The CEO’s New Clothes

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It was day one of the new CEO’s appointment. A rather traditional dark grey suit, pristine white shirt, black medium length socks, complete with matching leather polished shoes were carefully selected by the incumbent for the momentous occasion. He looked resplendent as he beamingly sat behind his large impressive desk in a voluminous office that just oozed with status and authority. Yes, he was indeed the man!

As the week progressed, all of his direct reports, collectively, and individually, sat opposite him in business attire that directly mirrored his conservative fashion prowess, complete with continual nods of unquestionable beaming loyal approvals.

In a similar manner, their subordinates also quickly followed suit and continued the same fashion replication to the point where each employee now looked like a cloned version of their manager.

Now, the CEO was no fool, in fact, far from it, and a cunning plan of innovation was carefully hatched. From that day forth, he decided to wear the exact same clothes for a month. No item of clothing would be changed, apart from those that respectively should not be mentioned.

Over the days and weeks, a certain grubbiness came to gradually prevail over his attire, complete with an ensuing woft of persona that slowly increased with intensity.

He noticed with a somewhat predictable consternation a look of increasing shabbiness now starting to prevail throughout the entire organisation. Those pristine white shirts of his executive team were now witness to numerous blotches of large brown coffee stains, there were accumulated smears from too many self-indulgent lunches and dinners, and the severely wrinkled corporate flannel was now more noticeably beige in colour than white.

At the end of the month, the CEO thankfully wore a fresh set of clothes, and a quiet shout of thankful glee was heard rippling throughout the entire organisation, also from their customers, whose numbers had correspondingly dwindled over the weeks due to a severe lack of attention on their business.

Packaged in the sweet fresh smell of his new clothing attire, the crafty CEO now strategically pondered the learnings from the last four weeks from a perspective of corporate innovation:

  1. An organisation that has a workforce of clones is doomed to fail.
  2. Never mask any prevailing wofts, be they good or bad, that quickly permeate throughout the business as they are a clue that something is indeed amiss.
  3. Never wear the same clothes each day as personal creativity is the source of true innovation.
  4. Surround yourself with loud vocal thinkers, not those that quietly nod in constant agreement.

The following month, a brief memo from the CEO was quickly distributed advising that “a large number of the executive team had unanimously decided to pursue other career interests and that they had now left the building”.

From that day forth a plethora of brightly coloured paisley shirts, bespoke tailored suits, and even the occasional pair of spiffy shorts, were commonly seen thereby ensuring the ongoing innovation success of this particular company.

So should you be a CEO reading this blog post, do take note as the key to innovation does indeed lie within your wardrobe, and that of your employees.

 

The Very Social Idea

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If you have ever put yourself in the shoes of an idea, you would be exhausted!
Ideas are the biggest socialites in the known world and are universally recognised as the life of any party.

Ideas just hate the thought of being singular, they have an innate psychological need to be plural. Just put two solo ideas in a room and they will immediately start interacting with each other with a carefree and unrepentant promiscuity.

Ideas are also ageless, once created via a spark of unleashed human inspiration, they instantaneously become immortal and will happily congregate on mass within any hospitable corporate environment that willingly supports their requisite cosy culture of innovation.

However, there are some businesses that ideas have officially declared as a no-go zone. Those decreed as dull and boring organisations are like innovation vacuums that regrettably do not accommodate the individual and collective requirements of these festive wildlife thought manifestations. Once classified as an office of devastating inspirational lack, ideas will deliberately avoid these plagued businesses until a corporate culture of redemption has been successfully implemented, and publicly proven to be operationally effective. But once the requisite cultural correction has been made and externally communicated to the world of thought creation, then the ideas will fill the void with a gusto of spontaneity that would put any cashed-up pop-star to shame!

Now don’t assume that all ideas are identical. They are each different, and have a unique personality that frequently changes depending on their mood, and also to the environment to which they are exposed. But that diversity of thought is indeed their strength, as they, and their resultant factorially numbered offspring, all lead to a continual birth of new and wickedly clever innovations, none of which are ever the same.

So as a human, when next you walk into a corporate office and sense something unusually electric in the building, it is not your imagination, you are just responding to a large gathering of ideas having a hoot of a time!

The Virtual Innovation Librarian

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Why is it that some people just seem to have an endless plethora of brilliant ideas, whilst others struggle to generate just one? What’s the secret to their phenomenal creative success?

According to an obscure research paper soon to be published at some fictitious Boston University, the answer to these important questions is their illusive access to the highly prestigious, and most definitely secret, Virtual Innovation Librarian (VIT).

Respected sources advise that the VIT is an artificially intelligent imaginary persona that surreptitiously captures your unconscious thoughts when you are in mental state of slumber, or equivalent corporate boredom. The key requirement being, complete and total mindlessness. For those of you working in the corporate office, just think of all that untapped potential that lethargically resides in your vast employee database!

As the name suggests, the VIT is the keeper of an almost infinite number of thoughts that are meticulously categorised and indexed via the Dewey Decimal Idea Classification System (DDICS), following which, they are then permanently registered within a 4D electronic virtual depository. The DDICS classifications cover all good, and some of the not so good, ideation sparks of human life, business and various social activities from every person that has ever lived, or is currently alive, from the very first evolutionary stage when women and men decided it was time to think.

No, you don’t need a virtual library card to make a thoughtful withdrawal, the process is indeed much simpler and works via the following ingenious method:

  1. Deeply think of the problem that you want to solve.
  2. Open your mind and allow the VIT to have unrestricted access to all your inner thoughts and desires (some people call this mindfulness, meditation or just being lazy).
  3. The VIT then forages around with gusto in your cluttered mind trying to cross-match your nominated problem with all the other thoughts accumulated in the 4D electronic virtual depository.
  4. If a match is made with your problem, and no other person is wanting to also access that particular thought, you can borrow that idea and claim it as your own.
  5. However, there is a catch. These borrowed thoughts only reside in your mind for a limited time period, so if you don’t check them out and use the idea, you quickly lose the innovative solution (just like the content of a dream when you wake up, and rapidly forget the details).

Is there a charge for using this VIT ideation service?

No, it is complimentary to those individuals that recognise that innovation is an activity that needs to be continually worked, and shared freely amongst your work colleagues, thereby ensuring that there is a constant source of fresh ideas being generated for the future needs of mankind. As that saying goes, “give ideas, that you may receive ideas”.

For those businesses that don’t value innovation, well, the cost of the VIT will be well beyond your financial reserves, so may I suggest that you don’t bother thinking longer term, and just focus on enjoying today as your future is guaranteed to be rather uncertain.

The First 10 Days

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Innovation is like running for the first time. It takes a little bit of courage to initially get going, but once you are moving, your self-imposed obstacles do slowly fall behind you. The goal is to maintain the forward momentum, and to not let self-doubt get in your way. You don’t need a vast array of fashionable expensive accessories, just some personal persistence, but some sweat does tend to help.

For those of you seeking some guidance on how to start, the following is my own 10 day innovation work-out commentary, which may assist.  However, as with every exercise regime, please consult your accredited innovation expert for a tailored program that may be better suited to your individual needs.

Day 0:
Need to at least pretend to look like an athlete. Purchased some swish black running shoes and brand matching shorts and T-shirt (apparently it breathes!).

Day 1:
Running attire worn for the first time. Look rather spiffy. If only the T-shirt wasn’t so tight fitting. Stomach seems to protrude a tad more than I would have hoped. Walk 4 kilometres.

Day 2:
Stomach still rather obvious. Still walking 4 kilometres.

Day 3:
Looks like I’m not the only person with a stomach. There are others out also walking. Now don’t feel as self-conscious.

Day 4:
Run 1 kilometre, walk 3. Overtaken by a mother pushing a pram. Decided to make my loud fatigued puffing noises less obvious as she zoomed past so not to look like a heart attack candidate.

Day 5:
Run 2 kilometres, walk 2. Saw a fit woman running past me with some earphones. Must get some. Might also help to have the phone, just in case I need to call for an ambulance.

Day 6:
Run 4 kilometres. Miracles do happen! But will need a lie down.

Day 7:
Run 4 kilometres. T-shirt clinging less to my stomach. Feeling good. Ran past that lady with the pram. Smirked to myself.

Day 8:
Feeling smug. I think I’m becoming an athlete!

Day 9:
Still feeling smug.

Day 10:
I can do this! Glad I didn’t stop after Day 1.

Final Comment: Pride and self-doubt are the biggest hindrance to success. Need to just focus on my step by step targets, and not what others may think.

Enough is Indeed Enough

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Gentlemen, it’s time for a private revolution in the corporate office because you are losing the “you”, in you. Yes, many of you have voluntarily discarded your individuality in order to become part of the accepted “we”. But the unconscious sacrifice you have made has significantly impacted your personal creativity.

Remember the time in your working life when you wanted to be noticed, when you desired to be the centre of attention, when you had something important to say, and were unrepentant when you said it?

When did we all morph into a state of visual uniformity and become a subdued and quiet collective of “I”s?

Here are some clues to help you revitalise your memory, and to inspire you into again thinking that little bit differently.

The neck tie – Gone!
Recall those colourful items of clothing that used to adorn your neck, complete with the additional visual benefit of fashionably differentiating your frontal business appearance from your colleagues? Alas, one can regretfully say the same about the unfortunate demise of the visually appealing bow-tie, similarly, the majestic cravat.

Chest Hairs – slowly growing back!
Men used to be men, and hairy. We used to have copious volumes of hairs publicly sprouting with unashamed gusto from our chests, and our faces. To think that men now voluntarily shave their manes off to achieve a follicle look of commonality, good god! Thankfully, this does not apply to those men who have boldly bucked the trend, and have courageously, and most deliberately, shaved their heads as a mark of their commitment to the male cause for innovation.

Hats – a mark of respect!
In the not too distant past, men looked resplendent with a stylish hat firmly placed upon our heads where we could selectively doff our head covering in recognition, and respect of a fellow worker, confidant, or compatriot. Thankfully, with the advent of the bald head, this item of clothing is making a welcome resurgence.

Watches – steps of progress!
Strategically positioned on the left or right wrist used to be a masterly engineered time piece of precision. This has now been replaced by a devise that measures steps, typically known as a FITBIT. Men used to compare other items to assert their masculinity, now it’s the number of steps walked in a work day, or week. I ask you, where will it end?

So gentlemen, take heed of this warning, and visually state your support in hindering this unwelcome disintegration of your individual creativity when in the corporate office. Enough is indeed enough. It’s now time to make the change!

Seek the Buzz

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It is said that the taste of success is sweet, but it is the culmination of a great deal of tireless organizational movement, just like that found in a beehive. In fact, business can learn a great deal from the sticky activities of the humble bee.

The CEO, or “Queen Bee” establishes the colony and sets the direction and longevity for its future. However, if the Queen Bee gets a tad tired and lacks the support of the total bee population, the hive will swarm and the the life of the CEO bee will indeed become short lived.

Some General Managers are like “Drones” where they happily lounge about in a state of privilege where others do their work and continually feed them with inspiration. However, their prestigious life is short lived because once they have done the “deed” with the Queen and are no longer required, they are quickly made redundant and their functions are absorbed into the food chain of the colony as a legacy for its long term sustenance.

The majority of employees are the “Worker Bees” of the business who keep the financial entity fully buzzing in a state of harmonious order, and with a continual influx of much needed inspiration from the outside market.

Occasionally “The Board” comes along and smokes out the business via regular inspections to ensure the hive is operating effectively. Any areas of concern are swiftly removed awaiting the required correction, which may be a new Queen Bee.

The output from the business is deemed “honey” which can be sold to the market for cash where it is used as a core ingredient to drive recipes of innovation in a range of applications.

Occasionally pests and other undesirable vermin may try and infiltrate the hive. Should they be successful, they are like a virus that is difficult to eliminate. Hence the need for a trusty IT guard at the hive entrance to keep those classified as unwelcome well and truly away.

So to achieve a meaningful buzz in your corporate office, it is important to make sure that every employee knows their strategic role in the honeycomb structure. And should one bee, regardless of their stature hierarchy, flap their wings out of the requisite corporate vibration, they will quickly encounter a rather unsavoury end to their corporate career. For others, life will be blissfully delicious.

 

The “Proof Level”

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What do alcohol and innovation have in common? The “Proof Level”.

Those connoisseurs of the occasional, or even the frequent, alcoholic beverage would be familiar with the concept of %-proof which indicates the alcohol content by volume. For example, 100-proof whisky contains 50% alcohol. The higher the alcoholic content, the more “oomph” in the beverage.

Just like a good whisky, a culture of innovation can be determined in the corporate office by measuring its proof level, which is known by many leading behavioural psychologists as the “IPL” (aka Innovation Proof Level).

For those companies that have a dynamic and highly stimulating innovation culture, they would be nearing the 100-IPL mark where at least 50% of their employees are deemed as being creative. A business that scores a 50-IPL, only a quarter of their staff have what it takes to drive and support their culture of innovation. For those with 0-IPL, alas, we are typically talking about the public service.

So what are the pros and cons associated with a high IPL organisation?

  • The employees are found to be very friendly and seem to happily interact, albeit some may occasionally step over the line with respect to the acceptable HR behavioural guidelines
  • New concepts are readily accepted with minimal resistance, although some may be regretted the following day
  • Corporate dress standards may become a tad shabby, particularly near 5 PM
  • Some employees may seek opportunities for quiet slumber at their desk, or discretely under it, complete with a corporate logo emblazoned pillow, blanket and bright light filtering face-mask

Similarly, for those working in an antiquated establishment where a 0-IPL commonly prevails?

  • An inability to pick up the phone until at least the 20th ring
  • A slurring of words ensuring that the customer gives up with feeling of frustration
  • A late start in the morning, complete with an early finish owing to a constant headache
  • A monotone speech pattern with a large lack of enthusiasm

So for those of you thirsting for innovation, the remedy is to have a large corporate glass filled to the brim with a refreshing 100-IPL content beverage.  However, make sure that you consume it slowly in order to avoid unwanted creative side effects that may linger long into the following morning.

Cheers!

Those Pesky Weeds of Innovation

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As CEO of a large, conservative company that has been in operation for over a century with little or no business growth, how do you know if you have those pesky weeds of innovation in your business? The following are some clues to help you quickly identify them before they can take root and grow.

Ideas: Should you hear an employee uttering the blasphemous words “I have an idea”, then they need to be dismissed immediately before that frightening innovation virus can contaminate your workforce.

Fashion: Luckily these recalcitrant employees are easily identifiable by their annoying clothes, colourful shirts, bow-ties and the occasional hat. Just ask HR to quietly usher them to the exit with minimal fuss.

Laughter: Fun in the office should definitely not be tolerated and should result in the employee being speedily placed on disciplinary action with the threat of instantaneous termination for a repeat offence.

Unauthorised Fonts: Yes, there are strict corporate guidelines that must be followed. Any employee daring to use any other font rather than the long standing and approved black Times New Roman needs to be quickly educated on the 100 year old corporate values that have served the company well, and are based on tradition.

Customers: Any customer having the nerve to complain about our products not meeting their requirements do not deserve the privilege of being supplied by us, after all, we know what’s best for their business. How dare they tell us otherwise!

Career: Any employee seeking clarification on their future within our business obviously does not appreciate the honour of working for us (or should I say for me).

My fellow CEOs, hopefully the above insights have provided you with sufficient information to nippily identify any annoying employees that might be creative, or have mad ambitions of creating a culture of innovation in your company. The key is to act swiftly before their offensive ideas can take hold and spread. God forbid!

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

 

The Culturally Fitting Cordwainer

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Looking for a corporate culture that fully supports your creative career aspirations and life travels?

If the answer is yes, then your fitted, bespoke solution is literally below you, and is one that happily accompanies you wherever your corporate desires may fleetingly wander.

Whatever your innovation need, whether it be that of a classy professional, purely social, discretely indoors or an outdoor adventure, a matching array of versatile accessories are readily available to the discerning buyer, constructed in a plethora of colours, materials, comfort levels and various purchase prices.

The origin of this personalised inspiration is your fashionable cordwainer who after years of meticulous training has mastered the requisite design skills to provide the right shoe solution that is perfect for your feet.

Now shoes are key to your creative success, but there are some exceptions to the rule:

The Naked Foot
Those who dare to walk the corridors of the corporate office with foot nakedness may attain a state of relaxed mindfulness nirvana, but this will be short lived when viewed below the business trouser, or skirt, where a certain professional visual standard is expected from the onlooking beholder. The naked foot does indeed have its rightful place, but alas, it is not yet accepted as part of the regulations for approved industry attire, despite the invigorating freedom of thought achieved by the naked foot wearer.

The Sandal
In Roman times this form of footwear was most socially acceptable, but today, corporate office feet standards have now significantly changed. However, should you be an English University Lecturer who habitually wears a dull tweed jacket, thick beige corduroy trousers and smokes a pipe with voluminous gusto, then you may continue to look the part whilst we silently smirk at your personal misfortune.

Pointy Toe
Stop! The pointy toed shoe is now classified by the FBI as a dangerous weapon, and one that has caused many employee injuries from deliberate kicking outbursts directed at that annoying colleague under the table.

The Boot
Now should you be an Australian National Party politician, then this rule does not apply because it is presumed that you wear your boots for strategic media appearances so your electorate thinks that you come from a large farming community, eventhough you have always lived in the city, and would not know the front from the back of a sheep.  For all other corporate office workers, the wearing of a boot suggests that you have not yet mastered the shoe-lace tying process which may be systematic of other analytical shortfalls in your intellect.

So should you be a CEO or HR professional reading this blog post, the answer to business innovation is delightfully simple. Just hire a Chief Cordwainer Officer (CCO) and your corporate culture will be long wearing, fully protected and continually well heeled!

 

A Dog’s Tail of Innovation

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My name is Rufus and, yes, I’m a dog, to be precise, an Irish terrier. I’ve been asked by my owner to explain the basic fundamentals of innovation to you humans. Apparently, you have made such a simple concept, so complex.

My formal qualifications? None. Except, I have fully mastered the requisite innovation skills to a point where everyone looks after me, so much so, that I do indeed have a wonderful dog’s life. I have no overrated and rather superfluous human academic skills, no Doctorate or Masters degrees, I have just sniffed things out, and have learnt by experience.

So what’s my formula to achieve innovation success? Simple, just be a dog.

Now I know that you don’t have any paws, phenomenal hearing, a superb woof, nor a sophisticated sense of odour recognition, but that’s just some of the inherent negatives that you regrettably have to put up with by being human. A dog has all of these, and does one important thing that humans appear to have lost the art of doing, that being, to use all of our skills without actually having to consciously think about using them, we just naturally do it.

A dog will happily follow an adventurous smell, not knowing where it may lead us. We don’t plan the route we may follow, we just use our noses to locate the object of interest, and if further investigation is required, we dig.

When was the last time you literally followed your nose and let your unhindered dog-like inquisitive interest take control? I suspect not that often, as from my dog perspective, you all appear to live and work in a professional world where there are strict processes and protocols to be observed.

Humans seem to spend an exorbitant amount of time sitting in front of the TV, computer, phone, reading or eating. Why not come out and spend more time with me, and together, we can smell the roses, and dig some massive holes together? I assure you, it will be fun, and with time, I’m sure you will get a taste for it.

So if you want to develop an innovation culture in your corporate office, just unleash the dog in you, have a good sniff, and make sure that you woof out loudly.

 

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