I’m working my way through the Happy Startup School’s online course on building the sort of company that you wouldn’t want to sell. Today’s task is to figure out a manifesto for the business that defines the underlying principles through which it operates. I’ve already written a little about the company’s overall mission: to measurably improve the long term happiness of both individuals and organisations. The intent here is to take the ideas from that mission and flesh out a little more detail.
I believe that happiness is a journey, not a destination. We don’t achieve an end goal of “being happy” but we can make a number of changes throughout our lives in order to improve our mental wellness over time. I also believe that everyone can improve their long term happiness — no matter their background, personal circumstances, environment or current level of happiness. There’s always something to improve on.
I have a background in software development and operations. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. From a software development perspective, we measure the performance of a piece of code before we try to improve it. In operations, we tend to measure the throughput of systems to see what effect changes have. In business, we have key performance indicators that allow us to measure the health of the business. I reckon that we can measure happiness perhaps not in absolute terms, but at least the change in happiness over time — and other metrics that impact on mental wellness.
I believe that the way to improve something is to conduct experiments. There is no one-size-fits-all way to improve your happiness. A lot of it depends on your personal circumstances, and your current mental state (there’s not a lot of point in mucking around with Maslow’s self-actualisation if your physiological needs are not yet being met). But if we have a framework through which you can conduct experiments to improve your mental health, then you can try things out, see the results, and use that information to make informed changes that will improve your happiness.
(You can see where this is going, right? I want to build Graphite and Nagios — but for humans — with a set of tools on top that will allow you to perform experiments on yourself. I’m tempted to suggest that there’s an opportunity around building a generic framework for performing experiments on anything you can measure, but I’ll save that thought for a future pivot!)
What do you reckon?