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!

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 Job for the Innovation Detective – Authentic or Forgery?

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How do you know if a company is a true authentic innovator, and not an expensive creative forgery?

The answer is indeed simple. Just hire an experienced Innovation Detective, a trusted professional that specialises in promptly slicing through the external company façade and associated mystique of any superficial corporate woft.

The Innovation Detective is a special breed of person who uses an array of sophisticated, and might I say, rather spiffy forensic investigation skills that relies on their superior intellect, highly tuned physical senses, and a rather unique and remarkably sensitive portable Woftometer. Their work attire is as you would typically expect of any corporate individual, that of the stylish business suit, an array of brightly coloured paisley shirts, complete with a slick fedora hat that gracefully embellishes their head.

Once hired, following the payment of a wickedly outrageous six figure financial sum, they quickly swing into action and start the clever three step process of gathering evidence to disprove, or affirm, the existence of innovation within the designated corporate office.

Step 1: Food for Thought
The first, and usually most accessible place for initial investigation is the corporate cafeteria where you will see the Innovation Detective quietly sitting alone in the corner, typically slurping a soy milk chai latte (usually with honey), accompanied with a tasty warm scone smothered with lashings of jam and cream. Why this eating ritual, we do not know, but it seems to stimulate and encourage the ‘little grey cells” hidden, and quietly permeating well beneath the matching coloured fedora. Once nourished, the Innovation Detective carefully studies the assembled employee composition, together with the prevailing sound intensity radiating from the room. On investigation, the data indicates that those cafeterias were the noise levels are high, usually accompanied with a rich mixture of intense hand gesticulating discussion, together with at least 55% laughter content, are deemed to have all the hallmarks of a genuine culture of innovation. However, should the employees be quietly whispering to each other, or electing to have an extended lunch break outside the office, well, this is a significant clue of creative forgery being deliberately subterfuged within the organisation.

Step 2: Desk Linearity
The next stop for the Innovation Detective is the office layout where a slow and methodical walk of thought is made through all the departmental work stations and offices within the corporate office. Should all the desks be neat and tidy with no colourful creative mess to be seen, then is a big clue that may lead to an opinion of corporate thought rigidity. But should the desks also all be aligned with precise linearity, then this is no longer a clue, but now a statement of undisputable fact, that being, severe innovation doom.

Step 3: The Woftometer
The Swiss designed Woftometer is a rare instrument of precision engineering, most commonly manufactured in Germany in very limited quantities, and only available for those that hold an accredited Innovation Detective license. Although small in size, it has the unique ability to measure the prevailing “woft”[1] in a corporate office. Here the Innovation Detective, armed with their compact Woftmeter, strategically wanders throughout the entire building seeking out wofts to signify the existence of innovation.

With the three step process now completed, the Innovation Detective now gathers their thoughts and slowly conducts a methodical review of the precious data. After a few minutes of extraordinarily deep thinking, the Innovation Detective will make a verdict, and a report is written and distributed by confidential E-mail to the CEO of the corporate office.

Whether the report is heeded, or publicly shared with the employees is unknown? But if you have never heard of the Innovation Detective role, then I think you can only come to one conclusion, that being, that the report was not favourable and it is likely that you are indeed working in an expensive creative forgery. If so, it might be time for some innovation restoration?

[1] (Some Obscure Dictionary Definition: “Woft, an indication of innovation in a corporate office that is measured using a Woftometer. The Woftometer is a highly calibrated device that captures and records the number of “innos” in a corporate office. “Innos” are sub-micron in size and are invisibly excreted from a person’s skin when they are having fun, and yes, there is a patent pending!).

 

Innovation that Works Out

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On doing a rather nonchalant and hopefully surreptitious visual comparison, mine was definitely the most hairy and very much the plumpest. The young woman on the machine next to me was the personification of goddess perfection, flat stomach, not a mark of perspiration, and any skerrick of anything that remotely resembled fat was just a fictitious illusion of a historical redundant memory.

We both looked around the room that was thumping to the beat of numerous high powered eardrum splitting musical chords harmoniously bumping in unison with an array of complex mechanical contraptions, all emblazoned with men and women of a diverse range of skills and ages.

Some were adorned in the latest skin tight fashion clothing that left absolutely nothing to the observer’s imagination, others, like me, were frolicking quite respectfully in loose fitting garments that provided a modicum of respectful self-integrity and decency.

We may dress differently, have a body shape that defines us most uniquely, and may not all be blessed with copious amounts of greying hairs that frequent many hidden, and some not so well disguised anatomical locations. Yet, each one of us knew that despite our outward physical appearances, we were all very much alike as we strived for our individual goals, although they may be different.

We could be mentally discouraged and thwarted in achieving our bodily objectives by looking at those that have an appearance that seemed totally unattainable to us mere normal mortals, but each of us voluntary decide to soldier on and take that additional, and sometimes painful progressive step. We elect not to give in, not to eat that extra piece of enticing chocolate, not to have that additional large bite from that glorious greasy hot Chicko Roll, but rather focus on a complex diet of proven healthy options.

If the location was that of a corporate office, and those striving for the attainment of improved fitness and well-being were the employees, then the situation would be analogous to those talented individuals that yearn for a culture of innovation.

Innovation is not reserved for a select few, it takes time, effort, sustained commitment and continued practice. Those seeking its attainment may fail the first time, but with the right mindset and support, they will indeed succeed.

Innovation needs an organisational infrastructure that provides the correct tools to hone and shape their employees creative skills via an ongoing exercise regime of mental ingenuity that challenges, and also supports the individual.

Yes, innovation is like a gym, it needs to be worked and continually applied, otherwise, the corporate office just turns to flab.

Jester of The Order of the British Empire

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As I stood before Queen Elizabeth II, I was feeling particularly chuffed. Yes, I was one of the first British citizens to be awarded the honour of JBE.

Many worthy citizens have been knighted, awarded a CBE, OBE or even an MBE, but I, by Royal Decree, was about to have the esteemed privilege of being able to have the letters JBE permanently linked to my name.

For many years now, I have been promoting the use of “innovation” in the corporate office. It has been a hard and torturous journey that has met much opposition from the boring conservatives from within, but with continued perseverance, a creative revolution appears to be slowly permeating, despite the fierce resistance.

Numerous blog posts have been written, many a paisley business shirt worn, copious berets have been deliberately placed upon my hair challenged head, all with the deliberate intent in making those traditional corporates think differently.

The learning from all this calculated, and most devious methodology, is that innovation in the corporate office can only exist if there is one key activity, that being “fun”. Yes, the root of all creativity is the ability to have fun, to have an office environment where humour is the welcome catalyst that continually rejuvenates itself, and which unknowingly morphs into the personalities of all willing employees.

But fun takes skill and continual practice, and that’s where the role of the Corporate Jester comes into play. These oddly behaving individuals look at current corporate work practices through a unique analysis lens, one which must constantly challenge the status quo of the organization, but be done in a way that relies on humour so the creative concepts suggested are deemed more palatable and welcome.

Yes, as I looked at the well-worn crimson carpet at Buckingham Palace trodden with pride by other New Year Honour’s recipients, a quiet facial smirk appeared as I acknowledged that I was now a Jester of The Order of the British Empire (JBE).

But the smile became much wider as I observed the line of other JBE recipients, of which I was now a member. It was satisfying and most humbling to know that role of “fun” in the corporate office was similarly taking hold in other stayed corporate offices, and would soon yield the highly sought after smiling face in other innovatively receptive individuals. The unquestionable result being, the attainment of innovation.

Steven Cramer JBE

 

What’s on Your Corporate Clothesline?

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How would you describe the visual appearance of your corporate clothesline?

Is it one that has that look of shabbiness, where all the lines are no longer taut, are a tad tired and fatigued with excessive service to your organisation?

Are all the clothes hanging about rather too precariously with an outlook that is faded, tattered and torn and now ready to be used as an unwelcome, and rather smelly sleeping accompaniment in the corporate watchdog’s kennel?

If so, your business desperately needs a creative clothesline refurbishment where your employee’s innovative skills can be readily hung out to dry with pride.

The solution is to realign the skills of your employees where they all hang about with the requisite corporately aligned tension that comfortably meets their individual needs. No longer will some employees feel as if they are dangling too close to the bottom of the clothesline where some competitive vermin and other nosey corporate animals can undermine their self-esteem and confidence.

For those employees not willing to move and sway with the prevailing climatic winds, just surreptitiously loosen their holding peg, and with time, any remaining fragments of residual cloth clinging to the clothesline will eventually succumb to your new corporate gravity of change.

However, do make sure all your departmental positioning pegs are regularly updated and aligned with those that operate efficiently, are colourful, not crazed, and you will retain those important employees that are deemed strategic to your long-term organisational success.

As a CEO, you want your clothesline to be viewed by any visitors to your business abode as one that readily complements your organizational culture, and that highlights the impressive garment diversity of fashion wearers that happily attach themselves to your corporate hierarchy.

No longer will you need to spend lavish sums of money on endless internal and external organizational surveys to measure the mood and innovation prowess of your employees, just have a daily glance at your corporate clothesline and all will quickly be revealed.

Yes, the answer to your innovation is literally flapping in the wind.

 

Twas the Present of Change

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The date was the 24th December, the time 9:30 PM, and an ageless white facially follicled gentleman looked carefully at himself in the mirror.

For more years than he could remember, he had worn a red velvet suit, fluffed out his bushy beard and had gone about his famously punctual global delivery service that was the envy of Amazon.

He was known by the young and the old, no business card was required to make his introduction, he had an immediately recognisable face that made even the President of the United States jealous.

Although he had mastered keyless entry into any house, office, government, or building with high security, he was welcome by all, and was not considered a threat by the police, in fact, quite the opposite.

He had a smile and a laugh that could subdue the most rebellious child, or annoying employee. His flying reindeer fleet and professional elf workforce created a NPS that exceeded the expectations of even the most virtuous CEO.

But, it was time for a change. Yes, he had fallen into a seasonal rut and he needed to reinvigorate his creativity.

First to go was his long entrenched beard allowing the freezing North Pole winds to redden his virginal smooth face, an experience he had not encountered since his youth. Next was his suit, now fashionably replaced with a jacket, paisley shirt and jeans, complete with a tartan scarf and beret.

He looked at himself in the mirror and smiled until his elation was broken by the gentle tap on the shoulder by a senior elf reminding him that it was now time to start delivering that vast array of the world population’s presents.

But, it was time for yet one more long overdue strategic change in the festive status quo. He picked up the keys to the turbo powered sled, placed them in the hand of his 18 year old daughter and said, “You can drive, my turn to be the passenger”.

That night, a feminine sounding “Ho, Ho, Ho” was heard throughout the world accompanied by a smiling and fashionably dressed man now experiencing a newly gained sense of innovation.

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?

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