Average companies are organized for efficiency. Effectiveness. Shareholder value. Never for delight.

McDonalds, Citi, Delta Airlines and other push stuff. They reduce costs. Use time measurements to become more efficient.

They are like factories, always the stopwatch in hand, trying to maximize efficiency. The problem with this strategy is that you can only go so far squeezing efficiency out of your people and assets.

When you sell millions of burgers, reducing the cost of one unit by 0.00001 makes a difference but not a game-changing difference. Even worse, the real problem with focusing on maximizing efficiency is that you don’t do things that people will talk about. For that, you need to pay premium to disrupt people’s attention. Unfortunately, once you got their attention, your staff is not ready to deal with special requests, personal quirks and deliver service that delights.

Factory organizations fear special requests, put everything in a manual and make it almost impossible to delight people because everybody is powerless. These organizations are perfectly designed to patch problems over after the fact, instead of employing passionate people that delight customers.

Why not organize for delight?

Be a company that gives employees and stakeholders the freedom and make it part of their job description to create, connect and deliver joy. These are organizations that let people be different to make a difference. Opposed to organizations that look for violations in the employee handbook.

On that note, in case you haven’t seen that Valve employee handbook yet, better download it.

It starts with this quote: “We are all stewards of our long-term relationship with our customers. They watch us, sometimes very publicly, make mistakes. Sometimes they get angry with us. But because we always have their best interests at heart, there’s faith that we’re going to make things better, and that if we’ve screwed up today, it wasn’t because we were trying to take advantage of anyone.”