The Office Busyness Indicator (OBI)

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It is now a frequent occurrence to see numerous health conscious corporate office cohorts trekking the surrounding streets as they brandish a vibrant assortment of “Thought Creation Leadership Sticks”. Thankfully, gone are the days where lunchtime consists of habitually sitting in front of your computer, whilst quickly munching on a bland vegemite and cheese sandwich, accompanied by yet another cup of coffee. No, lunchtime now signals the start of many a “walk of thought” where employees leave their computer monitors behind, whack on some runners, a stylish hat, and do some exercise to stimulate their thought processes in gleeful and creative conversation.

Many corporate offices measure their “walk of thought” prowess through the competitive use of a “Workweek Hustle” FITBIT competition. Here a leader scoreboard tallies each walker’s steps, or lack there of, each Monday through to Friday, concluding at precisely midnight. For those of you that are familiar with this activity, it is a common practice to see many participants walking late into the Friday evening in an attempt to add those additional precious steps that might just provide them with the highly sought after FITBIT badge of victory!

However, in a recent research study, at a yet to be famous university, the findings indicate that there is a direct causal link between the average weekly FITBIT count of all active “walk of thoughters”, and their office busyness. This link is called the Office Busyness Indicator (OBI). If one views the average team steps on a weekly basis, a busyness trend becomes all too apparent. When the corporate office is experiencing a high workload, or is stressed, the average step count is low. But when the employees are feeling creative, vibrant and in need of some thoughtful collaboration, the number of steps rises significantly as they engage in happy, walk-full dialog.

So, should you be a Human Resources Manager reading this blog post, the answer is clear. Just encourage all your employees to become “walk of thoughters”, equip them with a FITBIT, chart their weekly OBI result, and you will have a real-time scientific insight into the mood of your organization. Simple.

Jazz – The Poignant Innovation

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Looking for business improvisation in your office? Well, focus on music as it provides a poignant innovation key.

According to one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, the answer is to deliberately focus on the “white”, and not the “black”. Most traditional players of music are captivated by those pesky black notes, carefully placed with much thoughtful deliberation by the composer on the five well regimented lines of the staff. The orchestral focussed musician then, without any allowable hesitation, follows without question the vast array of strategically positioned crochets, quavers, semibreves, and even the occasional minim, with a well-practiced systematic bow, blow or beat of their beloved instrument. The result is a perfect and consistent replication of the musical selection, just as the composer had stipulated.

However, if you are a player of jazz, you tend to not be a musical conformist, but one that focuses more on the creative freedom represented by the unrestricted white score background devoid of all black notation. These innovative musical entrepreneurs utilise their deep, fundamental understanding of their instrument to collaborate in joint mutual harmony with a range of other diverse thinking performing colleagues to create the true essence of improvised jazz.

To complement the jazz player’s unhindered creative style, no formal orchestral dress attire is typically worn. Rather, you will observe a selection of them occasionally wearing a diverse range of coloured paisley patterned shirts, stylish mod-suits, denim, boots, dark glasses, and even a stylish hat.

Now consider the corporate office with all its conservative business rules and regulations, its staff brandishing the standard business suit, shirt, cuff-links and ties, analogous to the large, classical symphony orchestra lead by the CEO conductor. But don’t get me wrong, as for many businesses to succeed, this long standing and proven tradition is essential in ensuring that all employees are working off the same musical score, are working together with a common objective to manufacture a high quality performance that is appreciated by the expectant shareholder audience.

But should your business be striving for the development of a culture in which innovation can flourish, consider how a “jazz room” environment can be established where your employees can mix with other likeminded paisley clad individuals, can experiment with corporate melodies previously untried or heard, and are free to let their creative talents loose without any critical judgement or fear of failure. With time and practice, the result will produce some new and dynamic sounds that may be the start of a new direction for your business.

So what’s the key to business improvisation?  Try to not always focus on what you typically see, but allow yourself the opportunity to expand your creative horizons and explore the innovative vastness of what could potentially exist in the background.

 

The Scenic Desk

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You have all had that feeling, it’s 3 PM in the afternoon and your motivational levels are starting to rapidly decline. Your coffee intake is becoming dangerously high, so much so that your tastebuds have now maxed out on caffeine, and you are worried that one more cup consumed will definitely impede any potential sleeping opportunities that evening. Your eyelids are closing heavily under an unknown and dreaded forced hypnotic influence as they encourage you to place your head surreptitiously on your desk and initiate an inconspicuous state of slumber.

However, relax, you don’t need to worry about this unwanted physical eventuality, as your corporate office is equipped with the latest afternoon motivational technique, that being, the “scenic desk”.

Yes, at precisely 9 AM each morning, your desk, like all the others in your office, start their journey of scenic transition that takes exactly 8 hours to complete. The process starts with the application of a quiet, yet highly powerful high velocity air current that lifts each desk (and the matching chair) an inconspicuous 5 millimetres above the floor. By cleverly changing the angle of these air currents, each office worker’s desk can be propelled in a forward, backward or sideways trajectory. An inbuilt desk computer developed by “Google Desks” charts a unique journey that traverses the entire corporate office to ensure a different, and enthralling desk experience every day, and one that naturally avoids any possible desk collision.

Following extensive R&D testing at a soon to be prestigious Melbourne University, the speed of desk movement has been calibrated at a most comfortable 2 kilometres/hour so as to alleviate any projectile g-forces that may fling the desk occupant, or items loosely residing on the desk surface, in an uncontrollable and dangerous manner. However, for those office workers that don’t worry about the residual side effects of windblown hair, or are particularly bored at work, their desk velocity can be tweaked to much higher levels (following the requisite completion of a personal liability disclaimer issued by their HR Manager). There is also a special office “ejection option” feature that can be used for those recalcitrant employees that utilises a camouflaged sound-proof one-way exit system.

Once the desk movement activity progresses, the desk owner will be enthralled as they meander with gleeful curiosity throughout the corporate office. Any thoughts of feeling tired, or exhausted, will quickly mentally evaporate as they experience new visual aspects and encounter different work colleagues along their scenic desk journey.

Like clockwork, at precisely 5 PM, their desk will arrive back at the original office location ready for the worker’s timely departure, but with them now brandishing a totally refreshed and visually inspired mindset.

So should you experience that unwelcome sensation of mental boredom, don’t reach for another coffee, just send an E-mail to your HR Manager lobbying for your corporate office to purchase the “scenic desk” system. It will change your office environment forever!

A.E’s Forgotten Law of Innovation

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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.

The Male V

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What was the cause? The effect was indeed quite noticeable, and one that had been surreptitiously permeating the male physique for the past few years with minimal commentary from the more discerning female adult population who normally observe these things.

As I stood shamelessly in front of the hotel bathroom mirror whilst on a recent business trip with all but a white pristine bath towel encapsulating my lower half, I made a virtuous decision on behalf of corporate mankind to try and understand the origin of this visual perplexity. I looked at myself and realised that I, like many other men, was also not immune from this male condition.

Now before I proceed to far, you as an inquisitive reader might be wondering as to the potential side effects of this uniquely male malady, and more importantly, its impact on those that come into close male physical proximity. Firstly, relax, as the influence is positive and one that signals to the naked chest observer that the man beholden to this condition is highly innovative and a vigilant embellisher of a free thought.

The main visual clue is a v-shaped band of thick wavy chest hair that starts just below the male adult neck line and continues for a typical distance of about four inches in a downward direction. After extensive research utilising the detailed observation skills of many office based corporate female colleagues, a uniform and consistent visual theme started to emerge to which there can be no question, nor doubt of authenticity.

The chest follicular condition is believed to have first surfaced in the 1960s and 70s when many a business man elected to have a shirt dress code that was rather devoid of buttons. As the decades unfolded, men chose to portray a regressive and traditionally conservative closed shirt collar policy that supported a full neck length tie. However, over the past few years, men have discarded these formal fashion knotted links to the past and have gleefully accepted an open collared shirt prowess that has been readily approved by the business world as a sign confirming their creativity.

The consequence of this decisive fashion action has been exponential male chest hair freedom, a complete contrast to the historical times where they had been subjected to a barrage of restrictive shirt button protection and coverage. These empowered and unconstrained hairs are now able to reach their full bushy length potential and grow with unity in a v-shaped formation in solidarity with their DNA facial haired brothers.

So, should you, like me, no longer be a wearer of the business tie, may you flaunt your chest hairs in public with pride as you let all onlookers appreciate that you are doing your bit for the growth of innovation and creativity in the corporate office!

All it takes is a Jump

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I felt quite smug as I sat in the middle of my corporate nest as I delightedly acknowledged the numerous platitudes from my fellow bird siblings as they complimented me on my latest innovative feat. Yes, no other bird could match my skills in nest cleanliness and twig weaving; I was a bird who had no equal. I had spent all my working life perfecting my ability and I was the envy of all those in my nest.

However, with an unexpected rustle of feathers, my formidable life as I knew it changed forever as an older sister bird unexpectedly flew in from a distant tree. How she got there, I did not quite understand, but it took all of us nest bound birds by great surprise.

She cooed up to me with a confident waddle and greeted me with a beak expression that was definitely from out of this nest. I was in awe of her and needed to know more! She folded her broad colourful wings and together we sat perched in a quiet corner of the nest.

As we jointly partook of a nice fat juicy green worm, the dialog commenced and she told me of a life beyond the nest. I listened intently as she described an array of different branches, insects, water and other birds. My eyes, ears and feathers strained to comprehend the world that was being described to me. I had to experience it and asked her to show me the way.

My older sister smiled, and with a gentle melodious voice beckoned me to tail her to the edge of the nest. I immediately followed her with uncertainty and trepidation as fear tried to stop me from waddling to the top of the nest. But I refused to give in, I was now in “no birds land”, one foolish step and I would fall to the depths below.

Once again her calming melodious voice instructed me to open my virgin wings. I copied her wing movement, became totally petrified and shut my eyes as she instructed me with confident authority to “jump”.

I obeyed the instruction. A second later, as I saw the bottom of the forest rush up to me, I began to panic! But, after a short moment, my beady bird eyes suddenly saw the bright blue sky as an intense whooshing noise accompanied me as I reached unknown lofty heights. Wow, this is amazing as I looped the loop, and enthusiastically flapped as I glided around the forest with a new perspective on life.

Now, my dear reader, I’m sure that you can see the application of this feathery story in the corporate office. Yes, many employees look to within for innovation. However, the catalyst to creativity is achieved from experiences outside the “nest”. Sometimes, employees just need some encouragement to open their “wings” and “jump”.

 

The Benefits of Man-Flu

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In the Southern hemisphere, as the days now get colder, there is an all too familiar sound that is starting to be heard, that being; “arrrhhh chooo!” It is typically the unwelcome sign that signals the onset of the thinking man’s worst fear, that being the dreaded “man-flu”.

Yes, this condition is debilitating on the male form. All physical activity quickly grinds to a reluctant halt, accompanied by feeble pleas for female support and loving reassurance that the world as we know it will not end.

During this time, those afflicted with this thankfully curable diagnosis are forced to ponder life, the universe, and the Foxtel sports channel guide, whilst patiently recuperating in a large king-sized bed, or on a strategically positioned and well cushioned couch. We suffer in silence as we consume endless cups of hot coffee or tea, complete with the occasional snack of peanuts, chips and maybe a token lemon enriched vitamin supplement, as we blow our noses in between the TV advertising breaks.

However, as is typical with most “near-death” experiences, once the man-flu sufferer has triumphed over the worst part of this malady and can see that their short-term life prospects will actually be regained; they have time to reflect on the important things in their life. This “time of reflection”, known amongst males as “milking the best of the condition before the female knows that we are actually feeling better” is when our creativity and acting skills are maximised to new levels of innovation. Without this male innate skill that is passed secretly from father to son, our opportunity for “reflection” would be drastically cut short, as would our hold on the sacred TV remote control button.

Now for all you HR Managers reading this blog post please don’t be too quick in rejecting any requested sick leave applications where you now doubt the authenticity of the male requester. Why, because your company’s dedicated male employees have been cleverly utilizing their time at home to fine-tune and improve their imagination skills, all part of their “time of reflection”. So, just approve the application, rolls your eyes, and say, “typical”.

Fashion’s Icon Origin

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The year is 537 BC (Before Celtic). Frolicking in a thick thistle field, Angus McDougall shrieks with such gusto that his cry is heard in a neighbouring valley by his good friend Lachie Tartain. A few hours later (although the definition of “hour” was not actually known at that stage in time), a hairy bare bottomed Lachie quickly dashes to his friend to identify the origin of his voluminous outburst of consternation.

He quickly finds his friend sitting cross-legged in a grassy field with deep scratch marks that not even Angus’s copious hairy legs could conceal. To his great alarm, Angus was still fuming in a Celtic expletive dialect that was quickly expanding even Lachie’s quite broad vocabulary. “Enough is Enough” Angus shouts, pointing to his thistle beaten legs, with his hands strategically pointing higher up his body with a manly concern regarding his long term procreative dignity. “Give me a flint, let’s burn the whole of this thistle infested terrain down for the sake of future Celtic generations!”

Just as the flint was about to ignite a massive bonfire positioned centrally in the obstreperous thistle field, a thoughtful representative from the formidable King’s Guard just happened to be passing by and loudly proclaimed the “26th Law of the Celtic land” that prohibited any incineration that might affect Scotland’s natural heritage. “Stop in the name of the King you hair embellished man!” to which Angus immediately ceased his destructive thistle life endangering combustible plan.

Angus quickly rebutted with yet another rich array of complex Celtic expletives and pointed emphatically at his red, bleeding legs. A real Celtic “barnie” was about to eventuate, but thankfully Lachie quickly interjected before any dangerous use of the large, sharp thistle held in Angus’s hand could be thrust in a very forceful manner into the annoying King’s Guard’s body.

Fortunately, Lachie had a curt cunning plan that would provide the perfect solution. He pulled the monochromatic saddle cloth off the horse of the King’s Guard and quickly wrapped it around Angus’s legs. With a look of dismay, Angus used the cloth to wipe the red blood, and the green and yellow thistle smears from his body, and then threw it vehemently back in the direction of the King’s Guard. The cloth landed flat and unfurled on the rough Celtic landscape. All three men looked in wonder at the criss-crossed coloured patterns that Angus had created.

Yes, my dear readers, this was the origins of the Celtic tartan. In what was typical Lachie Tartain fashion, he claimed the idea as his own, but through the passage of time, the Tartain eventually became the well-loved “tartan” (with the dropping of the “i”) that all Celts now claim as their own. Yes, it is indeed a “true” story, or so I’m told.

NB: But the “i” was never forgotten. If you listen to a Scotsman or Scotswoman today, the word “aye” (aka the “i” from the Tartain) still lingers which accurately personifies a true Celt, complete with his or her own tartan.

The Battle of the Left and the Right

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And so the tussle starts, yet again, as my daily morning alarm triggers the conscious awakening between my two better halves. The barrage of questions are initiated, and rebuffed, as both sides of me begin the battle for short term body dominance. At the end of the day, my internal scoreboard signifies a winner, but there is only one victor, that being me. Yes, after years of mind training, I have finally mastered my own unique and personal source of creativity. But, we all have this innate ability, we just need to let the dynamics of our left and right brain thought processes engage in mutually beneficial conflict for assured perpetual self-development.

All of us have experienced the continuous battles within our own individual minds, either consciously of perhaps subconsciously. These intellectual disagreements may come in a variety of guises, such as the choice between eating a healthy breakfast, or alternatively choosing a full fat one with all the delicious trimmings, others could be habitually shaving your face in the morning without question (yes, I’m assuming you are male), or challenging the status quo and electing to go with that fashionable facial stubicular appearance.

Now it just so happens that there is an important section of “mass” within your brain that operates centrally between the left and right spheres, and this location is the strategic source of all your innovation. This is the battlefield where your mathematical and creative ideas have a virtual punch up and fight for the opportunity to implement their personalized wishes over your actions. However, you, as the owner of this battlefield, need to be tactically clever to ensure that both sides have an equal chance of winning. Should one brain side win a tad too often it will become a little bit too cocky, alternatively, the other side may become demoralized and could give up trying to play the mind game and a dangerous state of imbalance will prevail. Should this occur, this is where negative personality issues may become evident which could lead to a variety of unwanted and socially unacceptable psychological problems within the owner.

So next time you have the sensation of feeling a debate of choice within your mind, relax, all is ok, it’s just your brain engaging in some power play between the left and the right sections. But do make sure that they play fair thereby ensuring that you reap the ongoing rewards of your personal innovation.

That Bushy Benefit

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At the age of 61, Dame Chloe Smythe DCVO, MP decided it was finally time to retire. She was an acclaimed Scottish politician with a unique personal attribute that was very rare these days in public office, that being, everyone seemed to genuinely like her, and still even more unusual, they actually respected her.

As a lifelong friend of Dame Chloe, I had the privilege and honour of interviewing her in her private Westminster office on her last day as a British politician. She was dressed impeccably in her signature body hugging tartan trousers, complete with white satin long sleeved shirt, as she invited me to sit down in one of her well-worn leather chairs and promptly poured me a large glass of Edradour whisky (neat, no ice, as was her custom).

After some polite warming banter, my friend signalled with the customary tweak of the top undone button on her shirt that she was ready for the interview to commence, to which I took my cue.

“Dame Chloe, the readers of The Times newspaper want to know the core essence of why you are so popular with your political colleagues on both sides of the fence? You appear to have only supporters, no enemies? What is your secret?”

After many hours of polite and honest conversation that enabled the full contents of the bottle of Edradour to be consumed, I was educated on the true source of her niceness. However, the origin was most unexpected. I thought it might have been due to her ever-pleasing manner, her dark blue seductive eyes that neither man, nor woman could resist, but no, it was none of these. So what was it you may ask?

The answer was in her eyebrows. Yes, her eyebrows.

Dame Chloe was a ladies lady. She was not one to trim, nor style the hairs above her eyes; they were allowed to propagate with a growth freedom not normally reserved for a woman. Dame Chloe was also very quick to condemn men for the grooming edict that swayed them to similarly trim their eyebrows.

According to a slightly known study done at Glasgow University in 1923, a soon to be famous Research Psychologist named Dougal Edradour, discovered that eyebrow hairs have an inherent sensory ability that can “read” people’s emotions. However, this capability only works when the other person is in close proximity, and only when the emotion reader’s eyebrows are in a natural, uncorrupted hairy condition. Chloe and Dougal were close whisky drinking colleagues in their student days, hence the connection.

Dame Chloe’s prowess was in being able to utilise her eyebrows to read how her political opponents were feeling, and then to modify her behaviour accordingly. It was no wonder she was so well liked! But, this was no easy feat, particularly as she needed to be in a close eyebrow receptivity distance, to which she used her charms accordingly to masterly effect.

So dear readers of The Times newspaper, the answer is simple. Should you want to improve your empathetic ability with your family and work colleagues, just leave your eyebrows alone, let them flourish to their natural, thick bushiness ability.

 

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