“White Rabbit” Behaviour

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According to a recent and widely acclaimed behavioural study, one of the biggest killers of innovation in the corporate office is the effect known as “White Rabbit” disease. Once a business is infested with this potent virus, it quickly spreads, and is difficult to exterminate without the introduction of a brutal change management regime.

The “White Rabbit” disease gets its name from the fictional character in the book “Alice in Wonderland” (Lewis Carroll), where a large white rabbit is seen to be in a continual state of panic, whilst shouting the words “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

Those employees exhibiting “White Rabbit” behaviour are easily identifiable. They will be the visibly stressed people rushing from meeting to meeting, always running late, and will be constantly letting you know just how busy they are with strong verbal flagellation sighs of self-importance.

If your organisation is deemed to have too many “White Rabbit” sufferers, and should an appropriate course of corrective action not be immediately implemented by a suitably qualified corporate physician, a stock market directive of absolute quarantine may be imposed. A short time later, a quick financial business vaporization will then prevail with irreversible effect.

But there is a simple and effective treatment that can be easily applied to those afflicted with the “White Rabbit” disease, and one which also acts as a long term inoculation for those that don’t yet exhibit any of the symptoms.

The treatment is called “time”. Not just any “time”, but “thinking time”, where the psychological stress and strain of those affected, who believe they have a need to rush in the corporate office, is eliminated from their daily ritual. The habitual application of “thinking time” leads to the development of a creative thought which tends to free the poor suffer of all anxiety, which apparently has a direct causal link with the onset of “White Rabbit” disease.

Repeated applications of the treatment also appears to fortify the organization’s resistance to the affliction with lasting effect, as their employee’s ability to think creatively is reinforced, and in due course, may even lead to the encouraging signs of innovation.

So the answer is clear. When the first indications of “White Rabbit” disease become apparent, be swift with the copious application of “thinking time”, before it is too late!

 

The Knot of Personality

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For those of you in HR that make a career out of personality profiling, you need look no further than but down. Yes, forget your Myers Briggs, DISC, and any other expensive testing regimes that you have been reluctantly using until now as the alternative solution is literally at your feet.

This surprisingly simple, and most definitely cost effective methodology, is based upon numerous years of extensive observation of employees in the corporate office. The test subjects encapsulated a broad cross section of age, sex, educational qualifications, professional experience and fashion.

The final clue to this masterly personality classification technique came to the writer whilst meticulously studying the feet of my colleagues during a rather tedious, and most non-inspiring, business seminar that allowed my mind to be free of all corporate constraints and limitations. Thankfully, it is a skill that I have perfected over numerous corporate presentations and meetings, all utilising the time graciously provided to me by my employer.

OK, enough introductory banter, you just want to know the details! So it’s time for full disclosure.

The key to your personality profile is in your shoelaces. No, do not scoff, as this is a serious study that will in some time in the distant future, by a university that is in desperate need of cash, be fully supported by a highly dubious research paper in an obscure academic publication.

Now for the shoelace facts:

  • The Common Knot (aka “around the tree”): these employees are your generalist and cover the majority of the people in your business. The loops are typically uneven which suggests they tend to not tolerate the status quo.
  • The Loopy Knot (aka “bunny ears”): these people have an open, airy personality and tend to have a career that never progresses, but rather circles backward and forward. These people are destined for a career in middle management.
  • The Knot (literally a knot, no loops): these employees are hard-nosed nutcases and should be quickly exited from the business.
  • No Knot: here we are talking employees that wear boots. Theory suggests that they are quite simple in nature as they failed to master the technique of tying their shoelaces when at kindergarten and may have other un-yet diagnosed psychological disorders.
  • Buckle: these employees are a minority and have that persona that makes them stand out in a crowd. They are frequently destined to become CEO/Executives.
  • Bare Feet: Usually an indication of a free spirited individual. These employees are typically found in the marketing department.

So next time you are in a business meeting sitting with some colleagues, let your eyes wander under the table and focus firmly on their feet. Their personalities will be most evident and readily understood. It’s that simple.

Motivator of Woft

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It’s 3 PM in the corporate office and you are exhibiting all the classic signs of needing a work pick me up. Your eyes are getting tired and extremely bloodshot from looking at that computer screen all day, your bottom is starting to experience the occasional numb spot from sitting on your chair too long, and you are getting that grumpy and frustrated watch observation technique where the passage of time tirelessly slows as it nears 5 PM.

STOP! Don’t walk to the café to get that habitual afternoon long black coffee or soymilk latte, you need the HR approved “Motivator of Woft” (MoW). Yes, after an extensive university-testing regime on many willing (and some unwilling) employees, we are excited to announce the long anticipated market release of the MoW.

This classical motivation enhancement apparatus is fully equipped with the latest features that ensures the wearer total comfort whilst they are happily and constructively stimulated in the corporate office. No longer will your staff want to leave at 5 PM, they will be pleading with you to stay as long as possible, and may even want to make their permanent residence their work desk.

So what exactly is the MoW and how does it work?

The answer is quite simple and has its origins in the sensual excitement methodology that has tantalised many humans throughout the history of man and womankind. The key to the success of the MoW is the human nose. This remarkable facial protrusion is quite a complex and highly intricate odour (or woft) recognition apparatus.

I’m sure that many readers of this blog post will immediately relate to the pleasurable woft of a freshly brewed coffee, sizzling pan-fried bacon, or hot baked bread that has just been taken out of the oven. On smelling these odours, your mind typically awakens with immense delight and pleasure.

This is the key aspect of the MoW and is the strategic driver that ensures its remarkable success. Through the use of a fashionable and tailored facial mask, we have been able to provide the wearer with an endless supply of wofts that can be easily customised for the user. The process is simple. Just place the mask over your face when you require some corporate motivation and then select the woft odour to suit your specific need. Each facial mask comes with a selection dial of ten unique and nostril inspiring fragrances that will entice the wearer. No longer will you need to leave your work desk for that a traditional 3 PM stimulation, the MoW will provide you with all the inspiration you will ever need! And should you get bored with the standard 10 wofts, a bonus 20 woft pack is available for a small additional expense.

Yes, you know you want your own MoW. So what are you waiting for?

For all those blog post readers that respond* to the author in the next 30 minutes, we will provide you with an impressive monogramed MoW that will be the envy of all your colleagues.

Happy corporate office wofting!

*VISA, MC, AMEX and of course lots of cash are happily accepted!

The Office Revolution

Boldly Masculine Design

The alarm bell screeched with maximum volume! The Manager’s heartbeat immediately started to pound loudly as this was the first time that she had heard the sound, after all, it had never actually gone off before….ever! Other Managers around her also started to run around in a panic as they too had no idea what to do. The worried Managers huddled together as they quickly searched through their book of corporate policies and procedures. Finally, on page 272, there they found the answer. It was a “non-conformity” alarm! But how was it activated, and how do they stop this continual noise permeating through their normally quiet office floor?

Unbeknownst to the Managers, one of their employees had decided to mount a personal revolt!

Let’s go back to 8:30 AM that morning to understand the origin of this mystery!

Employee number 468136, aka Bernard Smith, arrived at his allocated work station. His desk was the same as every other desk on his office floor. It was white, immaculately tidy, a computer placed centrally, 4 piles of primary coloured folders on the left side, and had a standard black chair with his name branded on the back. Bernard was dressed in his black suit, white shirt and company embellished logo tie, just like all his fellow male workers.

At precisely 8:31 AM, each employee started to type on their computer and the day commenced just like every other day. However, at 8:32 AM, Bernard stopped work. He looked up and down the line of desks, each positioned in a perfectly straight line so as to not break the red laser beam, and thought…..”enough”, as a bead of sweat slowly rolled down his forehead.

To the amazement of those sitting around him, he took off his tie and undid the top button of his business shirt. Silence and an uneasy feeling quickly started to prevail. Bernard had taken the first step to his creative freedom and it felt good! As his confidence increased, he messed up his 4 folder piles. Then he did something completely radical, he moved his desk over the laser line and turned it by a full 180 degrees. He was now facing into the office, rather than a wall!

Little did Bernard know that once his newly re-positioned desk broke the red laser beam, an alarm would be triggered……

The Managers now knew the cause of the alarm and initiated an immediate and successful remedy. They decided to quickly reconfigure all work desks with Bernard’s new alignment so each and every desk now faced inwards. Once again quietness was instilled in the office as all desks now looked precisely the same as all the others. As the week progressed, the bewildered employees slowly got used to their new desk view until normality once again was achieved.

But not for Bernard, he still had no tie around his neck and there was no way he was going back to that form of corporate fashion control. He liked his messy folder pile and the air movement around his uncollared neck. It was time for revolution……!!

Not just any tête-à-tête!

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Without any hesitation, or consultation, she picked up the red pen and scribbled some notes down in the margin of the musical score. She looked at her colleague seated next to her and nodded with a look of a “question mark” on her face, and was immediately greeted with an emphatic and resounding “yes” from his eyes. This intimate interaction continued throughout the remainder of the orchestral practice.

However, this little tête-à-tête was not just limited to this couple, it occurred with couples sitting next to them, behind them, in fact, all around them. There were trios, foursomes and even larger groups spontaneously erupting all over the stage!

Violinists, were talking to other violinists, trumpeters were waving to their friends in the double-bass section who responded with an immediate “thumbs up”! If you hadn’t had been watching, any one would have thought that there was an undisciplined, commotional, musical rabble in full force. However, what was occurring was the natural and evolving formation of sub-groups in the larger orchestra. The musicians were sharing their thoughts and ideas freely, there was no malice, withholding of information, and it appeared to be done most harmoniously and constructive.

The conductor then tapped his baton and immediately there was silence and all eyes and instruments were focussed on him. The orchestra then commenced playing with all their communal learning and experiences and the outcome was truly awe-inspiring.

I had just witnessed the final rehearsal of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) playing Mahler’s Symphony Number 2. But I’m sure that this famous and world-renowned orchestra would go through the same motions at all of their rehearsals.

So why can’t business learn from this orchestra? Why can’t they quickly form fully functioning sub-teams when required to focus on a work problem as a matter of normal practice? Businesses tend to only do this when in a time of crisis, or when a significant change is occurring?

The key is typically the prevailing culture of the organisation and it originates directly from the top. The conductor (or CEO) may be rather spiffy at waving his baton in a rather flamboyant and glamorous manner, but if the orchestra (or managers) aren’t following in “tune”, then the result will be utter chaos.

The right business culture takes time to develop. Work teams need to feel empowered and confident that their input into the larger business issue is significant and will make a difference. For instance, if the percussionists in the MSO didn’t play in time with the rest of the orchestra, regardless of how impressive the rest of the musicians played, the result would be rather discordant.

Another requirement is a willingness to listen to your colleagues in an open and unhindered manner. The conductor of the MSO listened and accepted feedback and suggestions for improvement from the various musicians, each of them a brilliant instrumentalist in their own right (just like a technical or functional expert in the corporate office). If your CEO doesn’t do this, well, is your CEO the right person for your business?

When a business has the right culture in play, the performance is “music to your ears, your employees, and to your customers”.

Bow tie Leadership

Bow Tie

Should you be looking for a symbol of change in your corporate office? Well, look no further than a bow tie! Besides providing the wearer with some upper collar shirt pizzazz, this stylish and fashionable enhancement will set the custodian with a unique and highly noticeable position of business grandeur amongst your fellow work colleagues.

Let’s start with the basics. Firstly, forget your clip on bow tie, seriously, what’s the point! These are OK if you are 3 years old and don’t know any better and probably can’t tie your shoe laces either. However, if you are an adult, it must be a hand tied bow tie. Once you have mastered the tying procedure, a certain sense of personal achievement will have been attained, a skill that the wearer can most definitely list on their CV with pride and accomplishment.

In my office, I recently had the joy of adorning a bow tie for a 6 week period. I decided to wear this fashion statement to personally support a cultural change management program that had been initiated within my organization.

Now besides getting quite a few inquisitive looks from strangers I traveled with on public transport to and from the office (I still think it was bow tie envy), and from those I work with in the office, to me, the bow tie experience was quite profound and enlightening. So, what did I learn from a corporate leadership perspective that can be used in a change management program?

1. People noticed the bow tie (if you want to be a leader, you need to be noticed).

2. You can’t wear the same coloured bow tie each day (a leader needs to tailor the message for co-workers that can be readily understood, it can’t be a general communication).

3. The bow-tie was hand tied (it takes skill and some persistence to be a leader, the process needs to be practiced).

4. Bow-ties don’t suit everyone (some people like to follow…..and wear the traditional long length and rather boring and conservative tie, but then again, we wouldn’t want everyone wearing a bow tie!).

So, next time your organization is thinking of implementing a program of change, may I suggest you go and purchase a hand tied bow tie and start wearing it in the office. Yes, you will be noticed, you will feel different from the masses, but you will be making a fashion statement, and you will be a Leader!

Hair Cut Frizz

Kathy (Frizzy Hair)

My friend spent many hours and dollars sitting in the hairdresser’s chair in the pursuit of that “just right look”. Her hair was washed, cut, coloured, styled and other things I have no idea about (my hairstyle has not required a visit to the barber for quite a few years) and the final result was “hair perfection”. She looked gorgeous, but more importantly, she felt fantastic and her mood exuded confidence and that killer professional personality of “look out world, don’t mess with me!”

But, on leaving the hairdresser, the heavens opened up and a massive downpour of heavy rain engulfed her magnificent locks of hair. The result, an unexpected frizzy hairdo, and one that no longer looked the same as it did a mere one minute ago.

Now my friend could have reacted two ways:

1. Complete emotional devastation with a flurry on large tears, cursing and screams of disappointment and anger.
2. A “WTF” attitude where she enjoyed the moment whilst it lasted, but now was wondering what benefits would be achieved from her completely different bohemian and rather artistic appearance?

In the corporate world, this experience typifies the influence of a “Change Management” program on the employee. In many instances, the “Change” is totally unexpected, has caught them off-guard and they had no desire to participate. The employee, like my friend, could respond in two ways; complete emotional devastation, or seize the change opportunity and move forward with a positive attitude.

The key is to have the latter, but to do this; the whole corporate organization needs to be fully aligned in the process. Those directly influenced by the “Change” need to be supported and nurtured so they receive consistent supportive signals of encouragement from their colleagues and management. For example, with the “frizzy hair look”, here the organization would need to promote and publicly value the skills associated with a bohemian and creative attitude. If the business still wanted the “pre-rained look”, then the employee would feel ostracised and may eventually leave the company as they perceived themselves as not fitting in to the required organizational culture.

There are many potential learnings for the HR Team from this “frizzy hair” analogy, the most important one being the environment the business establishes to accommodate and support those employees influenced by the “Change” that they have initiated. Frequently, employees are condemned for not coping with “Change”, but rather it is the fault of the organization for not fully anticipating their employee’s demands and needs as a result of the “Change”.

One final question for you to ponder a little bit further. For those of us with no hair, does this mean that we can cope with change easier than other employees?

The Panic Button

A new Button

I’d heard about this particular corporate office, but thought the rumours just couldn’t be true, afterall, nothing could be that bad! So with a certain feeling of uncertainty, I mustered up the required courage and walked with some trepidation through the entrance of the building to my scheduled appointment.

As I walked through the automatic opening and rather imposing glass doors each of which boldly portrayed the company’s famous insignia, I heard a quiet woosh sound, and sensed that a small quota of my innovation can been surreptitiously sucked out of the pores from a skin. A slight feeling of fear started to permeate through me!

I waited in the reception area for my host to arrive and noticed that the office was devoid of colour, all employees were dressed in dark ominous tones of corporate boringness and the walls were blank canvasses of white with the occasional random poster of business repetition. A drop of sweat now slowly meandered down from my forehead…this was not looking good!

After waiting about five minutes completely immersed in silence as no one appeared to laugh, smile or have any normal facial expression that had a glimmer of hope or inspiration, my host finally appeared.

My host was the CMO. He was dressed in a traditional dark suit, white shirt, rather bland yet expensive tie, black polished shoes and reeked of that rather common aftershave.

My internal innovation meter sensed impending doom and urgently started to seek an exit from this place of potential creative tyranny. I noticed a prominent button protected by thick glass on the wall that was fully coated in dust and cobwebs which read “break in case of innovation emergency!” This was indeed such a situation! I excused myself from my host, ran to the button, smashed the glass and eagerly pressed this button of hope.

What happened next….well that is a choice that all you who are reading this blog post can make! All of us have the choice to work in a corporate environment that is bleak, or one that inspires and cultivates innovation. If it is the former, then why not implement a culture of innovation change…it could be fun and quite stimulating for all concerned!

If you are in any doubt, may I suggest you place an ‘Innovation Panic Button” on your office wall and then quietly observe just how many employees try to press it? I think that you will be surprised at the number of people who desperately seek that innovation cultural change and the associated benefits that are derived from it!

Just a thought…..?

You Took a RISK….Fantastic!!

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In one of my previous blog posts you will recall my recent attempt at roller skating (https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/office-roller-skating-instructors/)

As I look back on that memory, I can vividly recall the difference in skating standard between myself (a hesitant, stumbling, novice) and that of my instructor (graceful, impressive, stunning…and yes…that rather magnificent short flappy skirt, not that I really noticed, well, maybe just a little….)

Both of us had the same type of roller skates, we were on the same skating rink, the same skating ambition not to fall over, but our skating performance skills were noticeably different! Why…well, it’s called experience. My skating experience was one lesson, her experience was extensive and it showed. But, her skating prowess didn’t happen quickly, it took many years of practice, learning, taking risks, and being prepared to occasionally fail and have that embarrassing moment of falling over and landing on her bottom.

In the corporate office, the prospect of failure isn’t really encouraged. The environment is very risk adverse, in fact, most of us are too scared to explore new ideas, particularly our managers, just in case they don’t work. It’s no wonder that innovation and creativity is stifled, or on the verge of becoming non-existent!

However, to build a corporate risk-taking environment that is effective, it needs to start at the top. A culture must develop that says…”it’s ok to fail..in fact, it’s ok to fail quite a few times…just keep working your innovative idea and eventually you will succeed and more importantly…learn”. Of course there are many caveats and T&Cs associated with this comment, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to work in an organization that encouraged you to take risks and stuff up occasionally along the way!?

Why doesn’t the CEO of your organization share with you some of their personal failures, and their learnings from those experiences? If they haven’t had any failures, does that mean they were too scared to take any risks, or did the organization not let them do so? If that’s the case, I suspect you might be working in rather a boring and conservative company so it might be time to get out before you also becoming branded with the concept that innovation lethargy is the norm and acceptable behavior!

Most companies have a corporate newsletter that is circulated internally to all employees highlighting various business successes that have occurred over the last few weeks or months. Why not include a section that highlights people in the business that had the courage to try something new, something innovative, and if it failed, get them to explain their learnings from the process. These people need to be encouraged and to be given public recognition. By doing this, others will also see that it’s ok to try something new and bold.

Why not add an innovation component into your employee’s performance goals for the year? Now this would create a vastly different mindset in the management structure as I suspect that most managers wouldn’t know where to start in this process? One option could be to provide all managers and employees with an “Innovation 101” type course that provides the basics in brainstorming and creativity techniques to make people think that little bit differently (PS: If you need a hand in doing this, let me know!)

The corporate office should be fun, exciting and have a culture that promotes innovation. Afterall, we spend most of our lives at work…so make it a place that you want to be at and more importantly….enjoy!

That Aurafication Advantage

Businesswoman consulting a partner

I’m sure that many of you have walked into a room full of people that you don’t know and can immediately sense the atmosphere that is prevalent, whether that be positive or negative. Sometimes it can be seen in their body language, or their tone of voice, or just the way they stare at you when you interrupt the mood with that look of bewilderment, or relief that someone new and interesting has joined the group. Either way, it doesn’t take you long to know whether you should continue to walk in, or just back out graciously and say with that sincere and genuine voice, “sorry for the interruption, I think I may have the wrong room” as you lie most professionally through your teeth!

Let’s call this room atmosphere the ‘meeting aura’ or just ‘aura’ for short.
You can also experience this aura when you visit a city for the first time. I’m based in Melbourne and many visitors state that there is a unique ‘Mel-aura’ that is quickly identifiable as you traverse the city streets, similarly Sydney has its own ‘Syd-aura’, as do many other cities around the world.

Many corporate organisations have their own brand that is quite distinctive and readily noticeable when you enter their head office, or meet an employee that is a true believer of their business culture. So, what is it that creates this aura, or ‘corporate aurafication’ that is so illusive to many organisations!

To me, the key to successful ‘aurafication’ is being prepared to be different, but different in a positive and constructive way that encourages employees to want to be linked to the organisation. If their participation in the business is beneficial to them personally, then the process of ‘aurafication’ is well and truly on the way. If there is no prospect for personal growth, then the chance of a successful ‘aurafication’ will be quickly nullified and the business will become yet another one of those boring, and unimpressive companies of which there are far too many!

So in order for your company to have that well sought after aura that many employees strive to obtain, focus on creating your own unique corporate culture and thereby obtain that optimum ‘aurafication’! It might just be the start of that competitive advantage that your business is looking for at the moment?

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