I recently attended a cocktail party full of entrepreneurs -- people passionate about their ideas, their products, and the possibilities that lie ahead. When several of these courageous start-up leaders and entrepreneurial founders learned what I do for a living, they asked me the same, though surprising, question: Should we put a foosball table in our office?
I get it. Part of the attraction of a small-business/start-up environment is the work hard/play hard environment...the lack of bureaucratic structure...the freedom to be oneself, to have fun, and to play foosball.
The easy answer to give would be: Yes, your team members will appreciate it and it'll signal to them the values you and your organization embody and the culture you seek to instill and sustain.
The answer I actually gave was a question: Why do you want to put a foosball table in your office?
The responses indicated these entrepreneurs indeed wanted a work hard -- play hard environment. They wanted to promote flexibility, informality, and fun.
My ultimate response was to say: A foosball table is fine. It's a symbol and a signal to your team members. But no amount of toys, gadgets, foosball tables, or keg-a-rators will provide as strong a signal to your people as your choices and behavior...your attentiveness to your mission and values...your consistency of living the values you set forth. Your organizational culture will require constant attention or it may very well become something you don't want it to be. A foosball table can be a small piece of the puzzle...but it takes More Than Foosball.