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……!!

Hairovation

Kaela

So as to keep the gender balance politically correct with respect to innovation in the corporate office, I thought it was appropriate to focus on a topic that was targeted more at the professional woman. So this blog post is aimed at the lady readers of my blog.

No, I’m not going to talk about skirt length, stockings, shirts, bras, lipstick, shoes or perfume, in fact, I’m not even going near it, particularly as there might be a few HR managers perusing these words, and let’s be quite honest, my knowledge in this area is somewhat limited. But, what I will talk about is hair colour!

Women have the option to change hair colour depending on what mood and image they are trying to convey. It can be long, short, wavy, curled, spiked and even shaved, and yes, people in the corporate office do notice! Hair colour appearance seems to directly influence confidence and behaviour. If you feel good about yourself, well, this permeates into how you react with your colleagues and those you come into contact with from a business and personal perspective.

This got me thinking…what if we now expanded this hair creativity not just to woman, but also to men? Just imagine the possibilities!

I am one of those men who enjoys that ‘free from head hair’ appearance. Why shouldn’t I also explore various hairstyles to generate some innovative discussion in the corporate office? Why shouldn’t I wear a variety of hairpieces of differing length and colour? One day I could be a red head, the next day a longhaired blonde, or even adorn a couple of ponytails? I’m sure that it would be noticed and would lead to some interesting dialog, potentially even a compliment or two?

Let’s just not stop at hairpieces, why not consider eyebrows, beards or moustaches! I hear you say, why not expand the hair creativity also to woman? Well, absolutely, if woman also want to try a hairpiece, fake beard or moustache, well why not! I’m all for equal opportunity in the workplace!

The key is to make people think differently and to crack open the corporate mold of conservatism. I challenge you to give it a go in your office! Why not have a ‘free hair day’ on a Friday? Go on…..I dare you!!

Shirt Wear – Guidelines for Corporate Creativity

Shirt

You know…the business shirt is quite an amazing source of innovation and creativity and has a unique and strategic place in the corporate office. However, many wearers do not recognise this fact, or its importance. So let’s explore this grand piece of clothing a little bit further.

The key shirt characteristics that define your shirt wearing creativity are:
• The colour
• The buttons
• The in/out tuck

Colour:
Most shirt wearers in your typical conservative corporate organisation tend to wear the stock standard white shirt. Need we say anymore, except, this probably explains why these companies are quite boring and lacking innovation!
When colour is introduced; now we are talking! These colourful shirt wearers tend to have that increased level of flamboyance and “oomph” that supports the generation of new ideas. Other areas for creative differentiation are the optional stripe or pattern.

Buttons:
The typical business shirt has seven buttons in the main frontal section, and a smaller button on the sleeves (assuming that this is a cufflink shirt).
My extensive research (based on extensive individual research I might add), is that the number of buttons done-up greatly influences the shirt wearers level of freedom which I assert has a direct correlation with creativity.
The optimum level of thought freedom appears to be attained with no buttons done up….yep that hairy chested high air-flow look! When all the buttons are done-up, “theory” states that creativity is proportionally reduced. Owing to HR T&Cs of acceptable dress in the corporate office, I would suggest the top two buttons being undone, if not completely removed to ensure that happy creative compromise with the official corporate guidelines.
Another option is to undo the small buttons on the shirtsleeves and roll your sleeves up, once again, a certain freedom of corporate constraint seems to prevail as a consequence.

In/Out Tuck:
This is indeed a very personal choice. Some people like to have their shirt tucked in, others like it out. However, when wearing a suit, having the shirt out does tend to make you look rather uncouth hedging towards that bogun looking classification. However, if it improves your ability to think with your shirt flapping around your bottom, well, each to their own!

Now, I haven’t explored the choice of hooks and eyes, or zips, as an alternative to buttons, but would welcome any constructive feedback from any readers of this blog post that might be beneficial to the argument being proposed above (which of course is all tongue in cheek!).

In conclusion, may I suggest that you view your business shirt as a key factor in the development of a culture of innovation in the corporate office.

Coloured Ideas of Sex

Omphaloskepsis...

There is a saying that innovation occurs when ideas have sex. This might be fine for those free thinking happy go lucky ideas, but it is not acceptable behaviour in the corporate office! You will find quite a few policies and a vast array of T&Cs of employment covering this issue. It is just not the done thing!

But what if there was a way that the ideas of employees could actually interact with each other and ‘have sex’ in a non-physical way that kept the HR policy enforcers content?

So just how could this be achieved?

Just imagine if ideas could be linked to a set of corresponding colours? Employees could then generate a large number of thoughts which would initiate an array of colours that could be captured electronically.

The next step would be to provide a ‘comfortable and relaxed’ meeting place for these ideas to ‘get to know each other’, similar to a date. This might be achieved via the use of a shared public directory on the corporate intranet?

After some interaction, where the respective ideas would get to ‘know each other a little better’, some of the more progressive and risk adverse ideas might establish a mutual attraction which may encourage a closer and more intimate colourful relationship to develop?

With time, these electronic coloured ideas might just combine together to achieve a new and innovative thought creation?

Other ideas that may be a tad bashful or reserved, may observe the progressive nature and associated benefits of those less risk adverse ideas and just let their inhibitions go and strive for new heights in idea colour combination!

The electronic idea colours could also allow for global interaction between business divisions where traditional cultural and social differences may tend to limit interaction?

Taking the concept further, older ideas from previous employees could be mixed with new and current ideas to achieve the benefits derived from previous learnings and experiences.

Yes, it is just a colourful idea concept and I’m not saying that it has any real prospect in developing into corporate reality, but hopefully it has got you thinking that little but differently! The key is to let different ideas mix and combine with others to form something quite innovative and new in the corporate office.

Cultural Transformation to a Tea!

Tea

I’m one of those tea drinkers that likes to have my tea in a long tall and transparent glass. There is something quite magical about observing the tealeaves gradually permeate their colour, taste and odour with the boiling clear water. With time, you will observe the tea colour swirling and leaving a distinctive trail in the water, with additional time, the tealeaves will transform the water into a uniform and translucent colour. The degree of tealeaf permeation, or transformation, can be controlled via the immersion duration time in the water.

Let’s take this analogy into the corporate office with respect to cultural transformation.

Many corporate cultures can be viewed like the glass of clear boiling water. To look externally at the glass, it is homogeneous, quite bland, and the only activity appears to be the vapour trail exuding from the top of the glass as a result of the high temperature (100C). However, unless something happens within the glass, the water will cool and the glass will reach a temperature that coincides with the surrounding room temperature. This is the boring corporate culture that is common in so many organizations today.

The key to cultural transformation is the introduction of a catalyst to initiate and drive change. However, prior to its introduction, the business management team need to identify and agree on what their unique and distinctive organizational culture needs to be? Let’s go back to the tea analogy. How will the business culture be defined? What will be its colour, taste, smell and intensity? How long will the process take to be achieved? What catalyst will be used to initiate and drive the cultural transformation? Will the employees, customers and the market like the final taste?

When tealeaves are added to the boiling water, the permeation can be accelerated via movement of the leaves, or the water itself via a stirring action. In other words, some action needs to occur to progress and maintain the transformation.

So when next you are considering the implementation of your next cultural transformation in your office, or if you are currently in the midst of one right now, may I suggest that you consider the following key elements:

1.A transparent glass enables your employees to see the degree of transformation permeation. Don’t hide the process, make it very visible.
2.Is the water hot? Is the corporate environment at the right temperature for the required cultural transformation?
3.What tea will be introduced into the water? What will be the catalyst that you will use to drive the change? What colour, taste, smell do you want to achieve that defines your corporate culture?
4.When should you introduce a spoon into the glass to stir things up a little? What stirring speed is optimum to achieve the desired effect?

Once the desired tea has been achieved, there is no point everyone just looking at it with admiration, make sure that all those involved in the transformation process drink the tea and provide management with feedback so the tea can be tweaked accordingly to maintain the optimum taste and enjoyment!

Don’t relax once you have obtained the targeted cultural transformation, as just like with tea, the organization’s tastes will change over time. Be prepared to continually experiment; maybe add some lemon, some honey, or another tea flavour to add that additional zest!

Change Management – Coloured Breath Analysis

Sea Surface Temperature

It is common practice these days for an organisation to use various internal surveys or other methods of feedback to get an indication of the mood of their employees, particularly during a time of Change Management. These organisational pulse checks can be rather hit and miss as they are dependent upon the number of people who participate, and on the quality of the information that has been provided.

But….there could be a better way to accurately and instantaneously gain an understanding of employee sentiment via an innovative, yet to be invented process, called “coloured breath analysis”.

Consider the following……

If we could tag and classify a person’s emotional state in the office by measuring the “colour” of the air exhaled as they speak, this could be quite interesting. A “red” colour would signify that they were angry or agitated, “green” would indicate calmness, and “yellow” that they were neutral or somewhere in between the states of “red” and “green”.

Now, just imagine if these exhaled colour breath measurements could be plotted on an office location map, just like the synoptic weather map which indicates high and low barometric pressures? If so, this would provide an immediate, real-time measure of employee feeling that could be updated and reviewed on a continual basis.

Early warning signs of potential employee “cyclones”, or other impending “storms” that were brewing in the office would be readily identified so the appropriate corrective action could implemented in order to harmonise the corporate climate. It would also identify those more preferred “climatic” locations in the office which are more highly stable and have a calming influence on the surrounding areas.

Just a thought……but think of the possibilities if it existed!

Your Masterpiece Signature

June 2 2010 - Paint Brushes

I recently had the good fortune to visit an art exhibition highlighting the impressionist painting works of the master artist Monet. It was just awe inspiring how Monet worked with various paint colours which when viewed from a short distance looked like discrete paint brush strokes, however when observed from a few paces away, the colours merged to form a stunning homogenous landscape.

With this in mind, let us consider the vast and complex array of personal and professional skills, together with the unique attributes which we have developed during the various stages of our lives and working careers. These are like Monet’s individual colour brush strokes on the painter’s canvas. The masterpiece is created when they are merged and utilised creatively with that touch of innovation!

The opportunity to mix these individual “paint” skills is unlimited and they can be applied to numerous personal and business endeavours characterised with your own “painting signature”, just like those of Monet.

The key is not to focus on the detail, but to behold the bigger picture. After all, we are all priceless works of art!

The Innovation Placebo

Pill tablet

I’m sure that you are all familiar with the word “placebo” and how it is applied in the medical world to make a patient think they are having some type of “treatment” when they actually are not? Without getting too caught up in the psychology of the whole medical process…..this got me thinking!

What if we could utilise the placebo effect to improve a business’s creativity? The process could be termed the “Innovation Placebo”.

To do this, one possibility could be to develop a range of “Innovation Placebo” signs strategically located throughout the business workspace. Some potential ideas:

The Building Entrance Sign
“This building has been architecturally designed by an award winning international company to enhance the creativity thought processes of the occupants”.

The Décor Sign
“The unique colour scheme and office furnishings have been carefully selected to provide an inner peace and reduce worker stress”

The Air Sign
“Through a sophisticated and patented air flow process in the building, oxygen concentration levels have been strategically maximized above all employee workstations to ensure optimum thinking potential”.

The Desk Sign
“All employee desks have achieved the 5 star ergonometric rating for maximum comfort which is the standard required by astronauts travelling in outer space”.

Etc, etc…

If only…..however, just imagine what could be achieved should it be successful?

Mood Glasses

_gucci-designer-gg3069s-d28jj-6016-105-sunglasses-

I’ve always been of the opinion that it would be brilliant to have some glasses that change colour to reflect your mood. But, what if we reversed this idea so the colour of the glasses dictated how we felt and thought? Now this would be interesting!

To achieve the following states of thinking, let’s consider some examples of the coloured glasses that could be used:

BLUE: Innovation and Creativity
RED: Critical Thinking
GREEN: Sustainability and the Environment
PURPLE: Romantic
YELLOW: Assertive
ORANGE: Physical strength
CRACKS in the glasses: Danger and warning
OTHER COLOUR VARIATIONS: Endless possibilities!

When the wearer takes off the glasses they go back to their usual state of thinking so the effect is only temporary.

Some potential scenarios for using these coloured glasses:

Scenario 1: Blue Glasses
The objective is to initiate a brainstorming session. Those participating would all wear their BLUE glasses. All participants would be really creative…..even those who are typically rather boring!

Scenario 2: Red Glasses
The output of the brainstorming session needs to be reviewed by the team.

Scenario 3: Yellow Glasses
It is appraisal time at work and you need that extra confidence to tackle a few issues with your boss. Putting on the YELLOW glasses gives you that extra assertiveness and self belief.

Scenario 4: Orange Glasses
You are about to start a game of football and you are a little out of physical shape. You put on the ORANGE glasses and you become a peak athlete!

The next thought then becomes, what if you had RAINBOW glasses???