would be a failure. Indeed, this made a true believer that, as stated by Jurgen Appelo in his book “Managing for Happiness”: happiness comes first, success comes later. “The smart thing to do is to allow happiness take us on a path to success.”
How did I use this practice?
So, the first way to use this practice is an online application Teammood.com that sends team members an email at the end of each working day. The email asks the team members to choose between how they feel at end of each day. Team members have also the opportunity to leave an anonymous comment.
The question from Team mood’s email looks like : “How was your day?” team members then will have to choose between 5 levels (Excellent, Good, Normal, Difficult and Horrible.)