The Brave New Office

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In a rather obscure, and regrettably, often ignored, paragraph in the classic 1935 novel supposedly written by Aldous Huxley titled “Brave New Office”, there is a clue as to the true source of sustained business innovation. Unfortunately, many corporate leaders have deliberately not heeded this now wise futuristic premonition and their leadership has suffered the perilous consequences.

Huxley outlines a corporate office in which humanistic creativity is directly linked to electronic devices for their inspiration and ongoing mental stimulation.

The paragraph states, “It was time for me to develop a corporate business plan so I carefully followed the detailed directions stipulated by my CEO (Central Emotion Organiser) and sat in the padded ideation chair located in the soundproof chamber, fastened the thought stabilisation seat belt around my waist and gently placed the mind activation headphones on my ears. I was now in complete isolation from the surrounding office and could only hear the thoughtful messages being directed to me by those ultimately more sagacious than myself.

Using the electronic thought pad placed within easy reach, I dutifully typed the words of communicated instructions that I obeyed without any need to question their authority or reasoning. Once done, I then touched the send button and the masterly corporate business plan was immediately replicated and distributed throughout the organisation for implementation by my fellow workers.

The whole process took less than 60 seconds to complete. Who could have imagined that many years ago, those in the corporate world that we now call “creative savages”, used nothing but the archaic ideation tools of their own mind, complemented with the incomprehensible use of a hand driven ink device that engraved odd-shaped letters on a fibrous paper medium. In the words of my CEO, totally unbelievable!”

The year is 2017 and I now look at all the electronic thought enhancement tools the corporate office now uses to drive innovation. We are all totally reliant upon our computer, iPhone, E-mail, TV, and a plethora of other associated and interlinked communication devices.

Why not try something brave, and definitely not new, in your corporate office?

Yes, it’s most likely hidden in the back of your stationery cupboard covered in a deep layer of cobwebs. Once you find it, it’s called a pen and a writing pad. To use it, just let your thoughts go free, unhindered by any electronic support device and scribe in free hand any ideas presented to you. With time, I promise that you will get used to it, you might even enjoy the positive emotive sensory feeling associated with writing!

Go on, free the creative savage within you, and redefine your Brave New Office.

Jazz – The Poignant Innovation

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Looking for business improvisation in your office? Well, focus on music as it provides a poignant innovation key.

According to one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, the answer is to deliberately focus on the “white”, and not the “black”. Most traditional players of music are captivated by those pesky black notes, carefully placed with much thoughtful deliberation by the composer on the five well regimented lines of the staff. The orchestral focussed musician then, without any allowable hesitation, follows without question the vast array of strategically positioned crochets, quavers, semibreves, and even the occasional minim, with a well-practiced systematic bow, blow or beat of their beloved instrument. The result is a perfect and consistent replication of the musical selection, just as the composer had stipulated.

However, if you are a player of jazz, you tend to not be a musical conformist, but one that focuses more on the creative freedom represented by the unrestricted white score background devoid of all black notation. These innovative musical entrepreneurs utilise their deep, fundamental understanding of their instrument to collaborate in joint mutual harmony with a range of other diverse thinking performing colleagues to create the true essence of improvised jazz.

To complement the jazz player’s unhindered creative style, no formal orchestral dress attire is typically worn. Rather, you will observe a selection of them occasionally wearing a diverse range of coloured paisley patterned shirts, stylish mod-suits, denim, boots, dark glasses, and even a stylish hat.

Now consider the corporate office with all its conservative business rules and regulations, its staff brandishing the standard business suit, shirt, cuff-links and ties, analogous to the large, classical symphony orchestra lead by the CEO conductor. But don’t get me wrong, as for many businesses to succeed, this long standing and proven tradition is essential in ensuring that all employees are working off the same musical score, are working together with a common objective to manufacture a high quality performance that is appreciated by the expectant shareholder audience.

But should your business be striving for the development of a culture in which innovation can flourish, consider how a “jazz room” environment can be established where your employees can mix with other likeminded paisley clad individuals, can experiment with corporate melodies previously untried or heard, and are free to let their creative talents loose without any critical judgement or fear of failure. With time and practice, the result will produce some new and dynamic sounds that may be the start of a new direction for your business.

So what’s the key to business improvisation?  Try to not always focus on what you typically see, but allow yourself the opportunity to expand your creative horizons and explore the innovative vastness of what could potentially exist in the background.

 

The Cardigan Effect

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If you are still searching for that illusive light bulb moment of inspiration that illuminates you on how to develop a culture of innovation within the corporate office, well, cover your shrinking expectant diluted pupils and look no further!

Those organisations that publicly acknowledge that they have attained this cultural goal of ongoing creative status fully understand, and vehemently practice, a little known law that many of you I’m sure have never heard of, or have ever been exposed to. The law is never discussed in any external academic of business journals, or in a public forum. Those CEOs that utilise this law protect it, and value it on an equal footing with any other prized intellectual property that they own.

The power of this law is like that of a welcome virus, and when unleashed without any senior management constraint within an organisation, it quickly takes hold and generates an uncontrollable innovative forward momentum.

The law is known as “The Cardigan Effect”. So how does it work you may gleefully ask? Let me explain.

The “cardigan” is a metaphor and is used to describe the relaxed, unhindered mental behaviour of an employee when they are not in the corporate office. When exhibiting “cardigan” behaviour, the employee speaks their mind openly; they have an opinion that they happily express with their family and friends. They solve problems, have suggestions and are not scared to challenge the status quo. They may be introverts, extroverts, or anything in between, and are content in realising and accepting their own unique persona.

But when many of these employees enter the corporate office, they remove their snug and comfortable “cardigan” and take on the excepted foreign characteristics and behaviour of the organisation. They become a different person, and all their inherent creativity becomes stifled, suppressed or non-existent.

Those organisations that have mastered the “Cardigan Effect” to drive a culture of innovation within their businesses allow, in fact fully encourage, their employees to wear their personalised “cardigans” in the office. The have created a work environment where their employees want to be their natural selves both in, and out of the office, there is no behavioural separation. However, there is one defining and strategic filter used for this “cardigan” behaviour, that being the organisations corporate values. Here the corporate values are not used to hinder the individual’s creativity, but rather to ensure consistency and a reference point for behaviour.

So how does an organisation create a work environment to fully reap the ongoing benefits of the “Cardigan Effect”? Well, it starts at the top with the Senior Executive team happily wearing their very own personal (not company supplied or corporately branded) “cardigans” publicly in the office. Some of their cardigans may not be that fashionable, may be a tad dirty, or may have a hole in the sleeve, if so, that’s even better. They need to consistently “walk the talk” and wear their “cardigans” everyday, not once off as part of a fad or promotion which most employees recognise quite quickly.

So on Monday as you dress for work, why not leave your usual corporate attire in the wardrobe and pull on your old and trusted “cardigan”. But more importantly, make sure that your home persona accompanies your “cardigan” as you enter the office. Then watch and behold just how fast this new and highly welcome innovation fashion trend quickly prevails!

Pinocchio’s Law

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A comprehensive population study has recently been completed, by a soon to be prestigious university, that will provide society with a foolproof DNA roadmap ensuring the long term wellbeing of mankind’s want for cultural innovation.

The analysis results were remarkably simple by their nature and have confirmed that people just needed to open their eyes as the source of innovation was, literally before their faces. The researchers wisely named their innovation theory “Pinocchio’s Law” owing to the direct, physical and observable correlation with their university findings.

The results indicated that when an individual fabricates a story, lies, or promotes an untruth, their brain stimulates a corresponding creative growth hormone that initiates increased nasal development. For those people that have mastered this technique, their noses will typically be abnormally long. This also assists in explaining the timeless conundrum as to why babies have small noses, as they have not yet perfected the skill of deception.

Another strategic correlation linked to an individual’s deception ability is that of innovation. An innovative mind needs to be able to think differently and to quickly fabricate events in order to achieve a plausible scenario, even though it might be highly fictitious.

So for those of you that want to spawn a race of innovative offspring, the answer is quite simple. You just need to find a reproductive partner with a nose that is significantly longer than yours, or at least of a matching length.

However, for those of you with a spiritual, sinless and purity of thought inclination, you too have a visual clue to assist you in finding that perfect life accomplice. Yes, you need to seek out people with a short stubby nose, and the chance of any negative humanistic deception tendencies will be minimised.

Yes, “Pinocchio’s Law” can also benefit those in business. Should your CEO have an unusually large nose, well the verdict is simple, don’t believe everything your are told!

In summary, bigger is indeed not better, unless you like deception.

The Isle of Creativia

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As you fly over the Pacific Ocean at 25,000 feet in the luxurious comfort of your First Class fully reclined leather seat number 1A, the furthest thing from your mind would be the existence of the small county of Creativia located far below. In the time taken for you to scoff your second mouthful of that exquisite, and most decadent, 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, the air turbulence from your plane would have only just tenderly kissed the peaktop of Creativia’s highest mountain. But then again, how could you know that in 20 years from now, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution would prevail, and that you, and all your fellow business travellers that you typify, will then be quite literally extinct. Yes, an unplanned catastrophic business event will exterminate all those corporate organisations that are deemed not up to the required survival standard of innovation and creativity. The result will be the survival of the business fittest, and these individuals will only be the fortunate inhabitants of Creativia.

The origins of Creativia goes back to the early 1960s, when an unknown mutant variant of the human DNA, just happened to form simultaneously by a remarkable freak of nature in many leading industrial countries around the world. Those born with this undetectable and unique gene condition grew up with a distinctively different view of life, business and mankind’s role and place in this earthly environment. For these select individuals, “the glass was always full”, they saw things with a continually positive and optimistic perspective as everything they did was based on an underlying theme of innovation.

These individuals from a very early age immediately understood that they were different from the common populous, and as they grew older and more business savvy, they nonchalantly started to meet surreptitiously in hidden boutique coffee shops around the world. Here they repeatedly tried to quench their endless thirst for creative stimulation with high doses of caffeine in an attempt to satisfy their enduring innovation habits and urges. However, their individual ESP insights warned them of a greater impending creative doom that would soon engulf the business world leading to the complete obliteration of the corporate world as they, and as we, knew it. Like a homing pigeon on a lifelong mission of creative destiny, each of them were mysteriously led by some unknown personal and instinctive force to a small deserted and entirely hidden island, rich in natural resources and copious cash reserves. As the years progressed, these inhabitants waxed strong into a diverse and mighty culture of creative thought. Then, when the time was just right, they as pioneering Creative Ambassadors of Thought, journeyed from Creativia to seek out new and impoverished businesses to rectify the time consuming wrongs of many out-dated CEOs and corporate Executives.

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Twenty years later, it did indeed happen. Looking back, it was a slow, potent, and highly lethal cultural virus that with time took hold and eventually killed the corporate world due to a lack of futuristic and insightful thinking. CEOs from all around the world together fell on their business swords and bleated their proclaimed selfishness in focussing on short-term financial goals and not the longer wellbeing of their corporate organisations. But alas, it was all too late. 

Long live Creativia! 

Framing Your Office Correctly

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When walking around an art gallery you will see a variety of different people mulling in front of an oil painting making all kinds of comments. Each of them will see different aspects of the painting and will make their own interpretation as to the artistic and messaging intentions of the painter.

Some observers will focus on colour, the scene portrayed, or potentially the interaction of the people encapsulated in the work of art, and what they may be thinking or experiencing.

The viewer’s analysis of the painting will be varied, with each opinion based on their own unique life experiences that have coloured their thoughts and imagery on life.

This got me thinking. What if you took a random, non-staged photograph of the workers in your office that captured a specific moment in their working day? This image could be black and white, or coloured, placed in an impressive frame and then hung on a wall, just like in an art gallery.

So as to avoid any potential bias and insider people knowledge, employees from a non-related business would then be asked to comment as to photographer’s intentions, just like the painter of the oil canvas.

Those observing would come up with a range of assumptions and theories, some of which could be related to the work culture, stress, mood, or happiness of those people contained within the “frame”.

The collective feedback would provide a unique and objective insight into the machinations of your office. However, in this instance, the painter, or photographer, is your CEO, as this role is the creative source of the scene. Depending on the critical comments received, is your CEO proud to sign their name in the bottom right corner of the painting to stamp their ownership of the work? If not, maybe they would prefer to learn from the feedback and use it to develop and fine-tune their management artistry skills and have another go?

Yes, a picture does indeed say a thousand words. The key is to listen to them.

Keep your Eyes Focussed

Closeup of a woman wearing a monocle in one eye. Date taken- 1930

The date was the 4th September 2025 and the last Will and Testament of my dear grandfather had just been read. His friends knew him as Barry “Pirate” Cramer, to me, he was simply Papa, and he and I, were the best of friends.

Barry “Pirate” Cramer was an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word and left his family a financial fortune that many people can only dream of attaining. My father, Leon Cramer, was his only son and today became the wealthiest person on the planet.

In my grandfather’s Will, I was left no money, real estate, works of art, or other trinkets that those in the know would classify as valuable. However, the “Pirate” had left me two items that to me characterised the “real” him. These were his gold-rimmed monocle, and his personal diary.

It took about three months before I could open his diary owing to the grief I had been feeling, but once I did, I could never have imagined the innovative insights that this little worn leather bound book contained.

Barry “Pirate” Cramer was a business visionary and could always see how to commercialise new and novel ideas that many of his peers, and competitors, could never understand, or appreciate.

He earned his “Pirate” nickname for two reasons. The most obvious one being that he always wore a monocle in his right eye. The other one was that he was famous for plundering companies that were on the brink of bankruptcy that he miraculously, and quickly, transformed into highly profitable business that were the envy of the original owners.

As I was rummaging one night through his diary, I was intrigued by the words that he had scribbled when he was only 21 years old, an age which signalled the start of his financial prowess. The reference was to why pirates wore a patch over one eye. Apparently they did this so their eyes were ready for combat in the poorly lit interior of a ship [1]. As such, they always had one eye accustomed to light, the other prepped for darkness.

Papa took this concept further and replaced the pirate eye patch with the monocle, which eventually became his personal signature facial accessory. Yes, he did need to wear glasses, but he used the monocle in a cunning and rather visionary way. By wearing a monocle, his eyes were always focussed on the short and longer distances, ready for any visual obstacle that he may encounter. However, he took this in not just the metaphorical sense. Whenever he viewed a problem, he was always able to literally “see” two sides to the solution, the short-term and most obvious one that everyone could appreciate, but also the future opportunity that many of his competition could not comprehend.

What a brilliant visionary concept, one that many corporate businesses, particularly their CEOs, could learn from and utilise in in the development of their strategic plans. The key is to be a “pirate” and to have one eye looking at the now, the other eye very much focussed on the future.

So next time you go to the optometrist for your pair of fashionable glasses, why not get a monocle instead and let the potential pirate in you take control! You will also look rather spiffy, and will most definitely be noticed.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyepatch

You have Changed!

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Yes, my friends were right, it was just like “Dorian Gray”, I had changed. To confirm their thoughts, I decided to review images of myself over the past few months, just to see if there were any visual signs.

I perused Facebook and a multitude of iPhone images and aligned them in chronological date order hoping to find a clue. I quizzed my friends as to what differences they were observing in me, in particular, when they thought the change may have occurred? I needed to discover my behavioural tipping point and it’s potential origin.

I spend the whole night pondering my notes, looking at photographs and at 11:34 PM that evening, I noticed it.

The initial change was subtle, but the time comparison between then and now was momentous. Yes, I had changed, and in a big way.

I was now a much more confident, outgoing individual, with a continual smile on my face. My business attire of the traditional and conservative dark blue suit with white shirt, and boring striped tie, had been replaced with a stylish array of coloured shirts with cuff-linked sleeves, bow-ties, pocket hankies, and an impressive daily shaved smooth slick head.

The point zero appeared to coincide when I began working for a new company, one that had an amazingly vibrant work ethic and culture. As a pondered and thought about this further, the term “cultural chemicalization” came to mind. For those of who reading this blog post let me explain the concept further.

If I were to look up the term “cultural chemicalization” in a dictionary, it would say: “the subconscious absorption (or chemicalization) of an organization’s culture by an employee where a change in behavioural state occurs”.

Yes, I had subconsciously, and quite happily I must admit, absorbed the positive culture of my new place of work, and the more I thought about it, so had all my fellow colleagues. The result was an amazing environment where creativity and innovation excelled to the fullest.

The process of “cultural chemicalization” begins with the CEO and the Executive Team. It is their behaviour that sets the benchmark for all employees and those they meet externally. As that saying goes, “what you see is what you get”. As an employee, if you observe a positive, enthusiastic management team, you and your organization will respond accordingly. If you see “nothing”, then that’s exactly what you will receive and experience.

Yes, my friends were right, I had changed, and I was loving it!

Doff your Hat

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There are reports of a substantial “theory” currently circulating amongst the higher echelons of academia and global business leaders that is causing the hair of many University Deans and CEOs to stand on end. This “theory”, soon to be published in “The Victorian Business Review”, provides many clues as to its origins, and also some potential thoughts that might just be useful in your business.

The basis of the “theory” goes back to the ancient days of the coronation ritual associated with Monarchs, Popes and other significant leaders and thinkers. The historical symbol fundamental to this “theory” is portrayed by the wearing of a Crown (if you are a Royal), the Papal Tiara (if you are a Pope), a Mitre (if you are the Archbishop of England), or a Tudor Bonnet (should you be a higher academic).

But the “theory” doesn’t focus on the head ornament. No, the “eureka” moment of discovery for those working on this “theory” as they tirelessly searched through endless archives and other old paraphernalia, was what was found under their hats! Yes, they discovered nothing, in other words, a very bald-head, one in which hairs no longer resided.

Their “research” found an inverse direct causal link between the number of hairs situated on one’s head and their IQ. Their “findings” indicated that those with a very smooth and shinny head were most gifted in the intellectual department.

These history records suggest that baldness was quite rare in the ancient years and that many people aspiring to thinking greatness shaved their heads in order to pretend that they were amongst the prized ranks of hairless head grandeur. (Note: It is interesting to note that many men today are still following this fashion trend!)

Those with a truly bald-head are known to be very caring and considerate people. It is for this reason that these great leaders in history decided to adorn a hat so as to disguise their lack of hair so others less fortunate (who had a full head of hair) felt less insignificant in their intellectual prowess.

If you be a CEO, this “theory” provides a timely opportunity for your business should you be embarking on a program of innovational change. The answer is indeed most obvious. All you need to do is to employ more bald headed people. Or, should you not be able to afford the high wages associated with these privileged intellectual thinkers owing to their high corporate demand, then just hire a few hairdressers and encourage some head shaving of employees that look like they may have the bald-headed potential.

My Esteemed Fellow Mischief Makers

The 39 Steps - Metro - Man 1 & 2

I paused at the top of the escalator and took a deep breath as I read the poorly illuminated conference sign that would direct me downwards to the basement of this 2 star hotel in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

I dusted “on” my black suit, with matching black scruffy shirt; at least I didn’t have to worry about my black shoes as they were already quite dirty and had a few prominent scratches that looked most imposing and disrespectful.

There were no issues with my hair being uncombed, mainly because I was fortunate not to have any, so I decided to mess up my long eyebrows, just for added visual effect.

Perfect I thought, I was now ready to head downstairs to the Awards Ceremony, at which I was tipped to receive the most prestigious award, that being for “Disservice to Innovation in the Corporate Office”. I had been working on this achievement for the past twenty years, had successfully infiltrated many global architectural firms in Europe, North America and Australasia, and more importantly, no one had yet realized what I had been doing!

What still surprises me the most was that senior business leaders and managers all applauded my efforts, all happily accepted my designs without fully understanding the consequences, and; they eagerly paid me a massive fortune in the process, to which I am indeed most personally grateful. To top it all off, they unashamedly made my office concepts a blueprint standard of excellence which was adopted, without any intellectual thought, by all organisations that considered themselves leaders in creativity! I still laugh when I think about that last comment!

I glanced at the chipped hands on my tired looking watch and saw that it was now time to make my tardy entrance to the ceremony. As I slowly descended down the escalator, I reached into my suit pocket and had another brief look at my hastily written acceptance speech, just in case it was required.

Written in my messy black inked scribble, I reread the words….”Thank you for this great dishonor! Yes, it’s still hard to believe that my once crazy thought and so fantastically disruptive idea, which I initially developed so many years ago as a joke, is still being used in the corporate office! And to make it even more remarkable, this superbly dysfunctional concept is still cited by experts as being one of the strategic keys to innovation! I smiled, as I imagined the thunderous applause that I would receive from my fellow mischief makers on doing a job so well, for so long, and I was still fooling those that should know better!

I was so looking forward to making the celebratory champagne drinking toast, which would be; “My Esteemed Fellow Mischief Makers, I give you the “Open Planned Office!”

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