The best medicine

26 April 2010
According to Robert Kemp, one of the speakers at this year’s annual Institute for Supply Management conference in San Diego, purchasing offers a lot of comedy material. Presenting Relax and laugh: How humour can strengthen your supply chain, the president of Kemp Enterprises said supply management relationships “offer a rich trove of situations, because we see the entire business process, warts and all”. And managers should lighten up and crack a joke now and again (not nasty jokes, mind). Kemp advocates “humour breaks” in meetings, even playing the odd innocent prank at work (more slipping an amusing slide into a colleague’s PowerPoint presentation than cling film over the toilet) because such silliness will help generate success. How? Positives include improved morale, more job satisfaction, increased productivity, better problem-solving and innovation and a reduction in stress. In other words, a happy workforce is a more productive, creative one. He suggests bosses call their teams together to announce the change in culture. Kemp is not the first to observe this, as well he knows, but he clearly thinks it’s a message worth repeating – and besides it was a popular session with lots of laughter, so people clearly enjoyed it (and they were kind of at work), so that must tell you something. Perhaps what was more interesting, however – and is likely to be less practised among even those who agree with Kemp’s philosophy – is Kemp’s suggestion that buyers apply the same principles to relationships with suppliers, internal customers and colleagues in other departments. If it works in your team, why not try it more widely and see where it gets you? Put humour in that box of tools you use in your wider business relationships. It could be handy to have.
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