Tidy desk, tidy mind: What you need to know about Marie Kondo’s new book
Admittedly, we might not love everything 2020 has brought us thus far, but on the bright side, it does promise to bring us yet another wave of Marie Kondo madness with the release of her new book, Joy at Work. This time, however, Kondo has teamed up with Rice University business professor and organisational psychologist Scott Sonenshein to bring the joy of tidiness to the workplace.
Scheduled for release in April 2020, Joy at Work combines the KonMari method we all know and love with cutting edge research to help us ‘overcome the challenges of workplace mess and enjoy the productivity, success and happiness that come with a tidy desk and mind’. The collaboration looks set to add an interesting psychological element to decluttering that we have not yet seen.
So what do we know about Kondo’s new co-author Scott Sonenshein?
First, and unlike Kondo who focuses primarily on ‘joy’, Sonenshein is an advocate for ‘less’, not only in one’s physical space but mentally as well. His research has typically focused on the mindset of abundance and its dampening effects on creativity and resourcefulness. Put simply, Sonenshein believes having more resources won’t solve our problems and that we can all benefit from making the most out of little.
Sonenshein’s first book Stretch defined the differences between a ‘stretching-mind’ and a ‘chasing-mind’.
Stretchers embrace what they have, finding unconventional and productive ways to use resources already at hand. Chasers, by contrast, can’t see the possibilities before them—and they’re left wanting more to do more.
He explains how a focus on the accumulation of more resources not only steers businesses and individuals away from their goals, it actually reduces their ability to be creative or to see future opportunities to build more sustainable, productive long term business careers and lives.
“When we have an abundance, it can actually stop us from being creative where we think we need a tool for everything. Children with too many toys can experience this. They might not look to making a pillow fort or hat with cardboard boxes when they have multiple play tents and an arts and crafts area stocked with brand new cardboard. There is no need for resourcefulness.”
Stretch vs Lean Start-Up
Elsewhere in the business world, a mindset of less is not necessarily new. Eric Ries’ Lean StartUp methodology, published in 2011, encouraged businesses to test and learn, using the markets as a resource for success rather than holding back until their product is ‘perfect’. This ‘go before you’re ready’ entrepreneur movement sounds risky, but it is not too dissimilar to Sonenshien’s ‘stretch’ mindset.
Meanwhile, the Agile Project Methodology, now taking pride of place in some of the world’s largest companies such as Spotify, Microsoft and AT&T, also encourages organisations to use what they have, for example, to cross-skill teams and pull together innovation squads with a mix of disciplines. Working in silos, with excessive teams and localised manpower is an outdated way of working. Organisations are turning to the staff, skills and, at times, the infrastructure they already have to run quicker to market. The days of waiting for the right budget, person or time is over. Less is more and using what we have is the new mindset.
So there you have it. I am really excited for this book!
Sonenshein’s concepts bring to mind the types of arguments we have seen for minimalism, that having additional ‘stuff’ absorbs our energy and distracts us from tasks that matter. It looks like he will bring a scientific mindset that has in some ways been lacking in the area of organisation. I hope Joy at Work will bring the value of ‘less’ in businesses and organisations to an individual level, and showcase ideas and solutions we can put into action in our everyday lives at work.