Applying the KonMari Method to Management

Tidying Up KonMari

Tidying Up PhotoUnless you’ve been living under a rock, then you’ve likely been inundated with stories of friends and colleagues who are transforming their lives thanks to the viral sensation Marie Kondo. Her show on Netflix, Tidying Up, has taken the world by storm and is making us all question why we ever folded our shirts flat in the first place. Marie is a professional organizing consultant whose method for identifying what holds value and what just takes up space helps people identify how to unclutter their lives. The method, dubbed KonMari, involves holding on to the item and asking yourself if it sparks joy inside you. If it does not spark joy, we thank the item for the value it provided. And then we let it go.

This is a fascinating concept, but watching it unfold in practice is even more interesting as we work to justify our disorganization even while asking for help. There’s much more to it than just sifting through which items we should hoard and which should be donated, too. For example, Kondo holds great respect for homes, so she never dresses like a slob out of respect for the space. At the heart of it, Marie is removing distractions and excess so she can have the space and energy to hold herself to a high standard. And it’s a lot of work.

The concept of identifying what sparks joy is fascinating. It’s not a question of need or usefulness. It’s a question of joy and it conjures up distinct emotions. To apply such a high standard to what items we keep in our homes makes me wonder what other areas of our lives need to be KonMari’d. Imagine applying the same high standard at work. Imagine walking into work tomorrow morning dressed in a way that respects the space itself because you hold it in high esteem. Then, walk through your office and hold each item in your hands as you ask yourself “does this spark joy?” What would be left at the end of the day?

You may not be able to realistically toss your laptop, printer, and wobbly chair, but you can use KonMarie to have an honest conversation with yourself about what provides value in your life and what must go.

Meetings: I am thoroughly enjoying the vision of walking out of a meeting while saying “Thank you, but this does not spark joy, so I’m letting it go!” And yet, we constantly preach that we should say “no more” to pointless meetings and redundant reports. Could the high standard of the KonMari method give you the inspiration you need to finally let go of what isn’t working?

Projects: The KonMari method naturally aligns with the concept of leading with vision. If you don’t feel compelled by the same organizational vision, it won’t spark joy. Let go of projects that don’t bring you passion and add value to the world. If we aren’t willing to hold onto a coffee table book because it doesn’t spark joy, then why would we hold on to a career that doesn’t spark joy either?

Team members: Your team is composed of high performers, consistent performers, average players, and a few that should be let go. Think about each person and if their presence on the team sparks joy. How different would your work life be if each person on the team brought you joy? How would the energy change?

It’s a radical concept for sure, but applying the KonMari method to work forces you to reconsider what we’re doing and why. It’s a profound concept that enables the user to let go of what drains their energy. What sparks joy for you at work right now?