The Brave New Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caputignis: Business Greatness

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What makes a good company great? Forget looking to the traditional sources of business, academia and other highly paid consultants for a complex answer as the solution is deceptively simple.

After years of tireless observation in the corporate office, the source of company greatness was found to wholly reside in the “caputignis” level of the organization. Those with a classical education grounded firmly in Latin will know exactly what this word means, that being “head sparkification” (caput = head, ignis = spark).

The classification of “great” can be readily substituted with “innovation”, as a great company is one that is immediately known for its phenomenal ingenuity and corresponding business success in the marketplace.

Caputignis is thought to be an emotional energy state that is generated when the employee has a spark of creativity. However, unless this fleeting moment of inspiration is rapidly captured and harnessed within the corporate office, it will quickly vanish and will be permanently extinguished by a conservative organizational culture. For those unfortunate companies where this occurs, their caputignis levels were found to be very low.

Now for those businesses that were deemed by the financial market to be great, their caputignis levels were recorded as being extremely high, continuous and homogenous in all their work activities. The culture of these companies was publicly and internally acknowledged as being highly innovative, and almost electrifying in its nature, so much so that any creative sparks generated by individuals, or work teams, were instantaneously conducted throughout the organization. Here the employees as a collective, worked and shared ideas thereby generating a highly reactive caputignis flux that stimulated and encouraged innovation, together with an overflowing plethora of new thoughts.

Do you need to purchase an expensive caputignis measuring device to see where your organization sits on the greatness level? No, there is a more cost effective approach, that being the vibe that your employees feel when they are in the corporate office. If they are continually bubbling with new mind-sets, and end the working day with a feeling of excitement, then your caputignis level is high. Alternatively, if your organization struggles with the generation of innovative ideas, then you need to work on establishing an employee culture that stimulates head sparkification.

So what makes a good company great? Caputignis.

The Mesmeric Corporate Prognosis

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My esteemed colleagues, yes, I can sense your excitement and anticipation! But please relax as you need not wait any longer! After years of pain staking personal research sitting in the entrance foyers of the top 100 global companies, I am now pleased to announce that I have discovered the origins of this incapacitating corporate behavioural phenomenon.

This crippling condition that has inhibited the innovative thinking processes of employees for many decades, now has a medical name, that being “Corporate Mesmeric Innovative Retardation”, or CMIR for short. But more importantly, there is an antidote that is quite painless, and one that can be quickly administered to the corporate employee with immediate effect.

How did I discover this condition? Well, the intensive research required a high level of painstaking incognito behaviour on my behalf involving the wearing a beige nondescript suit, together with countless hours reading The Times, The Wall Street Journal and other local newspapers so as to not be noticed by the employees as they entered the corporate office. Unfortunately, I am still scared by the lack of fashion colour and style, but it was a burden that I was willing to bare for the sake of worldly corporate progress, I’m told the nightmares will eventually subside. The upside, is that my knowledge of world affairs, including the stock market, has resulted in various personal financial gains derived from highly profitable share trading, and a vast array of exclusive invitations to attend numerous London and New York high society trivia quizzes where I am deemed the font of all knowledge, and a most prized team member.

So what did the extensive research tell me? Although my study will be printed in next month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review, I’m sure that the HBR Publisher won’t mind me providing you all with a brief overview of my findings.

They key aspect to my world breaking research was the use of eagled-eyed observation. After countless detailed and personally exhaustive people watching experiences, I noticed the behaviour of all employees (particularly the attractive ones) as they entered the corporate office first thing in the morning, and then as they left that evening. The behavioural change in those inflicted employees at some businesses was profound, it was almost as if I was looking at two different people! Prior to them walking into the corporate reception area, they had a happy persona and exhibited all the normal signs of chirpiness, a willingness of thought, and a noticeable desire to learn. But once their foot stepped onto the marble tiled entrance foyer, it was as if an invisible intensely powerful force quickly sucked all the creativity from them, to which an innovative void remained until they departed the building at 5 PM sharp. At 5:01 PM, their creative vacuum was immediately replaced with their original pre-work positive behaviour. Yes, it was truly remarkable observation to behold!

Although quite mystifying, not all corporate businesses had employees that suffered from the dreaded CMIR condition. To understand the cause as to why this unexplained phenomenon may have occurred, I had to dig deeper into the observational evidence and decided to introduce the HR Managers of the companies studied into the rich complexity, and subtle machinations, of my academic research. After numerous soy milk chai lattes, and what seemed like an endless consumption of gluten-free bagels, I came to a momentous and decisive eureka moment. Apparently, the culture of the organization had a direct correlation with the onset of the CMIR. Should the culture be viewed negatively, then a high frequency of CMIR suffers prevailed. The trigger for most employees who had acute CMIR was the initial sighting of the company logo, typically first seen when they entered the company premises in the morning.  On viewing the logo, a negative and mesmeric effect immediately struck down the creatively-fragile employee resulting in a mind destroying innovation purge, luckily this was a reversible retardation that quickly ceased when exiting the building at 5 PM.

Yes, you are correct in assuming that those companies that had a positive and dynamic corporate culture that was well respected, and one that harmoniously and gleefully fitted with the employee’s lifestyle goals, experienced no CMIR sufferers. So the answer is simple. To eradicate any corrosive and long-term damaging CMIR influences in your business, management do need to focus on the right corporate culture to ensure that their business logo immediately inspires your employees when first sighted as they enter your office.

And should you need any assistance in the process, my consulting fees are indeed negotiable (but please, no gluten free bagels).

Why Would You Fly With Any Other Airline?

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My flight boarding pass indicated that I was to sit in seat 4A on Virgin Australia flight VA568 from Sydney to Melbourne. As I entered the plane, I took my special, and highly prized, Virgin Service Glasses (VSG) from the collection bin just inside the plane door and found my way to my allocated seat.

Now the VSG are not your average glasses. No, VSG are unique to Virgin Australia and the main reason why this airline is achieving phenomenal sales success in this competitive domestic airline market.

In seat 4B, my fellow passenger was a young business woman, and she too was quite excited at the prospect of wearing her VSG on the flight. In what looked like synchronicity, we both took our VSG out of the protective cases and placed them delicately on our faces.

A few minutes later, the metal, robotic Flight Attendant, as is typically found on all Australian flights, commenced the automatic routine of moving up and down the plane aisle to answer any questions and to make sure that all passengers had fastened their seatbelts in preparation for the scheduled takeoff.

As I was now wearing my VSG, instead of seeing a robotic Flight Attendant, I only saw an attractive young blonde woman wearing a red Virgin uniform with bright red lipstick. However, the woman passenger in seat 4B saw a different image. She saw a young, dark haired, rather muscular male Flight Attendant wearing tight trousers and an equally tight fitting shirt. Yes, in case you were wondering, we were both looking at the same robot.

Now this is the rather special characteristic associated with the VSG. They provide the wearer with a fictional person that complements the particular mood that they are in at that specific time of the day. If I, or the woman sitting in seat 4B, had have caught an earlier flight, the Flight Attendant image we would have been presented with in our VSG would have been completely different. This is the charm of the VSG, each flying experience is unique and varied.

From the perspective of the airline, they can utilise the services of a cost effective, bland, inanimate, ugly looking, metallic robot to do all the mundane inflight activities. However, the VSG passengers, only observe the Flight Attendant of the dreams!

The result is a well behaved and exceptionally polite group of passengers, as no passenger wants to upset, or offend their special Flight Attendant!

So next time you are flying on a Virgin Australia plane and you receive a friendly wink from the Flight Attendant, don’t think about the gesture too emotionally, as you may be rather disappointed once you have removed your VSG. And in case you were wondering, the VSG only works on the plane, you can’t take them home and try them out on some non-robotic, unsuspecting individual!

Note: If only this wasn’t fiction!

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