What the heck is a Director of Happiness?

I joined Pure Visibility in June, 2007 as the new Director of Happiness. After I broadcast my new title via LinkedIn and after the press release was picked up locally, I’ve gotten lots of questions.

Who coined the title?

Linda Girard, Pure Visibility’s Visionary and Co-Founder, dropped into the chair next to me sometime in my first week and tossed it out as an idea. We hadn’t settled on a title during the negotiations, Director of Customer Service was a possibility, as was Ombudsman. I also liked the ring and gender-confusion of Ombudsman, but the meaning of it is addressing complaints. The goal of Director of Happiness is to prevent complaints in the first place. I have to say that I was instantly charmed by Director of Happiness, and its luster has not yet worn off, despite some gentle mocking from more cynical friends and colleagues.

What does a Director of Happiness do?

I’m a project manager, and sometimes project management feels a world away from fostering others’ happiness. Sometimes it feels like “director of nagging” or director of “unh unhuh, no you can’t” or director of redirection. My goal as director of happiness is to work with our clients to make sure their projects proceed smoothly, that we meet their schedule and scope expectations, and that we flex to accommodate emerging trends and information. I also work with the team on quality assurance, making sure our work meets our own standards and meets our clients’ needs. For the team, my focus is air traffic control – coordinating the work so that team members get reasonable schedules and appropriate priorities.

The methods we use for this are post-it notes, index cards, and whiteboards. We have an award we pass to each other when individuals do great work – the “You Rock Award”. The team also uses Nerf weaponry and practices a Nerf form of Zen archery on whiteboard targets.

Why is happiness important?

Many of us at Pure Visibility have creative titles. It is part of a company culture. Happiness is also a cultural value here. The idea is that folks who are doing the work that satisfies them will be more productive and more harmonious than folks doing work that isn’t satisfying. Happiness sounds fluffy, it sounds optional, but it isn’t.

Happiness resources

Chief Happiness Officer Blog
First Break All the Rules book
Stumbling on Happiness book
The Paradox of Choice book