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.

 

The Eyes of Electronic Stimulation

eyes

The E-mail designated “High Priority” in large red font from the HSE Director arrived in my Inbox at exactly 5 PM. It advised all employees that tomorrow was going to be an “Electronic Free Day”. I, and my fellow work colleagues, read the following safety directive as stipulated with keen interest.

Attention All Staff,

Owing to a dramatic increase in the number of deteriorating eyesight complaints derived from employee’s continually using work computers, iPhones, iPads and other electronic visual stimulators, we have been advised by our insurance underwriters that we have now reached the maximum number of optical claims allowed for this year.

As such, we have decided to mitigate this corporate eyeball risk by announcing that every Wednesday will now be deemed an “Electronic Free Day” (EFD), commencing tomorrow.

The IT department has been advised to implement an unconditional electricity supply freeze on all computer assets which will be effective between the hours of 8 AM to 5 PM.

When arriving at work, please place all personal smartphone devices, tablets, kindles, and other such like into the nominated collection baskets as advised by the Safety Wardens. Any refusal will result in immediate dismissal.

At your workstation, each employee will be greeted with a pen (complete with ink), writing paper (devoid of any words) that are to be used to capture any creative thoughts that may be generated during the work day. For those staff that may have forgotten how to use these work implements, a special tutorial has been scheduled in the auditorium at 9 AM.

On your desk, you will also find a personalised information sheet that provides some suggested finger exercises to ensure that no repetitive strain injuries (RSI) occur, please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the movements.

We value your eye safety, particularly as it will reduce our insurance premiums.

The management team thanks you for your understanding and optical conformance, so together, our business future will be visually bright.

Regards

HSE Director

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!”

Your Very Own Personal “Sound Globe™”

Noise reduction ! the simple way !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wink to the Rhythm

wiggity wizzink bw

Woohooo, there was only two minutes to go!

You could sense the air of anticipation as everyone was starting to psych themselves up for it! As the seconds counted down, people were trying to hurriedly conclude their phone conversations, meetings were quickly ending and there was a mass movement of excited employees all racing back their desks in order to get there in time. I was no exception as I looked down at the clock on my computer screen and saw that it was now 1:59 PM, only one more minute to wait!

Then at precisely 2:00 PM, with all the office staff now quietly seated at their allocated desk positions, it started.

The PA system crackled and the countdown began….5, 4, 3, 2, 1. On reaching the eagerly awaited number 1, the “gym workout music” loudly blurted out throughout the building with a rhythm of exactly 150 beats per minute.

As my desk was situated to the extreme left of the building, it was my allocated task to start the “Mexican Wave of Wink”. I turned my head to Melissa (the colleague on my right) and winked my right eye and smiled. Immediately, Melissa winked her left eye in time to the beat, then quickly turned her head to face Jules (seated on her right) and winked her right eye with perfect musical synergy, together with a the requisite beaming smile. This process continued in time to the beat until all 153 employees had winked and smiled. On reaching Peter, who was seated at the extreme right of the building, his timely wink initiated the “wink rebound” back along the “wink-chain” until I was able to receive the wink with my opposite eye. Gleeful and spontaneous laughter prevailed, as it was a unique sight to behold and a great opener to the daily 2:00 PM ritual.

My next task was to pass the “K-card”, once again in time to the beat, to Melissa, who handed it to Jules, and the process again continued. At the same time, Peter spun around once in his desk chair and stood up, thereby signalling to Angus (sitting on his left), to spin and stand up, again the process continued, until the music beat randomly stopped. The person in possession of the “K-card” now had to do some solo “krumping” for 5 seconds, following which the beat would start up again signalling the continuation of the “K-card” passing and chair spinning/standing.

Ten minutes later, the beat stopped. All employees now returned to work.

However, there was a noticeable “buzz” permeating throughout the corporate office. Motivation, employee concentration, and a most recognizable feeling of fun and teamwork prevailed.

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?

Room Service With A Difference

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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 Gingerbread People

Gingy

The freshly baked gingerbread men and women with an impressive and distinctive corporate logo stamped across their chest were carefully placed on each employee’s desk in the early hours of the morning. It was the last day of work before Xmas and the department manager had spent many hours tirelessly baking that morning in preparation for the annual ritual of gingerbread person desk placement.

The time was now 6 AM and with the task of distribution completed, he decided to find a quiet corporate sick-bay bed and have a couple of hours sleep before his fellow employees arrived in the office to gleefully devour their eagerly anticipated baked gourmet morsels with an accompanying cup of coffee or tea.

But this year, something rather different and decidedly odd occurred. At about 6:15 AM there was a discreet, yet distinctive, sound of pastry movement. Yes, on some of the poorly lit office desks, an occasional little gingerbread arm and foot was beginning to display some rather unique humanistic characteristics. But not all gingerbread people sprung to life?

At 6:30 AM, some baked people of gingerbread DNA were leaping and gesticulating with extensive social skills and were having a great time getting to know each other and exchanging various bodily crumbs. However, some of their other baked relatives were just lying there in a motionless state, whilst others were still experiencing the joy of minimal hand movement with no prospect of running amuck!

Just before the department manager took his last snuff of slumbered bliss signalling that it was time to awake, an internal motion ceasing sensor was triggered in each of the gingerbread people and those that were mobile all dropped down on the spot and once again became just a baked stationary figurine.

As the employees started to arrive at their desks, some were greeted with a large number of scrumptious gingerbread people. A vast majority of the staff found a single gingerbread person on their desk in the exact same position that it has been placed by the manager. So, the question that you are all thinking is, why do some people have more gingerbread than others? The answer is fairly obvious if you have studied the traits of gingerbread culture and society, but if you do not have this educational knowledge, let me explain.

It all has to do with the energy and creativity that is exhibited by those employees in your corporate office that are innovative. These people are the lifeblood of your organization and they stimulate and encourage all sorts of ideas and inspirational thinking that some of you may think is a little bit way out. But, without these people, there is no imagination, and no hope that fictional ideas such as gingerbread people coming to life could ever exist. So it is really any wonder why the gingerbread people flocked to these people’s desks?

When next you are fortunate enough to hold a gingerbread person, prior to that first chomp of delight, may I suggest you stop and think and question yourself about your level of innovation and whether your personality entitles you to eat just one, or maybe more?

The “Jane Award”

Vogue

“Not again!”, I said as the camera flashes went off in unison leading to yet another ritual of blinding light in the office meeting room. It was becoming an all too familiar event, but it was one that we all relished with eager anticipation, afterall, she is a celebrity.

She did look rather stunning I thought to myself, in her chic white business attire, but she deserves the attention. It was also really inspiring seeing her on the cover of the December edition of Vogue* magazine.

However, what I loved the most about her, was that she still just accepted her usual position in the organization and went about her duties without any fuss or change in attitude or demeanor. One day, I just hope I get to be like her and the many others in the company that have achieved her lofty status.

Her business card says it all and our company utilises these rare and key employees to their maximum potential. After all, without these critical staff, we wouldn’t be enjoying the business success that we have now all become accustomed to on a daily occurrence.

What, you didn’t get a chance to read her business card? My apologies let me hand it over and read it to you. Her name is Jane Brown, her job title is “Creative Thinker”.

Yes……”Creative Thinker”.

So what exactly does Jane Brown do, you may ask? Well, Jane, and the other employees just like her, are allowed to…..think. They are provided time in their job routine to contemplate new ideas and solutions for the business. They are encouraged to network with their work colleagues, to talk to other organizations, to share thoughts and to develop other left field, non-work related dissertations. Ideas related to the future needs of the business are strongly encouraged; in fact, they are demanded by our senior management.

So why is Jane on the cover of Vogue* you may ask? Simple, the process of innovation has no boundaries and can be utilised in all activities that we do, in this instance, Jane is seen as a role model to encourage everyone to think just that little bit differently.

I’m sure that your organization has many people just like “Jane”. These people should be recognised and applauded for their creativity. Who knows, it might just lead to the instigation of the “Jane Awards” in your corporate work environment?

*Yes, Edwina McCann (Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Australia), this is fiction, Jane Brown is not a real person, but just image if she was!!

Macabre Murderer of Marketing

Murder

The senior manager sat down exhausted in his large corporate black leather desk chair. The worn fabric felt so cool and relaxing as it snugged his body in a welcoming and inviting manner as it had done for the past thirty-five years.

He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his ragged company monogrammed handkerchief and looked at his hands now shaking with fear, thankfully he had achieved his objective before any “damage” had been done.

He carefully took out the black bound book that had lived in solitude and secrecy in his top desk draw and entered another name under the vast array of other recalcitrant employees that he had quietly “murdered” from a career perspective.

Yes, that was a close one he thought. If he hadn’t have acted, that employee might actually have changed the corporate status quo and may have injected some marketing creativity and innovation into the business. We can’t have that! But it was getting harder and harder to stop these employees infiltrating the company. He was also wondering what would happen when he retired at the end of the year. He was now despondent as he couldn’t find other younger employees that had the same unique business insight as him, nor his perceived flair of maintaining the existing corporate culture.

Mmmm, you might be thinking to yourself, as you may have already allocated a name to this senior manager in your business? If so, may I suggest that you publicly ‘call the behaviour” of these archaic and sorry individuals and lobby support amongst your colleagues to raise up a corporate mutiny for the long term betterment of your company! Don’t let this negative and destructive behaviour go unchallenged to avoid anymore creative casualties!

Sounds rather melodramatic doesn’t it? However, without creativity, innovation and marketing, it is the organisation as a whole that is suffocated as it loses the requisite lifeblood to ensure its longer term success and survival. May I suggest you don’t let this happen to yours, and if you see the signs of this occurring, try and quickly nip this potential “murder” in the corporate bud before it takes hold.

Just a thought to make you think that little bit differently.

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