To Bee or not to Bee?


I love looking at bees, they are just so busy flying from one flower to the next one in their quest for pollen. Bees have what I call true commitment to their job!

Our friend the bee doesn’t just focus on the pollen from one flower, but seeks out a variety of flowers to expand and complement its pollen supply. When the bee has sufficient pollen stocks, it buzzes back to the hive and willingly shares its collection booty with the total bee community. Here, other bees are allocated specific tasks to utilise and transform these collections to sustain and embellish current and future bee generations.

We can learn a lot from bees from a business and innovation perspective.

We too should follow the lead of the bee and seek ideas (“pollen”) from a variety of different sources. These can then be shared with our fellow co-workers whose job it is to then transform and work these ideas further into tangible and practical concepts to benefit the whole organisation.

The secret is to have many people generating these ideas, because once they start to dwindle, the long term survival of the total business (or community) is at risk.

So…..we need to get out amongst the corporate garden and “Buzz” with gusto!

Change Management – Coloured Breath Analysis

Sea Surface Temperature

It is common practice these days for an organisation to use various internal surveys or other methods of feedback to get an indication of the mood of their employees, particularly during a time of Change Management. These organisational pulse checks can be rather hit and miss as they are dependent upon the number of people who participate, and on the quality of the information that has been provided.

But….there could be a better way to accurately and instantaneously gain an understanding of employee sentiment via an innovative, yet to be invented process, called “coloured breath analysis”.

Consider the following……

If we could tag and classify a person’s emotional state in the office by measuring the “colour” of the air exhaled as they speak, this could be quite interesting. A “red” colour would signify that they were angry or agitated, “green” would indicate calmness, and “yellow” that they were neutral or somewhere in between the states of “red” and “green”.

Now, just imagine if these exhaled colour breath measurements could be plotted on an office location map, just like the synoptic weather map which indicates high and low barometric pressures? If so, this would provide an immediate, real-time measure of employee feeling that could be updated and reviewed on a continual basis.

Early warning signs of potential employee “cyclones”, or other impending “storms” that were brewing in the office would be readily identified so the appropriate corrective action could implemented in order to harmonise the corporate climate. It would also identify those more preferred “climatic” locations in the office which are more highly stable and have a calming influence on the surrounding areas.

Just a thought……but think of the possibilities if it existed!

Your Masterpiece Signature

June 2 2010 - Paint Brushes

I recently had the good fortune to visit an art exhibition highlighting the impressionist painting works of the master artist Monet. It was just awe inspiring how Monet worked with various paint colours which when viewed from a short distance looked like discrete paint brush strokes, however when observed from a few paces away, the colours merged to form a stunning homogenous landscape.

With this in mind, let us consider the vast and complex array of personal and professional skills, together with the unique attributes which we have developed during the various stages of our lives and working careers. These are like Monet’s individual colour brush strokes on the painter’s canvas. The masterpiece is created when they are merged and utilised creatively with that touch of innovation!

The opportunity to mix these individual “paint” skills is unlimited and they can be applied to numerous personal and business endeavours characterised with your own “painting signature”, just like those of Monet.

The key is not to focus on the detail, but to behold the bigger picture. After all, we are all priceless works of art!

Focus on the “N”

gear shift

Most of us when we are at work are too busy racing from one activity to the next one with minimal time to think and plan the next steps. If our workflow processes were likened to a car, we would be continually moving from 1st gear, to 2nd, then to 3rd and countless higher gears, back down again, sometimes into reverse, and then do it all once more! I’m sure that this sounds all too familiar!

But how much time do we spend in the “neutral gear (N)”?

In a car, we all pass through neutral on the way to the other gears, however, if it is not done correctly, we tend to “crunch” the gears and make that all too painful sound!

This got me thinking….

At work, what if we spent more time in the “neutral gear” tactfully planning and considering our next steps before we blindly or habitually commence the next activity? If so, we might find that there are more optimum “gear choices” available to use that better utilize our limited time and achieve a more productive and efficient result?

So, next time you are driving in your car, focus more on the “N” and similarly try and think about exploring the “N” in the office. The result could be much more harmonious and may lead to less of the “crunch” in your work routine?


The “Doer People”

How the office will look like - North Angle

On the first day with any new organisation you are provided with an obligatory induction tour of the office building that highlights all the important items such as; the location of fire exits, bathrooms, canteen, photocopier and where to park your car.

This is good……but, I’m of the view that these tours omit one of the most important and practical aspects of the building that you need to quickly know to do your new job efficiently and productively……that of the “doer people”.

So who and what are “doer people”? These are people in the organisation that have been identified unofficially by their peers as the person you should ask when you need to quickly get something done “outside” the official corporate policy. For example:

“The IT Doer Person”
Should you encounter a problem with your computer, the official work procedure is to call your Help Desk. However, if you don’t have hours of spare time to sit on hold listening to some uninspiring feeble music, or a repeating corporate message before you are eventually told to turn your computer off and then restart it, you would alternatively approach your “The IT Doer Person. This person thrives on fixing computer related problems, are typically named Boris and will fix the problem through some unfathomable means that you will never have a hope in understanding, but who cares as it takes them only a few minutes and you will then be back to work!

“The Photocopier Fixer Doer Person”
You have all experienced the dreaded “beep” noise on the photocopier when you are in a hurry to print an important document. You could quickly solve the problem if you had a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering, but you don’t and those who do have this qualification normally run in the opposite direction on hearing the “beep” so not to be disturbed. The solution is to quickly seek advice from your friendly “Photocopier Fixer Doer Person” who thrives on solving these electronic print problems with the same degree of enthusiasm as that famous Belgian detective Poirot solves many an English murder!

“The Coffee Connoisseur Doer Person”
You could partake of the instant coffee in the office canteen if your taste buds are nonexistent, or, you could seek out “The Coffee Connoisseur Doer Person”. This person typically has a thick black book containing many coffee stained pages listing all the best coffee shops in a short walking distance from the office. These people have a privileged position in the office and are at times of caffeine lack more respected than the CEO.

I’m sure that you can list numerous other strategic “doer persons” that could complement the above three “doers”.

These people are a rare and uniquely talented individual and one that should be a compulsory inclusion in any induction tour!

Change Management and the Lily Pond

Pond Apocalypse

Have you every considered the humble lily pond?

Looking at the top of the pond you see clear blue water inter-dispersed with a variety of flat circular green lilies bobbing gently in harmony with the movements of the water. Should there be any sudden changes or displacements in the pond, the lilies move accordingly, the larger the change, the greater the movement.

As you explore deeper into the pond, the water becomes more murky with various weeds and algae until you finally reach the bottom where there will be a layer of thick black sludge that entraps any items that may visit.

The view from the bottom of the pond is in extreme contrast with the clear waters that percolate around the green lilies.

This got me thinking….let us now consider the impact of a change management program in the business environment and its correlation with the lily pond.

Those in senior management positions (the lilies on the pond surface) are usually more involved with the change process and have a greater appreciation of the overall business objective. This understanding assists in enabling them to cope with any turbulence during the process.

However, as you go lower down the corporate structure, their knowledge of the business objectives of the change program becomes less apparent. Here these employees have less visibility of the process and are typically focused on survival (keeping their job) as their environment becomes more harsh and tough (in the black pond sludge).

For the change management process to be successful, the “water in the pond needs to be continually in motion” and any detrimental “plant life” should to be removed, diluted, or transformed by the cleansing action of the water currents to avoid black pond sludge. Internal communication within the organisation is the key to keeping the “water in motion” thereby ensuring that everyone in the pond benefits from the continually moving currents.

So, just like in the pond where it is important to keep the water moving, so it is in a change management program to have communications that reach all levels of the organisation.

The Innovation Placebo

Pill tablet

I’m sure that you are all familiar with the word “placebo” and how it is applied in the medical world to make a patient think they are having some type of “treatment” when they actually are not? Without getting too caught up in the psychology of the whole medical process…..this got me thinking!

What if we could utilise the placebo effect to improve a business’s creativity? The process could be termed the “Innovation Placebo”.

To do this, one possibility could be to develop a range of “Innovation Placebo” signs strategically located throughout the business workspace. Some potential ideas:

The Building Entrance Sign
“This building has been architecturally designed by an award winning international company to enhance the creativity thought processes of the occupants”.

The Décor Sign
“The unique colour scheme and office furnishings have been carefully selected to provide an inner peace and reduce worker stress”

The Air Sign
“Through a sophisticated and patented air flow process in the building, oxygen concentration levels have been strategically maximized above all employee workstations to ensure optimum thinking potential”.

The Desk Sign
“All employee desks have achieved the 5 star ergonometric rating for maximum comfort which is the standard required by astronauts travelling in outer space”.

Etc, etc…

If only…..however, just imagine what could be achieved should it be successful?

Having the Right Ball Pressure

Pumped - 248/365

Let’s focus on the humble ball for a moment.

If it is too soft, it just flops on the ground and is of no use to anyone.

If it too hard, it bounces out of control and cannot be managed by the user.

The key is to have the air pressure inside the ball that is just right for the intended sporting application.

Similarly, we also need to have the optimum internal pressure in our lives to operate effectively, otherwise we could be too lethargic in our work practices and social activities, or we will spin out of control and bounce uncontrollably in all directions.

With the right balance of pressure, we will be much more consistent in all that we do and will continue to enjoy that happy bounce in our step!

Be a large Goldfish…not a small one

Gold Fish Bowl Jump 089/365 [explore #150]

It is said that a goldfish when placed in a fishbowl, or larger watery space, will grow to a size that is suitable for that particular swimming environment. The larger the amount of available water volume, the greater the opportunity for the goldfish to increase in size.

This got me thinking….

Many employees have worked for quite a while in the same job role where they have fully mastered their position and are now regarded as the expert within their business organization. In essence, they are the “goldfish in the fishbowl” where they have grown to their maximum size potential.

However, what if they were moved into a new role, or transferred into another business division, or leave and join another company? They would still have the experiences that they had established and fine-tuned in their previous role, but they would now have greater opportunity to expand their vision, skills and learnings in the next one. This would be like the small goldfish being placed into a much larger bowl where they could now grow into a more impressive and bigger fish.

The key is to not let your current fishbowl size limit your thinking and career potential, but to always looks for the many free flowing streams that will lead you to a larger and more impressive fishbowl or pond (or even an ocean) where you can swim freely and get bigger!

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