The CEO’s New Clothes

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It was day one of the new CEO’s appointment. A rather traditional dark grey suit, pristine white shirt, black medium length socks, complete with matching leather polished shoes were carefully selected by the incumbent for the momentous occasion. He looked resplendent as he beamingly sat behind his large impressive desk in a voluminous office that just oozed with status and authority. Yes, he was indeed the man!

As the week progressed, all of his direct reports, collectively, and individually, sat opposite him in business attire that directly mirrored his conservative fashion prowess, complete with continual nods of unquestionable beaming loyal approvals.

In a similar manner, their subordinates also quickly followed suit and continued the same fashion replication to the point where each employee now looked like a cloned version of their manager.

Now, the CEO was no fool, in fact, far from it, and a cunning plan of innovation was carefully hatched. From that day forth, he decided to wear the exact same clothes for a month. No item of clothing would be changed, apart from those that respectively should not be mentioned.

Over the days and weeks, a certain grubbiness came to gradually prevail over his attire, complete with an ensuing woft of persona that slowly increased with intensity.

He noticed with a somewhat predictable consternation a look of increasing shabbiness now starting to prevail throughout the entire organisation. Those pristine white shirts of his executive team were now witness to numerous blotches of large brown coffee stains, there were accumulated smears from too many self-indulgent lunches and dinners, and the severely wrinkled corporate flannel was now more noticeably beige in colour than white.

At the end of the month, the CEO thankfully wore a fresh set of clothes, and a quiet shout of thankful glee was heard rippling throughout the entire organisation, also from their customers, whose numbers had correspondingly dwindled over the weeks due to a severe lack of attention on their business.

Packaged in the sweet fresh smell of his new clothing attire, the crafty CEO now strategically pondered the learnings from the last four weeks from a perspective of corporate innovation:

  1. An organisation that has a workforce of clones is doomed to fail.
  2. Never mask any prevailing wofts, be they good or bad, that quickly permeate throughout the business as they are a clue that something is indeed amiss.
  3. Never wear the same clothes each day as personal creativity is the source of true innovation.
  4. Surround yourself with loud vocal thinkers, not those that quietly nod in constant agreement.

The following month, a brief memo from the CEO was quickly distributed advising that “a large number of the executive team had unanimously decided to pursue other career interests and that they had now left the building”.

From that day forth a plethora of brightly coloured paisley shirts, bespoke tailored suits, and even the occasional pair of spiffy shorts, were commonly seen thereby ensuring the ongoing innovation success of this particular company.

So should you be a CEO reading this blog post, do take note as the key to innovation does indeed lie within your wardrobe, and that of your employees.

 

Appearances are indeed everything?

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Ok, it was agreed, I would be “Fabian Rizzo”, the famous ballet dancer from New York (USA), Fabian would be me, “Steven Cramer”, the “alleged founder” of the world renowned “Dram” whiskey distillery in Pitlochery (Scotland).

We would meet at the select, and might I add, very exclusive Melbourne socialite dinner party at different times and collect “our” nametags and then the personality pretence would commence in earnest.

I arrived first, wearing a strikingly loud, and as equally wide, pinstripe suit complemented with a white linen tight fitting shirt with the top three buttons undone allowing my copious chest hairs freedom to peruse all observers. I did think that my bright purple socks where a tad over the top, but they seemed to work well with my thin black pointy leather shoes. Maybe the orange floral handkerchief was a little too metrosexual, but what the heck, I was “Fabian Rizzo” after all, wasn’t I!

As I arrived at the well-staffed dinner party reception table and announced my name, I was immediately swarmed over by a large number of the “beautiful people”, many of which were obviously fashion models, and to my relief, the majority of them were woman!

But my famous nametag wouldn’t be sufficient to ensure a successful evening, I had to “act the Fabian” so my walk, voice delivery and other unique mannerisms needed to prevail. The more I delved into the character, the more responsive my audience of vast admirers responded and the greater my performance. Yes, I did have a successful night, but that part will remain private, after all, one can never be sure who is actually reading these blog posts!

But I was only half the story. “Steven Cramer” also arrived at the reception table about thirty minutes after “Fabian Rizzo”, dressed in a fashionable and unpretentious dark tartan suit. His business shirt did portray some loud chunky gold cufflinks, and a tie with a full Windsor knot adorned his shirt. With a loud and deep toned Scottish accent (which sounded quite authentic by the way), he announced his name. After a brief few seconds, he was then quickly surrounded by an array of other professional looking men and woman who had a look of financial affluence and success wofting from their persona. However, to the trained eye (mine in this case, who was watching from the other side of the room), they were a gabble of bankers, stock market analysts, politicians, lawyers, a couple of alcoholics who were seeking the possibility of a fine “Dram” drop prior to making it to the dinner reception, and a variety of other “unclassified hangeronerers”. “Steven Cramer” was brilliant as he announced his market predictions for the upcoming whiskey market and provided his confidential and creative insights on what made a good glass of the Scottish liquor. Rumours were that he also managed to have quite a successful evening from various anonymous reports the following morning.

Now you may be wondering how these exploits of disguise benefit those that work in the corporate office or any other organization? Well, it all comes down to how people become fixated with the personal image associated with an individual and whether it is really deserved or not. It is quite common for employees to be impressed by a manager’s job title and play along accordingly thinking that they might benefit from the association. Some people tend to be too easily fooled by the public “label” that disguises the person wearing it, and should focus more on the actual person inside the “labelled garment”.

It is also interesting to observe from a third person perspective just how your co-workers actually view you as exemplified by this famous “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” role reversal. Similarly, whether these colleagues are really interested in you, or the role you portray?

PS: In case you were wondering, yes, “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” did indeed compare notes the following morning and the learnings were quite interesting for both individuals.

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