My Esteemed Fellow Mischief Makers

The 39 Steps - Metro - Man 1 & 2

I paused at the top of the escalator and took a deep breath as I read the poorly illuminated conference sign that would direct me downwards to the basement of this 2 star hotel in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

I dusted “on” my black suit, with matching black scruffy shirt; at least I didn’t have to worry about my black shoes as they were already quite dirty and had a few prominent scratches that looked most imposing and disrespectful.

There were no issues with my hair being uncombed, mainly because I was fortunate not to have any, so I decided to mess up my long eyebrows, just for added visual effect.

Perfect I thought, I was now ready to head downstairs to the Awards Ceremony, at which I was tipped to receive the most prestigious award, that being for “Disservice to Innovation in the Corporate Office”. I had been working on this achievement for the past twenty years, had successfully infiltrated many global architectural firms in Europe, North America and Australasia, and more importantly, no one had yet realized what I had been doing!

What still surprises me the most was that senior business leaders and managers all applauded my efforts, all happily accepted my designs without fully understanding the consequences, and; they eagerly paid me a massive fortune in the process, to which I am indeed most personally grateful. To top it all off, they unashamedly made my office concepts a blueprint standard of excellence which was adopted, without any intellectual thought, by all organisations that considered themselves leaders in creativity! I still laugh when I think about that last comment!

I glanced at the chipped hands on my tired looking watch and saw that it was now time to make my tardy entrance to the ceremony. As I slowly descended down the escalator, I reached into my suit pocket and had another brief look at my hastily written acceptance speech, just in case it was required.

Written in my messy black inked scribble, I reread the words….”Thank you for this great dishonor! Yes, it’s still hard to believe that my once crazy thought and so fantastically disruptive idea, which I initially developed so many years ago as a joke, is still being used in the corporate office! And to make it even more remarkable, this superbly dysfunctional concept is still cited by experts as being one of the strategic keys to innovation! I smiled, as I imagined the thunderous applause that I would receive from my fellow mischief makers on doing a job so well, for so long, and I was still fooling those that should know better!

I was so looking forward to making the celebratory champagne drinking toast, which would be; “My Esteemed Fellow Mischief Makers, I give you the “Open Planned Office!”

The Floor of Discovery

Zero Gravity

I arrived late in the afternoon at my Darling Harbour hotel and walked up to the check-in desk with what was obviously a public look of tiredness on my face. After all, I was rather exhausted after meandering through the endless Sydney traffic congestion for the past one and a half hours in a hire car that promised a five star driving experience, but disappointedly only delivered half a star at best!

At the check-in desk, a stunning young woman, with a smile that instantaneously vaporised any prevailing thought of exhaustion, immediately greeted me. Her name was Renee, and she was dressed impeccably in her modern Finnish designer blue and white hotel business attire from “Marimekko”.

Renee, who must have had a sophisticated and well-trained version of ESP (which would explain her esteemed management position of “Manager of Greet”) said, “Relax Mr Cramer, we know exactly what you need and have the perfect room waiting for you”. Renee then gave a subtle and deliberate “nod” to Vanessa, The Hotel Manager, who was also dressed in a slightly more grand and colourful fashion outfit that just exuded that look of “perfection and wow”, as befitted her seniority. Vanessa responded with a corresponding smile of understanding and then made a surreptitious phone call, which gave me the feeling that a strategic, and well-planned course of action had now been quietly implemented.

Renee then handed me the card-key to room 1026 and said, I have allocated you a special room in our newly built “Discovery Floor”, and you will be our first guest to use and benefit from the experience. I gave Renee a “surprised and inquisitive” look, to which the reply was “trust me, all will be good”. How could I doubt, nor resist the honesty of that smile?

I took the card-key, politely thanked both Renee and Vanessa, and then caught the hotel elevator up to the tenth floor with a strong feeling of anticipation, and might I say, a slight fear of the unknown!

A few minutes later I arrived at a large and most impressive, solid wooden door with the silver embossed numbers 1026 positioned centrally above it. I cautiously opened the door, but momentarily stopped before entering as I listened to what seemed like a quick rushing of air. I entered the room and encountered a small and totally pristine white reception area. Once inside, I heard the main door to my room close and yet again the distinctive sound of air movement prevailed.

Three seconds later (although the time seemed like an eternity), another door from the small white room opened. As I walked in, I sensed my feet starting to feel rather strange and awkward. I tried to stop moving, but couldn’t, as the forward momentum pushed me onwards, but I eventually stopped and noticed that I was about two metres above the floor. In what I could only state as an impression of absolute disbelief, I saw that my bed was floating, as was all the items in the room. Yep, I was in a room with zero gravity! So this was what Renee was talking about!

After about thirty minutes acclimatising to my new sensation of weightlessness, I realised I was indeed most relaxed. All stresses previously experienced in my day had been replaced with this new found “Room of Discovery”, and I was thoroughly enjoying it!

The following morning after having a most amazing and unique nights sleep, I again saw Renee as I checked out of the hotel. She smirked at the shaving cut about my top lip, to which I replied, I didn’t quite master the bathroom “discovery experience”, but everything else was just superb!

And yes, I will be most definitely staying at this hotel again! As I left, I recalled that this hotel had eleven floors, and pondered what other discoveries awaited those who had mastered Floor 10? Next time, I thought!

Exploits of the “Paid Gentlemen”

Spy vs Spy

It was indeed a masterful, and strategically well executed plan in which the “paid gentlemen” (and I use the term “gentlemen” quite loosely let me assure you), had finally found what they were looking for after ransacking the Melbourne corporate office they had stealthily entered in the early hours of the morning precisely thirty minutes earlier. Dressed in the latest Australian Vogue approved designer fashion espionage dark clothing, with matching matte black soft kangaroo leather gloves so as to leave no fingerprints, and wearing matching black sound deadening yachting boat shoes, they systematically searched all potential hiding places.

To find the treasured item they were seeking, absolute darkness and silence was a non-negotiable prerequisite. Any search equipment illuminating light, such as torches, mobile phone screens, or audible communication between the “paid gentleman”, would make finding their objective impossible, as it would immediately, and permanently, disrupt its purity thereby making it worthless. As this was a risk they were not willing to take, specialist and custom fitting Ray-ban infrared goggles, together with some rather spiffy complex hand signals were the “paid gentleman’s” search accessories of choice.

To their great excitement, and might I say massive relief, they finally found that what they sought in a very sneaky and rather cunningly clever hiding location. The item was packaged in a lead lined small wooden red box. The “paid gentlemen” then placed this precious red box into a small attaché suitcase and locked it decisively using the twelve-digit lock combination that they would only divulge on receipt of their exorbitant $500M payment from the unscrupulous buyer.

Following a highly tense sixty-minute flight from Melbourne to Sydney, a surreptitious rendezvous with the seeker of the valuable item was arranged at a secret location in a prestigious hotel in Darling Harbour. It was there that the private exchange took place, upon which the now well “paid gentlemen” slowly departed the scene with a sense of relief and a new feeling of personal affluence.

The new illegal, and rather thrilled, keeper of the item quickly went up to her penthouse hotel suite on the ninth floor and swiftly bolted the room door. All lights were turned off; all window blinds were drawn to ensure complete darkness. She hurriedly unfolded the piece of paper on which the well “paid gentlemen” had written the twelve-digit code, and one by one the numbers were accurately entered until the small wooded red box was revealed. Her heart was now thumping so loud she thought her eardrums might explode with anticipation! Her trembling slender fingers toyed with the box latch and she opened it slowly. As the box opened, what seemed like a burning green gas hissed loudly upon release, followed by a large explosive pop. The startled woman quickly opened the box to make sure that the contents were OK and noticed that there was nothing inside apart from a small typed yellow parchment. She speedily grabbed her metal-rimmed spectacles and read out loud the following words: “Innovation is not something you can buy or steal. Innovation needs creativity!”.

In a fit of temper, combined with a rich and complex range of choice expletives, she heeded these words, and with a sense of “innovation and creativity”, she picked up the red box and attaché case and threw them straight out an open hotel window and then burst into tears with extreme disappointment and massive financial loss. Seconds later, these two hurtling objects landed with decisive and heavy force upon the unprotected and fragile heads of the soon to be very dead “well paid gentlemen” as they gleefully walked out the hotel with their unscrupulous financial gains.

With justice done, the small red wooden box bounced a couple of times on the footpath awaiting the next potential seeker of innovation and creativity!

Room Service With A Difference

CE003

I was sitting at my hotel room desk when the doorbell rang. “Brilliant”, I said, my room service meal had finally arrived and I was famished! I bounded up from my desk, opened the door, and was greeted by an attractive young woman called Adriana and immediately signalled for her to come into my room.

Now the odd thing about hotel doorways is that they are quite narrow, and the meal tray that Adriana was carrying was quite wide. On seeing this conundrum, two possible solutions could eventuate. The first being that the door needed to be widened, but as I couldn’t see a sledge hammer neatly dangling from Adriana’s immaculate hotel uniform, I knew that this wasn’t going to be the chosen remedy. So option two prevailed.

Option two involved a contortionist yoga movement in which Adriana swung the meal tray around, utilising an impressive single slow pirouette action, which succeeded in the tray entering through the doorway with possibly one millimetre to spare on each side. What surprised me more was that the food, drink and cutlery, all remained firmly in position without experiencing an undignified free-fall onto the carpet in the room entrance hall.

I applauded Adriana on her room service skill and suggested that this innovative and creative food delivery move should be listed in bold italic font in her CV, and, that I would be happy to attest to this unique hotel qualification as an official referee should ever it be required!

But what if other hotel staff members saw Adriana’s meal tray delivery technique and tried it for themselves without any pre-training? Yes, I’m afraid the result could be catastrophic for the individual concerned, the food, and more importantly, the hungry hotel guest.

Now this got me thinking about a methodology for those potentially not as skilled as Adriana. One that provides an efficient, and reliable meal delivery service, together with the added benefit of improved health and safety for all concerned, including the food.

Why not expand the hotel’s limousine fleet to include a number of Segways (two wheeled, self-balancing, battery powered), each branded in the hotel’s colours to ensure that consistent professional appearance? The Segway could be modified to include a number of shelves into which the meal tray would snuggly fit, together with a Wi-Fi transmitter so the rider can communicate easily with the hotel kitchen. But the most important design feature from the hotel’s perspective of the Segway is its width. The Segway can be easily driven straight into the hotel guest’s room, without impacting the doorframe, thereby eliminating the need for any complicated and dangerous meal tray manipulations that were required in the past.

So, should any hotel management be reading this blog post, may I suggest that you explore this Segway idea as it might just be useful in the future. I would also be keen to know how it goes?

The Concierge of Greet

Boutique

The weather was miserable, it was cold, wet and the strong chilly wind was blowing my bright coloured scarf in a flapping flurry around my hairless freezing head. As I pushed open the hotel’s wooden heavy door with some degree of anticipation, I was immediately met with a warm gust of the most pleasurable smelling air that caught me by surprise. I quickly stopped in my tracks and enjoyed this delightful air woft that was relished and absorbed most happily by my frozen face.

Once inside the hotel lobby, my senses were pounced upon by a multitude of the most captivating furniture, décor and sounds of guests highly chuffed to be relaxing in the numerous comfortable leather chairs whilst scoffing a warming beverage or sampling some nibbles. As I walked to the concierge, I was greeted in a sincere, genuine and hearty manner and was offered a hot tea in a simply charming and quite appealing glass.

I hadn’t even checked into the hotel yet, but I felt right at home.

So why is it that when we step inside a corporate reception area for the first time, we typically feel like an unwelcome and hostile intruder? This is particularly the case for those unmanned reception areas where your visitor has to navigate a phone directory and then engage a lonely and rather sterile phone to try and seek the attention of the person they came to visit.

This got me thinking……

The Door to Your Office:
Why not have an impressive and inspiring wooden door (forget those automatic glass ones that open when an ant meanders on to the sensor) that has a large knocker or brass bell located on it that visitors just want to use as it just builds a high degree of anticipation, and of course fun via its application?

The Greet Concierge:
Why not have a corporate concierge who gleefully greets visitors as they arrive in your office foyer? If is it cold and wet, they relieve the visitor of their coat and umbrella and offer them a scented, warm and viscous tea and seat them in a chair with an inbuilt bottom warmer, or if it is cold, they partake of a nice chilled and flavoursome ice drink whilst sitting under a strategically placed air conditioner.

The Waiting Activity:
Many a visitor can get rather bored and fed up waiting in the reception area for longer than required periods of time. This is where the use of a corporate billiard table should be used that is adorned with billiard balls branded with the corporate logo. For those less skilled in the way of sticks and balls, then why not have a corporate dartboard in which they can relieve potential waiting frustration by hurling a pointy dart rather forcefully.

Reading Material:
Forget newspapers and the corporate magazine, why not have a vast array of books, comics and some DIY manuals (eg gardening or home renovations) that provide a level of interest and engagement. Should they not finish their selected reading material prior to the commencement of their business meeting, then why not have a lending library format that allows your visitor to borrow the item?

The Bed of Leisure
Sometimes it’s rather tough waiting for a meeting when your visitor may have travelled some distance to get to your office that could have necessitated the use of an early morning flight or long car journey. So why not have a corporate bed of leisure that they can occupy (by themselves of course) to provide them with that additional level of recuperation prior to their meeting?

I’m sure that you can think of additional thoughts of corporate creativity that can make your valued visitor feel much more welcome and at home when frequenting your corporate abode. So why not incorporate some of these activities into your corporate reception area?

The goal is to provide your corporate office with that competitive advantage that yields your organization with that level of uniqueness that makes your customers, suppliers, employees and investors want to engage with you, why, because your business inspires them!