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!

Let the Ideas In

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Many corporate offices these days are starting to have a somewhat cloned appearance of the CIA, MI6, ASIO, and most other intelligence organizations, with all the security gadgets located throughout their buildings. This is evident by the increasing visibility of security cameras, sensor movement measuring devices, electronic swipe cards and other items that may have been derived from a James Bond 007 movie!

These security measures are very successful at keeping unwanted people out, and those valued people in, together with protecting the businesses intellectual property and other strategic assets. This security focus also permeates into the organization’s hierarchy and culture where only a limited number of vetted employees are allowed to represent the business in the external world to ensure consistency of message.

A major consequence of these established corporate fortresses is that many new ideas, creativity and innovations are also blocked from entering the organization. Many companies utilise a limited number of gatekeepers to filter and disseminate information inputs into the organization thereby ensuring a consistent methodology to evaluate potential opportunities in accordance with well established, and approved, corporate guidelines. However, this can result in stifling innovation and in restricting the highly needed creative thought that is essential to the longer-term and ongoing success of the organization.

The solution is for organizations to have a broad network of “idea collection systems” in place to seek out, identify and gather new thoughts that can analysed further to better understand current and future consumer trends and market requirements. The key is to allow many employees in the corporate structure, not just the chosen few, to have the opportunity to source these ideas without the use of the approved corporate filtering and distillation processes, otherwise this will again lead to a narrow view of potential innovation opportunities.

These “idea collection systems” do not need to be extremely ornate, sophisticated or expensive, but can be achieved via allowing people from a broad cross-section of the organization access to a variety of external information stimuli that they would not normally have exposure to via their traditional job roles. Examples of these “idea collection systems” could be; magazine subscriptions (HBR, The New Yorker, Food and Wine, MAD Magazine, Top Gear, etc), attending seminars, webinars, workshops, interest groups, factory tours, plays, book reviews, plus many more! The objective is creative diversity with ideas sourced from outside their current “thought zone”.

The vast array of collected ideas should then be pooled into a continually overflowing “idea bucket” from which those versed in the identification of potentially new ideas and products review on a regular basis. With time, I’m sure that this collective of numerous ideas will lead to many commercially new and innovative products being developed to provide future long-term benefit and financial sustenance to the corporate organization.

The corporate goal should be to have many employee “ears and eyes” constantly seeking new thoughts to add to the “idea collection systems”. But to do this, the corporate organization needs to be bold, to listen, and to “Let the Ideas In”!

 

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