Something is rather fishy here

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The instruction was clear. I had to read it twice, just to make sure that I really understood this significant and totally bizarre change. However, I was not the only person in this most peculiar and unfamiliar situation. Work colleagues of mine all around the globe were also stumbling over the words from a comprehensive perspective. But, it had to be followed, that’s the way it is in this organization. You don’t ask questions, you only obey.

A few hours earlier in a remote and very small office in Miami, Florida, a lonely IT guru had just hacked the global computer system of their competition. One minute and strategic change had been implemented, and was about to take effect.

The chain of unquestionable command now came into operation as the hacked instructions were followed to the letter by all the organization’s kitchen employees, thereby initiating the unusual replacement of “beef” with “fish”.

Unsuspecting children and adults who habitually ordered their favourite menu item were tormented with sensory disappointment immediately following their first bite. Customers all around the world experienced massive displeasure and sought a prompt upsized replacement, or financial reimbursement. Outcries were expressed in the media, with many negative customer slurs making it to the front page of national newspapers. The theme of “That’s not a Big Mac” resonated for hours until McDonald’s senior management identified the cause of the catastrophe and quickly made the required “Big Mac” ingredient correction.

But those based in the company in Miami smirked with delight knowing that a major public relations coup had just prevailed, particularly as they watched “Whopper” sales reach a new daily record.

Now readers, let’s step back for a moment from this “Big Mac” experience and ponder how this episode may have an impact on those working in the corporate office. How many of your employees actually challenge instructions and current work practices with the view of improving the process? Do they just blindly follow them without asking “why is this so”? If this is your organization, then you are creatively doomed, as a culture of innovation will never make it to the “menu” that you provide to your customers.

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PS: Now on the subject of hamburgers, I must admit I don’t like the standard script of these fast chain restaurants. I like the poetic license that all Australian hamburger makers abide by, that being, you can have anything you want as long as it fits within the bun (which must include beetroot, pineapple and an egg!).

 

The Discovery of the “Homo Game-ien”

Historical archaeology excavations at the old Champoeg townsite, Champoeg State Park, Oregon (USA) 1974

From the lofty height of the lectern in the famous ballroom of the Grand Venus Hotel, although partially dazzled by the lights that illuminated the stage where I nervously stood, I smirked as I perused the vast audience of my fellow archaeologists.

The year was 4015, and I, a Professor at the galaxy renowned University of Pluto, was about to give a speech on my department’s recent archaeological dig in a remote part of an ancient civilization on the plant Earth.

“Ladies, Gentlemen and other socially acceptable, but yet to be officially classified life forms, welcome to this galaxy shattering presentation on the discovery of the missing link that has been troubling archaeologists, sociologists, scientists, marketers, and retailers for many millenniums. Yes, we believe we have unearthed the remains of a “Homo Game-ien.” To which, the audience erupted into spontaneous applause and enthusiastic cheers of delight!

“Whilst on a geological survey in the ancient city that the locals of that time called “Melbourne”, although we were initially searching for the rare metal deposits typically found in years of accumulated and discarded iPads, iPhones, xBoxs and PlayStations, we made a totally unexpected discovery. Yes, that was the body of a “Homo Game-ien”.

The body was remarkably well preserved. A post mortem analysis indicated high chemical levels of McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Subway and other food substitutes, all of which would have ensured that the body remained in perfect condition for at least another two thousand years.

The body was male, and a dental analysis highlighted minimal wear on the teeth, probably owing to no real meat being consumed, only meat in a minced form (aka “ham-burger”) which we believe was a staple form of protein around that time.

We have named the body “Vans” owing to the name being evident on numerous articles of clothing worn by the individual. We can only surmise that wearing clothing with your name on it was a form of communication between other males of that time period. This is also based on the large number of archaic and rather primitive electronic games surrounding the body that would have hindered actual audible dialogue.

“Van” was also rather obese. This might be due to the copious number of food substitutes with exceptionally high sugar and chemical content (now banned in our society) that were found in close proximity to the body. These chemically rich food sources appear to have been sealed in an oil based plastic substrate to ensure a shelf-life of at least seven “Van” lifetimes.

An interesting and most unusual observation was the lack of fingerprint definition on “Van’s” thumb and index fingers that was mirrored on both hands. We are still trying to understand the cause of this effect, but we did find a black object in his hands with the words “Controller” branded on it, which is the subject of further investigation.

Unfortunately, that is all the information that “Van” was able to provide us. The answer as to why the “Homo Game-ien” became extinct we do not know, but the lack of social interaction with their fellow “Homo Sapiens”, particularly those that were female, that freely roamed that part of the Earth, might be a strong contributor to the cause?

Thank you for your time.”

The Brand

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The Harley Davidson motorcycle hummed past me with that deep-throated gnarly musical sound. Perched aloft the seat was a rather tubby leather clad middle-aged man with a long matted grey beard. Branded across his back was a large replica of his bike’s logo to which a massive “smile” complemented his daredevil face.

A cold gust on the winter wind was thwarted in leaving in imprint on the young woman’s face by her strategically wrapped Burberry scarf. But not to be outdone by this singular and fashionable item, additional clothing with the well-known motif soon appeared to encapsulate her from any other unwanted cold forays of gust. A similar “smile” to her bike riding unknown friend also appeared across her face.

The chanting increased in volume from the crowd all fashionably mimicking each other in their blue and white horizontal striped football jumpers as they took delight in tormenting their brown and gold vertically striped opposition supporters. That “smile” was once again evident.

On walking into one particular corporate office, that “smile” of belonging was most noticeably absent. It appeared to be an office comprised of a large number of individuals all supporting their own “smile” or brand, not one of a unified and cohesive organization.

If we consider the Harley Davidson rider, the Burberry wearer, the football supporter, they all derived some “smile” benefit from their association with these brands. Some corporate organizations, such as Google, McKinsey & Co, Virgin (and many others), do instil brand loyalty and a strong desire of wanting to work there. No, an organization doesn’t need to be a well-known brand to achieve such employee motivation and commitment; similar results can also be attained from a small family business, a school or a local club. The key is in believing that you make a contribution to the progress of that organization and that you also derive some associated personal benefit in return (eg the “smile”, career, financial, friendship, etc).

If you are a CEO in your corporate office, is that “smile” evident in your employees? No, I’m not talking about that polite and courteous smile that employees always make in your presence, but that real “smile” of wanting to belong, as they believe in the organization. If it exists, fantastic! If it doesn’t, then you now have a very important New Year’s resolution for 2015?

Yes, it’s all in the Brand….