Ideas – Shaken, Not Stirred

James-Bond

For more than 5 decades, I’ve combined gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc into a cocktail shaker half filled with cracked ice, shaken well, never stirred, then strained into a spiffy glass, garnished with a twist of lemon, and then delightfully consumed with the added benefit of an irresistible drinking companion.

To some, I’m just James, to others, I’m known as Bond, or professionally by my British Government law exemption descriptor of 007.

During my working career, I have morphed in and out of countless bodies, have mastered numerous accents and have successfully portrayed an endless array of trend-setting fashion suit and hair styles. I have encountered many enemies and have strategically defeated evil with good. I have willingly mastered the requisite art of seduction to which I have gleamed many hidden secrets of national and personal importance.

As I sit alone at the bar in a socially acceptable part of London, I look curiously at my half consumed glass and wonder if the act of shaking, and definitely not stirring, is the true source of my non-alcoholic thought innovation? To assist with my serious mental contemplation, I straighten my expensive shirt cufflinks to strategically focus my mind on the origin of my creativity.

I quietly ponder, does the stirring activity yield complete thought homogenisation where the cherished essence of creative individuality quickly ceases to exist? Are these once creative concepts now no longer separate, powerful ideas, but rather just an accumulated entity of yet another cocktail ready to be consumed in a carefree attitude by the common masses?

Could it be that the deliberate act of shaking yields ideas that are refreshingly uncontaminated as discrete thoughts where their flavours are undiluted and full of zing-full concentration to be enjoyed by the experienced consumer?

As the beverage slowly permeated through the essence of my body, I became convinced that I had identified a unique aspect of the origin of innovation. The key is to gather a vast array of individual thoughts and to combine them in proportions where they remain uniquely discernable and do not lose their identity in the process.

For those working in the corporate office, the analogy suggests that you try not to stir all your creative individuals into a common corporate concoction where they lose their potency and marked influence in the organisation. Rather, incorporate them into your culture in a calculated measure where their flavour, intensity and influence is carefully shaken throughout the business in recognisable bursts that are appreciated and imaginatively welcome.

Yep, I think it’s time for another thoughtful drink. Cheers!

Dirt IS Good

muddy-woman

An office colleague of mine was trying to convey the attributes of infrequent showering as a benefit to the environment, and her body, after reading an article in a leading Australian newspaper*. My altruistic persona understood the associated advantages with water and soap conservation, and for that individual sacrifice I was indeed grateful. However, I must admit that I was struggling to find common agreement with the potential impact on her personal hygiene and that unique, and highly distinctive human odourfication.

That night, whilst driving home in my air-conditioned clean car cocooned from all external negative atmospheric influences, I thought objectively about my colleague, and I came to the conclusion that Dirt was actually a very good thing, particularly for the process of fostering innovation in the corporate office. No, I’m not suggesting for a moment that a dirty unwashed body should be encouraged, particularly as I am still a strong believer in the virtues of daily ablutions, but I am purporting the advantages of having a “dirty mind”, one that is openly shared and encouraged amongst all employees.

Now for all of you that do have a “dirty mind”, immediately stop, go no further with your thought processes!  When I use the term “dirt”, I mean; mud, soil or clay….yes, that Dirt.

In the corporate office, there are many ideas generated, some great, others, well, not so great. However, many of these hypothetically brilliant ideas experience a relatively short creative life that quickly evaporate before they can be progressed to a state of potential future commercial benefit.

Think of a plant that needs time to cultivate roots in dirt from which it obtains the necessary nutrients for growth. If it is left unprotected without the life giving benefits of soil, it soon withers and dies. Similarly, your thoughts require a “dirty mind” to take hold, grow and develop. Here the “dirty mind” is your business culture and it needs to be one that is rich in a variety of ideas that support these fragile seeds of creative thought. Should your business be lacking the “Dirt” and be more like an arid desert where endless restrictive procedures prevail, then innovation has no hope of developing.

Yes, Dirt is good and a “dirty mind” should indeed be encouraged.

* http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/how-often-should-we-shower-much-less-often-than-you-think-20150310-140487.html

Small, Yet So Influential

DSC_0481

I looked intently into my colleagues deep blue eyes and asked if she really wanted to do this, because once we do it, there was no turning back? She nodded with a cheeky smile and said she was up for it, after all, it should be quite an experience! We smirked with a nervous anticipation at each other and the mutual course of action was agreed.

Together, we had the global power and reach to change the corporate business world. We were about to unleash a movement that would have a profound impact on suited workers of all ages.

She was the President of the largest clothing retailer in Europe. I, as her Vice-President of Marketing, was responsible for the viral release of her latest leading edge fashion thoughts and ideas.

I gingerly picked up the chosen fashion item and with great respect, stated how I was in awe of how something so small, was going to have such a monumental influence in business. She laughed and said, “If they only knew who wielded the power in the corporate world!”

With the colour and pattern selection made, I pressed the send button on my E-mail note to which a global fashion communication chain reaction immediately commenced. In the following hours, purchase orders from all the leading department stores around the world came flooding into our New York based Head Office. Production orders were sent to China and the petite clothing items were quickly manufactured on mass, complete with our authentic world-renowned Company label. The price mark-up would be 1000%, but we knew that the consumers would expect nothing less.

For the next 2 years, our sales growth was phenomenal. Our fashion item was seen adorning business suits in all the trendy magazines of glamour, worn by celebrities and many other wannabes, and those that just didn’t know any better.

In the quiet solitude of our very expensively furnished corporate New York boardroom, I again looked into those deep blue eyes of my colleague and gave an uncontrollable laugh! She looked at the pocket-handkerchief in my suit jacket and said, “Who would have thought!”

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!

Problems Solved via The Dream Solution

Sleeping beauty

As we were now at 35,000 feet, the Virgin Airlines cabin crew inflight service announcement was eagerly welcomed into my ears, as I desperately needed a source of mental stimulation to solve a tricky business problem that had been troubling me for the past few hours.

I was seated in seat 3F and was soon greeted by the superbly smiling Flight Attendant named Louise who asked whether I would like coffee, tea, water or a “virtual dream enhancement”? I immediately chose the last option, and enquired as to the choices of dream selection. Louise advised that Virgin had recently expanded the range to include dreams of sporting prowess, intergalactic travel panorama, rock star status, romantic interludes, or the very popular random experience of surprise.

As I had a business problem to solve, I chose the “random experience of surprise” upon which Louise handed me a small vial of a dark blue viscous liquid that I quickly drank. About 30 seconds later, once the tingly peppermint sensation on my tongue had started to wear off, I could feel my body going to sleep and my mind gradually awakening. As with all dreams, my mind quickly experienced a variety of unusual scenarios, people, clothes and the breaking of many laws of physics that are not humanly possible. However, as I was a well-travelled Virgin Frequent Flyer of the Platinum class, I knew how to best utilise these virtual dream enhancements. To do this, I strategically “pre-positioned” my business problem in the front of my mind so it was instantaneously captured and was weaved through all of my random experiences of surprise.

No, I’m not telling you about my dream, as these visual insights into my personality are private, but you will be pleased to know that on arriving at my flight destination, I did indeed have an innovative solution to my business problem.

————–

Yes, the above is indeed fantasy, but is it? How often do we awake in the morning following a night of dreams in which we encountered ourselves performing an array of activities that we had no idea that we could achieve? And, it all seemed so real! Unfortunately, we tend to quickly forget the euphoria of these dream experiences and happily get back into our daily activity regime.

Next time you have a business problem to solve, why not invoke the use of the dream option? However, make sure you have a small notebook located next to your bed so you can quickly capture those numerous and uniquely distinctive creative ideas to assist you in your work activities later that day.

And should any Virgin Airlines management be reading, please let me know when your do actually introduce the “random experience of surprise” as I can’t wait to try it!

The Faceless Collective

Untitled1

There are some companies that effortlessly symbolise the definition of true success. Their business names are iconic and are immediately recognisable by the young, the old, and those selectively aged in between.

There are no descriptive emotional tag-lines, no longwinded corporately clever arrangement of words, they are just “are”, and don’t need “to be”.

And here I was, sitting in the Board Room of one of these globally clever giants of industry, all by myself! It was an eerie and exciting feeling as I sucked in the room’s impressive atmosphere. I carefully crossed my legs under the highly polished large wooden boardroom table and cautiously, and gingerly, leaned back and pressed my back into the well-worn brown leather club chair.

The north side of the room had large floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooked the Yarra River from high up on the 39th floor. This view was balanced by an array of large and formidable oil painting portraits of their esteemed leaders that had steered the company successfully over the past 83 years.

As I slowly studied the names under each painting, my eyes suddenly stopped when I read the polished brass name-tag of what appeared to be a most unusual portrait that was strategically, and I assumed deliberately, centred right in the middle of all the other framed canvasses. This painting was definitely larger in size, more brightly illuminated, and presumably highly prized, and worthy of more significant corporate value. The inscription in large black font read “Our Perpetual Innovator”. But the most striking aspect of this painting was the face, or should I say, its absence! Yes, this painting was of a “faceless”, yet distinguished individual. I was intrigued and decided to leave my comfortable leather chair and have a closer inspection. As I got closer, I noticed some additional words at the bottom; “Innovation is not derived from any individual, but from the collective”. I pondered these words and slowly understood their symbolic meaning, as this I suspected was the key fundamental aspect as to why this business was so successful.

This business recognised that many ideas, derived, and continually shared between the employees of this organisation, were the driving force behind their creativity. They had seen that this vast, and rich, source of innovation was not reliant upon a single individual, but the combined force of the collective.

Wow, if only all companies could recognise this fact!

So next time you are sitting in the Board Room of your company and happen to view the historical images of your past illustrious leaders, may I suggest you consider the power of the “Faceless Collective” and not just focus on any one individual?

The “White-Hole” of Innovation

28538975-young-woman-in-white-with-hologram-round-head

I have been writing copious business articles for the New York Times for the past 39 years. Let me tell you, I have seen it all, but I had never scored that once in a lifetime literary scoop that all serious and well-respected journalists dream about, until now! I was so excited that I could hardly sit still. I was seated, or should I say fidgeted, in the massive private reception area of the most amazing, and phenomenally advanced innovative global electronics company that the modern world has ever known, and I was about to meet their CEO (Chloe Jibs).

I had known Chloe for at least 20 years and considered her a true friend. On many occasions I had tried to gleam from her the source of her unique business prowess and unlimited creativity, but these numerous requests had been turned down with her usual, quiet, yet charming, nonchalant smile, until now. Her unexpected change in mind was most likely due to this being her last day as CEO. Tomorrow, Chloe would begin her long awaited, and very well planned, relaxed non-corporate life living on her private island located in the Great Barrier Reef (half her luck I thought).

At the predetermined meeting time, Chloe emerged from her office dressed in her traditional non-corporate casual attire (blue jeans, shirt, snug fitting boots and those ever present dark Ray-Ban sunglasses that complemented her golden long hair) and beckoned me into her office. With the door shut impeccably tight, the long awaited meeting began. In that room, I was provided with secrets that only an innovative visionary could communicate. My ears burned as I listened. My eyes were dazzled with the brilliance of the sights that I was most honoured and humbled to see.

That night as I sat in my study, I tried to come to terms with what I had seen when I was with Chloe earlier that afternoon. My brain was struggling to comprehend the enormity of it all; my body was still tingling with a sensation of unbelievable elation. In contrast, my heart was despondent, as I knew that I was on the precipice of a potential award in journalism that would be the pinnacle of my newspaper career, but I would never be able to publish my story owing to my promise to Chloe never to share this knowledge.

I needed more understanding and typed the term “black hole” into Google and read the following:

A black hole is a mathematically defined region of spacetime exhibiting such a strong gravitational pull that no particle or electromagnetic radiation can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole)

In other words, a “black hole” sucks everything into it, never to escape. But, apparently, according to a “reliable and informed academic”, some items do indeed escape! The exit point is a mathematical phenomenon called a “white hole” where all the contents of the “black hole” are expelled with massive energy and light.

Chloe’s “white hole” was an outlet for all the innovative and creative ideas created within other organisations that theoretically ended up going no where, or were forgotten with time. Somehow, Chloe had managed to direct the vast array of “idea black hole” waste sinks of her competition and to accumulate them into the “white hole” located with her office. No wonder she always wore sunglasses owing to the continual “white hole” illumination!

The core aspect in Chloe’s business success was in how she could cobble the discarded ideas gleamed from her competition into highly sought after, and very profitable, commercial electronic products that were now common items (eg phones, computers, tablets, watches) used by people of all ages around the world.

Well, a promise is a promise. I could never let the public know about the “white hole” phenomenon.

But, it’s a good thing that those of you reading this blog now know the “truth” about their existence. But more importantly, don’t let your innovative ideas go to waste, use them, and develop them further so as to avoid that undesirable “black hole” where they may just be useful to some other organisation in the future!

And yes….this is all fiction!
Image: 123RF

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 Dress Design with “Wind Gust Resistance”!

Wind Gust

“There must be a solution!”, I thought to myself as I was walking in the Sydney CBD this afternoon and saw yet another corporately dressed woman holding her skirt as she fought off those all too frequent wind gusts!

For too long, women have had to endure the public embarrassment associated with unwanted underwear exposure!

So as I walked, I pondered some potential ideas to alleviate the occurrence. Now, there does need to be a self-imposed caveat here, mainly because I haven’t experienced that dreaded moment of dress wind gust movement, so I can only speculate as to the impact.

If you are a fashion designer reading this blog post, please don’t laugh too loudly! However, it may just spark an idea in your minds that might actually make some sort dress design sense? But, then again?

Design Option 1: Underwear Hip Magnets
Now this is a design that would need to be tested first to ensure that womanly comfort is not compromised! The big feature of this concept is its simplicity.
In the skirt there would be a hidden interior pocket strategically placed next to the left and right hips. Should the weather look likely that a wind gust may eventuate; the dress wearer would quickly place a metal disc in the dress pockets. At the same time, a smooth edged, very flat magnet, would be placed into the elastic underwear waist band thereby locking the skirt into position.

Design Option 2: Waistband
Sewn into each dress waistband there could be 5 equally spaced $2 coins which are held in place by a discreetly hidden placed zipper. When the wind gust eventuates, the zip is opened and the coins fall into an inner sleeve positioned in the hem of the skirt thus eliminating skirt flap.
Alternative benefit: should the dress wearer need some money for any unplanned items (such car parking or restaurant tips), there would be an ample supply that could be quickly utilized when required?

iPhone App:
Although not a dress design option, an iPhone App could also be developed that monitors wind gust velocity in the city thereby providing an early warning for the use of the above Design Options?

Now for all you kilt wearers, sorry, I have no idea!

Hopefully, unpredictable dress wind gusts will soon be a thing of the past and all corporate dressed women will be able to walk with confidence in the city!

Ideas that Think: “Idea-inks”

thinking.

“With so many great ideas out there, I know we will find the right one!”

I’m sure that many of you when doing a “braining storming” session have said this phrase to your colleagues in a desperate plea to find that truly innovative idea that will be the financial answer to all your company’s problems? However, in most occasions, I suspect you would have been disappointed with the result.

This got me thinking. What if we were to view “ideas”, rather than as a non-descript and transient thought, but as an idea with it’s own personal objectives and desires? Yes, I’m referring to “ideas that think”! Now this changes the game plan completely!

Let’s explore this concept further.

Firstly, let’s define these “ideas that think” which I will name “Idea-inks” for want of a better name.

Let’s assume that “Idea-inks” have their own unique and complex personality and they, like people, want to achieve self-actualization, just like in Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy. But they will also have basic survival desires to ensure their long-term ability to procreate. To do this, I can visualise “Idea-inks” wofting between corporate organizations trying to find the right environment that accommodates their requirements for psychological, safety, a sense of belonging, self esteem and that all important opportunity for innovation and creativity.

But what if your corporate culture is rather dull, boring and lacking the required inspiration for an “Idea-ink” to embed, establish roots and grow? If this sounds like your organization, then it’s not surprising that your brainstorming sessions lead to little, if any, new ideas being developed, after all, why should an “Idea-ink” want to live there, nor put the time into your company with little opportunity for potential long term self actualization prospects?

Corporate organizations need to “woo” the “Idea-inks” into your business. You need to make them feel welcome. But “Idea-inks” are not gullible, but rather insightful and quickly appreciate whether they are being sold something under false pretences.

If your business wants the most innovative ideas, then you want to target the most creative “Idea-inks”. Like all business transactions, if your corporate culture is poor, you will get the dud “Idea-inks”, if your work environment is continually dynamic and vibrant, you will be bombarded by a plethora of the most talented and inspiring “Idea-inks” fighting to maintain a presence in your office.

So the answer to getting a continual flow of the right business ideas into your corporate office is your culture and environment. Make sure you target the right “Idea-inks” for your company, and your creativity will be guaranteed!

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