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!).

 

Framing Your Office Correctly

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When walking around an art gallery you will see a variety of different people mulling in front of an oil painting making all kinds of comments. Each of them will see different aspects of the painting and will make their own interpretation as to the artistic and messaging intentions of the painter.

Some observers will focus on colour, the scene portrayed, or potentially the interaction of the people encapsulated in the work of art, and what they may be thinking or experiencing.

The viewer’s analysis of the painting will be varied, with each opinion based on their own unique life experiences that have coloured their thoughts and imagery on life.

This got me thinking. What if you took a random, non-staged photograph of the workers in your office that captured a specific moment in their working day? This image could be black and white, or coloured, placed in an impressive frame and then hung on a wall, just like in an art gallery.

So as to avoid any potential bias and insider people knowledge, employees from a non-related business would then be asked to comment as to photographer’s intentions, just like the painter of the oil canvas.

Those observing would come up with a range of assumptions and theories, some of which could be related to the work culture, stress, mood, or happiness of those people contained within the “frame”.

The collective feedback would provide a unique and objective insight into the machinations of your office. However, in this instance, the painter, or photographer, is your CEO, as this role is the creative source of the scene. Depending on the critical comments received, is your CEO proud to sign their name in the bottom right corner of the painting to stamp their ownership of the work? If not, maybe they would prefer to learn from the feedback and use it to develop and fine-tune their management artistry skills and have another go?

Yes, a picture does indeed say a thousand words. The key is to listen to them.

Taking Your Brand to New Promotional Heights

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According to my trusted meteorological iPhone app, the timing looked just right. It was 2:04 PM and by my reckoning, the clouds were at the optimum “Genus Cumulus” appearance so I should achieve the desired picture “hang time distribution” before the visual sight was dispersed by the wind. My calculations indicated that I should have about 10 minutes to brand my customised CV message to the population of New York.

I quickly glanced once again on how my image and brief professional experience synopsis looked on the “LinkedIn Cloud Projector” in preview mode, yes it all looked good. I was hoping that the QR code would come through with the right definitional clarity so potential business prospects could scan my profile details with ease. My only concern was the timing of the 2:05 PM supersonic Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York as it could cause some cloud turbulence when it commences its gradual decent into JFK airport, but that’s one of the risks associated with personal cloud advertising these days.

OK, it was now time to press the Cloud Projector button and start the process. Immediately a thirty square kilometre coloured, and rather snazzy image of myself was beamed skywards with vibrant intensity. I was also pleased that I had spent the extra dollars on the additional promotional advertising, as suggested by the LinkedIn sales agent, as the large sonic boom with the accompanying missile explosion at 2000 feet above the New York skyline appeared to have caught the upwards attention of the New York crowds particularly nicely.

I smirked with some personal pride as my large handsome face (well, I thought so anyway) beamed across from above, that was, until that pesky Virgin Atlantic flight descended through my left nostril. However, I was relieved, as the QR code seemed to remain intact. For the next few minutes I watched as my portrait hovered quietly above New York until some high level winds decided to take one ear in the direction of Newark, the other towards Brooklyn. A few minutes later I had vanished into the upper atmosphere, except for my left eye, which remained with a look of naughtiness down on the city, then, with a final momentary wink, that also eventually disappeared.

Suddenly, I was awakened from my feeling of self-righteousness by the continual interruption of text messages on my phone. Yep, it appears that the “LinkedIn Cloud Projector” advertisement had worked! However, when the forty-first text message arrived, I was immediately brought back to reality, it was the LinkedIn invoice. Oh well, I suppose that’s the price of corporate fame!

The Faceless Collective

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There are some companies that effortlessly symbolise the definition of true success. Their business names are iconic and are immediately recognisable by the young, the old, and those selectively aged in between.

There are no descriptive emotional tag-lines, no longwinded corporately clever arrangement of words, they are just “are”, and don’t need “to be”.

And here I was, sitting in the Board Room of one of these globally clever giants of industry, all by myself! It was an eerie and exciting feeling as I sucked in the room’s impressive atmosphere. I carefully crossed my legs under the highly polished large wooden boardroom table and cautiously, and gingerly, leaned back and pressed my back into the well-worn brown leather club chair.

The north side of the room had large floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooked the Yarra River from high up on the 39th floor. This view was balanced by an array of large and formidable oil painting portraits of their esteemed leaders that had steered the company successfully over the past 83 years.

As I slowly studied the names under each painting, my eyes suddenly stopped when I read the polished brass name-tag of what appeared to be a most unusual portrait that was strategically, and I assumed deliberately, centred right in the middle of all the other framed canvasses. This painting was definitely larger in size, more brightly illuminated, and presumably highly prized, and worthy of more significant corporate value. The inscription in large black font read “Our Perpetual Innovator”. But the most striking aspect of this painting was the face, or should I say, its absence! Yes, this painting was of a “faceless”, yet distinguished individual. I was intrigued and decided to leave my comfortable leather chair and have a closer inspection. As I got closer, I noticed some additional words at the bottom; “Innovation is not derived from any individual, but from the collective”. I pondered these words and slowly understood their symbolic meaning, as this I suspected was the key fundamental aspect as to why this business was so successful.

This business recognised that many ideas, derived, and continually shared between the employees of this organisation, were the driving force behind their creativity. They had seen that this vast, and rich, source of innovation was not reliant upon a single individual, but the combined force of the collective.

Wow, if only all companies could recognise this fact!

So next time you are sitting in the Board Room of your company and happen to view the historical images of your past illustrious leaders, may I suggest you consider the power of the “Faceless Collective” and not just focus on any one individual?

Your Masterpiece Signature

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I recently had the good fortune to visit an art exhibition highlighting the impressionist painting works of the master artist Monet. It was just awe inspiring how Monet worked with various paint colours which when viewed from a short distance looked like discrete paint brush strokes, however when observed from a few paces away, the colours merged to form a stunning homogenous landscape.

With this in mind, let us consider the vast and complex array of personal and professional skills, together with the unique attributes which we have developed during the various stages of our lives and working careers. These are like Monet’s individual colour brush strokes on the painter’s canvas. The masterpiece is created when they are merged and utilised creatively with that touch of innovation!

The opportunity to mix these individual “paint” skills is unlimited and they can be applied to numerous personal and business endeavours characterised with your own “painting signature”, just like those of Monet.

The key is not to focus on the detail, but to behold the bigger picture. After all, we are all priceless works of art!