It’s not about Me, it’s about We.

For those that want to be truly innovative, may I suggest that you focus on the collective and not wholly on your individual perception of what you think is brilliant. Yes, you may believe that you alone are the source of many wonderful and creative ideas, but how do you know that they actually are, unless you share them with someone else and seek their objective feedback or opinions?

To be creative, you need engagement, and ideally this should be done within the same room or space, not remotely. In fact, a recent study conducted by Stanford University indicated that face-to-face meetings generated more ideas than if the same interaction was conducted virtually. For those of you that work in a creative environment, this is yet another good reason as to why you and your fellow staff should be working in a communal office, or studio, and not from home. Put simply, physical collaboration breeds and promotes optimum creativity.

The ideas of the “Me” might seem to be good, but when combined with those of the “We” and then with the “They”, the outcome just seems to work better and is ultimately more successful.

For example, consider coffee. You may grow what you think are the world’s best coffee beans (the “Me” idea). Whether they are deemed good or bad, depends on how they compare with your competition and this is typically achieved via the process of discussion and comparison (with the “We”). Of course, you do have a choice in this decision. Should you elect not to, you will never know the outcome, but then again, you may be happy in your ignorance. But to really check the validity of the beans they need to transformed into an actual hot, steaming cup of coffee manufactured via a range of intertwined process transformations that eventually require the application of a coffee pot, water and heat (the sum being the “They”). The final test being the actual coffee consumption, but even then, people have different tastes and expectations. Although very much a simple example, it does demonstrate that ideas need to be worked and tested via interactions with the “We” and the “They”, not just based on the perceptions of the “Me”.

The COVID pandemic forced many employees to work from home, many of which are still reluctant to return to the office for a variety of practical and personal reasons. However, should you want to be at your most creative, the power of the “We” needs to be considered even though the benefits of the “Me” may seem most enchanting and persuasive.

Another factor for consideration is the ability to visually see and engage with the powerful ideation catalysts of experience and mentoring when physically situated in the office, rather than being electronically portrayed via a two dimensional image personified in a video conference. Yes, a picture can say a thousand words, but a real life interaction tells a more powerful and enriching story.

So if your objective is innovation, the answer is simple. Move past the “Me”.

 

 

 

 

2035 Business Graduation Address

It is a great honour to be looking at you all as I sit in your individual home offices virtually via hologram. For those of you that made an effort to tidy your work-spaces, wear the non-standard tracky pants and have a business-like appearance, I applaud you for trying something different and unusual.

Please note that I have turned off the odour link in this presentation. The woft of coffee from some of your living abodes is indeed most enticing, but there was a rather distinct and a tad offensive smell originating from one of you so for the sake of all those participating, you will no longer be able to access this function in the hologram conference setting.

Today is your day, so enjoy it.

As you now enter the corporate workforce where you will be asked to work at least a 15 hour week (two days in the old business language), make sure you do dedicate some time in your busy work-life schedule for actual work. I know it’s a big ask, but your employer will expect nothing less.

By comparison, when I was in your shoes (for those of you that don’t wear any, it’s a metaphor), my employer actually insisted that we work in a physical office, sitting next to real people for five nominated days per week, these being Monday to Friday. We also arrived and departed at the same time each day. I know this concept is truly foreign to you all, but there were some learnings to this rather archaic practice that you might find interesting and beneficial as you commence your business careers armed with your digital graduation certificates.

1. Working in an Office

To many off you, this will be a concept that you have only read about, or watched in old movies, but it did occur. Employees really did cohabitate in buildings for prescribed hours in the working day. There were many benefits, the main one being physical interaction where you could communicate with a co-worker, not in a virtual sense, but in real life.
Meeting rooms had four physical walls, a roof and a floor. Those encapsulated in the room entered and departed via a door. You saw the whole person, they could not be muted, or turn off their camera. Once located in the room, you had to focus on the nominated activity, you couldn’t pretend to be there, or nominate a stand-in avatar of yourself, you had to actually concentrate and participate on the meeting agenda.

2. Travelling to and from the Office

Employees literally did travel to the office. The choice of travel was left entirely to the individual, it was not mandated. This could be done via car, public transport, pedal power, or other forms of transportation. The only requisite was that you arrived and left work at a nominated time each day. By doing this, your work colleagues had the optimum opportunity for engagement.

3. Interstate and Overseas

Yes, those working on business did truly leave the office and travel to see customers, colleagues or develop and progress new relationships. In the olden days, we enjoyed face-to-face interaction, particularly when meeting someone for the first time.
The main mode of travel used was the aeroplane. There was even a section on the aircraft called “Business Class” that catered for the needs of those travelling on business, not pleasure.

4. Business Attire

This you will most likely find unbelievable, but we dressed up each day when we attended the office. There was such a thing called “corporate attire” which was typically a jacket, shirt and trousers, women occasionally wore a skirt or a dress. Now and then, men would even wear a tie, which was an expensive piece of cloth wrapped around the collar of the shirt.
Why would we do this? A good question, as I see many of you squirming in your casual clothes. It was done out of respect for your colleagues, where you tried to make them feel valued and important. It also differentiated business from home and assisted in putting your mind into work-mode.
Nowadays, you can do this by simply changing your avatar, but the concept most likely originated in the days of yesteryear when we all worked in the office.


But enough of the past. Your time is now. Please make the most of it.

But I do have one additional thought for you to keep and ponder. Don’t forget the historical benefits of working in an actual office because one day, although highly improbable, there may be a power or battery failure, which would result in no virtual engagement of any kind. Should this occur, you would have to actually talk to a work colleague in a physical and real work setting! So please be prepared for this unlikely, but potentially possible eventuality, you just never know, do you?

The Winner is Football

To some, they are your sister, girlfriend, daughter, spouse or maybe even your mother, but don’t be fooled. Each year, around January, a psychological and physical change occurs where these young women loosen their rituals of normality and quickly transform into fierce football gladiators. The game they play is called the AFLW.

These athletes are united by their club colours where they immediately obtain a respectful and deserved nod of inclusion from their male counterparts, management team, the loyal supporter base and the media.

On the playing field, there are no sisterhood pleasantries. The game is conducted with only one objective, that being to win, and to hear your club team song booming through the stadium’s sound system signalling your momentous victory over the defeated cowing opposition for all to hear, applaud and appreciate.

The game is quick, brutal and requires continual training and stamina. The tackles on the oval are made without any reservation or fear of personal injury. These women take no prisoners and do not back away from a conflict.

The players come from many diverse backgrounds. There is no elitism, class, or any form of selective exclusion. The only criteria for selection is your attitude, complemented with an athletic ability to conquer your opponent via your football skills and team spirit.

These women provide the corporate office with many learnings, the biggest of all being persistence. Women for many years have had the want, the skills and the fortitude to play this great football game at both junior and senior levels. They have been blocked on numerous occasions, but now they have the ball firmly in their hands and it will never be taken away from them. The moral for business is, never give up when you know an idea is right. But when you do finally get the opportunity to progress it, make sure you kick the ball firmly between the big sticks so there is no doubt as to the result.

Women, the AFLW game is now yours. Enjoy it, just as much as we enjoy watching you play it.   

Trench Coat: An item of COVID Necessity

The feeling of fear immediately wells up inside you as you slowly open your long forgotten wardrobe door and contemplate what you will wear when you are finally allowed to return to the office following months of forced COVID-19 lockdown. Will any items of clothing in your extensive array of expensive corporate attire manage to contain your newly acquired casual and carefree body shape after weeks of continual psychological induced snacking?

Relax, as there is one item of clothing that every corporate professional must have in their possession that will protect your emotional esteem and sanity. It’s colloquially known as the Trench Coat, but for you, it will be your must-have body shape saviour and mental wellbeing protector.

Many of us know the Trench Coat via the famed Hollywood mystique associated with Humphrey Bogart who wore this mighty coat complete with a stylish Fedora peak brimmed hat. But, do we remember what he wore under his coat? The answer to this question being a definitive no, and why should we know, nor care?

Here in lies the charm of the Trench Coat with its tailored double-breasted format that nonchalantly flares to below the wearer’s knee hemline, complete with an array of buttons and impressive shoulder epaulettes.  

The Trench Coat is the perfect visual and environmental protector for any preying eyes that may seek to notice a slighter larger, and somewhat potentially plumper body lying within the constraints of the outer khaki fabric.

Many an office onlooker that does not possess such a grand and imposing coat will be totally oblivious to whatever clothing you may be wearing, or not wearing, under this outer garment, should this clothing be a tad too snug, or surreptitiously popping apart at the seams, or indeed absent. Yes, the Trench Coat will be the only item of clothing that their eyes seek and focus upon.

The Trench Coat is your everywhere coat. It protects your bodily shaped persona whilst you are travelling to and from work, and can even be worn with ease at your desk with the selective unclasping of one or two strategically placed buttons, complete with the mind assuring knowledge that at least one button still remains intact thereby keeping your pudgified body visually and masterly contained.  

For those fortunate employees that do have a Trench Coat unassumingly residing in your wardrobe, relax, as you can happily return to the corporate office with the calming knowledge that your COVID-19 embellished body is fully protected. But alas, if you don’t, now is the time to quickly buy a majestic Trench Coat before many an office worker reading this blog post makes a speedy dash to their local department store to seek and purchase this essential item of clothing.

The Circle of Obsolescence

“Come in, we have a spare seat over there”, said the Office Social Worker (OSW). There was a quiet rustling sound of plastic chairs on the beige vinyl floor tiles as space was quickly made available for their newest member. “Don’t worry, we have all experienced what you are going through, with time, the frustration will pass.” 

The Desk Phone took their allocated seat and sat rather forlornly with its handset’s flexible cable coiled in an unsightly knotted mess dangling with an uncaring manner next to the front right chair leg. One sudden jerk of the chair and the cable would have been quickly sliced in half, but the phone didn’t care.   

They all saw the look of pitiful redundancy on the Desk Phone’s face, some of them had reluctantly joined the Circle of Obsolescence (COO) only recently, others had been frequenting the meetings for decades, but their empathy was genuine and sympathetic.

It was now time for the OSW to start the COO meeting, their role being to facilitate a group discussion where each discarded and forgotten item of corporate office yesteryear would introduce themselves in turn and provide an individual life update.   

The Business Hat gleefully started the discussion. My friends of the COO, take heart as I was recently reading an article in the Italian edition of Vogue, and apparently fashion repeats itself, usually every fifteen years! It’s been a much longer time for me, but I’m convinced that I have already seen signs of a reinvigorated hat-life on many a corporate office worker’s head! I’m so convinced of this impending hat rebirth, that I’ve already given myself a detailed brushing down and sprucing in preparation for the occasion. 

I too have seen signs of this fashion trend, said the Business Shirt with an air of excitement in their voice. The other COO members all leaned forward in their chairs to listen. For many years now, I have been residing in a hermit-like manner in the darkest position in the clothes cupboard fighting off a relentless onslaught of preying silverfish and other unwelcome clothing vermin. As you can all see, I have a buttoned collar, slots for cuff-links, and a pocket strategically positioned over the wearer’s left breast. And guess what, you will never believe it, but I was actually worn yesterday!! The sound of sighs, shock and respect, gleefully permeated the room from all those seated. 

As soon as the Shirt had concluded, a rapid rustling of metal was heard in the base of the chair occupied by the Cufflinks who supported the assertions of the Shirt thereby adding credibility to their positive proclamation. 

This prompted the Neck-Tie, and even the Bow-tie, to quickly unravel in their chairs as they too sensed, and willed, their possible re-participation back into corporate office life. 

However, many other members of the COO continued to have a glum look on their faces as they regrettably knew that their days were numbered as technology, not fashion, had unfortunately passed them by. These chairs were occupied by the Blackberry phone, it’s cousin the Nokia, and now by the matriarchal Desk Phone. Some of them would survive as they resided alone on a cold, dusty, glass shelf in a museum, but for the rest, their longevity seemed doomed.

The eyes of the Business Shirt saw the look of despair on his long sitting technology challenged telephonic friends and tried to cheer them up with the following comment. “My COO friends, don’t despair. Fashion does repeat itself, but it also recycles those that were once deemed good and useful into something even better. Have no doubt, that you will all be reincarnated into an office item that is most worthy of your composition. It will happen to us all….one day.”

The OSW then closed the meeting and wondered, who next from the Corporate Office would attending, and how many chairs would be required? Time would tell.  

Sandals – Free your toes, and those ideas!







Yes, why don’t you put your weary corporate feet up on your desk and have a well-deserved rest. If you have done this, you will undoubtedly be experiencing that gleeful moment of soothing and calming bliss. And, should none of your work colleagues be looking, nor in close sensory proximity, surreptitiously remove your socks, or stockings, and free your corporately constrained toes. Once done, you will now be in a state of happy “pedibus” pleasure.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could maintain this toey enjoyment on a habitual basis, not one when you are made to feel like a foot rebel of non-corporate compliance?

You will be pleased to know that there is indeed a solution, one that is practical, is pleasing to the eye of those deemed to be astute, and meets the self-actualisation needs that your toes have been yearning for throughout your office working career.

The answer is called the “Sandal”.

Alas, many people walking the corridors of the corporate office do not have the courage to adorn this innovative fashion statement upon their feet for fear of unwarranted embarrassment or perceived ridicule. My response, how proposterous! If you are a leader, you need to step up and put one bare toed foot in front of the other and claim your sandal wearing freedom.

Sandals are also the perfect foundation to support a culture of creativity and innovation. The spiffy sandal owner can wear a plethora of different coloured socks (even white), paint their toenails with voluminous vibrancy and choose from a range of chic sandal styles.

Those progressive corporate organisations that readily adopt this welcome addition to their corporate office wear will already be thinking about where to install the requisite foot podiatric self-cleansing units to maintain those basic psychological needs, that being an acceptable nice smelling working environment, in, and around, the employee’s desk.

Sandals are also the perfect complement to those wearing a stylish suit (perhaps safari), business shorts, paisley skirt, or even a kilt. Long or short socks are a choice left to the individual, but most instances, the naked foot is considered the optimum.

Think of the great leaders of yesteryear, many of which gladly wore and encouraged the wearing of sandals. I will admit that there are some impressive individuals that publicly didn’t, but when they got home, rumour has it that the first item of clothing to be immediately discarded were their uncomfortable shoes, quickly replaced with a soothing sandal.

Now for all those that have thoughts of achieving an innovative mindset, the answer is simple. You need to free your toes. Let them wiggle in harmony with all those ideas that have been bound and closeted in your mind for far too long. The choice is up to you, but do recognise that the wearing of the sandal provides the ideal catalyst, and one that you can quickly place upon your feet for everyone to see and appreciate.  

Neck Attire, Post COVID-19

Errol Flyn

That gleeful time is fast approaching when we will all be allowed to return to the corporate office, albeit subject to the ongoing COVID-19 rules of social distancing. However, I for one, will be pleased to look my fellow co-workers directly in their computer weary eyes, rather than via an impersonal electronic screen. I am so over the repetitive hourly ritual of video conference calls!

Yes, for the past couple of months, we have all been judiciously working from home, but it’s now time to joyfully open up your clothes wardrobe and to rediscover your forgotten corporate business attire. Do you remember those crisply ironed business shirts, ties, suits, cuff-links and polished leather shoes?

But let’s reflect on your appearance, one that I suspect has slowly morphed from that of a snappy, fashionable, stylish dresser, to that of a casual, rather haphazard, creature of home comfort. It is also likely that the concept of enclosing your unhindered neck with a business tie is furthest from your current Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in fact, you may have forgotten that well-practiced past art of manoeuvring the slender sewn fabric into a knot that miraculously resembled the legendary half, or full Windsor.

However, relax, as a fashionable alternative to the business tie is available to those that are authentic seekers of true neck freedom that accommodates the continued yearning for casualness following weeks of home incarceration.

The answer is the cravat.

This clever piece of clothing is ready and willing to fill the void on any business shirt wearer’s neck, be they male, or female. Besides looking decidedly eye-catching to any sophisticated observer, the cravat can be loosely tied, thereby giving the wearer that wanted feeling of lasting comfort.

The cravat has been in existence since the 16th century, and will undoubtedly continue for many more, which is not surprising considering its remarkable ability to complement the attire of any astute wearer.

So, as you prepare for your return to the corporate office, quickly go online, or into any clothing store of good repute, and purchase at least one cravat, and with time, you will quickly be a convert, and one that is deemed by your fellow workers to have impeccable fashion taste.

The Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct

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I understand that you adults now need to spend time working from home, but let’s get things straight, there needs to be rules. For many years, we Teddy Bears have lived in peace and quiet whilst you grown-ups have gone to work and had a human life. Well, if we are going to spend more days together, or potentially weeks in close proximity, things need to change.

As such, we, your Teddy Bears have banded together and have developed a Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct. If you don’t obey it, we will be leaving your household as we are immune to any virus, so the loser in this relationship will be you, not us!

Video Conferencing
There is no need to shout. From our comfortable abode of sitting centrally on your bed in between the pillows, we can hear everything you say, even with our paws covering our ears. So please use a normal indoor voice. Yes, the microphone on your computer is working.

Clothing
Pyjamas were designed as night time wear, not for use during the day. And for those of you that think that you are clever by wearing a business shirt on your top half, with a pyjama bottom under the desk, everyone knows what you are doing so the only fool in the room is you.

Teddy Bear Attire
Yes, we bears typically wear no clothes. We are comfortable in our nudity, particularly as we have “no private parts” to interfere with any gender identity. However, you humans need to think twice about copying our lack of clothing standards. What is acceptable in the corporate office must apply during the work day hours. We don’t care what you do in the evenings as is portrayed by the continual glazed look of neutral non-interest that we have carefully mastered after years of human behavioural observation.

Sneezing and Coughing
Teddy Bears don’t like baths, particularly soap. As such, we do not like being sneezed or coughed upon and request that you keep a handkerchief in close proximity at all times when you are working.

Throwing
We don’t mind sitting next to your work desk, in fact, we enjoy the social interaction, but please don’t throw us when we are accidentally seen by your computer camera during a video conference call. Everyone has a Teddy Bear, so relax, it’s OK for us to be seen, and we promise not to say anything that might undermine your professional standing with your colleagues.

So, if you want a happy life whilst working at home, the answer is indeed simple. Just follow these five Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct rules and you and your Teddy Bear will get along just fine. We might even let you give us a hug, even if you break one of them by mistake, so everyone is a winner!

The Corporate Cubby House

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Should you be the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) of a large corporate organisation that has been tasked with the development of an innovation culture that is truly unique, and one that actually works, then just sit back in your comfortable, expensive leather desk chair as you already know the answer.

The solution is indeed simple. Just go back in time to when you were an adventurous, carefree and potentially naive eight year old who made a decision with your closest friends to build a cubby house.

In case the number of years from when you were eight has become slightly diminished with age, time, and tad too much requisite social sobriety, let me summarize the process that you may have followed.

The Plan
No, you did not have sufficient pocket money to engage a global consultancy organisation to make a vast array of recommendations for you, there were definitely no Powerpoint presentations, nor large committees, you and your mates just decided to do it.

The Selection Criteria
You looked upwards and identified the best tree that could provide you with sufficient height that your dog, little sister or brother, parents, and enemies could not physically assail without personal difficulty.  In CIO speak, these individuals could be classified as the competition.

Resources
This was your initial demonstration of innovation. At first glance, you had nothing, but with a bit of foraging through your parent’s workshops, gardens and potentially those of your neighbors (the term stealing never came into your vocabulary when you were eight), you had all that you required.

Construction
Yes, there was risk, there was failure, and some cuts and bruises, but with persistence you managed to build a structure way up high in the branches that met your immediate needs.

Evolution
As the cubby house fell apart with the passing of days, or as your group of trusted compatriots expanded in number, you found yourselves continually experimenting with new ideas, some driven by necessity (as the rain poured through an unsealed roof). However, the key is to remember how your innovation and creativity could never be extinguished, nor limited in any way, as there was always a solution to any problem.

Status Quo
Once the Cubby House had been in operation for a prescribed period of time (normally dictated by the end of the school holidays), you didn’t rest on your laurels, but you and your mates sought out other new and exciting challenges. You utilized your experience to build bigger and better structures, after all, you were eight, going on nine, and you had many ideas, and much mischief to make!
Now back to you, the CIO.

The solution: Just release those long standing corporate shackles of conservatism and visualize you at the age of eight, and all the innovation that you, and your organisation will ever need will be revealed.

Grey is Great

For many a year now, many a woman, and some men, have deliberately disguised their prominent locks of grey with a variety of colours considered by society to be more youthful. These hairs may be located on their head, or on other parts of the body that are deemed public, or carefully concealed from a potentially judgemental view.

But for all those that habitually eradicate the grey, it’s time to break the habit and to let your years of follicular experience freely permeate into its grand, and long overdue fullness.

Grey has the mistaken perception of being neutral, boring and lacking colour and vigour. However, this is indeed a palate of naivety and ignorance. In fact, grey embellishes all the trials, tribulations and success associated with a lifetime of true innovation.

Consider the colour blue which has relished the joy of being linked to unhindered thought. Yes, blue provides a perception of boundless insights, but is it the common colour of hair choice in the corporate office? The answer being a resounding no.

Those employees with red hair are uniquely labelled as having certain distinctive personality traits that demonstrate vitality, fun and a willingness to try new experiences. If you have ever worked with a red head in your team, it will be a truly memorable experience and one that will be missed when absent.

The blonde (or yellow) haired co-worker has a range of attributes that exudes a range of desirable qualities which makes their presence a popular choice, so much so that they are synonymous with the term “blondes have more fun”.

Yes, the colours blue, red and yellow have all individually had their place for those that seek the attainment of creativity, as is seen by many an employee dabbling with a hair dye colour application that reflects this desire of follicle ownership.

But what happens if you combine all the knowledge contained within these three colours in equal proportions? The result is the colour grey. Yes, grey.

Grey hair is the colour that should be applauded as it signifies that this person readily portrays an accumulated knowledge base that would benefit any credible organisation.

So, should you be wanting to identify the innovative employees in your company, look for those that have the grey coloured hairs as they possess exactly what you are seeking.

Yes, Grey is Great.

 

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