Quantifying Fun

How to Measure the Unmeasurable

“OK,” I said, “I agree it’s a good idea to try to have fun at our weekly meetings, but how do you make a concise goal out of that?  How do you know when you have achieved fun?”  Read on, and we’ll look at two ways you can take a vague concept like fun and turn it into something you can measure as part of your goal setting.   And the next time someone asks, “Are we having fun yet?” you will be able to answer, “Why, yes.  Yes, we are!”

Diving Board

We were meeting with the newly elected leaders of our Scout troop, it was time to talk about vision and goals for the future, and we discussed what they wanted to accomplish over the course of the next six months.

These young men had come up with three areas that they wanted to focus on, and for the first two we hammered out some goals that were in keeping with the SMART principles (check out this video or this blog post on SMART goals).  Each goal was:

Specific – it was clear what he wanted to achieve

Measurable – he had a way to measure progress towards the goal

Attainable – it was something that could be realistically achieved in the next six months

Relevant – it made sense in the context of his overall vision

Time-bound – there was a time goal and even some intermediate objectives.

But then the senior leader said that his final goal was to make sure what we did was fun.  That was the goal.  OK, I like the concept, fun is good.  But how do you get specific, make it measurable, or put a timeline on fun?  Silence in the room.  Not everything seems to neatly fit into the SMART categories.  How do you quantify the unquantifiable?

Yet, impressively, they found not one, but two ways through this conundrum.

Think Opposites 

First we looked at opposites by asking what it that was “not fun,” And it wasn’t long before they felt comfortable enough to say that the long announcements at the beginning of our weekly meetings were kind of boring and took the fun out of the meetings right from the beginning.  Fair enough, and actually, I had to agree.  OK, so make a goal out of that.  They came up with:

“By next week’s meeting on Sunday, change the agenda so that the things the Scouts like to do, like Patrol time, skills, and game, come first, and the announcements are last.” 

Good, approved!  I’m looking forward to next meeting already.  But that’s just one action.  How else can you measure fun over the course of the next six months?

Poll the Studio Audience

Another long pause, then a light bulb seemed to come on in his head.  “How about a survey?”  OK, what do you mean?  He suggested doing a simple survey at the next meeting, where the Scouts would rate their attitudes about meetings, outings, leadership and other categories on a scale of one to five.  The combined numbers would yield a baseline score that his leadership team could use to focus on specific areas to make them more enjoyable.

Then they would run the same survey at the end of the term to determine if they had been successful, as well as provide new baseline numbers for the next leadership team.

“Great idea – articulate that as a SMART goal.”

“Use a survey in the first meeting in May to measure Scout attitudes, use the results at the next leadership meeting to focus on specific areas to make more fun; survey again in September to measure improvement.”

Once we had the numbers, they would use them to form additional SMART goals to make sure the survey results were headed in the right direction by the fall.

It took a little effort and some creative thinking, but when the meeting ended, I was proud of them for finding a way to quantify fun.  Maybe the techniques they used can be useful to you.

Thanks for reading.



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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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