Corporate Office Time (COT) – Redefined

blond girl

Her name I believe was Susan, but that is somewhat irrelevant as she should have been any one of us.

Susan meandered in through the main office reception area and immediately everyone’s eyes were fixated upon her. All business activities ceased, it was like “Corporate Office Time” (COT) had stopped with her physical presence. Once the Susan persona had moved past, the only evidence that remained were the quiet rumblings of gossip and consternation.

No, it wasn’t just Susan’s long blond free flowing wavy hair, nor her brightly coloured jeans, her loose fitting and fully button collared casual silk shirt, the coloured toenails, or that distinctive walking style, it was the combination of all these attributes that when combined together created a unique and quite distinctive point of difference. Susan certainly did not portray that traditional and well-entrenched corporate look of conservatism, her appearance just didn’t “fit in” with the “corporate standards” of this office!

If we were able to take a snapshot of COT in the past, and in the future, to observe and compare the changes in “corporate standards”, the viewing I’m sure would be rather interesting and revealing.

In that 1960 classic film called “The Time Machine” (H.G. Wells), the character portrayed by the actor Rod Taylor, observes a female clothing mannequin in a shop window where he sees women’s fashion literally changing before his eyes.
(Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVlr24zD_KQ)

What is classified as acceptable business attire in one period of COT may be completely inappropriate in another point in time.

This then begs the question, what initiates the change and who deems it acceptable? Should this change in corporate standards be subtle, or one that causes a major dislocation in the office cultural environment? My preference is the latter, one that forces a change in the innovation mindset of employees and makes everyone think that little bit differently. After all, we are not all privy to having access to a “Corporate Office Time Machine” (COTM) where we can test the impact of future ideas before we implement them, so let’s just get on with it and enjoy the uncertainty!

The corporate office needs more people like Susan as these employees have the courage to introduce new and innovative ideas that continually test the boundaries of COT. These people force others in the office to review current “corporate standards” as the window of what is termed “acceptance” needs to be regularly expanded, just like the shop store fashions in “The Time Machine” film.

So, let’s stop focussing on the past and start excitedly introducing the future into the present!

Note: The image is of Weena (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eloi)

Membership in the League of Hairy Chested Men

Hairy chest

There are many “taboo” topics that are typically not talked about in a public forum, and particularly not in the corporate office. Similarly, these items of private interest are also not privy to the benefit of being found in numerous blog post searches, nor other forms of the social networking media.

No, I’m not talking “women’s issues”, I’m talking one that has been baffling men for thousands of years and I think it is time for it to make an appearance without any fear of reprisal or public humiliation!

I for one, have embraced my DNA heredity right of manhood and display my male characteristics to the fullness. How do I feel you may ask? Brilliant, and I encourage all men to follow my lead and embrace their god given right to show it!

Yes, I’m a full member of the “League of Hairy Chested Men”. That’s right, I have copious amounts of chest hair and I’m not ashamed to show it, in fact, I flaunt it whenever possible!

Now all you clothing fashion designers reading this blog post, take note as there are some important and key learnings here for you. Now that I have your attention, please consider the following points when next you develop a shirt for men:

Buttons: There are too many. You can increase your profits by eliminating the top three buttons, as they are superfluous for the hairy chested man. We like to flaunt our masculinity and these additional buttons just get in the way of our exhibitionist tendencies.

Fabric Thickness: Don’t skimp here! Men’s chest hairs are sneaky little creatures and they just love peering through the cloth. The result is an itchy chest and a look that can be a tad prickly to the observer.

Colour: Not white, as we don’t want our hidden hairs taking over the surreptitious show from those that have been formally allowed to preen in a public and approved manner.

So, to all you women read this post, the future of men’s chest hairs are indeed in your hands. You have the power to encourage your menfolk to show their hairiness and to join me in the global quest for chest hair freedom!

To all you hairy men…..be seen, be hairy! It’s a great feeling of empowerment!

Image: Shutterstock

Business As Unusual

Another piece of Strange Fruit

When it’s your first time in a new office, you tend to notice things, and I was definitely observing! This place was certainly different!

I sat down with one of my new work colleagues and noticed that he was wearing different coloured socks. Nothing unusual I thought, at least he wasn’t wearing a brown shoe on his left foot, and a black one on his right one, like the guy walking past us!

I then noticed that a young woman sitting near us was wearing a white stylish shirt, but there were no buttons, rather an array of brightly coloured loops that when intertwined kept the shirt together. This was complemented with some stockings under her skirt that had a most unusual motif.

Another work colleague was sipping their steaming short black coffee with a rather transparent bendy straw, the ceramic coffee cup was blue, but the cup saucer was red.

On checking the time on the office walk clock, I saw that the clock hands were reversed, the minute hand was short, the hour hand was long, to add to the confusion, it also went backwards.

Was there nothing “usual” in this office?

I just had to find out what was going on and leaned over to my new colleague and asked him why this office was “different”?

He responded with a most curious reply. He said that here in this office it is “Business as Unusual”. I was sure that I’d not heard him incorrectly and said, “You mean “Business as Usual”? His reply was immediate, “No, it’s “Business as Unusual”. Here in this office, innovation is not a separate business activity defined by a Department of Innovation, nor a Chief Innovation Officer, here innovation is naturally and effortlessly demonstrated in every activity and behaviour undertaken, by all employees. Innovation is not a process that you turn on and off when there is a business need, it is part of your corporate DNA and it needs to be continually expressed, what’s more, it’s expected. Business should never be “usual”, if it is, then innovation has no hope in succeeding”.

“What a great organisation”, I thought. Upon which I decided it was definitely time to do some corporate clothes shopping, I urgently needed some new business attire before I took one further step in this office!

Yes, it’s “Business as Unusual”!

The Transfer of Wisdom

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I looked with a sense of pride at my fellow colleagues as I slowly, and methodically, sat in the large well-worn leather chair in the HR Director’s office awaiting her arrival.

This was my first day of employment following the completion of my university degree three months earlier. After what seemed like a torturous series of endless interviews and countless tests, I had finally made it. I was now about to start my career in one of the most innovative and famous global companies. It was hard to disguise the smile that was slowly permeating within me, but the feeling was electic, and one that I’m sure I will never forget for the rest of my working life.

Susan finally arrived and walked into her office with a confident stride that just oozed with a persona of success. I liked her immediately.

After a few minutes of pleasant small talk, Susan took a piece of neatly folded paper out from her folder and handed it to me. At the top, it said Myers-Briggs personality profile “ENFP”. Susan then smiled, and then pressed a button on her desk. Thirty seconds later, an older, and immaculately dressed woman appeared called Megan who I surmised was nearing retirement, politely introduced herself to me. Following a brief and most enjoyable discussion, I learnt that she was also an “ENFP”, and was the company’s Global Director of Innovation.

I noticed Megan give a surreptitious nod of what seemed like “approval” to Susan. Following this gesture, Susan then excused herself from the room and I was left alone with Megan.

For the next 30 minutes, Megan explained to me the secret of this company’s success. The key, was how they passed on their experience to the new employees to ensure that the young graduates quickly obtained years of wisdom from those who were like minded. Apparently, Megan and I had a 99.99% “ENFP” personality match!

Megan, then with my permission, then commenced the secretive “wisdom transfer procedure” that “transmitted” her years of professional, social and people logic into my inexperienced and quite naive persona. At the end of the process, although I was only 22, I had the business experience of a 59 year old. I would have the unique skill set combination of youth and seniority not typically found in a person who had just commenced their first day of employment. I soon learnt, that all new starters in this company went through this procedure.

Wouldn’t it be great if all organizations could exchange knowledge between employees in this way! Although, the “wisdom transfer procedure” indicated above does not yet exist, it does so in a slightly different format that is not science fiction. The process is available to all those in the workforce right now, is relatively simple, needs no additional financial expenditure, except for one strategic prerequisite, that being “time”.

CEO’s reading this blog post take note. Why not give your young and older employees more time and opportunities to learn off each other by establishing work groups that encourage and facilitate greater communication? In these days of corporate diversity, consider age as one of your untapped resources for innovation and creativity!

PS: Yes, this photo is from the film “The Devil Wears Prada”. 

Grand Chef de Woft

Transparency 3

As I patiently sat awaiting instructions from the occupants of Conference Room 1, I smugly took the opportunity to look around my master chef kitchen. Although small, and positioned strategically beneath the Conference Room, it was a classy place, full of the latest stainless-steel cooking appliances, pans, other key requisite implements, and one that was dutifully restocked on a daily basis with the latest aromatic worldly delights.

In my position of “Grand Chef de Woft”, I felt honoured in the knowledge that I was fully appreciated by those that gleefully awaited my gourmet creations to stimulate, and motivate their creativity and hunger for innovation.

Unbeknownst to me, my work colleagues above had now entered Conference Room 1 and were preparing to start their 9 AM team meeting. They all gathered around the “woft box” and unanimously agreed upon their selection. As they were all feeling quite hungry and lethargic, they desperately needed an appropriate thought woft stimulation. They selected the popular “woft number 3”, and immediately the instruction was conveyed to me and I sprung into action.

I placed the freshly brewed coffee and pan-fried onions under the woft extraction fan that was positioned centrally over my stove, and then turned it on to maximum woft velocity. Conference Room 1 quickly filled with “woft number 3” and the occupants marvelled at the odours that were soon to completely fill their room. As is standard practice, at the conclusion of their meeting, they closed the vent of woft and opened the outside windows to allow the fresh air to permeate into the room, thereby eliminating any residual odours in preparation for the next occupants of Conference Room 1.

At 11 AM, I was instructed to convey “woft number 7”. Experience told me that these colleagues were struggling, and I promptly boiled copious amounts of strong peppermint tea. A few seconds later, the woft of peppermint engulfed the meeting room to which sighs of relief were loudly heard by those above, thereby signalling their motivational satisfaction.

This process continued all day until 5 PM when the lights in Conference Room 1 were turned off and my colleagues packed up their bags and happily headed home.

Knowing that my important role was now done, I also tidied up my kitchen and departed the corporate office. I left with a sense of achievement, knowing that I had provided the required woftful environment that lead to many new ideas being generated in Conference Room 1. I smiled with satisfaction on a job well done!