Enough is Indeed Enough

la-et-st-mad-men-recap-rich-in-goods-but-ragge-001

Gentlemen, it’s time for a private revolution in the corporate office because you are losing the “you”, in you. Yes, many of you have voluntarily discarded your individuality in order to become part of the accepted “we”. But the unconscious sacrifice you have made has significantly impacted your personal creativity.

Remember the time in your working life when you wanted to be noticed, when you desired to be the centre of attention, when you had something important to say, and were unrepentant when you said it?

When did we all morph into a state of visual uniformity and become a subdued and quiet collective of “I”s?

Here are some clues to help you revitalise your memory, and to inspire you into again thinking that little bit differently.

The neck tie – Gone!
Recall those colourful items of clothing that used to adorn your neck, complete with the additional visual benefit of fashionably differentiating your frontal business appearance from your colleagues? Alas, one can regretfully say the same about the unfortunate demise of the visually appealing bow-tie, similarly, the majestic cravat.

Chest Hairs – slowly growing back!
Men used to be men, and hairy. We used to have copious volumes of hairs publicly sprouting with unashamed gusto from our chests, and our faces. To think that men now voluntarily shave their manes off to achieve a follicle look of commonality, good god! Thankfully, this does not apply to those men who have boldly bucked the trend, and have courageously, and most deliberately, shaved their heads as a mark of their commitment to the male cause for innovation.

Hats – a mark of respect!
In the not too distant past, men looked resplendent with a stylish hat firmly placed upon our heads where we could selectively doff our head covering in recognition, and respect of a fellow worker, confidant, or compatriot. Thankfully, with the advent of the bald head, this item of clothing is making a welcome resurgence.

Watches – steps of progress!
Strategically positioned on the left or right wrist used to be a masterly engineered time piece of precision. This has now been replaced by a devise that measures steps, typically known as a FITBIT. Men used to compare other items to assert their masculinity, now it’s the number of steps walked in a work day, or week. I ask you, where will it end?

So gentlemen, take heed of this warning, and visually state your support in hindering this unwelcome disintegration of your individual creativity when in the corporate office. Enough is indeed enough. It’s now time to make the change!

A.E’s Forgotten Law of Innovation

Einstein Diary

The diary page was dated 14 June 1933. The blue ink handwriting, although quite faded, was still legible and was written in the old Germanic letter style of my grandfather.

Later in life, he did indeed become quite famous, in part due to his outlandish and peculiar hairstyle, but it was curious how this small piece of creative research never obtained the public notoriety, like all his other hypotheses?

As I rummaged respectfully through the following well read diary pages, it became apparent that quite a few foreign governments were also interested in this unknown research that suggested a somewhat fool proof theoretical methodology on the Law of Innovation. As he was Jewish, I wasn’t surprised that he elected to leave Germany and continue his innovation work at Princeton University in the USA.

But why was his theory on the Law of Innovation never published? I chuckled after reading a few more paragraphs as the references to the CIA may have had something to do with it?

But there it was; one paragraph was underlined repeatedly. In the page margin were his initials (A.E.) that he only used when he had exhaustedly confirmed that a Law had been proven.

As I had the esteemed position of Professor of Thought Creation at a reputable and well-known British University, I read the paragraphs on the Law of Innovation with interest.

Quote: “The Law of Innovation: Innovative thoughts are created when the thinker deliberately places their mind simultaneously in a multitude of time periods whilst still being in the present”.  

I had to read this paragraph twice and then I finally understood the concept. When solving a problem, the thinker needs to look at the issue from a range of different time perspectives, some of which may be unknown to you. The concept of time forces the individual to indeed think differently. For instance, if the year was 1930, how would the problem be solved using the resources of that time period? If the year were now 2100, a different set of solutions would prevail. Now bring the future and past time-dated solutions back to the present and look for any common themes and similarities. As you think with an open mind, an unexpected innovative thought will eventuate.

So for those readers of this blog post that work in the corporate office, may I suggest that you invoke the Law of Innovation and I’m sure that with time a creative solution will be revealed.

Recognising Innovation within the Corporate Cave

caveman

I sat with a smug facial expression cross-legged on the lumpy dirt floor and surveyed my surroundings with intense pride. It was raining outside, yet no drops were seeping through my hand built stonewalls, and no streams of muddy water had eventuated within the precincts of my large cave.

My nineteen bɛərns (or was it twenty? I’d lost count over the various moon cycles) were playing happily with the latest fashion coloured pebbles that I had found in the adjacent dry riverbed. I watched them with interest as they quickly mastered the process of carving their individual hieroglyphic names into the rough rock walls with purpose and enthusiasm.

From under my long shaggy eyebrows, I peered at the mother of my children as she gestured that it was time for me to get off my naked hairy backside and go outside and slaughter a foreboding baby dinosaur, as the children were getting hungry and restless. As I was an obedient husband, knowing that any grunting retort was useless, I grabbed my large pointy wooden club, wiped the dark dry dust of my hairy torso and went outside the cave and sought out our dinner.

After a couple of days wandering the rugged countryside, I returned in a rather weary state with a large amount of dinosaur meat that was fully encapsulated within its dead body.

Now for the cooking process. I marvelled at the technology that my eldest son displayed as he used a flint rock and some dry bark to which various small sparks of fire eventually propagated. His days at the local Rock University had certainly paid off. I just wish that I had been born in the year 70,000,032 BC, rather than 30 years earlier!

After we had all eaten a large quantity of rarely cooked meat, I once again sat down crossed legged on my hairy bare bottom and watched my walls.

Now that I had some time to relax, I recalled a small box with white red headed sticks that I had found in my hunting dinosaur travels. If I were able to read, I would have seen a label on the box that identified the article as “safety matches”. How they got into the year 70,000,032 BC, I will never know, not that I really care because I have no idea as to their use, nor benefit. Instead, I jammed the box into a hole in my cave wall and plugged a wind draught that was causing the smoke from the fire to extinguish.
———
Let’s now move forward to the year 2015 AD.

If we were that hairy-bottomed caveman, and we had found those matches, we would have put them to good use and initiated the fire with the striking of a strategically placed burning match head. However, if we don’t recognise new technology, or innovation, we tend to keep repeating the same old trusted and proven boring processes.

The key is to have an open mind and to continually observe and accept different ideas, or thoughts, as they may lead to a new way of doing things within your business. Diversity of thought should be encouraged, and your work environment should facilitate different employee perspectives, that way, innovation will have a chance to prosper and not be stifled.

So make sure that you and your work colleagues “think outside the cave”, and should any of your workers continually be dusting their bottom, well, they don’t have a place in your business!

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?

Corporate Access Code 76806864

I want to share a secret with you! But you need to promise not to tell anyone in your office! If you can’t abide with these T&Cs of confidentiality, then you need to stop reading this blog post right now.

For those of you that have agreed to the prescribed conditions, please move a little closer to your computer screen so I have your full and undivided attention.

OK, so what’s this all about you may ask? Now let me explain.

Have you ever noticed some people in your office that seem to do everything just right? They are the people who never seem to get stressed, always complete their work on time and tend to have the most innovative and creative ideas?
They are typically the career “high flyers” in the corporate organization and seem to exude a disturbingly youthful and ageless appearance.

So what is the secret to their success? Allow me to educate you accordingly.

Come with me on a walk in your office to a room that you may have never noticed. To do so, there needs to be no talking, pushing or shoving as we need to be quite stealthful in our journey. For additional noise reduction, please put these special socks on your feet, which come in two corporate colours – pink and blue. It doesn’t really matter which sock colour you select, and I won’t make any judgement should you choose one in particular! Now that we are all set, let’s proceed.

We are now standing outside a particular door that has a large combination keypad with which we need to provide a certain numeric combination. This code is only provided to those employees who are deemed suitable for this room entry privilege. Let’s enter the code 76806864. As I do so, the door quickly opens.

On entering the room, you will see some wooden chairs, desks, writing pads and an array of fountain pens filled with black ink. The room is completely white, quite cold and has no windows or paintings on the walls. You will notice that there are no electrical power outlets, no computers and more importantly, no noise. The only item adhered to the wall is a clock, but there are only numbers, no hour, minute or second hands, there is also no tick, apart from a warm yellow glow permeating from its circumference.

So what’s so special about this room you may ask? Well, in this room time “just stops”. Those entering the room do not age. Those people sitting at the work desks have quite literally an infinite amount of time to master and perfect any project they are working on. They can brainstorm and develop ideas that may take their fellow colleagues many lifetimes to progress, however in this room, they have all the time they require.

If you had access to this room, you too could be seen by your peers as a genius or a “high flyer”, the only limiting factor that you face is time, unlike those fortunate enough to have access to this secretive room.

So what are the learnings from our visit to this room?
1. Pink or Blue socks are quite comfortable compared to work shoes.
2. The access code is 76806864
3. This is the most important learning – Don’t let the concept of time limit your potential in your work career. You have unlimited time to do what you need to do and if you recognise and appreciate this fact, your stress will be reduced and your life will be rather more spiffy than it currently is at the moment.
4. And yes – unfortunately, this room does not exist in real life, but just imagine the possibilities if it actually did!
5. Just focus on items 1 and 3

Too Many Cooks do NOT Spoil the Broth

Too Many Chefs

There are many key factors required to achieve a magnificent slow cooked gourmet soup.

First, there is the Chef that coordinates the whole cooking process utilising their wealth of experience based on a proven and never ending method of trial and error leading to the desired soup result. Next are the ingredients that when merged together in the right proportions yield that optimum flavour and texture. Let us also not forget the liquid within which all the ingredients can be distilled, can freely permeate, and then combine to form the necessary soup consistency. Other important requirements are heat, time and a suitable cooking pot to allow the progression of the ultimate soup masterpiece.

A successful Chef will also welcome feedback from their peers and will happily consider their suggestions on other exotic ingredients that may compliment and improve their recipe. Some of these ingredients may provide an immediate taste impact, others may take time to infuse and then add a more complex and subtle addition.

The combined result of all of the above is the achievement of gourmet soup perfection!

However, this soup methodology can also be applied to the process of innovation in the corporate office.

The Chef
There needs to be an owner of the innovation process that coordinates all the idea inputs and directs the progression towards the required end result. The key is to have one Master Chef, but also numerous Apprentice Chefs that can assist and take-over when required so the innovation process doesn’t lose momentum and focus (after-all, without the proper attention from the chef(s), the soup may boil over and be ruined!)

The Pot
Ideas need a receptacle for their collection and development. Suggestions for this could be a corporate internal communication forum where thoughts are shared and discussed in an open environment, a brainstorming session, or other creative methods that meet the cultural needs of the organisation. The pot needs to be of the right size to accommodate all the ideas that might be generated throughout the process. Too small a pot may lead to participant frustration; too large a pot may lead to ideas being lost?

The Ingredients
Ideas need to come from many sources within the corporate organisation. All employees should be invited to participate to allow for greater diversity of thought and enhanced potential creativity. These ideas can then be further refined and combined by the skill of the Chef’s team as appropriate.

The Soup
The business needs to have an overall objective for the output generated from the innovation process. For instance, a Chef will know whether they are planning to make a soup and not a cake! If the objective were deemed to be a cake, then a completely different methodology would be required.

Time, Heat
Ideas need time to develop and mix with others that are placed into the cooking pot. Some ideas need to be broken down further via additional analysis (or heat) following which a new array of exciting and complex ideas may become evident.

You may recall that old saying “Too many cooks will spoil the broth”. Well, in this instance, you need many, many cooks as each cook (or fellow employee) brings with them a wealth of different ideas all based on their own insights and experiences. It is the collection of these ideas that leads to an endless array of innovation and creativity. The secret to innovative success is how these multitudes of ideas are mixed and brought together in a format that reinforces innovation. This is where the role of the Master Chef is so important in blending all these ideas into a soup that meets the requirements and tastes of the organisation.

To conclude, may these ideas help you develop a brilliant soup based on that distinctive taste of your own corporate innovation! Bon appetite!

 

Focus on the “N”

gear shift

Most of us when we are at work are too busy racing from one activity to the next one with minimal time to think and plan the next steps. If our workflow processes were likened to a car, we would be continually moving from 1st gear, to 2nd, then to 3rd and countless higher gears, back down again, sometimes into reverse, and then do it all once more! I’m sure that this sounds all too familiar!

But how much time do we spend in the “neutral gear (N)”?

In a car, we all pass through neutral on the way to the other gears, however, if it is not done correctly, we tend to “crunch” the gears and make that all too painful sound!

This got me thinking….

At work, what if we spent more time in the “neutral gear” tactfully planning and considering our next steps before we blindly or habitually commence the next activity? If so, we might find that there are more optimum “gear choices” available to use that better utilize our limited time and achieve a more productive and efficient result?

So, next time you are driving in your car, focus more on the “N” and similarly try and think about exploring the “N” in the office. The result could be much more harmonious and may lead to less of the “crunch” in your work routine?

 

Chatter Vocabulary in the Air

Leather Seats

For those of you who travel regularly by plane, you will know the “joy” of being strapped into your allocated seat for a few hours. You have the smallest possible personal space, and those sitting next to you can be riveting company and fun to be with, or exceptionally dull – unfortunately the later being most common!

This got me thinking…how could we make this journey of travel more interesting and utilize the many creative skills of the passengers who are getting a tad bored?

One possible solution is to invite passengers to participate in an anonymous “chatter” group discussion on a selected brainstorming topic during the flight. To be included, they would press a special “call button” which adds their seat number into the discussion. A Flight Attendant then provides them with an electronic writing tablet that allows communication with the other interested passengers.

Chatter Texts with impressive vocabulary would be then start to quickly permeate through the cabin during the flight, for example:

Seat 12A:   “Oh yes, I agree with you, but have you considered….”
Seat 29D:   “Thank you 12A, but I think it should be expanded to include…”
Seat 1F:      “Interesting concept, particularly if you consider the habitat of the West Australian wombat…”
Etc, etc…

At the conclusion of the flight, those involved could elect to have a copy of the transcript E-mailed to them, just in case there were any creative gems of inspiration written!

To me, this would be a much better use of people’s travel time and would make the total plane experience much more interesting and potentially productive.

The GPS Business Mentor

Mario Kart Icon on TomTom GPS

There is a unique business mentor for a person starting a new job role…it is called the “GPS navigational system”!

When you think about it, the correlation and learnings are quite staggering and provide a useful insight for the new employee and their manager.

1. Starting
When you start a new job, you have minimal idea what to do, or how to go about things. You are looking for leadership and guidance as you commence your new career in the right direction.
When you turn on your GPS, it is also “lost” for the first few minutes whilst it establishes its position coordinates with the satellites.

2. The Planning
In the early stages of your new role, you and your manager discuss your learning program for the first few weeks/months.
The GPS plans your travel route.

3. The Journey Begins
The new employee and driver (user of the GPS) both follow directions as provided without straying from the chosen path.

4. Experience
With time, both the new employee and the driver become less dependent on instructions and start to experiment and explore new paths.

5. Next Steps
The manager should start to provide some “new maps” for the employee so they can obtain new and challenging experiences and expand their knowledge, skills and business horizons.

With time…”You will reach your destination”

A better measure of Time

Coffee

In the office environment the traditional time measurement devices I believe are no longer appropriate.
It is time (no pun intended) to replace all watches and clocks with a much more practical measuring device…..yes, it is the “coffee break”!

Lets think about the advantages of this new system of measurement:

  1. The espresso: as the name suggests, a quick meeting where all participants get straight to the point, no mucking around….this is a serious discussion
  2. The long black: as this drink has additional volume, and is quite hot, it cannot be consumed quickly. It is perfect for those longer meetings where cooperation and engagement is required.
  3. The “large mug”: this is a serious meeting that cannot be rushed, typically an all day activity.

I’m sure you can think of many other coffee variations, but for me, this is the perfect time solution…….cheers!