The “White-Hole” of Innovation

28538975-young-woman-in-white-with-hologram-round-head

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

Using Thought-Mail

(Too much) Thinking

I don’t know how people coped in 2015! It must have been so tedious having to write E-mails, talk on that massive heavy communicator (and they called it a “mobile phone”, I mean really!), and use that archaic and primitive “thing” called the Internet! Thank god I was born in 2064 and am a “Generation SC64er”.

I put my history book down and decided to get back to work.

The first thing I needed to do was to send a “Thought-Mail” to my work team. I’d been putting it off for ages, but I had finally worked out my “thinking” on the business strategy and now needed their input and feedback. I “mentally” turned on the “thought reader” and inserted it in my ear and then “thought” about what I wanted to say to my team. This only took a couple of microseconds as I’m quite a fast thinker. I then “listened” to the play-back draft of the message in my mind, made a couple of corrections, and then visualised the names in my work team and allowed my “Thought-Mail” to be sent. Immediately, everyone in my team received my thoughts.

Not all of them replied immediately though. That was OK, as I assumed that some of them would be “thinking” about other things. I knew that my “thought” would sit in their memory and would be “read” when they had some available thinking time in their work day. I could have classified the “Thought-Mail” as urgent as that would have forced them to think about it straight away, but it wasn’t that important, a response tomorrow would be just fine.

A couple of seconds later I started to “feel the replies” coming into my mind from two of the people in my team. I thought about their comments and agreed with their reasoning. Thankfully all those team members that hadn’t yet responded, also received these replied “thought updates”, so they would have all the updated thinking which would assist them in making their own thoughtful responses.

Well, that took 30 seconds. I now moved onto my next task and again started “thinking” and the process was in motion.

Author note: I wish I was born in 2064, don’t you?

Corporate Dress Design with “Wind Gust Resistance”!

Wind Gust

“There must be a solution!”, I thought to myself as I was walking in the Sydney CBD this afternoon and saw yet another corporately dressed woman holding her skirt as she fought off those all too frequent wind gusts!

For too long, women have had to endure the public embarrassment associated with unwanted underwear exposure!

So as I walked, I pondered some potential ideas to alleviate the occurrence. Now, there does need to be a self-imposed caveat here, mainly because I haven’t experienced that dreaded moment of dress wind gust movement, so I can only speculate as to the impact.

If you are a fashion designer reading this blog post, please don’t laugh too loudly! However, it may just spark an idea in your minds that might actually make some sort dress design sense? But, then again?

Design Option 1: Underwear Hip Magnets
Now this is a design that would need to be tested first to ensure that womanly comfort is not compromised! The big feature of this concept is its simplicity.
In the skirt there would be a hidden interior pocket strategically placed next to the left and right hips. Should the weather look likely that a wind gust may eventuate; the dress wearer would quickly place a metal disc in the dress pockets. At the same time, a smooth edged, very flat magnet, would be placed into the elastic underwear waist band thereby locking the skirt into position.

Design Option 2: Waistband
Sewn into each dress waistband there could be 5 equally spaced $2 coins which are held in place by a discreetly hidden placed zipper. When the wind gust eventuates, the zip is opened and the coins fall into an inner sleeve positioned in the hem of the skirt thus eliminating skirt flap.
Alternative benefit: should the dress wearer need some money for any unplanned items (such car parking or restaurant tips), there would be an ample supply that could be quickly utilized when required?

iPhone App:
Although not a dress design option, an iPhone App could also be developed that monitors wind gust velocity in the city thereby providing an early warning for the use of the above Design Options?

Now for all you kilt wearers, sorry, I have no idea!

Hopefully, unpredictable dress wind gusts will soon be a thing of the past and all corporate dressed women will be able to walk with confidence in the city!

Ideas that Think: “Idea-inks”

thinking.

“With so many great ideas out there, I know we will find the right one!”

I’m sure that many of you when doing a “braining storming” session have said this phrase to your colleagues in a desperate plea to find that truly innovative idea that will be the financial answer to all your company’s problems? However, in most occasions, I suspect you would have been disappointed with the result.

This got me thinking. What if we were to view “ideas”, rather than as a non-descript and transient thought, but as an idea with it’s own personal objectives and desires? Yes, I’m referring to “ideas that think”! Now this changes the game plan completely!

Let’s explore this concept further.

Firstly, let’s define these “ideas that think” which I will name “Idea-inks” for want of a better name.

Let’s assume that “Idea-inks” have their own unique and complex personality and they, like people, want to achieve self-actualization, just like in Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy. But they will also have basic survival desires to ensure their long-term ability to procreate. To do this, I can visualise “Idea-inks” wofting between corporate organizations trying to find the right environment that accommodates their requirements for psychological, safety, a sense of belonging, self esteem and that all important opportunity for innovation and creativity.

But what if your corporate culture is rather dull, boring and lacking the required inspiration for an “Idea-ink” to embed, establish roots and grow? If this sounds like your organization, then it’s not surprising that your brainstorming sessions lead to little, if any, new ideas being developed, after all, why should an “Idea-ink” want to live there, nor put the time into your company with little opportunity for potential long term self actualization prospects?

Corporate organizations need to “woo” the “Idea-inks” into your business. You need to make them feel welcome. But “Idea-inks” are not gullible, but rather insightful and quickly appreciate whether they are being sold something under false pretences.

If your business wants the most innovative ideas, then you want to target the most creative “Idea-inks”. Like all business transactions, if your corporate culture is poor, you will get the dud “Idea-inks”, if your work environment is continually dynamic and vibrant, you will be bombarded by a plethora of the most talented and inspiring “Idea-inks” fighting to maintain a presence in your office.

So the answer to getting a continual flow of the right business ideas into your corporate office is your culture and environment. Make sure you target the right “Idea-inks” for your company, and your creativity will be guaranteed!

The Chair of Accumulated Thought

Untitled

Imagine this…located in one of the most innovative corporate organizations, whose name I won’t mention as you all know the company, there is a particular chair located in a quiet room located in the north west corner of the building.

Now this chair is quite unassuming. It is a hazelnut coloured leather chair, that is well worn and has some deep indentations from a large number of bottoms residing for extended periods of time as they enjoyed the comfortable sitting experience.

The uniqueness of this chair is that each occupant leaves a thought impression behind them that is absorbed and read by the next and subsequent beneficiaries who have the good fortune to sit in it.

This chair, also known within this corporate company as the “chair of accumulated thought” is used to derive and develop new innovations related to products and processes.

So how does it work? Well, it’s a bit like “walking in someone else’s shoes”. Once you have true empathy, you are able to view issues from another person’s perspective and this new and stimulating knowledge can be used to provide you with a completely different insight into solving a particular issue you may be facing. The brilliance of the “chair of accumulated thought” is that the empathetic experiences compound upon each other thereby providing a complex and truly original solution to any problem that could not simply be solved alone by any individual.

Yes, you are right, the “chair of accumulated thought” does not actually exist. But, it could quite easily if we shared our experiences and thoughts openly and freely with each other when trying to solve a problem. In many situations, our own personal prejudices and self-doubts limit or hinder our ideas that tend to lead to a less than optimum solution being achieved.

So next time you are solving a complex problem, or trying to develop that spark of thought innovation, why not try to utilise the “chair of accumulated thought”. May I suggest you take it in turn to actually sit in a chair by yourself and write down your thoughts in a writing pad strategically placed on the arm of the chair. The next person who sits in the chair, then reads your thoughts of prose, quietly absorbs your thinking and then adds their ideas on the page under yours. This process continues until all your colleagues assigned to solve the problem have had the opportunity to sit and write in the chair. It would be rather interesting to read the words accumulated at the end? Who knows what creative thought solutions may permeate from the activity!!

Colleagues….I want that coconut!

20140409-172307.jpg
Looking up at the coconut which appears quite strongly adhered to the lofty heights of the palm tree, my mind starts to actively permeate thoughts of how I could knock the little bugger off the branch and get it!

The options available to me are:
1. To climb up the tree and cut it off?
2. Throw a large projectile with maximum force?
3. Bribe someone to make the required climbing effort for me?
4. Sit here and wait for the coconut to naturally fall off in its own good time?

As I’m an impatient man, I decided to use option 5 and just cut the tree down thereby gaining easy access to the long anticipated item.

Now that I have attained this coconut prize, what should I do with it? The choices and decisions seem to never end!

This coconut analogy is quite similar to how we generate and develop new ideas in the corporate office.
Just like the process of attaining the coconut, we have many options available to us. We can use group discussions, brainstorming, team meetings, quiet walks, or sit in solitude hoping for that gem of an idea to come forward and materialise!

Once we have the idea (the coconut) what do we then do with it? How do we develop it into a commercially successful opportunity that generates income for the corporate business? Or do we just “settle”, and accumulate our ideas (or coconuts) for a day in the future when they may be required?

The choice is yours, but whilst I sit here looking up at that sneaky little and illusive coconut, I will always want to get it and develop thoughts of what that coconut may initiate!

Coloured Ideas of Sex

Omphaloskepsis...

There is a saying that innovation occurs when ideas have sex. This might be fine for those free thinking happy go lucky ideas, but it is not acceptable behaviour in the corporate office! You will find quite a few policies and a vast array of T&Cs of employment covering this issue. It is just not the done thing!

But what if there was a way that the ideas of employees could actually interact with each other and ‘have sex’ in a non-physical way that kept the HR policy enforcers content?

So just how could this be achieved?

Just imagine if ideas could be linked to a set of corresponding colours? Employees could then generate a large number of thoughts which would initiate an array of colours that could be captured electronically.

The next step would be to provide a ‘comfortable and relaxed’ meeting place for these ideas to ‘get to know each other’, similar to a date. This might be achieved via the use of a shared public directory on the corporate intranet?

After some interaction, where the respective ideas would get to ‘know each other a little better’, some of the more progressive and risk adverse ideas might establish a mutual attraction which may encourage a closer and more intimate colourful relationship to develop?

With time, these electronic coloured ideas might just combine together to achieve a new and innovative thought creation?

Other ideas that may be a tad bashful or reserved, may observe the progressive nature and associated benefits of those less risk adverse ideas and just let their inhibitions go and strive for new heights in idea colour combination!

The electronic idea colours could also allow for global interaction between business divisions where traditional cultural and social differences may tend to limit interaction?

Taking the concept further, older ideas from previous employees could be mixed with new and current ideas to achieve the benefits derived from previous learnings and experiences.

Yes, it is just a colourful idea concept and I’m not saying that it has any real prospect in developing into corporate reality, but hopefully it has got you thinking that little but differently! The key is to let different ideas mix and combine with others to form something quite innovative and new in the corporate office.

Corporate Access Code 76806864

I want to share a secret with you! But you need to promise not to tell anyone in your office! If you can’t abide with these T&Cs of confidentiality, then you need to stop reading this blog post right now.

For those of you that have agreed to the prescribed conditions, please move a little closer to your computer screen so I have your full and undivided attention.

OK, so what’s this all about you may ask? Now let me explain.

Have you ever noticed some people in your office that seem to do everything just right? They are the people who never seem to get stressed, always complete their work on time and tend to have the most innovative and creative ideas?
They are typically the career “high flyers” in the corporate organization and seem to exude a disturbingly youthful and ageless appearance.

So what is the secret to their success? Allow me to educate you accordingly.

Come with me on a walk in your office to a room that you may have never noticed. To do so, there needs to be no talking, pushing or shoving as we need to be quite stealthful in our journey. For additional noise reduction, please put these special socks on your feet, which come in two corporate colours – pink and blue. It doesn’t really matter which sock colour you select, and I won’t make any judgement should you choose one in particular! Now that we are all set, let’s proceed.

We are now standing outside a particular door that has a large combination keypad with which we need to provide a certain numeric combination. This code is only provided to those employees who are deemed suitable for this room entry privilege. Let’s enter the code 76806864. As I do so, the door quickly opens.

On entering the room, you will see some wooden chairs, desks, writing pads and an array of fountain pens filled with black ink. The room is completely white, quite cold and has no windows or paintings on the walls. You will notice that there are no electrical power outlets, no computers and more importantly, no noise. The only item adhered to the wall is a clock, but there are only numbers, no hour, minute or second hands, there is also no tick, apart from a warm yellow glow permeating from its circumference.

So what’s so special about this room you may ask? Well, in this room time “just stops”. Those entering the room do not age. Those people sitting at the work desks have quite literally an infinite amount of time to master and perfect any project they are working on. They can brainstorm and develop ideas that may take their fellow colleagues many lifetimes to progress, however in this room, they have all the time they require.

If you had access to this room, you too could be seen by your peers as a genius or a “high flyer”, the only limiting factor that you face is time, unlike those fortunate enough to have access to this secretive room.

So what are the learnings from our visit to this room?
1. Pink or Blue socks are quite comfortable compared to work shoes.
2. The access code is 76806864
3. This is the most important learning – Don’t let the concept of time limit your potential in your work career. You have unlimited time to do what you need to do and if you recognise and appreciate this fact, your stress will be reduced and your life will be rather more spiffy than it currently is at the moment.
4. And yes – unfortunately, this room does not exist in real life, but just imagine the possibilities if it actually did!
5. Just focus on items 1 and 3

E-mail Innovation

E-mail in notes

Wandering surreptitiously with a nonchalant manner throughout the corporate corridors you will find a unique and highly valued employee. This person typically wears work attire that just doesn’t seem to “hang together”, may have a button out of place, odd socks, a belt buckle that is providing a little bit too much pressure around the waistline, and have that distant, rather sheepish look in their eyes.

If you decide to follow these employees, they will quickly lose you and you will wonder where they reside in the office.

Their names are typically Bill, Bob, Brad or Jen, Jill, Jan – their names are never too long, and one that doesn’t leave any chance of a lingering impression.

So what do these valued employees do? These people have a direct reporting line to the organizations Innovation Director and it is their job to continually bombard you with new ideas, even if they are unwelcome, nor appreciated throughout your working day.

These employees have a skill in crafting prose, together with an eye for various font and image selection that is constantly varied to be either particularly exciting, or to be the most dull and uninteresting. Their work rate output is considered to be one of the highest in the corporate office.

Yes, these unique employees are the originators of all your SPAM E-mails. They are the official corporate SPAMMERS and their job is to frequently interrupt your concentration with strange and subtle ideas to entice you into thinking that little bit differently. However, sometimes they can get a little bit too enthusiastic!

So next time you are on E-mail, don’t forget to have a look in your SPAM folder to marvel at the works of your fellow employees. Some of these E-mail masterpieces might just lead to some glimmer of a new innovation?

Souvenirs of Business Exploration

NLDK_DE10_BrakeLookout.jpg

Centuries ago, the role of the Explorer provided many governments and monarchies in power with a strategic and valued opportunity to learn about new civilizations and philosophies. The Explorer’s discoveries and insights led to the establishment of a variety of new and powerful trading colonies that provided economic opportunities for financial gain and cultural exchange.

History provides much detail about the exploits of these Explorers, and the personal characteristics, traits and resilience required to be successful in this role. But have we considered how their experiences influenced their home life and those that frequented this establishment?

If any of you have travelled overseas, or extensively within your own country, you have most likely gathered a large array of souvenirs to remind you of where you have been. I suspect, that this would be the same situation for the Explorer.

The Explorer’s home would be a kaleidoscope of souvenirs from all around the world which when prompted by the visitor inquiring on the specific artefact, would initiate a masterful story of how it was obtained. I’m sure that many an informative dialog over a most enjoyable dinner party with a group of attentive guests would have prevailed. Those partaking of the experience would propagate this novel information with their family and friends leading to an expanded and continued dissemination of this new worldly knowledge.

Let’s now focus our attention on how this can be applied in the corporate office.

In business, although the official title of “Explorer” does not currently exist, many employees have this activity as part of their work function (eg New Business Development, R&T, Marketing, Finance, etc). However, what is lacking is the opportunity for the “Business Explorer” to furnish their travelling exploits back in the corporate office. There is no dedicated “Explorer’s Room” in which business souvenirs and other impressive booty can be pinned to the wall or placed on a mantelpiece above the fire, just like in the Explorer’s home to prompt further discussion and interest. Some organizations try to do this via visit reports and other office communications, but the impact is quickly lost, particularly with the continual bombarding of daily E-mails.

So why not establish an “Explorer’s Room” (or wall, if space is limited) in the corporate office that is dedicated to the “Business Explorer”? Just like in the Explorer’s home, these souvenirs of external inspiration and travels could then be discussed and shared with other employees in an informal setting, maybe over lunch, to generate interaction and dialog. For those businesses with many offices, why not have a virtual “Explorer’s Room” and schedule employee discussion via webcasts? Who knows what creative and innovative ideas might be developed?

The first step is to recognise the importance of the role of the “Business Explorer” in your organization in seeking out and identifying new ideas that are not currently in operation in your organization.

The second step is to then share these “souvenirs” with the rest of the business. To do this, consider the establishment of the “Explorer’s Room”.

The third step, and most important, is to have business leaders in the organization tasked with actioning the key learnings generated from these “souvenirs”. However, these leaders need to have vision, be bold and progressive, and dare to be different. For the Explorers of yesteryear, these people were typically the King or Queen, once they had made a decision to proceed, no bureaucracy dared to stand in the way of implementation!

%d bloggers like this: