More than 10 years ago we held a Performance Measurement Forum meeting at the W Hotel in Los Angeles. Our meeting room abutted the swimming pool, and I happened to notice famed artist LeRoy Neiman sitting in the pool area. I mentioned this in the meeting, and later that afternoon our then editor of The Journal of Performance Measurement(r) saw Mr. Neiman in the lobby. She took the opportunity to approach him and ask “Are you Leonard Nimoy?” As you might imagine, we had a good laugh over this, and she was a good sport about her error.
In today’s WSJ there’s an article that informs us of how the Mr. Neiman is seeking to inspire a new generation of artists. I was particularly struck by his suggestion that “all young artists need to be amused in a classroom to maintain interest.”
I have felt this way about performance measurement. Thus my attempt (though sometimes lost on the students) to interject humor whenever possible; I do the same with my public speaking. I learned the value of humor in presentations close to 40 years ago, when, as a newly minted army second lieutenant, I attended a class on a rather boring subject during Field Artillery Officer’s Basic at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. The instructor would interject a joke roughly every 40 to 60 minutes. Not only did this make us laugh, it also raised our attention levels.
Granted, not everyone is good at telling jokes or using humor, but it’s a skill that can be learned. I’m pleased that many speakers we invite to PMAR, such as Steve Campisi and Carl Bacon, strive to liven up their presentations with a bit of humor. Shocking as it may sound, to some performance measurement, risk, benchmarks, and the like can get a bit dry once in a while, and there’s nothing like a good joke to help keep people awake.
p.s., LeRoy Neiman’s image above comes directly from the WSJ article.