Boredom can be a good experience.

Bored EmoticonIn fact, boredom can be a great experience. Boredom can be an indication that everything is running smoothly. There are no fires to put out; no dragons to slay. Customers are happy, employees feel satisfied, you are gaining market share, the company is profitable, sales are growing, and shareholders are laudatory. Too good to be true?

Not at all.

In fact, this can be the standard, not the exception, to a well-run company, department, product, territory, or process.

The larger issue is whether you will recognize it.

Will you recognize the employee, the department, the division, the company that doesn’t seem to make any noise but gets everything done on-time every time, without a hitch? It just seems to happen.

What happens if you can’t recognize when boredom is good? (Boredom is not always good.)

Most of us have experienced the employee that just seems to get everything done on-time without a hitch. In many companies we simply give that person or department more work to do. Why? Because we know they’ll get it done. They will do “whatever it takes.”

Finally, one day, that employees quits, or is transferred, or promoted and everything seems to fall apart. We don’t know why everything has fallen apart but we know it has.

Now we have a problem and it is no longer boring.

While sitting in a day-long strategic planning meeting with the owner of a manufacturing company, everyone reported on their action items. Everyone was on plan or on target with a few minor exceptions.

After six hours of sitting in the meeting, growing restless, I turned to the owner and complained, “Tony, this meeting is very boring.” He turned to me, smiled and said, “Tom, you don’t understand. I’ve sat in many of these meetings when there was problem after problem reported, delay after delay, and excuse after excuse offered. When these meetings are boring, it is a good thing.” I had to agree.

Can you recognize when boredom is good?

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