The First 10 Days

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Innovation is like running for the first time. It takes a little bit of courage to initially get going, but once you are moving, your self-imposed obstacles do slowly fall behind you. The goal is to maintain the forward momentum, and to not let self-doubt get in your way. You don’t need a vast array of fashionable expensive accessories, just some personal persistence, but some sweat does tend to help.

For those of you seeking some guidance on how to start, the following is my own 10 day innovation work-out commentary, which may assist.  However, as with every exercise regime, please consult your accredited innovation expert for a tailored program that may be better suited to your individual needs.

Day 0:
Need to at least pretend to look like an athlete. Purchased some swish black running shoes and brand matching shorts and T-shirt (apparently it breathes!).

Day 1:
Running attire worn for the first time. Look rather spiffy. If only the T-shirt wasn’t so tight fitting. Stomach seems to protrude a tad more than I would have hoped. Walk 4 kilometres.

Day 2:
Stomach still rather obvious. Still walking 4 kilometres.

Day 3:
Looks like I’m not the only person with a stomach. There are others out also walking. Now don’t feel as self-conscious.

Day 4:
Run 1 kilometre, walk 3. Overtaken by a mother pushing a pram. Decided to make my loud fatigued puffing noises less obvious as she zoomed past so not to look like a heart attack candidate.

Day 5:
Run 2 kilometres, walk 2. Saw a fit woman running past me with some earphones. Must get some. Might also help to have the phone, just in case I need to call for an ambulance.

Day 6:
Run 4 kilometres. Miracles do happen! But will need a lie down.

Day 7:
Run 4 kilometres. T-shirt clinging less to my stomach. Feeling good. Ran past that lady with the pram. Smirked to myself.

Day 8:
Feeling smug. I think I’m becoming an athlete!

Day 9:
Still feeling smug.

Day 10:
I can do this! Glad I didn’t stop after Day 1.

Final Comment: Pride and self-doubt are the biggest hindrance to success. Need to just focus on my step by step targets, and not what others may think.

Enough is Indeed Enough

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Gentlemen, it’s time for a private revolution in the corporate office because you are losing the “you”, in you. Yes, many of you have voluntarily discarded your individuality in order to become part of the accepted “we”. But the unconscious sacrifice you have made has significantly impacted your personal creativity.

Remember the time in your working life when you wanted to be noticed, when you desired to be the centre of attention, when you had something important to say, and were unrepentant when you said it?

When did we all morph into a state of visual uniformity and become a subdued and quiet collective of “I”s?

Here are some clues to help you revitalise your memory, and to inspire you into again thinking that little bit differently.

The neck tie – Gone!
Recall those colourful items of clothing that used to adorn your neck, complete with the additional visual benefit of fashionably differentiating your frontal business appearance from your colleagues? Alas, one can regretfully say the same about the unfortunate demise of the visually appealing bow-tie, similarly, the majestic cravat.

Chest Hairs – slowly growing back!
Men used to be men, and hairy. We used to have copious volumes of hairs publicly sprouting with unashamed gusto from our chests, and our faces. To think that men now voluntarily shave their manes off to achieve a follicle look of commonality, good god! Thankfully, this does not apply to those men who have boldly bucked the trend, and have courageously, and most deliberately, shaved their heads as a mark of their commitment to the male cause for innovation.

Hats – a mark of respect!
In the not too distant past, men looked resplendent with a stylish hat firmly placed upon our heads where we could selectively doff our head covering in recognition, and respect of a fellow worker, confidant, or compatriot. Thankfully, with the advent of the bald head, this item of clothing is making a welcome resurgence.

Watches – steps of progress!
Strategically positioned on the left or right wrist used to be a masterly engineered time piece of precision. This has now been replaced by a devise that measures steps, typically known as a FITBIT. Men used to compare other items to assert their masculinity, now it’s the number of steps walked in a work day, or week. I ask you, where will it end?

So gentlemen, take heed of this warning, and visually state your support in hindering this unwelcome disintegration of your individual creativity when in the corporate office. Enough is indeed enough. It’s now time to make the change!

Seek the Buzz

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It is said that the taste of success is sweet, but it is the culmination of a great deal of tireless organizational movement, just like that found in a beehive. In fact, business can learn a great deal from the sticky activities of the humble bee.

The CEO, or “Queen Bee” establishes the colony and sets the direction and longevity for its future. However, if the Queen Bee gets a tad tired and lacks the support of the total bee population, the hive will swarm and the the life of the CEO bee will indeed become short lived.

Some General Managers are like “Drones” where they happily lounge about in a state of privilege where others do their work and continually feed them with inspiration. However, their prestigious life is short lived because once they have done the “deed” with the Queen and are no longer required, they are quickly made redundant and their functions are absorbed into the food chain of the colony as a legacy for its long term sustenance.

The majority of employees are the “Worker Bees” of the business who keep the financial entity fully buzzing in a state of harmonious order, and with a continual influx of much needed inspiration from the outside market.

Occasionally “The Board” comes along and smokes out the business via regular inspections to ensure the hive is operating effectively. Any areas of concern are swiftly removed awaiting the required correction, which may be a new Queen Bee.

The output from the business is deemed “honey” which can be sold to the market for cash where it is used as a core ingredient to drive recipes of innovation in a range of applications.

Occasionally pests and other undesirable vermin may try and infiltrate the hive. Should they be successful, they are like a virus that is difficult to eliminate. Hence the need for a trusty IT guard at the hive entrance to keep those classified as unwelcome well and truly away.

So to achieve a meaningful buzz in your corporate office, it is important to make sure that every employee knows their strategic role in the honeycomb structure. And should one bee, regardless of their stature hierarchy, flap their wings out of the requisite corporate vibration, they will quickly encounter a rather unsavoury end to their corporate career. For others, life will be blissfully delicious.

 

The “Proof Level”

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What do alcohol and innovation have in common? The “Proof Level”.

Those connoisseurs of the occasional, or even the frequent, alcoholic beverage would be familiar with the concept of %-proof which indicates the alcohol content by volume. For example, 100-proof whisky contains 50% alcohol. The higher the alcoholic content, the more “oomph” in the beverage.

Just like a good whisky, a culture of innovation can be determined in the corporate office by measuring its proof level, which is known by many leading behavioural psychologists as the “IPL” (aka Innovation Proof Level).

For those companies that have a dynamic and highly stimulating innovation culture, they would be nearing the 100-IPL mark where at least 50% of their employees are deemed as being creative. A business that scores a 50-IPL, only a quarter of their staff have what it takes to drive and support their culture of innovation. For those with 0-IPL, alas, we are typically talking about the public service.

So what are the pros and cons associated with a high IPL organisation?

  • The employees are found to be very friendly and seem to happily interact, albeit some may occasionally step over the line with respect to the acceptable HR behavioural guidelines
  • New concepts are readily accepted with minimal resistance, although some may be regretted the following day
  • Corporate dress standards may become a tad shabby, particularly near 5 PM
  • Some employees may seek opportunities for quiet slumber at their desk, or discretely under it, complete with a corporate logo emblazoned pillow, blanket and bright light filtering face-mask

Similarly, for those working in an antiquated establishment where a 0-IPL commonly prevails?

  • An inability to pick up the phone until at least the 20th ring
  • A slurring of words ensuring that the customer gives up with feeling of frustration
  • A late start in the morning, complete with an early finish owing to a constant headache
  • A monotone speech pattern with a large lack of enthusiasm

So for those of you thirsting for innovation, the remedy is to have a large corporate glass filled to the brim with a refreshing 100-IPL content beverage.  However, make sure that you consume it slowly in order to avoid unwanted creative side effects that may linger long into the following morning.

Cheers!

Those Pesky Weeds of Innovation

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As CEO of a large, conservative company that has been in operation for over a century with little or no business growth, how do you know if you have those pesky weeds of innovation in your business? The following are some clues to help you quickly identify them before they can take root and grow.

Ideas: Should you hear an employee uttering the blasphemous words “I have an idea”, then they need to be dismissed immediately before that frightening innovation virus can contaminate your workforce.

Fashion: Luckily these recalcitrant employees are easily identifiable by their annoying clothes, colourful shirts, bow-ties and the occasional hat. Just ask HR to quietly usher them to the exit with minimal fuss.

Laughter: Fun in the office should definitely not be tolerated and should result in the employee being speedily placed on disciplinary action with the threat of instantaneous termination for a repeat offence.

Unauthorised Fonts: Yes, there are strict corporate guidelines that must be followed. Any employee daring to use any other font rather than the long standing and approved black Times New Roman needs to be quickly educated on the 100 year old corporate values that have served the company well, and are based on tradition.

Customers: Any customer having the nerve to complain about our products not meeting their requirements do not deserve the privilege of being supplied by us, after all, we know what’s best for their business. How dare they tell us otherwise!

Career: Any employee seeking clarification on their future within our business obviously does not appreciate the honour of working for us (or should I say for me).

My fellow CEOs, hopefully the above insights have provided you with sufficient information to nippily identify any annoying employees that might be creative, or have mad ambitions of creating a culture of innovation in your company. The key is to act swiftly before their offensive ideas can take hold and spread. God forbid!

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

 

The Culturally Fitting Cordwainer

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Looking for a corporate culture that fully supports your creative career aspirations and life travels?

If the answer is yes, then your fitted, bespoke solution is literally below you, and is one that happily accompanies you wherever your corporate desires may fleetingly wander.

Whatever your innovation need, whether it be that of a classy professional, purely social, discretely indoors or an outdoor adventure, a matching array of versatile accessories are readily available to the discerning buyer, constructed in a plethora of colours, materials, comfort levels and various purchase prices.

The origin of this personalised inspiration is your fashionable cordwainer who after years of meticulous training has mastered the requisite design skills to provide the right shoe solution that is perfect for your feet.

Now shoes are key to your creative success, but there are some exceptions to the rule:

The Naked Foot
Those who dare to walk the corridors of the corporate office with foot nakedness may attain a state of relaxed mindfulness nirvana, but this will be short lived when viewed below the business trouser, or skirt, where a certain professional visual standard is expected from the onlooking beholder. The naked foot does indeed have its rightful place, but alas, it is not yet accepted as part of the regulations for approved industry attire, despite the invigorating freedom of thought achieved by the naked foot wearer.

The Sandal
In Roman times this form of footwear was most socially acceptable, but today, corporate office feet standards have now significantly changed. However, should you be an English University Lecturer who habitually wears a dull tweed jacket, thick beige corduroy trousers and smokes a pipe with voluminous gusto, then you may continue to look the part whilst we silently smirk at your personal misfortune.

Pointy Toe
Stop! The pointy toed shoe is now classified by the FBI as a dangerous weapon, and one that has caused many employee injuries from deliberate kicking outbursts directed at that annoying colleague under the table.

The Boot
Now should you be an Australian National Party politician, then this rule does not apply because it is presumed that you wear your boots for strategic media appearances so your electorate thinks that you come from a large farming community, eventhough you have always lived in the city, and would not know the front from the back of a sheep.  For all other corporate office workers, the wearing of a boot suggests that you have not yet mastered the shoe-lace tying process which may be systematic of other analytical shortfalls in your intellect.

So should you be a CEO or HR professional reading this blog post, the answer to business innovation is delightfully simple. Just hire a Chief Cordwainer Officer (CCO) and your corporate culture will be long wearing, fully protected and continually well heeled!

 

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.

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