For innovative slumber, think CollaborApp™

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In the Technology section of the 1 April edition of the New York Times, Apple has announced the release of CollaborApp™, which is a radically new, and reportedly disruptive concept in business innovation.

Key to CollaborApp™ is the use of an artificial intelligence Bot called “Cogitaire” which surreptitiously tempts, and masterly teases the user into freeing their thoughts and ideas through voluntary thought extraction and cogitation whilst they are happily asleep. Yes, sleeping!

According to an Apple spokesperson, the idea for CollaborApp™ came from the online collaboration process where ideas are shared, and enhanced from different employees across the organization, all with a range of diverse backgrounds and personal experiences. However, with CollaborApp™, the collaboration is not done whilst the user is awake where they are subject to various competing time pressures, and other work commitment distractions. No, this App needs the user to be in a blissful state of slumber in order to be most effective.

CollaborApp™ works via the following process:

  1. Prior to employees going to sleep, they initiate the CollaborApp™ setting on their iPhone and place their earphones comfortably within their ears.
  2. Once asleep, the business problem to be solved is then presented to the employee via the Cogitaire Bot, who then unassumingly stimulates the users mental thought processes. By the way, in case you are wondering, Cognitaire’s persona morphs into whatever character imagined by the user in order to get the optimum thought creativity initiated. Cognitaire is also proficient in all known languages, even the most obscure ones.
  3. Whilst the user is blissfully sleeping, Cogitaire continually collates and shares all the updated idea solutions generated across the many users participating that night to ensure a passively robust analysis of the problem.
  4. In the morning, when the user awakes, an impressive infographic is presented that encapsulates all the innovative thought process developed by the vast employee collective.

Yes, the process sounds quite simple, and accordingly to Apple, it is very effective in generating a range of creative solutions with a much higher innovation calibre typically achieved via traditional collaboration techniques.

Now there is a cautionary paragraph found within the fine print in the Apple CollaborApp™ media release. It advises spouses, partners and others involved romantically, or those that are just curious, not to use the App for reasons Apple state are most obvious, as some things are best left unknown.

The Thought Creation Leadership Stick

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“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”

I pondered these William Shakespeare words as I respectfully picked up my “Thought Creation Leadership Stick” and quietly acknowledged that I had just been “thrust”. Yes, it was my allocated turn to lead my fellow corporate office lunchtime walkers on a journey of fictitious discovery.

Like clockwork, at precisely 12:00 PM, those employees yearning for creative daily enrichment hurriedly assembled in the marbled office reception area eagerly awaiting the arrival of the scheduled holder of the Thought Creation Leadership Stick. Each person looked like any other typical employee, apart from the comfy grass-stained walking shoes brandishing their feet, and the small discrete hiking pack emblazoned with the corporate logo that snuggly contained a healthy company supplied lunch.

As I was now thrustfully tasked with my honoured opportunity of creative greatness, I carefully lifted the Stick of leadership authority that signalled to all onlookers the commencement of the lunchtime walk.

Off we went with an air of corporate cohesion, with me leading out the front as I mentally prepared for the numerous planned requisite creative stops. But this was not just any lunchtime walk. No sir, this was a walk in which the leader had to innovatively entertain everyone with an almost believable, yet highly fictitious, story along the way.

Each walk had an allocated duration of exactly 60 minutes, and to constructively utilise this time, I elected to take my walking colleagues along the muddy banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River. As stipulated by my esteemed position of holder of the Stick, we stopped at various picturesque locations where I creatively described the non-existent basic cave markings of prehistoric Melbourne man, the enticing smells wofting up from aboriginal campfires cooking a charcoaled selection of tasty barramundi fish fillets and yabbies, the first European naval ships equipped with copious stocks of rum soaked barrels, and the exploratory “beaming up” of our competition’s most valuable staff by the Martian aliens.

At the conclusion of the allocated walking time, we all returned to the corporate office with our FITBIT step count massively increased, our minds full of thoughtful creative inspiration, and an empty backpack symbolising a most content and happy stomach.

As holder of the Stick, I then proudly passed the leadership symbol over to a fellow colleague, which they accepted with a strong sense of humility and equally nervous anticipation.

So should you want to develop a culture of innovation in your corporate office, together with some complementary employee exercise, then may I suggest that you also have greatness thrust upon you and pick up your own Thought Creation Leadership Stick!

The Cardigan Effect

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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 Office Well-Being Executive Manager

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The corridors of corporate life used to experience it at least once a day, typically around 3 PM. Those of you with a longer memory say it also occurred in the morning, but alas, those days are reluctantly gone, possibly, never to be repeated.

The eagerly awaited activity heralded an opportunity to have a short break from your normal work routine and to refresh your mind with small morsels of needed sustenance.

It was a welcome time for all pens to be lowered, inky nibs blotted, and writing paper pushed aside on your desk to make room for the appreciated earthenware additions.

For a brief few minutes, the worker could engage in a pseudo-flirtatious social dialogue and build a non-threatening personal rapport with the service provider, who was usually wearing a bland coloured corporate pinafore apron. Their official work title was “Tea Lady”, but they were the backbone of many successful organizations.

No office door was ever closed to the Tea Lady. They traversed the building pulling a trolley that was equipped with a large teapot, hot water, coffee, milk, a selection of biscuits (or cakes if you were lucky), and an array of cups and saucers, some of which occasionally matched. Their arrival could be heard well before they reached your desk, owing to the rattling of the crockery and the heightened conversation that they would always generate.

The role of Tea Lady was an unrecognized strategic cog in the corporate organizational hierarchy as they were privy to all levels of the business, from senior management, right down to the new starter or graduate. They could sense the mood of the corporate office, whether it was dynamic and innovative, or one that was struggling and ready to implode. The Tea Lady became the confidant of many employees, a person that they could talk to about work, home-life or their personal ambitions.

Business today needs a modern version of the Tea Lady, which would probably now have the more acceptable corporate title of “Office Well-Being Manager”. Many organizations have tried to foster various methods of casual communication within the corporate office with the introduction of “Chatter”, “Yammer” and other electronic applications, but none have been as effective as the old fashioned Tea Lady.

So why not reinvigorate the Tea Lady role with a more modern version?

Many employees want to have access to their senior management team, but may be too shy or a tad embarrassed to engage them in an open forum. One solution is to have a weekly (or monthly) roster where your Executive Team takes it in turns to be “Office Well-Being Executive Manager”. Yes, they would walk the office corridors with an electric powered beverage trolley fully equipped with the latest coffee (short black, long black, latte, cappuccino, flat white), tea (Early Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, herbal), soymilk chai lattes, and a selection of cakes (high fat, low fat, gluten free) or fruit. Besides your Executive Team learning new catering skills that they can add to their already impressive CVs, they would have instantaneous access to the pulse of the business and an opportunity to gain an insight on the nuances of their staff (and vice-versa).

So, when next you plan to have a well-earned rest break from your computer, may I suggest that you first stop, and listen. Hopefully you will hear the buzz of your corporately branded electric beverage trolley as it happily approaches your desk. Bon appetite!

Caputignis: Business Greatness

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What makes a good company great? Forget looking to the traditional sources of business, academia and other highly paid consultants for a complex answer as the solution is deceptively simple.

After years of tireless observation in the corporate office, the source of company greatness was found to wholly reside in the “caputignis” level of the organization. Those with a classical education grounded firmly in Latin will know exactly what this word means, that being “head sparkification” (caput = head, ignis = spark).

The classification of “great” can be readily substituted with “innovation”, as a great company is one that is immediately known for its phenomenal ingenuity and corresponding business success in the marketplace.

Caputignis is thought to be an emotional energy state that is generated when the employee has a spark of creativity. However, unless this fleeting moment of inspiration is rapidly captured and harnessed within the corporate office, it will quickly vanish and will be permanently extinguished by a conservative organizational culture. For those unfortunate companies where this occurs, their caputignis levels were found to be very low.

Now for those businesses that were deemed by the financial market to be great, their caputignis levels were recorded as being extremely high, continuous and homogenous in all their work activities. The culture of these companies was publicly and internally acknowledged as being highly innovative, and almost electrifying in its nature, so much so that any creative sparks generated by individuals, or work teams, were instantaneously conducted throughout the organization. Here the employees as a collective, worked and shared ideas thereby generating a highly reactive caputignis flux that stimulated and encouraged innovation, together with an overflowing plethora of new thoughts.

Do you need to purchase an expensive caputignis measuring device to see where your organization sits on the greatness level? No, there is a more cost effective approach, that being the vibe that your employees feel when they are in the corporate office. If they are continually bubbling with new mind-sets, and end the working day with a feeling of excitement, then your caputignis level is high. Alternatively, if your organization struggles with the generation of innovative ideas, then you need to work on establishing an employee culture that stimulates head sparkification.

So what makes a good company great? Caputignis.

Green Rolls and Hands? Nope!

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For those of you that notice things, you will have seen this overt activity as it nonchalantly happens at precisely the same time every work day, typically around 12 PM.

The routine has been slowly increasing in acceptance, and is now seen gastronomically throughout the global corporate lunching fraternity. The more worrying part with this viral consumptive eating trend, is that it has been gradually eroding the employee’s ability to be creative with each unassuming, yet decisive, bite.

Other visual clues to this habitual eating disorder are the sporadic green flakes, annoyingly wedged firmly between the consumer’s front teeth, that unfortunately quickly diminish the potency of any beneficial smile that may have permeated from the nominated cuisine experience.

Owing to the well marketed hand-held appeal and versatility of this unique luncheon product, your corporate colleagues will recklessly chomp on it without any personal welfare concern as they freely walk, engage in other physical exercise, or whilst happily sitting in a relaxed stationary position at their work desks.

Yes, I’m talking about sushi!

Unfortunately, this repeated daily eating sushi experience has markedly diminished their innovation skills as they no longer use their sensory exploration nous to seek out other equally satisfying food alternatives. After years of reckless sushi eating, this innovation retardation can be readily validated via the application of any up to date Myers Briggs personality profiling where comparisons can be easily made to when they didn’t have this eating disorder, and when their taste buds enjoyed a diverse choice in luncheon opportunities.

So the answer is clear. If you want to quickly increase innovation in your corporate office, urgently circulate an official HR decree than bans the eating of sushi with immediate effect.  Your business, your work colleagues, and the other non-sushi selling establishments in your office area, will thank you greatly.

The Answer to that Male Question

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There is “a question” that has been baffling mankind for centuries, and as “the answer” was unknown, professional men all around the world reluctantly decided to play it safe, just in case they got it wrong. That is, until now!

As I sat in private solace in the world-renowned Corporate Observation Research Zone (aka the Virgin Australia Lounge at Melbourne airport), after many minutes watching my fellow travelling compatriots, the clues to “the answer” slowly became apparent. For those of you that like details, the moment of discovery actually presented itself to me after my third long black coffee.

The attraction of the Virgin Australia Lounge is the diversity of corporate inhabitants that provide a huge array of visual observation fodder. There are men of all ages, some wearing suits, others casually dressed. Some with hair purposefully positioned on their face and heads, some with a deliberate close shaved facial nudified look, even those with an upper head appearance that conforms to their hairless heredity.

“The answer” to “the question” is that it doesn’t matter where your draw that “line of separation”.

Yes, men from the time they first decided to shave have been in a quandary as to where to position that mysterious demarcation line that signifies the end of the side-burn. To make matters even more confusing, should the man be fortunate enough to have a headless head, and has a beard, where should the top of the side-burn commence?

The author of this blog post is pleased to advise that men’s side-burn fashion has now progressed to the point where no facial rules apply. Men are now exercising their innovative side-burn freedom and are letting their razors do the talking without any limitation, or fear of visual retribution.

So men, next time you are confronted with a decision as where to “draw the line of separation”, relax, the choice is indeed yours. And should you make a mistake, all is good, as the hairy, or hairless, problem will be rectified in due course by the planned arrival of the following morning, when next you look in the mirror equipped with your trusty razor.

“White Rabbit” Behaviour

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According to a recent and widely acclaimed behavioural study, one of the biggest killers of innovation in the corporate office is the effect known as “White Rabbit” disease. Once a business is infested with this potent virus, it quickly spreads, and is difficult to exterminate without the introduction of a brutal change management regime.

The “White Rabbit” disease gets its name from the fictional character in the book “Alice in Wonderland” (Lewis Carroll), where a large white rabbit is seen to be in a continual state of panic, whilst shouting the words “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

Those employees exhibiting “White Rabbit” behaviour are easily identifiable. They will be the visibly stressed people rushing from meeting to meeting, always running late, and will be constantly letting you know just how busy they are with strong verbal flagellation sighs of self-importance.

If your organisation is deemed to have too many “White Rabbit” sufferers, and should an appropriate course of corrective action not be immediately implemented by a suitably qualified corporate physician, a stock market directive of absolute quarantine may be imposed. A short time later, a quick financial business vaporization will then prevail with irreversible effect.

But there is a simple and effective treatment that can be easily applied to those afflicted with the “White Rabbit” disease, and one which also acts as a long term inoculation for those that don’t yet exhibit any of the symptoms.

The treatment is called “time”. Not just any “time”, but “thinking time”, where the psychological stress and strain of those affected, who believe they have a need to rush in the corporate office, is eliminated from their daily ritual. The habitual application of “thinking time” leads to the development of a creative thought which tends to free the poor suffer of all anxiety, which apparently has a direct causal link with the onset of “White Rabbit” disease.

Repeated applications of the treatment also appears to fortify the organization’s resistance to the affliction with lasting effect, as their employee’s ability to think creatively is reinforced, and in due course, may even lead to the encouraging signs of innovation.

So the answer is clear. When the first indications of “White Rabbit” disease become apparent, be swift with the copious application of “thinking time”, before it is too late!

 

Read My Lips

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“Read my lips”, was the instruction.

As always, my earplugs were deeply inserted into my ear canals as I tried to block out the unwelcome background noise on my early morning Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Sydney.

The air-hostess, dressed impeccably in her swish fashionably styled Virgin Australia uniform was making an announcement on the PA. I heard not a word, but I understood everything that she said. Yes, I was reading her lips.

A few minutes later, I pondered why? Then it dawned on me. It was her intensely bright red lipstick. Yes, I was fixated on those lips! It wasn’t the form, nor the shape of her mouth, it was the colour. This was the beginning of a theory that needed to be tested further, and I was the man for the job.

That day, I focussed on trying to read the conversations permeating from those around me, what influenced my interest and receptivity in how they delivered their words. You will be pleased to know that I was very academic in my research. I ensured that my analysis environment included a vast number of different types of cafés, restaurants, office foyers, and a rich and random selection of outdoor locations where a full range of men and women (some nude lipped, others lip coloured) were talking. I racked up a long list of expenses on my corporate AMEX card as testament to my investigation, just in case some yet unknown university wanted to continue my research at a later date.

That night, as I sat exhausted in my lush hotel room in Darling Harbour, I collated the copious notes that I had taken throughout the day. After what seemed like hours of intense analysis, the solution became all too clear. The key was in the lipstick colour, the winner, most definitely being bright red.

Now, there is a learning here for those working in the corporate office. Should you want your colleagues to listen to what you say, or to read your lips (should they be audibly challenged, or not really paying attention), then make sure that you wear bright red lipstick as it is the visual reader’s colour of choice.

Although diversity is indeed a requirement in business, I’m not suggesting for a moment that my male colleagues adorn the bright red lipstick (Note to HR: yes, I know, not unless they want to), but a bright red pocket hanky will suffice just as well.

Yes, embellish your body with red, and you will be seen, and most definitely heard.

Pinocchio’s Law

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A comprehensive population study has recently been completed, by a soon to be prestigious university, that will provide society with a foolproof DNA roadmap ensuring the long term wellbeing of mankind’s want for cultural innovation.

The analysis results were remarkably simple by their nature and have confirmed that people just needed to open their eyes as the source of innovation was, literally before their faces. The researchers wisely named their innovation theory “Pinocchio’s Law” owing to the direct, physical and observable correlation with their university findings.

The results indicated that when an individual fabricates a story, lies, or promotes an untruth, their brain stimulates a corresponding creative growth hormone that initiates increased nasal development. For those people that have mastered this technique, their noses will typically be abnormally long. This also assists in explaining the timeless conundrum as to why babies have small noses, as they have not yet perfected the skill of deception.

Another strategic correlation linked to an individual’s deception ability is that of innovation. An innovative mind needs to be able to think differently and to quickly fabricate events in order to achieve a plausible scenario, even though it might be highly fictitious.

So for those of you that want to spawn a race of innovative offspring, the answer is quite simple. You just need to find a reproductive partner with a nose that is significantly longer than yours, or at least of a matching length.

However, for those of you with a spiritual, sinless and purity of thought inclination, you too have a visual clue to assist you in finding that perfect life accomplice. Yes, you need to seek out people with a short stubby nose, and the chance of any negative humanistic deception tendencies will be minimised.

Yes, “Pinocchio’s Law” can also benefit those in business. Should your CEO have an unusually large nose, well the verdict is simple, don’t believe everything your are told!

In summary, bigger is indeed not better, unless you like deception.

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