Jazz – The Poignant Innovation

davebrubeckthequartet

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 Power of Paisley

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In 1969, 400,000 people attended a music festival on a green dairy farm in New York state. This event was to be immortalised emotionally in history as “Woodstock”. It captured the attention of the world for its music, illicit drugs and some “other communal people bonding activities”. Those who participated, say, that it was one of the most memorable events of their lives. It also made an enduring impact on subsequent generations that many other music festivals have tried to emulate, but without the same impact.

But according to an obscure newspaper article recently discovered in the 1970 archives of the now defunct “New York Advertiser*”, the origin of the creative power supposedly unleashed on the unsuspecting youth at Woodstock, actually had its roots in another fashion phenomenon that was prevalent in that decade. The journalist involved apparently conducted extensive research by frequenting many then hip social establishments in New York, London, Paris and even in Melbourne. Unfortunately, this person cannot be contacted as they died of some mysterious illness, possibly as a side-effect of immersing themselves a little too much into the vices of that period. However, thankfully their factual legacy of research has again been unearthed.

After months of correlating interviews, notes, photographs, and other intense mind-bending observations, this brilliant journalist made a key psychedelic discovery that had swirling colours linked to its fundamental core. Yes, the research all lead to one insightful cause, that being the fabric paisley. If you have ever looked attentively at paisley, you will quickly succumb to that hypnotic effect where your eyes start to lose focus, followed by a sense of cross-eyed related dizziness that slowly, and involuntary, incapacitates the observer.  Those at Woodstock, incorrectly linked this perceived clumsy behaviour on the influence of various drug cocktails, but this was indeed an error in scientific fact.

Now for those of you working in the corporate office, take note as a powerful source of creativity has just been revealed. The answer is indeed simple and only requires your fellow employees to adorn a fashionable shirt, suit, skirt or sock tailored in this remarkable paisley fabric. But a word of caution is indeed required. Should your co-workers appear a tad too jolly at the end of the working day, relax, as you don’t need to promptly invoke your drug and alcohol policies, rather, just ask them to take off the offending item of clothing and the inappropriate behaviour will immediately cease.

Yes, it’s just the Power of Paisley.

 

*In case you were planning to do some research on this newspaper, yep, it’s fictitious.

It’s the Stalk

A French Guy Really Wearing a Beret

Over the centuries there has been one grand piece of clothing that has been worn by many a mighty warrior that immediately symbolises unity of nationality, pride and belonging. These illustrious fighting men and women, be they French, Spanish, or Scottish, all wore this famous and readily identifiable hat called the beret in various styles, colours and forms.

Today, it is still worn as a statement of artistic intellect, or by those who want to make a statement of fashion, or simply by those people who just know better than others. I, for one, happily wear my beret and relish the admiring glances of those around me who are obviously most envious of my beret ownership good fortune.

There is something unique about wearing a beret, which needs to be done with a slight skew placement upon your head, so as to achieve the correct appearance. But once done, there is a “feeling” that permeates your thinking. Those who have had this beret wearing experience will immediately relate to this comment.

As a “thought academic”, following “years” of extensive research, I believe I have now formed a beret hypothesis on the origins of this “feeling”.

The “research” suggests that this “feeling” is concentrated when many wearers are in close proximity. This could explain why those warriors of yesteryear were such a formidable force when they all wore their berets together in military formation? With the advent of the more safe and bulletproof soldier headgear, the frequency of beret use understandably diminished, as such, so did the “feeling”. It is also interesting to note, that the French, Spanish and Scottish armed forces are no longer as feared to the same extent as they used to be, surely this is “no coincidence”?

Now let’s move to another area of the “feeling” research. Those in the artistic fields, for example the French Impressionists, or Film Directors, all have reported an additional influx of creativity when wearing their berets. Yes, it’s all in the “research”.

But there was a most surprising and curious theory identified that the “research” almost overlooked. Apparently the origin of this “feeling” is due to the small stub in the top centre of the beret called the “stalk”. It just so happens that this stalk acts like a thought transmitter between beret wearers. The longer the stalk, the greater the range of the thought transfers! A truly phenomenal discovery!

Now should you be an innovative thinker, you will immediately recognise the practical application with this “stalk” discovery for the corporate office. Yes, the answer is simple; all employees should be encouraged to wear a beret, particularly those with long stalks. Once worn, I’m sure that your organisation’s ability to develop new and novel business ideas will increase exponentially. There will also be a supplementary benefit, that being, all your employees will look brilliant!

Your Very Own Personal “Sound Globe™”

Noise reduction ! the simple way !!

I re-inserted my snug fitting iPhone earplugs, quickly turned up the volume and hoped that the prevailing musical tones would assist with masking out the perpetual, and most unwelcome, office noise. On looking around the building, I noticed that the majority of my fellow workers, all had a similar array of self-imposed audio devices strategically placed within their inner ear canals with the hope of achieving that prized goal of thinking privacy.

Arhh yes, “the joys of working in an open planned office” I hear you all say with clenched teeth as you stifle the awkward exit of these words from your feigned smiling mouths!

For those of you that have the luxury of audio solitude as you sit within the contained comfort of your enclosed corporate office with a sound inhibiting door, you no longer need to feel isolated from this “joyous experience” as I have a cunning, and somewhat innovative solution, that will enable you to leave your well-guarded “den of silence” and happily re-engage with your work colleagues. I can hear your cheers of quiet approval already!

The key is in thinking differently! Rather than hindering unwanted audible sounds from entering your ears, why not stop recalcitrant and loud voices from leaving your head?

According to a “reputable and well known” materials engineering design source “close” to the author of this blog post, there will soon be a “yet to be invented” transparent, ceramic type material that has a unique combination of physical properties that include sound absorption, light weight and breathability. The material can be easily shaped to accommodate the contour of a human head and will be internationally promoted in all good retail stores under the “Sound Globe™” trademark, so all office workers will be able to readily purchase one.

Just imagine being able to purchase your own custom moulded “Sound Globe™” with the following features and benefits:

Silence
As no sound can permeate through the patented material used to construct the “Sound Globe™”, each device will have an inbuilt mobile phone transmitter so the wearer can communicate freely with the outer world. However, to those people standing next to the “Sound Globe™” wearer, no sound will be heard, the only indication of talk being the mimed mouth movements of the head within the device.

Hair
Some users of the “Sound Globe™” may not like the look of perceived baldness from the exceptionally smooth and shiny ceramic texture. To alleviate this public look, each “Sound Globe™” can be fitted with a visually pleasing externally mounted Velcro hair piece that can be obtained in a variety of fashionable lengths and stylish colours.
An additional benefit is derived for those that don’t like getting their real hair wet when walking in the rain as the “Sound Globe™” provides complete weather protection from the harshest meteorological conditions.

Air Circulation
Each “Sound Globe™” has its own inbuilt air heating and cooling system. So on those days when the office temperature may get a little bit unpleasant, relax, as that look of facial perspiration is now a thing of the past.

Embarrassment
The “Sound Globe™” also measures facial colour change. So should you be a person who readily blushes, when this red colour is identified, the “Sound Globe™” quickly goes a solid black thereby disguising any personal embarrassment. However, should this occur, it is recommended that the wearer not move for at least 5 seconds, just in case they collide with a fellow worker owing to lack of external sight, and to ensure the requisite office HSE compliance.

Smokers
The “Sound Globe™” does have a no-smoking design policy. Firstly, it will be difficult for you to place a cigarette into your mouth owing to the poor hand access to your lips. Secondly, should you manage to sneak a lit cigarette into your “Sound Globe™”. an inbuilt water spray is immediately released in order to extinguish any potential fire threat.

Of course there are many more benefits associated with this remarkable device, but I don’t want this blog post to sound too much like a product advertisement (as I do have a potential “conflict of interest”), so I will curtail my list to only those key ones mentioned above.

So the future of the open plan office does indeed look positive and one that ensures maximum sound productivity for all employees. Rumours are that the “Sound Globe™, will be available in the “near” future, so may I suggest that you quickly pre-order your own device to ensure that you do not miss out, and thereby avoid any personal disappointment.

Wink to the Rhythm

wiggity wizzink bw

Woohooo, there was only two minutes to go!

You could sense the air of anticipation as everyone was starting to psych themselves up for it! As the seconds counted down, people were trying to hurriedly conclude their phone conversations, meetings were quickly ending and there was a mass movement of excited employees all racing back their desks in order to get there in time. I was no exception as I looked down at the clock on my computer screen and saw that it was now 1:59 PM, only one more minute to wait!

Then at precisely 2:00 PM, with all the office staff now quietly seated at their allocated desk positions, it started.

The PA system crackled and the countdown began….5, 4, 3, 2, 1. On reaching the eagerly awaited number 1, the “gym workout music” loudly blurted out throughout the building with a rhythm of exactly 150 beats per minute.

As my desk was situated to the extreme left of the building, it was my allocated task to start the “Mexican Wave of Wink”. I turned my head to Melissa (the colleague on my right) and winked my right eye and smiled. Immediately, Melissa winked her left eye in time to the beat, then quickly turned her head to face Jules (seated on her right) and winked her right eye with perfect musical synergy, together with a the requisite beaming smile. This process continued in time to the beat until all 153 employees had winked and smiled. On reaching Peter, who was seated at the extreme right of the building, his timely wink initiated the “wink rebound” back along the “wink-chain” until I was able to receive the wink with my opposite eye. Gleeful and spontaneous laughter prevailed, as it was a unique sight to behold and a great opener to the daily 2:00 PM ritual.

My next task was to pass the “K-card”, once again in time to the beat, to Melissa, who handed it to Jules, and the process again continued. At the same time, Peter spun around once in his desk chair and stood up, thereby signalling to Angus (sitting on his left), to spin and stand up, again the process continued, until the music beat randomly stopped. The person in possession of the “K-card” now had to do some solo “krumping” for 5 seconds, following which the beat would start up again signalling the continuation of the “K-card” passing and chair spinning/standing.

Ten minutes later, the beat stopped. All employees now returned to work.

However, there was a noticeable “buzz” permeating throughout the corporate office. Motivation, employee concentration, and a most recognizable feeling of fun and teamwork prevailed.

Not just any tête-à-tête!

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Without any hesitation, or consultation, she picked up the red pen and scribbled some notes down in the margin of the musical score. She looked at her colleague seated next to her and nodded with a look of a “question mark” on her face, and was immediately greeted with an emphatic and resounding “yes” from his eyes. This intimate interaction continued throughout the remainder of the orchestral practice.

However, this little tête-à-tête was not just limited to this couple, it occurred with couples sitting next to them, behind them, in fact, all around them. There were trios, foursomes and even larger groups spontaneously erupting all over the stage!

Violinists, were talking to other violinists, trumpeters were waving to their friends in the double-bass section who responded with an immediate “thumbs up”! If you hadn’t had been watching, any one would have thought that there was an undisciplined, commotional, musical rabble in full force. However, what was occurring was the natural and evolving formation of sub-groups in the larger orchestra. The musicians were sharing their thoughts and ideas freely, there was no malice, withholding of information, and it appeared to be done most harmoniously and constructive.

The conductor then tapped his baton and immediately there was silence and all eyes and instruments were focussed on him. The orchestra then commenced playing with all their communal learning and experiences and the outcome was truly awe-inspiring.

I had just witnessed the final rehearsal of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) playing Mahler’s Symphony Number 2. But I’m sure that this famous and world-renowned orchestra would go through the same motions at all of their rehearsals.

So why can’t business learn from this orchestra? Why can’t they quickly form fully functioning sub-teams when required to focus on a work problem as a matter of normal practice? Businesses tend to only do this when in a time of crisis, or when a significant change is occurring?

The key is typically the prevailing culture of the organisation and it originates directly from the top. The conductor (or CEO) may be rather spiffy at waving his baton in a rather flamboyant and glamorous manner, but if the orchestra (or managers) aren’t following in “tune”, then the result will be utter chaos.

The right business culture takes time to develop. Work teams need to feel empowered and confident that their input into the larger business issue is significant and will make a difference. For instance, if the percussionists in the MSO didn’t play in time with the rest of the orchestra, regardless of how impressive the rest of the musicians played, the result would be rather discordant.

Another requirement is a willingness to listen to your colleagues in an open and unhindered manner. The conductor of the MSO listened and accepted feedback and suggestions for improvement from the various musicians, each of them a brilliant instrumentalist in their own right (just like a technical or functional expert in the corporate office). If your CEO doesn’t do this, well, is your CEO the right person for your business?

When a business has the right culture in play, the performance is “music to your ears, your employees, and to your customers”.

That “Gaelic Place”

Big Mac

“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”.

On reading this sentence, many of you would immediately think of that global hamburger chain identified with the golden arches that I call that “Gaelic Place”.

To many children and adults from all around the world, this is their common perception of a hamburger. But what if we replaced the following ingredients…

Beef patties WITH lamb rissoles?
Special sauce WITH leaves of mint?
Lettuce WITH spinach?
Cheese WITH fetta?
Pickles WITH chutney?
Onions WITH beetroot?
Sesame seed bun WITH Toasted wholemeal bread?

I’m sure that those frequent and loyal eaters at the “Gaelic Place” would not recognise these replacement ingredients when constructed together as a hamburger!?

Let’s just ponder this thought for a moment and expand the discussion a little bit further. Many foods, fashions, music, plus many other items used daily, have become stereotyped by a consistent and standardised formula or delivery methodology. This can also be observed in the corporate workplace where everyone seems to dress in the same work attire, similarly, the offices have that regular format of appearance, funnily enough, very much like the business model used by that “Gaelic Place”?

The same can also be said about the process of innovation where most businesses utilise the same old standard approach of “brainstorming” to try and develop some new ideas.  I have even heard of some brainstorming sessions feasting on a selection of “Gaelic Place” food assortments to assist with the participant’s creative receptivity!

To foster some creativity in the workplace, why not try some new “ingredients”, just like the replacement “WITH” examples provided in the hamburger example above.  Some of these alternative “ingredients” could be:

Standard Work Attire WITH a bow-tie, cravat, kilt, swimming costume?
Corporate Office WITH an external location (the zoo, a picnic ground, railway train, gymnasium)?
Business Co-workers WITH kindergarten children, a choir, actors, artists, the French Foreign Legion?

In summary, there is more than one type of hamburger, the key is to expand your taste-buds with a variety of new ingredients so you continue to think that little bit differently!

Eyes Down with a Positive Perspective

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When sojourning around the corporate office you will encounter a variety of co-workers with differing walking styles. Those people who are confident will typically walk with a sense of purpose and will greet you with a determined look that locks their eyeball with yours. Others who are less positive by nature will tend to waddle around the building with their eyes well entrenched with a downward stare and minimal opportunity for communication.

Many an office will parade an endless array of motivational signage on the office walls to encourage people to change their perspective and to react in a more optimistic manner. However, there is an untapped opportunity for inspiring those with a downward glance whilst walking throughout the building that utilises an office environment that is frequently under utilised and ignored from a marketing and change management directive, that being the floor!

The floor provides an intertwining matrix of messaging possibilities:

Different Carpet Colours
Why do all carpet colours need to be consistent throughout the building? Why not create a pictorial affect to inspire people who work within various departments? For instance, those in marketing could have an outer space carpet with an endless array of stars and galaxies to help inspire a creative thought? Those working in finance could have a carpet with many numbers, $ signs and mathematical formula permutations? Those in HR, could have a multitude of employee faces beaming up at them to reinforce the diversity of culture within the business?

Safety Messages
For those danger areas where people collisions may eventuate, why not have some floor signs saying “Beware, slow down and exercise caution otherwise there may be unwanted facial contact”?  Or, in the canteen, “Look out for slurping coffee carrying colleagues!”

Management Notifications
When a senior manager is approaching, a floor notification could be transmitted to approaching co-workers stating “Be happy, smile, look like you are busy!”

Personalised Walking Tones
For some co-workers that need that extra form of encouragement, the floor would have the ability to read certain employee feet and walking styles.  For those individuals identified, an appropriate piece of “power music” would blast out from the floor to give them that psychological lift whilst moving throughout the building!

There is an endless array of floor possibilities in the corporate office. The key is to start viewing all aspects throughout the building that “little bit differently”! May these innovative and creative ideas lead to hours of happy and positive walking in your place of work!

 

The Office Tuning-Fork

Tuning fork

Many of us I’m sure have sat through a corporate meeting and have identified when someone is playing “politics”. This person’s behaviour is so obvious that it tends to stick out like a sore thumb to the detriment of that individual. The impact of this activity can also alienate them from the rest of the team and significantly lowers the output of the meeting.

To resolve and eliminate this sort of negative behaviour, this is where the application of a yet to be invented “politics” calibrated tuning-fork can be applied. Consider the following application in the corporate office.

Each meeting room will have a tuning-fork mounted in the centre of the table. The tuning-forks will all have the same business pitch aligned to the corporate values and will resonate in harmony throughout the entire office. When there is no “politics” being exhibited by those sitting around the table, all tuning forks will be in tune with each other and a constant tone will be achieved.

However, should the tuning-fork encounter someone playing the political agenda, the harmonic resonance will be broken and the culprit will be immediately identified by those in the room, and throughout the entire office.

Those repeatedly identified by the tuning fork as habitual office politics offenders will have a special entry made in their personnel file.

With time, those people who play politics will modify their behaviour as the power of the tuning-fork will ultimately prevail!

 

The Sensory Corporate Name

Typewriter Letters

With the increasing number of new companies being created in the corporate world, it is becoming common practice to see a variety of innovative and unusual business names being derived to capture the uniqueness of that organisation.

Each company wants to have a distinctive name that individually characterises and differentiates their business from that of their competition. To do this, a collage of different colours, fonts, tag lines and styles are used to develop and maintain a value proposition in an attempt to establish the essence of that business.

But what about doing something a little bit different……..?

So far, companies have only utilised one of the five physical human senses in building this new company identity, that being the sense of sight. But, what about using the other four senses?

Smell
The manufacturers of perfumes, coffee, tea and other sensory delights truly understand the power of smell to capture and stimulate certain desires. Why not incorporate smell into the new company name? For example, at the entrance to the corporate office, there could be a fine perfumery mist spray of the “essence” of that organisation? Employees could be provided with a perfume, aftershave, or body spray that reinforces the organisation aroma!

Taste
The organisation could develop their own corporate food dish that is served in their corporate cafeterias, or is proudly offered to visitors on arrival, just like an appetiser at the commencement of an evening meal? There could also be corporate flavoured cookies, together with a complementary corporate flavoured beverage?

Touch
Why does a company name need to be printed on flat paper, or a smooth surface? Why not make it undulating with bumps and troughs? Business cards could be textured with a unique feel that would make it readily stand out amongst all other business cards!

Hearing
All new organisations could develop their own corporate song to inspire all employees to have that sense of unity and belonging. This music could be surreptitiously piped into the entrance foyer and throughout the building as a motivational influence on employees. Corporate guests could also be provided with an audio CD of the song to savour and fully appreciate after their visit.

Just a thought….but this may lead to a sensory revolution in the world of corporate naming convention! You just never know??

 

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