The Cardigan Effect

cardigan

If you are still searching for that illusive light bulb moment of inspiration that illuminates you on how to develop a culture of innovation within the corporate office, well, cover your shrinking expectant diluted pupils and look no further!

Those organisations that publicly acknowledge that they have attained this cultural goal of ongoing creative status fully understand, and vehemently practice, a little known law that many of you I’m sure have never heard of, or have ever been exposed to. The law is never discussed in any external academic of business journals, or in a public forum. Those CEOs that utilise this law protect it, and value it on an equal footing with any other prized intellectual property that they own.

The power of this law is like that of a welcome virus, and when unleashed without any senior management constraint within an organisation, it quickly takes hold and generates an uncontrollable innovative forward momentum.

The law is known as “The Cardigan Effect”. So how does it work you may gleefully ask? Let me explain.

The “cardigan” is a metaphor and is used to describe the relaxed, unhindered mental behaviour of an employee when they are not in the corporate office. When exhibiting “cardigan” behaviour, the employee speaks their mind openly; they have an opinion that they happily express with their family and friends. They solve problems, have suggestions and are not scared to challenge the status quo. They may be introverts, extroverts, or anything in between, and are content in realising and accepting their own unique persona.

But when many of these employees enter the corporate office, they remove their snug and comfortable “cardigan” and take on the excepted foreign characteristics and behaviour of the organisation. They become a different person, and all their inherent creativity becomes stifled, suppressed or non-existent.

Those organisations that have mastered the “Cardigan Effect” to drive a culture of innovation within their businesses allow, in fact fully encourage, their employees to wear their personalised “cardigans” in the office. The have created a work environment where their employees want to be their natural selves both in, and out of the office, there is no behavioural separation. However, there is one defining and strategic filter used for this “cardigan” behaviour, that being the organisations corporate values. Here the corporate values are not used to hinder the individual’s creativity, but rather to ensure consistency and a reference point for behaviour.

So how does an organisation create a work environment to fully reap the ongoing benefits of the “Cardigan Effect”? Well, it starts at the top with the Senior Executive team happily wearing their very own personal (not company supplied or corporately branded) “cardigans” publicly in the office. Some of their cardigans may not be that fashionable, may be a tad dirty, or may have a hole in the sleeve, if so, that’s even better. They need to consistently “walk the talk” and wear their “cardigans” everyday, not once off as part of a fad or promotion which most employees recognise quite quickly.

So on Monday as you dress for work, why not leave your usual corporate attire in the wardrobe and pull on your old and trusted “cardigan”. But more importantly, make sure that your home persona accompanies your “cardigan” as you enter the office. Then watch and behold just how fast this new and highly welcome innovation fashion trend quickly prevails!

The Isle of Creativia

New-Building-Ideas-Lilypad-Floating-city-of-the-future

As you fly over the Pacific Ocean at 25,000 feet in the luxurious comfort of your First Class fully reclined leather seat number 1A, the furthest thing from your mind would be the existence of the small county of Creativia located far below. In the time taken for you to scoff your second mouthful of that exquisite, and most decadent, 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, the air turbulence from your plane would have only just tenderly kissed the peaktop of Creativia’s highest mountain. But then again, how could you know that in 20 years from now, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution would prevail, and that you, and all your fellow business travellers that you typify, will then be quite literally extinct. Yes, an unplanned catastrophic business event will exterminate all those corporate organisations that are deemed not up to the required survival standard of innovation and creativity. The result will be the survival of the business fittest, and these individuals will only be the fortunate inhabitants of Creativia.

The origins of Creativia goes back to the early 1960s, when an unknown mutant variant of the human DNA, just happened to form simultaneously by a remarkable freak of nature in many leading industrial countries around the world. Those born with this undetectable and unique gene condition grew up with a distinctively different view of life, business and mankind’s role and place in this earthly environment. For these select individuals, “the glass was always full”, they saw things with a continually positive and optimistic perspective as everything they did was based on an underlying theme of innovation.

These individuals from a very early age immediately understood that they were different from the common populous, and as they grew older and more business savvy, they nonchalantly started to meet surreptitiously in hidden boutique coffee shops around the world. Here they repeatedly tried to quench their endless thirst for creative stimulation with high doses of caffeine in an attempt to satisfy their enduring innovation habits and urges. However, their individual ESP insights warned them of a greater impending creative doom that would soon engulf the business world leading to the complete obliteration of the corporate world as they, and as we, knew it. Like a homing pigeon on a lifelong mission of creative destiny, each of them were mysteriously led by some unknown personal and instinctive force to a small deserted and entirely hidden island, rich in natural resources and copious cash reserves. As the years progressed, these inhabitants waxed strong into a diverse and mighty culture of creative thought. Then, when the time was just right, they as pioneering Creative Ambassadors of Thought, journeyed from Creativia to seek out new and impoverished businesses to rectify the time consuming wrongs of many out-dated CEOs and corporate Executives.

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Twenty years later, it did indeed happen. Looking back, it was a slow, potent, and highly lethal cultural virus that with time took hold and eventually killed the corporate world due to a lack of futuristic and insightful thinking. CEOs from all around the world together fell on their business swords and bleated their proclaimed selfishness in focussing on short-term financial goals and not the longer wellbeing of their corporate organisations. But alas, it was all too late. 

Long live Creativia!