A Dog’s Tail of Innovation

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My name is Rufus and, yes, I’m a dog, to be precise, an Irish terrier. I’ve been asked by my owner to explain the basic fundamentals of innovation to you humans. Apparently, you have made such a simple concept, so complex.

My formal qualifications? None. Except, I have fully mastered the requisite innovation skills to a point where everyone looks after me, so much so, that I do indeed have a wonderful dog’s life. I have no overrated and rather superfluous human academic skills, no Doctorate or Masters degrees, I have just sniffed things out, and have learnt by experience.

So what’s my formula to achieve innovation success? Simple, just be a dog.

Now I know that you don’t have any paws, phenomenal hearing, a superb woof, nor a sophisticated sense of odour recognition, but that’s just some of the inherent negatives that you regrettably have to put up with by being human. A dog has all of these, and does one important thing that humans appear to have lost the art of doing, that being, to use all of our skills without actually having to consciously think about using them, we just naturally do it.

A dog will happily follow an adventurous smell, not knowing where it may lead us. We don’t plan the route we may follow, we just use our noses to locate the object of interest, and if further investigation is required, we dig.

When was the last time you literally followed your nose and let your unhindered dog-like inquisitive interest take control? I suspect not that often, as from my dog perspective, you all appear to live and work in a professional world where there are strict processes and protocols to be observed.

Humans seem to spend an exorbitant amount of time sitting in front of the TV, computer, phone, reading or eating. Why not come out and spend more time with me, and together, we can smell the roses, and dig some massive holes together? I assure you, it will be fun, and with time, I’m sure you will get a taste for it.

So if you want to develop an innovation culture in your corporate office, just unleash the dog in you, have a good sniff, and make sure that you woof out loudly.

 

A Job for the Innovation Detective – Authentic or Forgery?

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How do you know if a company is a true authentic innovator, and not an expensive creative forgery?

The answer is indeed simple. Just hire an experienced Innovation Detective, a trusted professional that specialises in promptly slicing through the external company façade and associated mystique of any superficial corporate woft.

The Innovation Detective is a special breed of person who uses an array of sophisticated, and might I say, rather spiffy forensic investigation skills that relies on their superior intellect, highly tuned physical senses, and a rather unique and remarkably sensitive portable Woftometer. Their work attire is as you would typically expect of any corporate individual, that of the stylish business suit, an array of brightly coloured paisley shirts, complete with a slick fedora hat that gracefully embellishes their head.

Once hired, following the payment of a wickedly outrageous six figure financial sum, they quickly swing into action and start the clever three step process of gathering evidence to disprove, or affirm, the existence of innovation within the designated corporate office.

Step 1: Food for Thought
The first, and usually most accessible place for initial investigation is the corporate cafeteria where you will see the Innovation Detective quietly sitting alone in the corner, typically slurping a soy milk chai latte (usually with honey), accompanied with a tasty warm scone smothered with lashings of jam and cream. Why this eating ritual, we do not know, but it seems to stimulate and encourage the ‘little grey cells” hidden, and quietly permeating well beneath the matching coloured fedora. Once nourished, the Innovation Detective carefully studies the assembled employee composition, together with the prevailing sound intensity radiating from the room. On investigation, the data indicates that those cafeterias were the noise levels are high, usually accompanied with a rich mixture of intense hand gesticulating discussion, together with at least 55% laughter content, are deemed to have all the hallmarks of a genuine culture of innovation. However, should the employees be quietly whispering to each other, or electing to have an extended lunch break outside the office, well, this is a significant clue of creative forgery being deliberately subterfuged within the organisation.

Step 2: Desk Linearity
The next stop for the Innovation Detective is the office layout where a slow and methodical walk of thought is made through all the departmental work stations and offices within the corporate office. Should all the desks be neat and tidy with no colourful creative mess to be seen, then is a big clue that may lead to an opinion of corporate thought rigidity. But should the desks also all be aligned with precise linearity, then this is no longer a clue, but now a statement of undisputable fact, that being, severe innovation doom.

Step 3: The Woftometer
The Swiss designed Woftometer is a rare instrument of precision engineering, most commonly manufactured in Germany in very limited quantities, and only available for those that hold an accredited Innovation Detective license. Although small in size, it has the unique ability to measure the prevailing “woft”[1] in a corporate office. Here the Innovation Detective, armed with their compact Woftmeter, strategically wanders throughout the entire building seeking out wofts to signify the existence of innovation.

With the three step process now completed, the Innovation Detective now gathers their thoughts and slowly conducts a methodical review of the precious data. After a few minutes of extraordinarily deep thinking, the Innovation Detective will make a verdict, and a report is written and distributed by confidential E-mail to the CEO of the corporate office.

Whether the report is heeded, or publicly shared with the employees is unknown? But if you have never heard of the Innovation Detective role, then I think you can only come to one conclusion, that being, that the report was not favourable and it is likely that you are indeed working in an expensive creative forgery. If so, it might be time for some innovation restoration?

[1] (Some Obscure Dictionary Definition: “Woft, an indication of innovation in a corporate office that is measured using a Woftometer. The Woftometer is a highly calibrated device that captures and records the number of “innos” in a corporate office. “Innos” are sub-micron in size and are invisibly excreted from a person’s skin when they are having fun, and yes, there is a patent pending!).

 

Innovation that Works Out

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On doing a rather nonchalant and hopefully surreptitious visual comparison, mine was definitely the most hairy and very much the plumpest. The young woman on the machine next to me was the personification of goddess perfection, flat stomach, not a mark of perspiration, and any skerrick of anything that remotely resembled fat was just a fictitious illusion of a historical redundant memory.

We both looked around the room that was thumping to the beat of numerous high powered eardrum splitting musical chords harmoniously bumping in unison with an array of complex mechanical contraptions, all emblazoned with men and women of a diverse range of skills and ages.

Some were adorned in the latest skin tight fashion clothing that left absolutely nothing to the observer’s imagination, others, like me, were frolicking quite respectfully in loose fitting garments that provided a modicum of respectful self-integrity and decency.

We may dress differently, have a body shape that defines us most uniquely, and may not all be blessed with copious amounts of greying hairs that frequent many hidden, and some not so well disguised anatomical locations. Yet, each one of us knew that despite our outward physical appearances, we were all very much alike as we strived for our individual goals, although they may be different.

We could be mentally discouraged and thwarted in achieving our bodily objectives by looking at those that have an appearance that seemed totally unattainable to us mere normal mortals, but each of us voluntary decide to soldier on and take that additional, and sometimes painful progressive step. We elect not to give in, not to eat that extra piece of enticing chocolate, not to have that additional large bite from that glorious greasy hot Chicko Roll, but rather focus on a complex diet of proven healthy options.

If the location was that of a corporate office, and those striving for the attainment of improved fitness and well-being were the employees, then the situation would be analogous to those talented individuals that yearn for a culture of innovation.

Innovation is not reserved for a select few, it takes time, effort, sustained commitment and continued practice. Those seeking its attainment may fail the first time, but with the right mindset and support, they will indeed succeed.

Innovation needs an organisational infrastructure that provides the correct tools to hone and shape their employees creative skills via an ongoing exercise regime of mental ingenuity that challenges, and also supports the individual.

Yes, innovation is like a gym, it needs to be worked and continually applied, otherwise, the corporate office just turns to flab.

The Source is the Sauce

As Professor of Human Behaviour at a rather obscure, yet soon to be prestigious university in Melbourne, following many years of extensive sports science research, the sauce of human creativity has finally been identified. The answer is indeed sauce, not source, so relax all those with a grammatical accuracy phobia that immediately noticed what may have been a deliberate and cunning mistake in the previous sentence.

Have you ever been to an Australian Football League game and observed the passionate spectators with their Four’n’Twenty pies happily held, and well entrenched, in their frozen wind blown hands at the mighty Melbourne Cricket Ground (aka the ‘G’)? For those of you that haven’t experienced this first hand, the art of eating a hot meat pie is one that takes immense skill so as to not burn your mouth, lips and those seated around you, as the dangerous hot filling tends to unexpectedly ooze out from the crumbling pastry.

The academic study focused not on the pie, but the creative application of the sauce, to be precise, tomato sauce (or ketchup), that accompanies the football fanatics ritualistic eating process. After observing many a pie eater, it appears that there is a direct correlation between the individual’s saucing technique and their personality.

1. The Nozzle Plunger

This pie eater is one not to be messed with and takes life and work very seriously. These eaters plunge the plastic sauce bottle nozzle deeply into the pie and squeeze out volumes of thick crimson sauce that forces the encapsulating pastry almost to the point of exploding. They also like to deliberately leave their pie pastry remnants on the bottle nozzle as a reminder to those that are next in line, that they were there before them, and that there may not be much sauce left in the bottle for their pie. As such, it is best not to follow those that nozzle plunge, if at all possible.

2. The Swirler

These pie eaters are the creative types and take great pride in forming perfect concentric sauce circles on the upper pie crust. The bigger the circles, the more artistic the individual. However, there are some sauce swirlers that go to the extreme and end up with a fully coated soggy red layer on their pie. These people aren’t creative, they just have no self control and should not be put into a position of any authority in a work or social environment as it will just end up in a total mess.

3. One Bite, One Squirt

This person is very methodical and has excellent planning skills. When eating a pie, a well defined measure of sauce is strategically squirted onto the section of pie now freshly exposed following their bite. However, a word of caution as these eaters are not very sociable as they tend to hog the sauce bottle, and not share it owing to their demanding and very selfish sauce squirting schedule.

Now for those reading this blog overseas, particularly in those countries where the hot dog dominates consumption at sporting events, and alas, no meat pies are consumed, or available, relax, as the study results do have international application. Here, the academic researcher just has to observe the eater, and see how they utilise the condiments available, be they mustard, pickles, or other gourmet delicacies. The researcher will be required to attend many sporting events, but with time and patience, the results will be validated.

Yes, the source of a person’s personality profile is most definitely found in the sauce.

Jester of The Order of the British Empire

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As I stood before Queen Elizabeth II, I was feeling particularly chuffed. Yes, I was one of the first British citizens to be awarded the honour of JBE.

Many worthy citizens have been knighted, awarded a CBE, OBE or even an MBE, but I, by Royal Decree, was about to have the esteemed privilege of being able to have the letters JBE permanently linked to my name.

For many years now, I have been promoting the use of “innovation” in the corporate office. It has been a hard and torturous journey that has met much opposition from the boring conservatives from within, but with continued perseverance, a creative revolution appears to be slowly permeating, despite the fierce resistance.

Numerous blog posts have been written, many a paisley business shirt worn, copious berets have been deliberately placed upon my hair challenged head, all with the deliberate intent in making those traditional corporates think differently.

The learning from all this calculated, and most devious methodology, is that innovation in the corporate office can only exist if there is one key activity, that being “fun”. Yes, the root of all creativity is the ability to have fun, to have an office environment where humour is the welcome catalyst that continually rejuvenates itself, and which unknowingly morphs into the personalities of all willing employees.

But fun takes skill and continual practice, and that’s where the role of the Corporate Jester comes into play. These oddly behaving individuals look at current corporate work practices through a unique analysis lens, one which must constantly challenge the status quo of the organization, but be done in a way that relies on humour so the creative concepts suggested are deemed more palatable and welcome.

Yes, as I looked at the well-worn crimson carpet at Buckingham Palace trodden with pride by other New Year Honour’s recipients, a quiet facial smirk appeared as I acknowledged that I was now a Jester of The Order of the British Empire (JBE).

But the smile became much wider as I observed the line of other JBE recipients, of which I was now a member. It was satisfying and most humbling to know that role of “fun” in the corporate office was similarly taking hold in other stayed corporate offices, and would soon yield the highly sought after smiling face in other innovatively receptive individuals. The unquestionable result being, the attainment of innovation.

Steven Cramer JBE

 

Go Forth and Roll

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To the uneducated onlooker, it’s just a smooth, flat, manicured lawn that smugly exudes with the woft of establishmentarianism.

To some, it’s a green “Bermuda Rectangle” just waiting to surreptitiously unleash a variety of random and mysterious challenges to those that don’t respect its hidden subtleties.

But, for those privileged few that are in the know, it’s a potential thought forum that continually challenges even the sharpest and most experienced mind.

Those that confidently grace its grassy surface, are willing to accept the supreme contest that demands continual innovation, are happy to relish a victory when truly deserved, these esteemed individuals will marvel at the astonishing personal learnings derived from the experience.

These sporting gladiators are equipped with an array of colourful Henselite bowls, some fortunate enough to embellish the esteemed and coveted MCC emblem. Their feet are adorned with the requisite flat soled shoes in smooth respect for the turf, and to ensure no annoying groove indentations that may upset the grassy equilibrium. In their trouser pocket, a small white towel dangles precariously awaiting just the right moment to dab the beads of stress induced perspiration from the player’s forehead, and to lovingly wipe any foreign matter from their spherical hand held implement.

In response, the cunning and mindful lawn calls on the prevailing climatic conditions to spontaneously muster up a sporting environment that contains all the random seasonal elements; wind, rain, sun, shadows, even the occasional swooping magpie, with the strategic wicked intent of annoying the player.

Even the bowls, which should have a long term and an unquestionable loyalty to their owner, typically side with the lawn, and have an unpredictable bias that continually throws the frustrated bowler off guard.

The game is called lawn bowls, and one that is relished by many insightful men and women around the world.

So, if you are looking for a sport that demands a thoughtful and ongoing mindset of continual innovation, may you seek no further, as the answer has you literally standing on the green.

Yes, just go forth and roll!

What’s on Your Corporate Clothesline?

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How would you describe the visual appearance of your corporate clothesline?

Is it one that has that look of shabbiness, where all the lines are no longer taut, are a tad tired and fatigued with excessive service to your organisation?

Are all the clothes hanging about rather too precariously with an outlook that is faded, tattered and torn and now ready to be used as an unwelcome, and rather smelly sleeping accompaniment in the corporate watchdog’s kennel?

If so, your business desperately needs a creative clothesline refurbishment where your employee’s innovative skills can be readily hung out to dry with pride.

The solution is to realign the skills of your employees where they all hang about with the requisite corporately aligned tension that comfortably meets their individual needs. No longer will some employees feel as if they are dangling too close to the bottom of the clothesline where some competitive vermin and other nosey corporate animals can undermine their self-esteem and confidence.

For those employees not willing to move and sway with the prevailing climatic winds, just surreptitiously loosen their holding peg, and with time, any remaining fragments of residual cloth clinging to the clothesline will eventually succumb to your new corporate gravity of change.

However, do make sure all your departmental positioning pegs are regularly updated and aligned with those that operate efficiently, are colourful, not crazed, and you will retain those important employees that are deemed strategic to your long-term organisational success.

As a CEO, you want your clothesline to be viewed by any visitors to your business abode as one that readily complements your organizational culture, and that highlights the impressive garment diversity of fashion wearers that happily attach themselves to your corporate hierarchy.

No longer will you need to spend lavish sums of money on endless internal and external organizational surveys to measure the mood and innovation prowess of your employees, just have a daily glance at your corporate clothesline and all will quickly be revealed.

Yes, the answer to your innovation is literally flapping in the wind.

 

Absolutely

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a quick and easy method to identify if your corporate office is in the gradual process of innovative decline? If so, the answer is right before your ears, just simply listen to the vocabulary being used as it is a tell-tale sign as to the creative state of your staff.

A big clue is the frequent use of some common words, the main culprit of today being the word “absolutely”. Yes, you will hear “absolutely” being used with an increasingly high verbal frequency by a huge cross-section of employees, all unknowingly mimicking each other with involuntary abandonment in an attempt to sound “absolutely impressive”. But don’t be fooled, as with each nonchalant utterance, the employee is slowly eroding their ability to think creatively as they continue to narrow their thoughtful intellect.

Apparently, there are 171,476 words currently being used in the English language, so says the 2nd edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, with 47,156 obsolete words. So, those in the corporate office have a plethora of alternative words they could wittily choose from besides that most tedious and infamous word known as ‘absolutely’. Yes, it’s time to strategically add ‘absolutely’ to the mind dumbing obsolete word list for the sake of innovation!

When next you hear someone in the office use this soon to be defunct word, offer them the use of your Thesaurus, or maybe suggest another more apt word that impresses them with your mastery of the English language. Yes, it’s time my verbally educated friends for a word revolution!

And may ‘absolutely’, soon RIP, never to be heard again.

Twas the Present of Change

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The date was the 24th December, the time 9:30 PM, and an ageless white facially follicled gentleman looked carefully at himself in the mirror.

For more years than he could remember, he had worn a red velvet suit, fluffed out his bushy beard and had gone about his famously punctual global delivery service that was the envy of Amazon.

He was known by the young and the old, no business card was required to make his introduction, he had an immediately recognisable face that made even the President of the United States jealous.

Although he had mastered keyless entry into any house, office, government, or building with high security, he was welcome by all, and was not considered a threat by the police, in fact, quite the opposite.

He had a smile and a laugh that could subdue the most rebellious child, or annoying employee. His flying reindeer fleet and professional elf workforce created a NPS that exceeded the expectations of even the most virtuous CEO.

But, it was time for a change. Yes, he had fallen into a seasonal rut and he needed to reinvigorate his creativity.

First to go was his long entrenched beard allowing the freezing North Pole winds to redden his virginal smooth face, an experience he had not encountered since his youth. Next was his suit, now fashionably replaced with a jacket, paisley shirt and jeans, complete with a tartan scarf and beret.

He looked at himself in the mirror and smiled until his elation was broken by the gentle tap on the shoulder by a senior elf reminding him that it was now time to start delivering that vast array of the world population’s presents.

But, it was time for yet one more long overdue strategic change in the festive status quo. He picked up the keys to the turbo powered sled, placed them in the hand of his 18 year old daughter and said, “You can drive, my turn to be the passenger”.

That night, a feminine sounding “Ho, Ho, Ho” was heard throughout the world accompanied by a smiling and fashionably dressed man now experiencing a newly gained sense of innovation.

The Answer is Nothing

Beautiful funny girl shaving with foam & razor her face

According to Professor Elsa Outinen, a leading business academic from Helsinki University, nothingness, is the unequivocal source of Finnish ingenuity.

You only need to look at the management team of Nokia to appreciate how they incorporated this long standing Finnish tradition into the core stimuli for their business success, one that helped make their mobile phones the most coveted item around the telecommunications world.

Sources close to Nokia say that it was a well-known fact that the most creative thinkers in their R&D team commenced each day with a habitual unclothed plunge in the corporate sauna to initiate their innovative prowess. Even the HR Director was known to happily participate, and unquestionably approved of the bare skinned activity. Alas, Nokia’s business dominance faltered in the latter years, when it was deemed by those that theoretically knew better, that saunas should be a place of prescribed bathing costume coverage to ensure the worldly attainment of social corporate respectability.

Professor Outinen spent a lifetime researching the thought provoking benefits derived from Finnish nothingness, and apparently, it all comes down to skin sensitivity and pore receptivity. For many years, barbers have known this closely guarded fact, and have most cleverly financially exploited that joyous awakening feeling men experience following a close cut facial shave. This also explains the high dominance of highly intellectual men who elect to adorn their bald headed appearance, thereby maximising their naked skin porosity.

For those of you a tad too embarrassed to nonchalantly discard your clothes, and then quickly plunge into a deep body covering bubbling hot sauna to maintain your personal dignity, relax, as there is another less public option available to you.

Yes, you can grow a moustache, beard, or let the hairs on your legs protrude without any hindrance. Then, when your level of hairy visual discomfort can no longer be tolerated, you can strategically re-invigorate your skin with the application of a very sharp razor. Once done, you will instantaneously experience that Finnish feeling of naked skin porosity, together with the associated personal thoughtful benefit of true creative inspiration.

Yes, the answer is indeed Nothing.

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