The Office Tuning-Fork

Tuning fork

Many of us I’m sure have sat through a corporate meeting and have identified when someone is playing “politics”. This person’s behaviour is so obvious that it tends to stick out like a sore thumb to the detriment of that individual. The impact of this activity can also alienate them from the rest of the team and significantly lowers the output of the meeting.

To resolve and eliminate this sort of negative behaviour, this is where the application of a yet to be invented “politics” calibrated tuning-fork can be applied. Consider the following application in the corporate office.

Each meeting room will have a tuning-fork mounted in the centre of the table. The tuning-forks will all have the same business pitch aligned to the corporate values and will resonate in harmony throughout the entire office. When there is no “politics” being exhibited by those sitting around the table, all tuning forks will be in tune with each other and a constant tone will be achieved.

However, should the tuning-fork encounter someone playing the political agenda, the harmonic resonance will be broken and the culprit will be immediately identified by those in the room, and throughout the entire office.

Those repeatedly identified by the tuning fork as habitual office politics offenders will have a special entry made in their personnel file.

With time, those people who play politics will modify their behaviour as the power of the tuning-fork will ultimately prevail!

 

The Room of Thought

Thinking RFID

In the corporate office it is sometimes quite difficult to find a quiet place to think and let your mind explore new and creative ideas owing to the continual work activity permeating throughout the building.

The solution……

What about having a dedicated “Room of Thought” strategically placed in a central position within the building that can be easily accessed by all employees?

This room would comprise the following “thought enhancers”:

1. An array of luxurious sofas
To make the employee comfortable to stimulate some different thoughts.

2. A dark face mask
To eliminate any outside influences that may distract the thinker. Each mask would also be equipped with a facial moisturiser to ensure no thinking side-effects.

3. Ear Muffs
Not your standard everyday ear muffs, but ones that can be used to block out all annoying sounds, or can be fitted with a user selection of thought provoking tones to assist with the creativity journey.

4. Gourmet Food Chute
An individual chute positioned above each sofa that provides a selection of tasty snacks and beverages to maintain the thinker during their moments of inspiration.

5. Foot Feather
To ensure no employees doze off during their time of thinking, a machine would be placed at the end of each sofa that contains a large feather that would randomly touch the feet of the employee to maintain optimum maintenance of thought.

6. Voice Activated Memo
Rather than having to be interrupted to stop and write your ideas of innovation in a book, each sofa would come equipped with its own voice activated memo writer that would accurately record ideas of creativity. The user would just need to whisper these thoughts and the recorder would develop a precise transcript.

I’m sure that many businesses would see the benefit of this “Room of Thought” and with time the concept will be a standard design in many leading office layouts!

 

The Sensory Corporate Name

Typewriter Letters

With the increasing number of new companies being created in the corporate world, it is becoming common practice to see a variety of innovative and unusual business names being derived to capture the uniqueness of that organisation.

Each company wants to have a distinctive name that individually characterises and differentiates their business from that of their competition. To do this, a collage of different colours, fonts, tag lines and styles are used to develop and maintain a value proposition in an attempt to establish the essence of that business.

But what about doing something a little bit different……..?

So far, companies have only utilised one of the five physical human senses in building this new company identity, that being the sense of sight. But, what about using the other four senses?

Smell
The manufacturers of perfumes, coffee, tea and other sensory delights truly understand the power of smell to capture and stimulate certain desires. Why not incorporate smell into the new company name? For example, at the entrance to the corporate office, there could be a fine perfumery mist spray of the “essence” of that organisation? Employees could be provided with a perfume, aftershave, or body spray that reinforces the organisation aroma!

Taste
The organisation could develop their own corporate food dish that is served in their corporate cafeterias, or is proudly offered to visitors on arrival, just like an appetiser at the commencement of an evening meal? There could also be corporate flavoured cookies, together with a complementary corporate flavoured beverage?

Touch
Why does a company name need to be printed on flat paper, or a smooth surface? Why not make it undulating with bumps and troughs? Business cards could be textured with a unique feel that would make it readily stand out amongst all other business cards!

Hearing
All new organisations could develop their own corporate song to inspire all employees to have that sense of unity and belonging. This music could be surreptitiously piped into the entrance foyer and throughout the building as a motivational influence on employees. Corporate guests could also be provided with an audio CD of the song to savour and fully appreciate after their visit.

Just a thought….but this may lead to a sensory revolution in the world of corporate naming convention! You just never know??

 

The Role of the Wandering “Wofter”

Watching you

Have you ever watched a fly buzzing around a house moving from room to room as it partakes in the delights it encounters along its journey? Just imagine if you could have the ability to transform into a fly for a brief moment whilst at work and really be that fictitious fly on the wall!

Let’s just think about this concept a little bit further from a business perspective.

The humble fly has the opportunity to listen to a variety of different conversations and work practices in a completely non-influencing way and can also utilise the very best scenarios from each participant interaction. The fly is the ideal stealth observer and is able to buzz in or out and focus on specific corporate details without hindrance.

Now if you had many flies buzzing throughout your office you would gather a wealth of learnings which could be shared when all the flies swarmed together!

Unfortunately you can’t actually be a fly, but why can’t there be a role in business for a group of independent observers (for want of a better name I will call “wofters”) that strategically woft throughout the office neutrally listening to each business meeting and then come together to share their observations and insights to benefit the total organisation?

These official “wofters” could be identified by a special nondescript coloured uniform and have a position of privilege in the corporate structure! I’m sure that with time, many people would want to aspire to this role owing to the opportunity to quietly woft in all business activities?

So next time you see a fly buzzing with what appears to be an aimless trajectory throughout your office, may I suggest that you think differently and consider the benefits of the “wofter” in your corporate organisation.

The Infectious Smile

Heike

Wow…..that was a great smile I told myself when receiving my coffee in the cafe! When this woman smiled, I, and everyone else she met just had to smile back. Her smile was genuine, natural, unforced and infectious.

This got me thinking….

How many people in your office “really smile”? Every business needs a “smiler” to initiate that human touch, to let people know that they are important and not just another employee number in the corporate organisation.

A “smiler” is like a little heat spot in the building that generates and radiates warmth that people are attracted to when needing a motivational uplift.

So why don’t we formalise the role of the “smiler” in the organisation chart? Those with the recognised “smiling skill” could list this attribute on their CV, and for those that are deemed “Masters of Smiling”, there would be a large salary increase entitlement to entice them to stay in the business! After all, these prized “smilers” would be the target of many a head-hunter (or smile-hunter)!

I also would suggest that each work department needs at least one accredited “smiler” to raise morale. For those working in the more dull work teams (eg accounting – apologies to any accountants that might be reading), a second “smiler” may be required!

So next time you see a person with a magnificent smile, please savour the moment and try to learn from the experience with the view of embellishing your own smile in the direction of “smiling grandness”!

 

Leading the Troops

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Never has the role of a leader been more critical than when an organisation is undergoing a severe dislocation derived from a Change Management program.

The impact on the business could possibly be likened to how a soldier’s behaviour changed when faced with trench warfare in the First World War. In the trenches the soldiers lived in constant fear of having to go over the trench wall to face a highly risky and unknown future. To an employee, the analogy is unfortunately very similar! Consider the following:

1. Casualties
The soldier was continually seeing many casualties inflicted on their comrades by the enemy (the employee experiences many of their co-workers being made redundant and lives in fear that they too may also lose their job)

2. Lack of Information
Most soldiers were kept in the dark regarding the military mission and only saw short term actions which appeared to be rather foolhardy (employees do not fully understand the end goal of the Change Management, but rather judge the progress being made by how it is impacting themselves and their immediate coworkers)

3. Rumours
A lack of regular communication and dispatches from the military command resulted in many rumours spreading amongst the troops (if there is a lack of communication from management, rumours become rife and spread quickly throughout the organisation leading to poor morale)

4. Environment
The living conditions in the trenches became intolerable and basic hygiene quickly deteriorated resulting in discontentment and potential mutiny (employees will cope with poor work conditions and uncertainty for a limited period of time, however, should this continue many employees will seek employment elsewhere).

5. Recognition
Those soldiers who exhibited extreme courage were awarded decorations of valour, such as the Victoria Cross (employee contribution should be recognised and rewarded).

The military commander needed to have the ability to inspire and motivate the troops to have the mental and physical fortitude to leave the perceived safety of the trench and to risk their lives to fight the enemy to gain a forward position.

Here the manager must also lead their fellow employees along the Change Management journey to ensure the success of the business reorganisation, otherwise the structural change process will undoubtedly fail. Employees need to believe that their individual contribution is significant and will make a purposeful contribution to the long term survival of the business.

So before you raise your “manager’s sword” and utter that famous “charge” command, make sure you have considered all the aspects associated with the life of a soldier struggling in the trenches so you taste victory instead of defeat in your Change Management activity!

Are You on the Bus?

Double decker bus - London

In many change management programs within business you would have heard the phrase…”Are You on the Bus”?

Let us explore this analogy a little further. Many of us when at school have experienced those bus excursions which were brilliant, and others that were a complete disaster. So what are some of the key elements that differentiated the two experiences?

The Good:
The Bus Driver was a great storyteller that engaged the passengers throughout the journey.
Your fellow passengers created their own excitement and fun.
The scenery from the bus windows were continually varied and made the view a delight to behold and appreciate.
Passengers moved around the bus to experience different perspectives on the journey.

The Bad:
The driver was an utter bore and provided zero inspiration.
The passengers did not interact, were silent and uninterested.
The view outside the bus was monotonous and made the passengers switch off because they were not engaged by the scenery.

So what are the learnings with the bus analogy for management?

The driver is critical! Managers need to have the ability to inspire and lead their employees along the change management journey so they are eager to participate in the activity.

It is important to motivate the co-workers who are already on the bus so they inspire their fellow passengers so nobody wants to get off.

Passenger comfort along the journey needs to be maintained. Here the manager needs to understand and appreciate how their employees are feeling emotionally and physically. If the temperature or mood is too hot or cold, it is the driver who is on control of the air conditioner and needs to make the required organizational climatic change.

However, there might be some passengers who really don’t like the journey. If so, just let them off at the appropriate bus stop otherwise they may become a negative influence on the other passengers.

The bus may hit a large pothole in the road and get a wheel puncture? If so, the bus should quickly stop and address the problem and take the required corrective action to ensure that a smooth ride continues along the route to the intended destination. There is no point limping along with a damaged bus as it will negatively affect the experience of all the passengers.

So when next you as the driver (and manager) are about to start your next bus journey of change management, make sure you consider the above and then jump into the driver’s seat, start the engine and put your foot down on the accelerator and go!

 

Trinkets of Status

Mr. Morgan Howard, Q. C., "Energetic Toryism"

Have you ever noticed that as you get more senior in an organisation, either professionally or academically, that the size of your “trinkets of status” increases correspondingly? For instance:

A PhD when graduating has a bright and very colourful hat that is bigger than those with a humble Bachelor’s degree.
A Judge has a sturdy and “not so impressive” wig and dominant gown that conveys their esteemed authority when in the court.
The CEO drives a flashy car that somehow always remains clean regardless of how many days they spend on their private farm roughing it in the dirt.

This got me thinking…..what if these trinkets of status were distributed on a random basis to those in their organisation even though they were not entitled to exhibit them?

Would those observing these new trinket recipients view them in a different light? I suspect so, initially at least in the short term. Those wearing the trinket may also momentarily take on the persona of the rightful trinket owner and demonstrate a higher level of performance and innovation?

So why not give it a go in your place of employment? The results could be rather interesting!?

There is of course one condition that needs to be imposed with respect to the CEO’s car. Before returning it, it does need to be clean, and should there be any speeding fines, the honorary trinket person is still personally responsible for the payment!

 

Timing your “pop” just right!

281/365 - pop the bubbly.

Consider the champagne bottle from an anticipation perspective and I think you will agree that it is a world recognised winner on all fronts! So what is the key to its success?

The Shape
It is an impressive design that is bold at the base and sleek at the top that commands a prestigious occupation position when situated on the shelf with less humble bottles.

The Wrapping
The combination of a sophisticated bottle label with a wired opening mechanism is an engineering masterpiece.

The Cork
The unleashing of this pressurised stopper announces the progression of a carbonised fluid stream of enticing drinking refreshment culminating in a distinctive and highly audible popping sound!

So, when the champagne bottle that is characterised by its shape, wrapping and cork, is introduced into any party or special occasion, it is always greeted with an air of rapture and excitement!

But once it is opened and all the contents have been consumed, the bottle is now viewed with a past sense of occasion and one now spent. It can only be popped once, so the moment is eagerly cherished by all beholders.

In the corporate environment we can learn a lot from the champagne bottle when making any strategic announcements as you only get one chance to get the impact of the “pop” just right! Get it wrong and your important message becomes a fizzle.

The key is to gradually build and promote the anticipation via a combination of carefully scheduled pre-positioning communication snippets so when the time is optimum, your message goes off with an impressive “pop” and is immediately appreciated by all employees.

So focus on the timing and make sure that you get that “pop”……just right!

Cheers!

 

The need for more noisy hot air!

Hot air Balloons

Yesterday, my early morning predawn walk of individual thought solitude was rudely interrupted by the sound of a large whooshing sound overhead!

On looking upwards, I sighted an impressive and colourful hot air balloon meandering through the clouds with a crew of delighted occupants peering over the edge of the basket gleefully looking down at me.

I became enthralled with the upward view as I listened to the random bursts of hot air blasts that the pilot used to reposition the balloon strategically in the sky. As the hot air balloon climbed to greater heights, I lost sight of it momentarily in between visual and audible “trackers” associated with the gas burner used to replenish the heated air.

The thought of these “trackers” I found interesting from a business perspective, particularly for those companies involved in the implementation of Change Management. During a time of structural change, employees need to have a reference point which reconfirms that progress is being made within the organization. In the case of the hot air balloon that was camouflaged within the clouds, these were the sounds and sights of the gas burner that punctuated its progress. In the business world, these “sight and sound trackers” could come in a variety of forms such as; financial targets, management forums, employee surveys, morale or via other external measures. The key is to have these “trackers”, and to promote them regularly as the Change Management “hot air balloon” travels towards the desired end goal (or “landing position”).

So for all you who are involved in piloting your Change Management process……make sure you make lots of noisy hot air!