The Mesmeric Corporate Prognosis

hypnotist

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).

When a Building Thinks

13948288967_646b2078bb_o

According to the erection date chiselled into my cornerstone, I’m a middle aged corporate building as measured by employee years. However, as all the other offices around me keep telling me, with age, comes experience, and I have seen it all.

My occupants come and go, make noise during the daylight hours, but thankfully they let me rest during the night which allows me time to recuperate and get my office back in order with the assistance of what they call “cleaners”.

Like all thinking entities, as I get older, I do start to lose a few fibres from my carpets, the walls and fixtures take on a slightly more shabby look, and there is the occasional random odour from the basement, but a regular make-over seems to do the trick which helps me look decades younger. The key to my youthful appearance is in having a well defined, and rigid inspection regime, where a realm of specialist tradespeople annually check me over and make sure my inners are operating efficiently. If not, a non-working item is quickly identified, rooted out and professionally replaced with something more modern. Any discomfort, or embarrassment that I may experience during this operation as my private rooms are exposed to all observers, is quickly forgotten when I consider the longer-term benefits.

As I’m more “buildingly” mature, I also have the ability to be the master of my occupant destiny, a trait many younger buildings can only aspire to, and one that I’m regularly quizzed about. For those of you that have read my many interviews in the Harvard Building Review (HBR), I won’t repeat the details here so as not to sound too pompous, nor repetitive. But for those that haven’t, the key is in using your inherent building skills to manipulate those within you. For example, should I experience an internal people upset that needs to be purged, I evoke my fire sprinkler system to remedy and dampen down the origin of the disturbance. Another option is to deliberately rest a people section of my building structure by strategically removing the power supply from the offending area. For those occasions that need a rapid solution, nothings beats the immediacy of a broken sewer pipe or gas leak which seems to work every time! But as a word of caution, don’t use this last one too often, otherwise you may find yourself being served with an official building condemnation notice which can cut short your life expectancy quite quickly.

Like all buildings, there will come a time when I’m no longer appreciated and I will be asked to make way for something an architect deems younger, more fashionable and environmentally friendlier. No, I’m not perturbed, because I know that I will be reincarnated once again into yet another building as my structural DNA is recycled and used as foundation rubble fill, thereby continuing my thought, and influence, in the corporate office.

 

Why not “Think Inside the Time Box”?

Time Jumper

This morning ritual of having breakfast in the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne airport was becoming an all too familiar experience. [1]

After satisfying my early morning Maslow’s basic survival needs with a long black coffee, wholemeal toast with lashings of vegemite, a petite bowl of muesli, I then mentally consumed the words in my newspaper looking for that insightful and learned spark of wisdom. Five minutes later, possibly six at a stretch, I had quickly come to the conclusion that I was bored. There was now only one thing for me to do in order to fill-in the time before I boarded my flight to Sydney, and that was to observe my fellow business travelers.

After a few minutes of visual critique, it became very apparent that the long sought personal goal of individual creativity which defined everyone as a unique individual, had somehow slipped between the cracks that morning. The more I looked, the more I could see many of my yet unknown business acquaintances partaking of coffee, cereal, toast with the occasional variant of a random accompaniment of difference (eg marmalade or honey), but in essence the selected diet was remarkably the same.

We wore similar suits, ties, cuff-links, shirts with that all too familiar checked pattern and colour, read the same newspapers, and even looked at each other with that same inquisitive look when a wild animal is startled from its habitual and comfortable lifestyle by an oncoming car headlight.

This got me thinking. How can we be creative if we are all seeking business innovation and inspiration via the same sources of knowledge and thought? The well-known term “thinking outside the box” came to mind, but is this the right way to discover new ideas? If we are all following the same methodology, all reading the same editions of the Harvard Business Review, the same business books, following the same sports, eating the same food, well, our sight outside the box is rather flawed and certainly lacks that required long distance vision, it will also be the same view as everyone else!

Why not try something a little bit different? Why not “think inside the box”, but with a major difference, that being time as a variant? There is a lot of untapped idea history “inside the time box”, the key is to open it up and use it. Many potentially brilliant ideas have literally died with creative thinkers of past generations. If their ideas had been passed down between the ages, their insights may have formed the basis of many unusual and different innovations that could only be fulfilled with the progression of time and today’s technology.

Alas, time travel is not possible, but what about actualising the environment and thought stimuli of past creative thinkers to excite and enlighten you and I today? The method is quite simple. Why not consider the following past time ideation starters:

  • Dress up in period costume and wear those antiquated spiffy clothes in the corporate office?
  • Don’t read today’s newspaper, read some old papers and get an appreciation of the business and life customs of the past?
  • Forget the long black coffee in the morning, have an old English ale instead? (assuming your HR Manager is OK with the concept)
  • Don’t drive to work, walk or take your personal horse and buggy?

I’m sure the experience would lead to some different and creative thoughts being established as you think” inside the time box”. Your business colleagues will also have the benefit of thinking differently as they observe you in the process of historical thought change and will marvel at your self-confidence and creative fortitude.

So next time you are sitting in the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne airport awaiting your flight, try and consider what you can do to implement some small amount of thinking “inside the time box”, I’m sure it will lead to a noticeable creative point of difference in your life. If the concept is too great to publicly display, then why not start off with a lesser innovative step, don’t have a long black coffee, have a soy milk chai latte with honey instead!

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[1] The Suit Trouser Length Creativity Index
https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/the-suit-trouser-length-creativity-index/

Don’t Hit The Delete Button

wileecyote

The name on his business card said; “Wile E. Coyote”. The job title said “Genius”.

I pressed the record button on my video recorder that signalled the start of my long awaited interview with Mr Coyote.

Me: “Mr Coyote, or would you prefer that I call you Genius?

Mr Coyote: “No, please call me Wile, although some people do call me “Super Genius”, Wile is just fine.”

Me: “OK, Wile, let’s jump to the reason why I’m here. As a “fictitious writer” with the Harvard Business Review, my readers want to know what you have learnt after all those years of unsuccessfully chasing the Road Runner. Your planning skills were impeccable, your implementation was run with the punctuality of a military operation, yet you never managed to attain the prize you sought.

Mr Coyote: (sigh)

Mr Coyote: (second sigh)

Mr Coyote: “If I only knew then what I know now, but experience is indeed a most valuable resource that can’t be bought, or rushed. I will try and summarise my learnings into two key points so as to make it easier for your readers to understand.

Point 1: I’m actually a vegetarian, but didn’t know this at the time of my Road Runner chases. Apparently my metabolism can’t cope with meat. I wasted years of my life, thousands of dollars on birdseed, explosives and online purchases from the ACME Company for products that served no benefit to my ultimate nutritional well being!

Point 2: Sit back and take the time to learn from your mistakes. If I had only sat quietly in the cinema and observed all my cartoons, I would have seen an accumulation of consistent errors. Unfortunately, it was like someone had pressed the delete button on my memory as I’d always forgotten what I had learnt from each Road Runner pursuit. I could blame the brothers Warner for this, but I only have myself to blame as I was more focused on my “Super Genius” status as was quite prevalent with most Hollywood movie stars of that era”.

We talked for another couple of hours about his life, his romances, and his colourful and very animated life and then departed as good friends. It was a most enjoyable interview.

As I was writing up my notes for my editorial, I recalled his words about the “delete” button. How many of us quickly delete failed life experiences, phone conversations, writings, presentations, memories and other forms of people interaction? Why do we not welcome the opportunity with a positive mindset to move forward and to ensure our steady progress?

Yes, Mr Wile E. Coyote was indeed a real Super Genius…..

The Suit Trouser Length Creativity Index

ankledebate

Does the length of your suit trouser leg influence your creativity in the corporate office?

Yes, this is rather an unusual question! Personally, I must admit that the thought of it had never really crossed my mind until I had to kill two hours in the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne airport this morning as my plane was delayed owing to fog. When you have two hours to ponder the “real meaning” of corporate life, your mind does indeed explore the more important innovation correlations and the length, or lack thereof, of one gentleman’s suit trouser initiated this serious thesis of study.

As I slowly swallowed the remaining remnants of my long black coffee, I noticed a man in his late fifties sojourn past me. My stare was not focused on his slow walking style, nor his olive tweed suit, nor his impressive bald head (of which I am a fellow supporter), no, the deciding attribute was that the bottom of his trousers were about one inch above the top of his black shoes thereby making his distinctive green socks rather prevalent to the eye. My gaze then started to methodically search the Virgin Lounge looking to see if this was a one off, or the start of a common dress code with which I was not partaking.

To my amusement, I noticed a variety of trouser lengths prevailing. Some were too long and were gently kissing the carpet on which they walked. There was a range of trouser lengths that just touched the bottom of the heel, but the majority were about half an inch above the accepted level as deemed by corporate fashion correctness.

So how does this all relate to creativity? Well, I believe that there is a direct correlation! Let’s consider the following “facts”.

If the trouser length is too high, the wearer of the trouser has the option to display their socks to the passing world. These socks can be brightly coloured, patterned or even non-existent. Alternatively, the wearer could also go with the full naked ankle look (commonly termed the “commando ankle”).

If the trouser length is too low, those observers that the trouser wearer is walking past don’t have the opportunity to wonder at the endless array of potential sock possibilities. In this instance, it is quite common for the black boring nondescript sock to be worn. Yes, these people are your typical non-creative types.

The other and less known benefit with high trouser length is the “health improvement” derived from air current woft up the trouser leg that facilitates a perceived freedom of thought. Those that frequent the wearing of a kilt on a breezy day would know exactly what I’m talking about!

So my hypothesis, which I would be honoured if some bright PhD student elects to explore further in the not too distant future (that I’m sure would also be written up in the Harvard Business Review), is that your trouser length is a simple and direct measure of your creativity in the corporate office. So, make sure you wear your trouser cuffs high and maximise the derived benefit of creativity!

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