A Happy and Efficient Ship

February 1, 2010 | By

In the famous wartime movie, “In Which We Serve”, Noel Coward, upon taking up his command, seeks from his new crew what sort of ship would be needed for the forthcoming voyage.

One wag in the crowd pipes up ‘A happy ship, Captain’ and quickly another ‘An efficient ship, Sir’.

Coward repeats these two back to them.

“A happy ship and an efficient ship. In my experience, you can’t have one without the other.”

Is management that simple? Could it be that there is little else of importance than these two qualities?

Of course Coward is not discussing management today, yet he is idealizing the values that are required to make a successful voyage in very difficult circumstances.

Can you have a happy ship, without efficiency?

Well, if you try, my guess is that happiness evaporates as your people get annoyed and frustrated with the inefficiencies of others.

An efficient ship, without it being happy – is this possible? Well, maybe, for a while. As time goes on, the lack of happiness – which in itself is a symptom of a malaise – will lead to conflict.

And that is no ingredient to have in the efficiency cake.

With efficiency and happiness, together, is this enough for a successful venture?

Well, in themselves, perhaps not – yet, when they are there, it’s more than likely that there is enough of a base for every other quality to drive success to be enabled too.

Truth is, where you have both if these in place, you are much more likely to reap positive rewards.

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