Codex Seraphinianus

The Codex Seraphinianus

Today I was reading a Twitter post by Maria Popova (http://t.co/RdK5JUZsOI) about Luigi Serafini and his encyclopaedia called “Codex Seraphinianus”. The following is the first paragraph from Maria’s post;

In 1976, Italian artist, architect, and designer Luigi Serafini, only 27 at the time, set out to create an elaborate encyclopedia of imaginary objects and creatures that fell somewhere between Edward Gorey’s cryptic alphabets, Albertus Seba’s cabinet of curiosities, the book of surrealist games, and Alice in Wonderland. What’s more, it wasn’t written in any ordinary language but in an unintelligible alphabet that appeared to be a conlang — an undertaking so complex it constitutes one of the highest feats of cryptography. It took him nearly three years to complete the project, and three more to publish it, but when it was finally released, the book — a weird and wonderful masterpiece of art and philosophical provocation on the precipice of the information age — attracted a growing following that continued to gather momentum even as the original edition went out of print.”

My first reaction on reading this was, “What a brilliant concept!”.
My second reaction was, “Why do we never see such creativity in the corporate office?”
The third reaction was, a repeat of my second reaction, “Why not?”

For a corporate organization to be innovative, it needs to be allowed to think. It’s employees need to be provided with the opportunity to have random, creative thoughts that are not inhibited in any way, but are allowed to run free.

In my blog (https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/) I have written many posts trying to inspire those in the corporate office to think that little bit differently. Yes, some of these posts are a little bit way out, but that’s very much the intention. A previous blog post called “The Room of Thought” typifies some of this thinking; (https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-room-of-thought/)

It’s gratifying to hear that many corporate organizations are now using my blog posts as “thought starters” for their employees, but companies need to do more and strategically embed creativity into their cultural DNA. Unfortunately, for some CEOs, innovation is merely just lip service.

The concept of “Codex Seraphinianus” is a fantastic example in “thinking that little bit differently” and inspires those reading it to open and expand their imagination. It breaks all the traditional rules, which I can only applaud.

Yes, this is my first book review and I give it 4.5 out of 5. Why not 5? Well, the score of 5 has been reserved for your own version of “Codex Seraphinianus” of which you will be the author. This version will I’m sure be a creative masterpiece!

The Gingerbread People

Gingy

The freshly baked gingerbread men and women with an impressive, and distinctive corporate logo stamped across their chest, were carefully placed on each employee’s desk in the early hours of the morning. It was the last day of work before Xmas and the department manager had spent many hours tirelessly baking that morning in preparation for the annual ritual of gingerbread person desk placement.

The time was now 6 AM and with the task of distribution completed, he decided to find a quiet corporate sick-bay bed and have a couple of hours sleep before his fellow employees arrived in the office to gleefully devour their eagerly anticipated baked gourmet morsels with an accompanying cup of coffee or tea.

But this year, something rather different and decidedly odd occurred. At about 6:15 AM there was a discreet, yet distinctive, sound of pastry movement. Yes, on some of the poorly lit office desks, an occasional little gingerbread arm and foot was beginning to display some rather unique humanistic characteristics. But not all gingerbread people sprung to life?

At 6:30 AM, some baked people of gingerbread DNA were leaping and gesticulating with extensive social skills and were having a great time getting to know each other and exchanging various bodily crumbs. However, some of their other baked relatives were just lying there in a motionless state, whilst others were still experiencing the joy of minimal hand movement with no prospect of running amuck!

Just before the department manager took his last snuff of slumbered bliss signalling that it was time to awake, an internal motion ceasing sensor was triggered in each of the gingerbread people and those that were mobile all dropped down on the spot and once again became just a baked stationary figurine.

As the employees started to arrive at their desks, some were greeted with a large number of scrumptious gingerbread people. A vast majority of the staff found a single gingerbread person on their desk in the exact same position that it has been placed by the manager. So, the question that you are all thinking is, why do some people have more gingerbread than others? The answer is fairly obvious if you have studied the traits of gingerbread culture and society, but if you do not have this educational knowledge, let me explain.

It all has to do with the energy and creativity that is exhibited by those employees in your corporate office that are innovative. These people are the lifeblood of your organization and they stimulate and encourage all sorts of ideas and inspirational thinking that some of you may think is a little bit way out. But, without these people, there is no imagination, and no hope that fictional ideas such as gingerbread people coming to life could ever exist. So it is really any wonder why the gingerbread people flocked to these people’s desks?

When next you are fortunate enough to hold a gingerbread person, prior to that first chomp of delight, may I suggest you stop and think and question yourself about your level of innovation and whether your personality entitles you to eat just one, or maybe more?

The Vertical Room of Study

The Americans in Canada

It is 8:28 AM and there are a mass of people all waiting rather impatiently for the sky rise elevator doors to open. Finally, the elevator arrives at the Ground Floor Level and the doors slowly open. I quickly enter with purpose and strategically position myself in the back corner of the elevator after appearing to nonchalantly press the illuminated number 39 button. After disguising my external and gleeful anticipation, I then surreptitiously prepare myself mentally for the long ride to my lofty office floor destination.

Some people could be rather bored with the time taken for their vertical ride to tediously meander up to the 39th Floor after continually stopping at many interim floors along the way, but not me! This time is precious as it allows all elevator participants some brilliant people observation and study opportunities! If you haven’t seized the chance to really look at your fellow elevator incumbents, then you really haven’t lived as it contains a microcosm of creativity!

This creativity is quite personal and exhibits itself in many public and rather clandestine forms. The joy for the watcher is in the identification and discovery process which may be rather transparent to those who do not appreciate the visual and sensory clues that are being portrayed within this closed people transportation cubicle.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me provide some additional information so you too can ponder this creative and informative elevator experience.

Firstly, let’s talk woft. Yes, woft. First thing in the morning, your fellow workers will apply a variety of personal fragrances, with fluctuating levels of intensity, to all parts of their body. These fragrant wofts go under the common names of perfumes, aftershaves, moisturisers, hair gels, deodorants and other secret body embellishments. To add to the mix, there are also those people that don’t believe in fragrance enhancement in any form, shape or application. The result is a composite array of woft that frequently changes in line with the differing elevator assortment of occupants.

Then there are the clothes. There will be a jumble of suits, skirts, dresses, shorts, jeans, ties, scarves, socks, shoes and even the occasional sporty look. The colours embedded into these fabrics will generally cover the full spectrum range of the PMS colour palette (except for some strange reason in Melbourne where the colour dark grey or black seems to dominate). Once again, each elevator ride up and down the building will have its own unique colour and clothing dominance.

And yes, the elevator also provides a fool-proof tool for evaluating whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert. Your classic introvert will typically stand up against the elevator wall, look down at the floor and say absolutely nothing. Whereas, your flamboyant extrovert will tend to position themselves within the central people mix and their eyes will be continually darting around looking for a fellow extrovert to initiate a meaningful, typically loud and engaging conversation. Now should you encounter a whistler in the elevator, this usually signifies a frustrated extrovert who just can’t refrain from communication any longer and is about to socially and verbally explode!

I know what you are now about to ask! What about the mobile phone user? Well, there is no benefit achieved by studying these elevator travellers, yes, none at all. Why? Because these people are fundamentally rude and are therefore insignificant and irrelevant from a creative and academic perspective. However, there is a solution. One option is to construct an elevator that is impervious to mobile phone reception (which is quite a common occurrence with the mobile network my company uses). The other, and more economically acceptable option, is to have an inbuilt sensor within the elevator that initiates a torrent of polite verbal abuse telling the person to desist immediately. I was going to suggest some choice descriptive expletives, but as all elevators carry a “G Rating”, this idea just wouldn’t pass the globally accepted standards of elevator etiquette.

So, if you are in the business of corporate change management, HR or team building, an inexpensive and unique “room of study” awaits you, that being your elevator. Next time you take a vertical ride with your colleagues, may I suggest you ponder the woft, the clothes and observe any introvert or extrovert tendencies. I’m sure that many innovative learnings will be presented for your benefit!

The “Jane Award”

Vogue

“Not again!”, I said as the camera flashes went off in unison leading to yet another ritual of blinding light in the office meeting room. It was becoming an all too familiar event, but it was one that we all relished with eager anticipation, afterall, she is a celebrity.

She did look rather stunning I thought to myself, in her chic white business attire, but she deserves the attention. It was also really inspiring seeing her on the cover of the December edition of Vogue* magazine.

However, what I loved the most about her, was that she still just accepted her usual position in the organization and went about her duties without any fuss or change in attitude or demeanor. One day, I just hope I get to be like her and the many others in the company that have achieved her lofty status.

Her business card says it all and our company utilises these rare and key employees to their maximum potential. After all, without these critical staff, we wouldn’t be enjoying the business success that we have now all become accustomed to on a daily occurrence.

What, you didn’t get a chance to read her business card? My apologies let me hand it over and read it to you. Her name is Jane Brown, her job title is “Creative Thinker”.

Yes……”Creative Thinker”.

So what exactly does Jane Brown do, you may ask? Well, Jane, and the other employees just like her, are allowed to…..think. They are provided time in their job routine to contemplate new ideas and solutions for the business. They are encouraged to network with their work colleagues, to talk to other organizations, to share thoughts and to develop other left field, non-work related dissertations. Ideas related to the future needs of the business are strongly encouraged; in fact, they are demanded by our senior management.

So why is Jane on the cover of Vogue* you may ask? Simple, the process of innovation has no boundaries and can be utilised in all activities that we do, in this instance, Jane is seen as a role model to encourage everyone to think just that little bit differently.

I’m sure that your organization has many people just like “Jane”. These people should be recognised and applauded for their creativity. Who knows, it might just lead to the instigation of the “Jane Awards” in your corporate work environment?

*Yes, Edwina McCann (Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Australia), this is fiction, Jane Brown is not a real person, but just image if she was!!

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