Business Basics: Beach, Balls, Bats and Bathers

A family plays beach cricket at Byron Bay

As you stroll along many Australian seaside beaches in summer you are bound to come across a group of people playing cricket on the sand. The official name for this game is “Beach Cricket”.

The customary uniform for Beach Cricket is typically minimal and encompasses a range of different coloured and sized speedos, bikinis, hats, sunglasses and the frequent application of sunblock. The rules will vary depending on beach locality and the skill set of the players, but for that optimum scoring opportunity, a large hit by the batsman into the sea normally provides the best result!

There is usually no participant exclusion to the game as with more people, the easier it is to play, particularly when fielding the ball on the soft hot sand in your bare feet. Those wanting to play do not need a formal invitation. The accepted custom is to simply walk up and ask “Can I join in and play?” The response is unquestionably “Yep, sure thing, just take a fielding position out in the sand, or sea”. I personally like the sea, as it provides the maximum opportunity for extreme laziness, body cooling and water flotation!

The game may last for hours, or until the ball is absconded by a passing dog frolicking on the sand, but the result is a great time for all.

If we look at the game of Beach Cricket from a corporate office perspective there are some important strategic learnings.

In Beach Cricket there are no exclusions, cliques or private groups that filter member participation. Each new player is welcomed regardless of whether their skill set is minimal or vastly experienced. So why not have this same employee involvement philosophy in business? Is it that we are too self conscious to join in, or too scared that we may “drop the ball”, or are we a little too selective about having the “right” people” in our work team?

As with Beach Cricket, when people feel welcome and valued regardless of their ability, they tend to enjoy the team spirit, the sense of belonging and throw themselves into the required objective (which occurs quite literally when fielding the ball on the sand and in the water) with an unrestricted level of enthusiasm. Many of the team participants may discover some hidden talents when provided with the opportunity “to play”, others may watch and learn from the more experienced and skilled members of the team, either way, the result is beneficial to all.

So next time your office work team starts to have that all too familiar “dysfunctional look”, may I suggest you grab a ball, a cricket bat and head for the beach! If your team is located in the cooler climates, you are allowed to swap the swimming bathers for some more suitable and warmer clothing attire, and if the ball is hit deliberately into the cold ocean water, may I suggest the cheeky batsman be ruled as out and they be asked to field the ball themselves!

The Flamboyee

Mondrian dress

If you have ever watched a speedboat cutting through the still water in a large lake, it is a most impressive sight. Besides the monstrous noise catapulting flamboyantly into the surrounding air, in its trail there is a sharp and distinctive series of oscillating waves that permeate from the back of the boat and eventually make their way to the shore. As an observer, you have no option but to take notice and to acknowledge the visual spectacle that is quickly unfolding before your physical senses.

This occurrence got me thinking…..

Corporate innovation needs “The Flamboyant Employee” to act as a catalyst to inspire and to make others in the office think that little bit differently. As a suggestion, let’s call these people the “Flamboyee”.

As the “Flamboyee” wanders through the office, their profile captures the attention of their fellow workers. They may have a flirtatious smile, a wicked glint in their eye, wear a range of unique clothes, or possess some other individual and distinctive mannerisms and attributes. The key requirement is that people take notice of the “Flamboyee”, break their concentration and initiate a spark of innovation in their thinking, or in their subconscious. This “Flamboyee Effect” rippling throughout the office environment can be likened to the waves in the lake generated by the speedboat. Those employees in direct contact with the “Flamboyee” will tend to obtain the greatest innovation benefit.

It is important not to have too many “Flamboyees” meandering the corporate passageways; otherwise there could be a clashing of the innovation waves that may lead to a negative impact and eventual capsizing in creativity. However, a well-planned timetable of “Flamboyee” activity is essential to ensure that a sustained level of innovation buoyancy is maintained throughout the working day, particularly near 5 PM when many a worker’s motivation starts to quickly subside.

The role of the “Flamboyee” should be prized by management, and HR should have a specific position description prescribed with key performance innovation indicators to make sure that the “Flamboyee” is operating effectively and achieving their maximum creative potential.

Just a thought, but one definitely worthwhile exploring further!