The First 10 Days

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Innovation is like running for the first time. It takes a little bit of courage to initially get going, but once you are moving, your self-imposed obstacles do slowly fall behind you. The goal is to maintain the forward momentum, and to not let self-doubt get in your way. You don’t need a vast array of fashionable expensive accessories, just some personal persistence, but some sweat does tend to help.

For those of you seeking some guidance on how to start, the following is my own 10 day innovation work-out commentary, which may assist.  However, as with every exercise regime, please consult your accredited innovation expert for a tailored program that may be better suited to your individual needs.

Day 0:
Need to at least pretend to look like an athlete. Purchased some swish black running shoes and brand matching shorts and T-shirt (apparently it breathes!).

Day 1:
Running attire worn for the first time. Look rather spiffy. If only the T-shirt wasn’t so tight fitting. Stomach seems to protrude a tad more than I would have hoped. Walk 4 kilometres.

Day 2:
Stomach still rather obvious. Still walking 4 kilometres.

Day 3:
Looks like I’m not the only person with a stomach. There are others out also walking. Now don’t feel as self-conscious.

Day 4:
Run 1 kilometre, walk 3. Overtaken by a mother pushing a pram. Decided to make my loud fatigued puffing noises less obvious as she zoomed past so not to look like a heart attack candidate.

Day 5:
Run 2 kilometres, walk 2. Saw a fit woman running past me with some earphones. Must get some. Might also help to have the phone, just in case I need to call for an ambulance.

Day 6:
Run 4 kilometres. Miracles do happen! But will need a lie down.

Day 7:
Run 4 kilometres. T-shirt clinging less to my stomach. Feeling good. Ran past that lady with the pram. Smirked to myself.

Day 8:
Feeling smug. I think I’m becoming an athlete!

Day 9:
Still feeling smug.

Day 10:
I can do this! Glad I didn’t stop after Day 1.

Final Comment: Pride and self-doubt are the biggest hindrance to success. Need to just focus on my step by step targets, and not what others may think.

Enough is Indeed Enough

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Gentlemen, it’s time for a private revolution in the corporate office because you are losing the “you”, in you. Yes, many of you have voluntarily discarded your individuality in order to become part of the accepted “we”. But the unconscious sacrifice you have made has significantly impacted your personal creativity.

Remember the time in your working life when you wanted to be noticed, when you desired to be the centre of attention, when you had something important to say, and were unrepentant when you said it?

When did we all morph into a state of visual uniformity and become a subdued and quiet collective of “I”s?

Here are some clues to help you revitalise your memory, and to inspire you into again thinking that little bit differently.

The neck tie – Gone!
Recall those colourful items of clothing that used to adorn your neck, complete with the additional visual benefit of fashionably differentiating your frontal business appearance from your colleagues? Alas, one can regretfully say the same about the unfortunate demise of the visually appealing bow-tie, similarly, the majestic cravat.

Chest Hairs – slowly growing back!
Men used to be men, and hairy. We used to have copious volumes of hairs publicly sprouting with unashamed gusto from our chests, and our faces. To think that men now voluntarily shave their manes off to achieve a follicle look of commonality, good god! Thankfully, this does not apply to those men who have boldly bucked the trend, and have courageously, and most deliberately, shaved their heads as a mark of their commitment to the male cause for innovation.

Hats – a mark of respect!
In the not too distant past, men looked resplendent with a stylish hat firmly placed upon our heads where we could selectively doff our head covering in recognition, and respect of a fellow worker, confidant, or compatriot. Thankfully, with the advent of the bald head, this item of clothing is making a welcome resurgence.

Watches – steps of progress!
Strategically positioned on the left or right wrist used to be a masterly engineered time piece of precision. This has now been replaced by a devise that measures steps, typically known as a FITBIT. Men used to compare other items to assert their masculinity, now it’s the number of steps walked in a work day, or week. I ask you, where will it end?

So gentlemen, take heed of this warning, and visually state your support in hindering this unwelcome disintegration of your individual creativity when in the corporate office. Enough is indeed enough. It’s now time to make the change!

Seek the Buzz

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It is said that the taste of success is sweet, but it is the culmination of a great deal of tireless organizational movement, just like that found in a beehive. In fact, business can learn a great deal from the sticky activities of the humble bee.

The CEO, or “Queen Bee” establishes the colony and sets the direction and longevity for its future. However, if the Queen Bee gets a tad tired and lacks the support of the total bee population, the hive will swarm and the the life of the CEO bee will indeed become short lived.

Some General Managers are like “Drones” where they happily lounge about in a state of privilege where others do their work and continually feed them with inspiration. However, their prestigious life is short lived because once they have done the “deed” with the Queen and are no longer required, they are quickly made redundant and their functions are absorbed into the food chain of the colony as a legacy for its long term sustenance.

The majority of employees are the “Worker Bees” of the business who keep the financial entity fully buzzing in a state of harmonious order, and with a continual influx of much needed inspiration from the outside market.

Occasionally “The Board” comes along and smokes out the business via regular inspections to ensure the hive is operating effectively. Any areas of concern are swiftly removed awaiting the required correction, which may be a new Queen Bee.

The output from the business is deemed “honey” which can be sold to the market for cash where it is used as a core ingredient to drive recipes of innovation in a range of applications.

Occasionally pests and other undesirable vermin may try and infiltrate the hive. Should they be successful, they are like a virus that is difficult to eliminate. Hence the need for a trusty IT guard at the hive entrance to keep those classified as unwelcome well and truly away.

So to achieve a meaningful buzz in your corporate office, it is important to make sure that every employee knows their strategic role in the honeycomb structure. And should one bee, regardless of their stature hierarchy, flap their wings out of the requisite corporate vibration, they will quickly encounter a rather unsavoury end to their corporate career. For others, life will be blissfully delicious.

 

The “Proof Level”

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What do alcohol and innovation have in common? The “Proof Level”.

Those connoisseurs of the occasional, or even the frequent, alcoholic beverage would be familiar with the concept of %-proof which indicates the alcohol content by volume. For example, 100-proof whisky contains 50% alcohol. The higher the alcoholic content, the more “oomph” in the beverage.

Just like a good whisky, a culture of innovation can be determined in the corporate office by measuring its proof level, which is known by many leading behavioural psychologists as the “IPL” (aka Innovation Proof Level).

For those companies that have a dynamic and highly stimulating innovation culture, they would be nearing the 100-IPL mark where at least 50% of their employees are deemed as being creative. A business that scores a 50-IPL, only a quarter of their staff have what it takes to drive and support their culture of innovation. For those with 0-IPL, alas, we are typically talking about the public service.

So what are the pros and cons associated with a high IPL organisation?

  • The employees are found to be very friendly and seem to happily interact, albeit some may occasionally step over the line with respect to the acceptable HR behavioural guidelines
  • New concepts are readily accepted with minimal resistance, although some may be regretted the following day
  • Corporate dress standards may become a tad shabby, particularly near 5 PM
  • Some employees may seek opportunities for quiet slumber at their desk, or discretely under it, complete with a corporate logo emblazoned pillow, blanket and bright light filtering face-mask

Similarly, for those working in an antiquated establishment where a 0-IPL commonly prevails?

  • An inability to pick up the phone until at least the 20th ring
  • A slurring of words ensuring that the customer gives up with feeling of frustration
  • A late start in the morning, complete with an early finish owing to a constant headache
  • A monotone speech pattern with a large lack of enthusiasm

So for those of you thirsting for innovation, the remedy is to have a large corporate glass filled to the brim with a refreshing 100-IPL content beverage.  However, make sure that you consume it slowly in order to avoid unwanted creative side effects that may linger long into the following morning.

Cheers!

Those Pesky Weeds of Innovation

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As CEO of a large, conservative company that has been in operation for over a century with little or no business growth, how do you know if you have those pesky weeds of innovation in your business? The following are some clues to help you quickly identify them before they can take root and grow.

Ideas: Should you hear an employee uttering the blasphemous words “I have an idea”, then they need to be dismissed immediately before that frightening innovation virus can contaminate your workforce.

Fashion: Luckily these recalcitrant employees are easily identifiable by their annoying clothes, colourful shirts, bow-ties and the occasional hat. Just ask HR to quietly usher them to the exit with minimal fuss.

Laughter: Fun in the office should definitely not be tolerated and should result in the employee being speedily placed on disciplinary action with the threat of instantaneous termination for a repeat offence.

Unauthorised Fonts: Yes, there are strict corporate guidelines that must be followed. Any employee daring to use any other font rather than the long standing and approved black Times New Roman needs to be quickly educated on the 100 year old corporate values that have served the company well, and are based on tradition.

Customers: Any customer having the nerve to complain about our products not meeting their requirements do not deserve the privilege of being supplied by us, after all, we know what’s best for their business. How dare they tell us otherwise!

Career: Any employee seeking clarification on their future within our business obviously does not appreciate the honour of working for us (or should I say for me).

My fellow CEOs, hopefully the above insights have provided you with sufficient information to nippily identify any annoying employees that might be creative, or have mad ambitions of creating a culture of innovation in your company. The key is to act swiftly before their offensive ideas can take hold and spread. God forbid!

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

 

The Culturally Fitting Cordwainer

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Looking for a corporate culture that fully supports your creative career aspirations and life travels?

If the answer is yes, then your fitted, bespoke solution is literally below you, and is one that happily accompanies you wherever your corporate desires may fleetingly wander.

Whatever your innovation need, whether it be that of a classy professional, purely social, discretely indoors or an outdoor adventure, a matching array of versatile accessories are readily available to the discerning buyer, constructed in a plethora of colours, materials, comfort levels and various purchase prices.

The origin of this personalised inspiration is your fashionable cordwainer who after years of meticulous training has mastered the requisite design skills to provide the right shoe solution that is perfect for your feet.

Now shoes are key to your creative success, but there are some exceptions to the rule:

The Naked Foot
Those who dare to walk the corridors of the corporate office with foot nakedness may attain a state of relaxed mindfulness nirvana, but this will be short lived when viewed below the business trouser, or skirt, where a certain professional visual standard is expected from the onlooking beholder. The naked foot does indeed have its rightful place, but alas, it is not yet accepted as part of the regulations for approved industry attire, despite the invigorating freedom of thought achieved by the naked foot wearer.

The Sandal
In Roman times this form of footwear was most socially acceptable, but today, corporate office feet standards have now significantly changed. However, should you be an English University Lecturer who habitually wears a dull tweed jacket, thick beige corduroy trousers and smokes a pipe with voluminous gusto, then you may continue to look the part whilst we silently smirk at your personal misfortune.

Pointy Toe
Stop! The pointy toed shoe is now classified by the FBI as a dangerous weapon, and one that has caused many employee injuries from deliberate kicking outbursts directed at that annoying colleague under the table.

The Boot
Now should you be an Australian National Party politician, then this rule does not apply because it is presumed that you wear your boots for strategic media appearances so your electorate thinks that you come from a large farming community, eventhough you have always lived in the city, and would not know the front from the back of a sheep.  For all other corporate office workers, the wearing of a boot suggests that you have not yet mastered the shoe-lace tying process which may be systematic of other analytical shortfalls in your intellect.

So should you be a CEO or HR professional reading this blog post, the answer to business innovation is delightfully simple. Just hire a Chief Cordwainer Officer (CCO) and your corporate culture will be long wearing, fully protected and continually well heeled!

 

A Dog’s Tail of Innovation

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My name is Rufus and, yes, I’m a dog, to be precise, an Irish terrier. I’ve been asked by my owner to explain the basic fundamentals of innovation to you humans. Apparently, you have made such a simple concept, so complex.

My formal qualifications? None. Except, I have fully mastered the requisite innovation skills to a point where everyone looks after me, so much so, that I do indeed have a wonderful dog’s life. I have no overrated and rather superfluous human academic skills, no Doctorate or Masters degrees, I have just sniffed things out, and have learnt by experience.

So what’s my formula to achieve innovation success? Simple, just be a dog.

Now I know that you don’t have any paws, phenomenal hearing, a superb woof, nor a sophisticated sense of odour recognition, but that’s just some of the inherent negatives that you regrettably have to put up with by being human. A dog has all of these, and does one important thing that humans appear to have lost the art of doing, that being, to use all of our skills without actually having to consciously think about using them, we just naturally do it.

A dog will happily follow an adventurous smell, not knowing where it may lead us. We don’t plan the route we may follow, we just use our noses to locate the object of interest, and if further investigation is required, we dig.

When was the last time you literally followed your nose and let your unhindered dog-like inquisitive interest take control? I suspect not that often, as from my dog perspective, you all appear to live and work in a professional world where there are strict processes and protocols to be observed.

Humans seem to spend an exorbitant amount of time sitting in front of the TV, computer, phone, reading or eating. Why not come out and spend more time with me, and together, we can smell the roses, and dig some massive holes together? I assure you, it will be fun, and with time, I’m sure you will get a taste for it.

So if you want to develop an innovation culture in your corporate office, just unleash the dog in you, have a good sniff, and make sure that you woof out loudly.

 

To Be You, or Not Be You?

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OK PersonaAPP, what would you suggest I become today?
Yes, this is the latest personality modification tool that anyone over 18 years of age can easily access from the App Store, for a remarkably reasonable fee.

So how does this rather spiffy technology work? Well, without boring you with all the rather complicated and quite technical details, let’s focus on how you can use it to your advantage in both your personal and corporate life.

Step 1:
Once downloaded, open the PersonaAPP on your mobile phone. Please tick the box stating that you agree, and fully understand the plethora of T&Cs regarding the unscrupulous behaviour that you are about to voluntarily undertake via the use of this technology. If you are worried about the potential consequences, relax, because all your friends are also deviously using it without any moralistic second thoughts!

Step 2:
Take an honest photograph of your face with all visual enhancements completely removed. This means no make-up, glasses or monocles. For best results, men (and some women) should have a shaven face. Those with false teeth, it doesn’t matter if you leave them in or out as the clever PersonaAPP does make some allowances.

Step 3:
The PersonaAPP will now require you to truthfully answer some pertinent questions regarding yourself, and your personal objectives for at least the next 3 hours. Why the 3 hour time period? Well, the Melbourne university researchers that developed PersonaAPP determined that an individual tends to change their outlook, and short term expectations on life in 3 hourly time blocks. That’s why paragraph 4.3.2 in the T&Cs recommends that the user refreshes their photograph every 3 hours as your appearance will most likely have changed, or become a bit scruffy.

In your confidential user profile section, you can record private information about your age, sex, sexual preference, height, weight, Myers-Briggs personality profile, whether you like soy milk chai lattes with honey, wearing kilts and eating kippers for breakfast. You will then be asked about how you want to be perceived by those that you interact with in the next 3 hours, if they will be predominately male or female, their approximate age,  and the meeting environment. Yes, authentic answers are required, otherwise the results will be skewed erroneously.

Step 4:
Now press the red Persona Modification button and immediately your calculated optimum profile will be shown on your phone. Your photograph will now be stylishly photo-shopped indicating how you should comb your hair, apply make-up, add/remove blemishes, the style and colour of the monocle or spectacles that truly complements your face, hair/wig colour and length, or which razor blade is best for total head shaving. A suggestion of clothing will also be provided with images so you can fully look the part. Yes, don’t worry, instructions are even included on how to tie a bow tie!

But wait, there is indeed more. Another brilliant feature of the PersonaAPP is the vocabulary and accent recommendation suggester where a collection of cunning, and particularly intriguing, words and phrases are provided for you to nonchalantly utilise during your meeting. However, a word of caution regarding the use of an accent, once you start using it, you need to have the confidence to maintain the facade for at least 3 hours, otherwise you may not be viewed as you intended.

Yes, with PersonaAPP you will obtain the ideal persona that you are searching for that will make you irresistibly appealing to those that you meet in the next 3 hour time period. Relax, because with PersonaAPP you can reset your personality for the following 3 hours, and for each hour, every day. Yes, you can be a chameleon for the rest of your life with PersonaAPP should you want to, as can all your acquaintances who may also be using it, so all your relationships could be happily false, but then again, who would know?

But, remember to make sure that your phone if fully charged, otherwise you will need to be the natural you, and who knows what might prevail in that situation?

The Answer is Nothing

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According to Professor Elsa Outinen, a leading business academic from Helsinki University, nothingness, is the unequivocal source of Finnish ingenuity.

You only need to look at the management team of Nokia to appreciate how they incorporated this long standing Finnish tradition into the core stimuli for their business success, one that helped make their mobile phones the most coveted item around the telecommunications world.

Sources close to Nokia say that it was a well-known fact that the most creative thinkers in their R&D team commenced each day with a habitual unclothed plunge in the corporate sauna to initiate their innovative prowess. Even the HR Director was known to happily participate, and unquestionably approved of the bare skinned activity. Alas, Nokia’s business dominance faltered in the latter years, when it was deemed by those that theoretically knew better, that saunas should be a place of prescribed bathing costume coverage to ensure the worldly attainment of social corporate respectability.

Professor Outinen spent a lifetime researching the thought provoking benefits derived from Finnish nothingness, and apparently, it all comes down to skin sensitivity and pore receptivity. For many years, barbers have known this closely guarded fact, and have most cleverly financially exploited that joyous awakening feeling men experience following a close cut facial shave. This also explains the high dominance of highly intellectual men who elect to adorn their bald headed appearance, thereby maximising their naked skin porosity.

For those of you a tad too embarrassed to nonchalantly discard your clothes, and then quickly plunge into a deep body covering bubbling hot sauna to maintain your personal dignity, relax, as there is another less public option available to you.

Yes, you can grow a moustache, beard, or let the hairs on your legs protrude without any hindrance. Then, when your level of hairy visual discomfort can no longer be tolerated, you can strategically re-invigorate your skin with the application of a very sharp razor. Once done, you will instantaneously experience that Finnish feeling of naked skin porosity, together with the associated personal thoughtful benefit of true creative inspiration.

Yes, the answer is indeed Nothing.

Manners maketh the Man, but Fingers maketh the Creative

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It’s all very civilised really, don’t you think? Gone are the days of actually feeling, and experiencing, the full texture of that carefully chosen food morsel we are about to lob onto our tastebuds for a complete flavoursome analysis. No longer do we meticulously separate that visually selected gastronomic delicacy utilising our malleable human fingertips where we monitor the optimum temperature, and then determine the requisite mouthful portion tailored to our individual personal requirements.

Nope, we as a society are totally reliant upon our engineered precision made eating utensils for the process of efficient food transfer. Our preferred choice of implement is the metal cast knife, fork or spoon. Some do harness the matching wooden chopstick for artistically aligned pickup, others may utilise the option of a sharp skewer with masterful mouth insertion, whilst at all times cognisant to avoid a potentially painful tongue piercing.

Yes, the result of all this non sensory eating methodology is that we have slowly lost our basic human instinct of innovative creativity where we historically used to review the best option to rip apart our selected food option, and then stuff it in to our mouths with gleeful indulgence! It has been said that manners maketh man, but at what cost?

So next time those in the corporate office are out at a swanky restaurant for that habitual team building dinner, why not make a group decision to revisit your primitive roots and say no to the cutlery adorning the table? Yes, you may make a tad more mess on the pristine white tablecloth, and cause the waiter to be slightly aghast, but the group eating experience of some dining savagery will indeed be worth it! For those prepared to really live on the innovative wild side, why not consider the friendly option of also placing an item of food into your neighbour’s hungry mouth? Now in this instance, manners are very important, as biting the hand that feeds you is not acceptable behaviour under any circumstances.

So the choice is simple, if you want to foster a culture of innovation in your business, eat with your fingers, and as a famous Kentucky Colonel used to say, it’s also apparently finger licking good! (so I’m told).

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