The Skill of Counter Jerkification Innovation

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When I say the word “Jerk”, I’m sure you immediately visualise the face of one of your annoying colleagues in the corporate office. Although they don’t have the letters J E R K branded on their forehead, we all know them by their offensive manner, cruel personality and detrimental influence on you, your colleagues and the organisation.

Even though they are indeed the full embodiment of the “Jerk” classification, there is one positive aspect that you, and your colleagues, will have learnt whilst you have been forced to engage with this unpleasant individual. This is the talent called “Counter Jerkification Innovation” (or CJI for those that like acronyms).

Many of you may have already developed this prized CJI talent from your days at school, employment at other organisations, or when dealing with various politicians (especially if you are a Trump advisor). Your CJI talent may have been dormant for many years, but fret not, as it is readily reactivated once you put your mind to it!

There are two parts to a successful CJI implementation corporate office program, that being; Reactive and Proactive CJI.

(1) Reactive CJI:
This is the creativity that you and co-workers develop as a defensive mechanism to counteract the impact of the “Jerk” in your work environment. Here you are continually trying to lessen the impact of the “Jerk” through an innovative avoidance strategy to minimise your “Jerk” interactions, thereby reducing the “Jerk’s” negative influence.

After a prolonged period of Reactive CJI, you will quickly develop a cunning, and most devious mindset, utilising the skills of guerrilla office warfare that will be rapidly recognised and appreciated by your fellow co-workers also trying to avoid the “Jerk”.

(2) Proactive CJI:
Once your Reactive CJI skillset has been mastered, you will naturally progress to the creative self-actualization attainment level of Proactive CJI where you will instinctively decide to utilise your crafty mindset skills to initiate, and implement, a targeted “Jerk” retaliation campaign. If properly implemented, your “Jerk” will quickly change their modus operandi, or will seek a rapid organisational exit strategy.

Yes, you will have now neutralized the “Jerk”, and will be deemed a prized CJI hero within your business. Any residual “Jerks” still left in your organisation will also seek a departure strategy, as they too will have realised that their days of “Jerk” tolerance are indeed numbered.

However, a word of caution for those that do successfully achieve the mental state of Proactive CJI. It is important that you continually seek 360 degree feedback from your work colleagues to ensure that you do not take on those hated “Jerk” personality traits, just in case you obtain too much personal pleasure from the CJI process!

The Office Busyness Indicator (OBI)

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It is now a frequent occurrence to see numerous health conscious corporate office cohorts trekking the surrounding streets as they brandish a vibrant assortment of “Thought Creation Leadership Sticks”. Thankfully, gone are the days where lunchtime consists of habitually sitting in front of your computer, whilst quickly munching on a bland vegemite and cheese sandwich, accompanied by yet another cup of coffee. No, lunchtime now signals the start of many a “walk of thought” where employees leave their computer monitors behind, whack on some runners, a stylish hat, and do some exercise to stimulate their thought processes in gleeful and creative conversation.

Many corporate offices measure their “walk of thought” prowess through the competitive use of a “Workweek Hustle” FITBIT competition. Here a leader scoreboard tallies each walker’s steps, or lack there of, each Monday through to Friday, concluding at precisely midnight. For those of you that are familiar with this activity, it is a common practice to see many participants walking late into the Friday evening in an attempt to add those additional precious steps that might just provide them with the highly sought after FITBIT badge of victory!

However, in a recent research study, at a yet to be famous university, the findings indicate that there is a direct causal link between the average weekly FITBIT count of all active “walk of thoughters”, and their office busyness. This link is called the Office Busyness Indicator (OBI). If one views the average team steps on a weekly basis, a busyness trend becomes all too apparent. When the corporate office is experiencing a high workload, or is stressed, the average step count is low. But when the employees are feeling creative, vibrant and in need of some thoughtful collaboration, the number of steps rises significantly as they engage in happy, walk-full dialog.

So, should you be a Human Resources Manager reading this blog post, the answer is clear. Just encourage all your employees to become “walk of thoughters”, equip them with a FITBIT, chart their weekly OBI result, and you will have a real-time scientific insight into the mood of your organization. Simple.

It’s the Stalk

A French Guy Really Wearing a Beret

Over the centuries there has been one grand piece of clothing that has been worn by many a mighty warrior that immediately symbolises unity of nationality, pride and belonging. These illustrious fighting men and women, be they French, Spanish, or Scottish, all wore this famous and readily identifiable hat called the beret in various styles, colours and forms.

Today, it is still worn as a statement of artistic intellect, or by those who want to make a statement of fashion, or simply by those people who just know better than others. I, for one, happily wear my beret and relish the admiring glances of those around me who are obviously most envious of my beret ownership good fortune.

There is something unique about wearing a beret, which needs to be done with a slight skew placement upon your head, so as to achieve the correct appearance. But once done, there is a “feeling” that permeates your thinking. Those who have had this beret wearing experience will immediately relate to this comment.

As a “thought academic”, following “years” of extensive research, I believe I have now formed a beret hypothesis on the origins of this “feeling”.

The “research” suggests that this “feeling” is concentrated when many wearers are in close proximity. This could explain why those warriors of yesteryear were such a formidable force when they all wore their berets together in military formation? With the advent of the more safe and bulletproof soldier headgear, the frequency of beret use understandably diminished, as such, so did the “feeling”. It is also interesting to note, that the French, Spanish and Scottish armed forces are no longer as feared to the same extent as they used to be, surely this is “no coincidence”?

Now let’s move to another area of the “feeling” research. Those in the artistic fields, for example the French Impressionists, or Film Directors, all have reported an additional influx of creativity when wearing their berets. Yes, it’s all in the “research”.

But there was a most surprising and curious theory identified that the “research” almost overlooked. Apparently the origin of this “feeling” is due to the small stub in the top centre of the beret called the “stalk”. It just so happens that this stalk acts like a thought transmitter between beret wearers. The longer the stalk, the greater the range of the thought transfers! A truly phenomenal discovery!

Now should you be an innovative thinker, you will immediately recognise the practical application with this “stalk” discovery for the corporate office. Yes, the answer is simple; all employees should be encouraged to wear a beret, particularly those with long stalks. Once worn, I’m sure that your organisation’s ability to develop new and novel business ideas will increase exponentially. There will also be a supplementary benefit, that being, all your employees will look brilliant!

“FITBIT Thought” Performance

People at the gym

For a year now I have been wearing my “FITBIT Thought” Earwig and today was the day in which I would see whether I was going to be paid my annual bonus.

Most people tend to only use their FITBIT to record the number of steps they had achieved, but not those in my company. I was fortunate to work for a large innovative organisation that was a leader in its field, and one that was prepared to think that little bit differently.

My company had pioneered the “FITBIT Thought” which when placed unassumingly into the wearers ear, measured not just steps, heart rate, hours slept, but also their “thoughts”. This particular FITBIT had some clever and unique IP built into it that was able to these filter thoughts, differentiate and classify them into various thinking categories. Now this is where it gets interesting.

My company elected to utilise the following thinking categories:
1. Creative (C)
2. Boredom (B)
3. Repetition (R)
4. Humanistic (H)

Based on feedback from our HR Director, thoughts relating to those more “private and personal activities” were excluded from the analysis data, which was probably a good thing knowing my fellow work colleagues!

Performance based “Thought KPIs” were then discussed and agreed with the employee. A daily “FITBIT Thought” dashboard was updated when the wearers Earwig was in close proximity to a corporate computer thereby allowing data synchronisation. Each night I would review my C, B, R, H achievement levels and would make the appropriate behaviour adjustment the following day should I be falling behind, or exceeding certain thought activities.

As it was now day 366, I excitedly logged onto my work computer and made the required “FITBIT Thought” synchronisation. Immediately I received 4 Badges of Performance Merit, each relating to the C, B, R and H categories. But more importantly, another message appeared a few seconds later with an avatar of my CEO advising me of my financial bonus! The gleeful smile continued as I then checked my bank account.

So, should your organisation be looking for a unique and more productive method for measuring your employee’s performance, why not explore the “FITBIT Thought”?

(Note: If only the “FITBIT Thought” really existed!)

The Choice is in Your Hand – Left or Right?

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For many years now, men of all ages, have been daunted with one of the most important life choices that needs to be made on a daily basis first thing each morning. This decision is not one that should ever be rushed, nor should it be trivialized, as the resultant selection will linger for the remainder of the day until eventually corrected that evening with a potential, and welcome, sigh of relief.

For most men, symmetry is the most common selection criterion, but some do like to go with a surprise methodology that may invoke that well known law of uncertainty and mystique. Others may match colour, size and complexity to complement their prevailing mood. Some may utilize a delayed surprise and shock strategy that requires a pointed unveiling, at the appropriate time, to reinforce and embellish an important event. For me, I go with an approach that is built entirely around complete randomness, however, having them is a non-negotiable life necessity.

Women and children have also been known to partake in their use as they reinforce diversity and are not bound, nor limited, by any classification of stereotype, nor allocated gender.

The items are ageless and can be passed down between generations to signify belonging, prestige, heredity or just plain and simple usefulness. Some are priceless, others may be worthless, but their value is indeed calculated in the eye of the beholder.

They are typically seen in the corporate office, but no restriction applies to their use as they are not bound by any regulations, statutes, or HR policies, and are free to participate in any public, or private, work, or social environment.

Some say they were first observed in the 16th century. I say their use is timeless, and they shall prevail for many centuries to come bringing a sense of satisfaction and continued personal self-esteem for all generations!

They are a sign of personal innovation, creativity and confirm your undeniable link to shirt fashion.

Yes, they are cuff-links. May you wear them with pride, savor the experience, and enjoy the looks of nodding approval from your colleagues, friends, and even those you don’t know yet (but they will undoubtedly know you)!

The Faceless Collective

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There are some companies that effortlessly symbolise the definition of true success. Their business names are iconic and are immediately recognisable by the young, the old, and those selectively aged in between.

There are no descriptive emotional tag-lines, no longwinded corporately clever arrangement of words, they are just “are”, and don’t need “to be”.

And here I was, sitting in the Board Room of one of these globally clever giants of industry, all by myself! It was an eerie and exciting feeling as I sucked in the room’s impressive atmosphere. I carefully crossed my legs under the highly polished large wooden boardroom table and cautiously, and gingerly, leaned back and pressed my back into the well-worn brown leather club chair.

The north side of the room had large floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooked the Yarra River from high up on the 39th floor. This view was balanced by an array of large and formidable oil painting portraits of their esteemed leaders that had steered the company successfully over the past 83 years.

As I slowly studied the names under each painting, my eyes suddenly stopped when I read the polished brass name-tag of what appeared to be a most unusual portrait that was strategically, and I assumed deliberately, centred right in the middle of all the other framed canvasses. This painting was definitely larger in size, more brightly illuminated, and presumably highly prized, and worthy of more significant corporate value. The inscription in large black font read “Our Perpetual Innovator”. But the most striking aspect of this painting was the face, or should I say, its absence! Yes, this painting was of a “faceless”, yet distinguished individual. I was intrigued and decided to leave my comfortable leather chair and have a closer inspection. As I got closer, I noticed some additional words at the bottom; “Innovation is not derived from any individual, but from the collective”. I pondered these words and slowly understood their symbolic meaning, as this I suspected was the key fundamental aspect as to why this business was so successful.

This business recognised that many ideas, derived, and continually shared between the employees of this organisation, were the driving force behind their creativity. They had seen that this vast, and rich, source of innovation was not reliant upon a single individual, but the combined force of the collective.

Wow, if only all companies could recognise this fact!

So next time you are sitting in the Board Room of your company and happen to view the historical images of your past illustrious leaders, may I suggest you consider the power of the “Faceless Collective” and not just focus on any one individual?

The “White-Hole” of Innovation

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I have been writing copious business articles for the New York Times for the past 39 years. Let me tell you, I have seen it all, but I had never scored that once in a lifetime literary scoop that all serious and well-respected journalists dream about, until now! I was so excited that I could hardly sit still. I was seated, or should I say fidgeted, in the massive private reception area of the most amazing, and phenomenally advanced innovative global electronics company that the modern world has ever known, and I was about to meet their CEO (Chloe Jibs).

I had known Chloe for at least 20 years and considered her a true friend. On many occasions I had tried to gleam from her the source of her unique business prowess and unlimited creativity, but these numerous requests had been turned down with her usual, quiet, yet charming, nonchalant smile, until now. Her unexpected change in mind was most likely due to this being her last day as CEO. Tomorrow, Chloe would begin her long awaited, and very well planned, relaxed non-corporate life living on her private island located in the Great Barrier Reef (half her luck I thought).

At the predetermined meeting time, Chloe emerged from her office dressed in her traditional non-corporate casual attire (blue jeans, shirt, snug fitting boots and those ever present dark Ray-Ban sunglasses that complemented her golden long hair) and beckoned me into her office. With the door shut impeccably tight, the long awaited meeting began. In that room, I was provided with secrets that only an innovative visionary could communicate. My ears burned as I listened. My eyes were dazzled with the brilliance of the sights that I was most honoured and humbled to see.

That night as I sat in my study, I tried to come to terms with what I had seen when I was with Chloe earlier that afternoon. My brain was struggling to comprehend the enormity of it all; my body was still tingling with a sensation of unbelievable elation. In contrast, my heart was despondent, as I knew that I was on the precipice of a potential award in journalism that would be the pinnacle of my newspaper career, but I would never be able to publish my story owing to my promise to Chloe never to share this knowledge.

I needed more understanding and typed the term “black hole” into Google and read the following:

A black hole is a mathematically defined region of spacetime exhibiting such a strong gravitational pull that no particle or electromagnetic radiation can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole)

In other words, a “black hole” sucks everything into it, never to escape. But, apparently, according to a “reliable and informed academic”, some items do indeed escape! The exit point is a mathematical phenomenon called a “white hole” where all the contents of the “black hole” are expelled with massive energy and light.

Chloe’s “white hole” was an outlet for all the innovative and creative ideas created within other organisations that theoretically ended up going no where, or were forgotten with time. Somehow, Chloe had managed to direct the vast array of “idea black hole” waste sinks of her competition and to accumulate them into the “white hole” located with her office. No wonder she always wore sunglasses owing to the continual “white hole” illumination!

The core aspect in Chloe’s business success was in how she could cobble the discarded ideas gleamed from her competition into highly sought after, and very profitable, commercial electronic products that were now common items (eg phones, computers, tablets, watches) used by people of all ages around the world.

Well, a promise is a promise. I could never let the public know about the “white hole” phenomenon.

But, it’s a good thing that those of you reading this blog now know the “truth” about their existence. But more importantly, don’t let your innovative ideas go to waste, use them, and develop them further so as to avoid that undesirable “black hole” where they may just be useful to some other organisation in the future!

And yes….this is all fiction!
Image: 123RF

Grand Chef de Woft

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As I patiently sat awaiting instructions from the occupants of Conference Room 1, I smugly took the opportunity to look around my master chef kitchen. Although small, and positioned strategically beneath the Conference Room, it was a classy place, full of the latest stainless-steel cooking appliances, pans, other key requisite implements, and one that was dutifully restocked on a daily basis with the latest aromatic worldly delights.

In my position of “Grand Chef de Woft”, I felt honoured in the knowledge that I was fully appreciated by those that gleefully awaited my gourmet creations to stimulate, and motivate their creativity and hunger for innovation.

Unbeknownst to me, my work colleagues above had now entered Conference Room 1 and were preparing to start their 9 AM team meeting. They all gathered around the “woft box” and unanimously agreed upon their selection. As they were all feeling quite hungry and lethargic, they desperately needed an appropriate thought woft stimulation. They selected the popular “woft number 3”, and immediately the instruction was conveyed to me and I sprung into action.

I placed the freshly brewed coffee and pan-fried onions under the woft extraction fan that was positioned centrally over my stove, and then turned it on to maximum woft velocity. Conference Room 1 quickly filled with “woft number 3” and the occupants marvelled at the odours that were soon to completely fill their room. As is standard practice, at the conclusion of their meeting, they closed the vent of woft and opened the outside windows to allow the fresh air to permeate into the room, thereby eliminating any residual odours in preparation for the next occupants of Conference Room 1.

At 11 AM, I was instructed to convey “woft number 7”. Experience told me that these colleagues were struggling, and I promptly boiled copious amounts of strong peppermint tea. A few seconds later, the woft of peppermint engulfed the meeting room to which sighs of relief were loudly heard by those above, thereby signalling their motivational satisfaction.

This process continued all day until 5 PM when the lights in Conference Room 1 were turned off and my colleagues packed up their bags and happily headed home.

Knowing that my important role was now done, I also tidied up my kitchen and departed the corporate office. I left with a sense of achievement, knowing that I had provided the required woftful environment that lead to many new ideas being generated in Conference Room 1. I smiled with satisfaction on a job well done!

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!

Your Very Own Personal “Sound Globe™”

Noise reduction ! the simple way !!

I re-inserted my snug fitting iPhone earplugs, quickly turned up the volume and hoped that the prevailing musical tones would assist with masking out the perpetual, and most unwelcome, office noise. On looking around the building, I noticed that the majority of my fellow workers, all had a similar array of self-imposed audio devices strategically placed within their inner ear canals with the hope of achieving that prized goal of thinking privacy.

Arhh yes, “the joys of working in an open planned office” I hear you all say with clenched teeth as you stifle the awkward exit of these words from your feigned smiling mouths!

For those of you that have the luxury of audio solitude as you sit within the contained comfort of your enclosed corporate office with a sound inhibiting door, you no longer need to feel isolated from this “joyous experience” as I have a cunning, and somewhat innovative solution, that will enable you to leave your well-guarded “den of silence” and happily re-engage with your work colleagues. I can hear your cheers of quiet approval already!

The key is in thinking differently! Rather than hindering unwanted audible sounds from entering your ears, why not stop recalcitrant and loud voices from leaving your head?

According to a “reputable and well known” materials engineering design source “close” to the author of this blog post, there will soon be a “yet to be invented” transparent, ceramic type material that has a unique combination of physical properties that include sound absorption, light weight and breathability. The material can be easily shaped to accommodate the contour of a human head and will be internationally promoted in all good retail stores under the “Sound Globe™” trademark, so all office workers will be able to readily purchase one.

Just imagine being able to purchase your own custom moulded “Sound Globe™” with the following features and benefits:

Silence
As no sound can permeate through the patented material used to construct the “Sound Globe™”, each device will have an inbuilt mobile phone transmitter so the wearer can communicate freely with the outer world. However, to those people standing next to the “Sound Globe™” wearer, no sound will be heard, the only indication of talk being the mimed mouth movements of the head within the device.

Hair
Some users of the “Sound Globe™” may not like the look of perceived baldness from the exceptionally smooth and shiny ceramic texture. To alleviate this public look, each “Sound Globe™” can be fitted with a visually pleasing externally mounted Velcro hair piece that can be obtained in a variety of fashionable lengths and stylish colours.
An additional benefit is derived for those that don’t like getting their real hair wet when walking in the rain as the “Sound Globe™” provides complete weather protection from the harshest meteorological conditions.

Air Circulation
Each “Sound Globe™” has its own inbuilt air heating and cooling system. So on those days when the office temperature may get a little bit unpleasant, relax, as that look of facial perspiration is now a thing of the past.

Embarrassment
The “Sound Globe™” also measures facial colour change. So should you be a person who readily blushes, when this red colour is identified, the “Sound Globe™” quickly goes a solid black thereby disguising any personal embarrassment. However, should this occur, it is recommended that the wearer not move for at least 5 seconds, just in case they collide with a fellow worker owing to lack of external sight, and to ensure the requisite office HSE compliance.

Smokers
The “Sound Globe™” does have a no-smoking design policy. Firstly, it will be difficult for you to place a cigarette into your mouth owing to the poor hand access to your lips. Secondly, should you manage to sneak a lit cigarette into your “Sound Globe™”. an inbuilt water spray is immediately released in order to extinguish any potential fire threat.

Of course there are many more benefits associated with this remarkable device, but I don’t want this blog post to sound too much like a product advertisement (as I do have a potential “conflict of interest”), so I will curtail my list to only those key ones mentioned above.

So the future of the open plan office does indeed look positive and one that ensures maximum sound productivity for all employees. Rumours are that the “Sound Globe™, will be available in the “near” future, so may I suggest that you quickly pre-order your own device to ensure that you do not miss out, and thereby avoid any personal disappointment.

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