Month: June 2013

Smiling Is Infectious

Smiling is infectiousSmiling is infectious
You can catch it like the flu
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner
And someone saw me grin
When he smiled I realised
I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about the smile
And realised its worth
A single smile like mine
Could travel round the earth.

If you feel a smile begin
Don’t leave it undetected
Let’s start an epidemic quick
And get the world infected.

A Major Breakthrough In Management Science

The Science of Management BureaucracyA major research institution, specialising in the subject of Management Science, has today announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known. This new element has been tentatively named “Administratium.”

Administratium has 1 neutron and 12 assistant neutrons. There are also 75 deputy neutrons and 111 assistant deputy neutrons. This gives an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons. These are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Administratium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of  Administratium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete. Normally this would take less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation. A portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Administratium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation causes some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as “Critical Morass”.

How (not) To Formulate Company Policy

Is This You?

Do you recognise this style of management within your own organisation? Is this how you create company policy?

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result -all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Learned behaviour exists everywhere!

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm!

Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth,then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.

Creative Conversations

Creative ConversationsThe Organisation of the future

The organisation of the future will not have a hierarchical structure chart like most of today’s organisations. It is most likely to resemble a Twitter or social media connection map. People and functions will be connected by many lines. Importance (if it is measured at all) will be determined by the number of connections or conversations that take place. Creative conversations will be key.

These connections are not simply routes for passing data such as telephone lines. These are routes where data, information and knowledge flow backwards and forwards. These are multi level conversations and they are key to Innovation.

Currently such conversations do exist but not throughout organisations. They are often identified as ‘water cooler’ or ‘coffee machine’ conversations and many backward thinking managers brand them as gossip or a waste of time. In some cases they do have a point!

Why conversations?

Why do we want such conversations in the first place? Ideas tend to come into being when problems are aired amongst groups of people. They then get refined as part of conversations and solutions created or retrieved from the rich banks of knowledge that exist in our heads, libraries and computer systems. Conversations are something that we are used to having, after all we are social creatures.

So how do we make these conversations mainstream and encourage them? First of all the attitude of management must change to allow a whole range of things to happen. We could encourage conversations around the water coolers but Health and Safety issues might prevent too many gatherings. We should identify a) where people converse b) for how long c) for what purpose d) how we capture results. If conversations are short then having white boards or flip charts near to our coffee machines might help. For long exchanges then we might need more seats around our desks or a number of small ‘islands’ in our buildings where impromptu conversations might take place.

Employees also need to know that it is ok to have these conversation and that they can be continued using other modes of communication if need be. They should also be encouraged to eavesdrop on conversations that might be of interest to them.

Avoiding Premature Articulation

Premature articulation - cycle often and close lateAvoiding premature articulation is just another way of stating one of the fundamental precepts of Creativity. I call it  ‘Cycle Often and Close Late’. Why is this a good idea?

Have you ever rushed to complete an assignment, project or proposal just to get it out of the way? You do this even though the actual deadline is a week or more away. Come the deadline you are aware of new material that you could have included to make it better. Perhaps you realised that the grammar was less than perfect?

By all means get the work done but resist the option to ‘close’. You might deliberately revisit your work or just let the creative side of your brain work away on its own but stand firm. If you have many projects on the go then you might have to be good at time management and learn to live with a little ambiguity.

The results might be worth it though, your proposals will contain the latest information and your problem solving initiatives will have thoroughly explored all of the possibilities.

Premature Articulation is a condition that can be cured in all cases!