Individuality and chaos in the workspace

4 10 2006

Is your workspace unique? Should it be?

Does your company project the image of sameness, order and uniformity by having cubicles and work-spaces coordinated and equal to one another? Why? Because it looks good, gives the impression of order, control and discipline?

Is this sameness and order a good thing for sparking employee creativity, innovation, happiness and positive results ?

Alexander Kjerulf offers up ideas about workspace, sameness and creativity and roadwitching at The Chief Happiness Officer.

If we want to have a creative, enthusiastic workforce why do we want them to work in ordinary, uninspired surroundings?

Does it just look better when the office layout is coordinated and everything has a mathematical formality about it? Is it a fashion statement or is it about control, and the desire to reduce chaos and “environmental noise”?

Is there a study that shows that working in neutral sameness and coordinated surroundings makes us more productive or efficient?

The industrial world used assembly lines and standardization to increase time efficiency and mass production. Are we applying the assembly line system to today’s information workers without questioning the efficiency and effect on innovation and happiness?

Alex writes “…..so many workplaces have lost their human touch to a desire for sameness, efficiency and professionalism. It’s a shame, because it makes people less efficient.”

The same goes for meetings. Why are they always in the same conference or meeting room? You know the drill, everyone files, in, sits in the chair they always sit in, and the meeting drones on. How much innovation, creativity and enthusiasm will people bring to the meeting if you change the location?

Distracting, perhaps. Maybe, just maybe, people will focus on the task at hand and not the structure, hierarchy and safety of a routine. Perhaps being outside what is “comfortable” is what is needed to provoke new ideas or new ways of analyzing the same situation.

Move a meeting to the cafeteria, to the sales floor, under a tree, to the park, to the library, to another unfamiliar location and see what happens.

Ted Dewan (Link): “One thing that might be fun is renegade meeting rooms. I once heard of a group that set a meeting table up in a parking spot (they were meeting to plan Roadwitch-like activities) and they found the experience envigorating and it helped their thinking as a result. It might be a bit distracting, but depending on the sort of meeting, it’s worth a try I suppose. I’d test it first before offering it as paid-for advice, of course.”

You choose:

Choice # 1 – Chaos – Energy – Random Opportunities – Innovation

Choice # 2 – Order and Control – Suppression of Energy – Routine – Lack of Innovation

Related Links

5 ways to stimulate creative thinking and idea generation

Weird ideas that work

Successful managers should be breaking the rules

With nothing, anything is possible





How to motivate yourself on Monday

2 10 2006

Here we go again, Monday morning, back to work. Need some ideas on how to get pumped up for the week ahead?

1. The survivor approach. Challenge yourself to attack the most difficult work problems first thing today. Admit that it has to be done and might be the most uncomfortable or unpleasant activity you will encounter during the week. Once this is out of the way you’ll be surprised how much easier the rest of the week will be.

2. Send out positive energy. Be cheerful, upbeat and responsive to customers and coworkers. Say hello to everyone, acknowledge their presence. If you encounter grumpy, sad or depressed individuals smile at them and move on. Leave everyone you meet with the impression that you’re happy, full of enthusiasm and motivated today. Sound completely out of character for you? Good.

3. Monday is list execution day. List makers should prepare their weekly to-do lists on Friday afternoon or Sunday evening. When you walk into the office on Monday the plan is waiting for you to dig in and execute it.

4. You are working for you. Remember that you are working in order to achieve your personal goals. The work is part of that process. You are not working for XYZ corporation, you truly are working for yourself. It’s your decision to stay or to leave the company, your future is in your hands. Try that attitude on and see what happens.

5. Make someone proud of you. Everyone has a person or persons in their lives that they love and respect. Who are these people in your life? What could you do today at work to make them proud of you? Do it.

6. Act like an invincible leader. Feeling miserable and trying to spread that misery, gloom, doom and depression to others is a pretty pathetic way to live. Do you like to be around people with this attitude? Why would others want to be around you if you are a walking “cloud of misery and darkness”? You are a victim if you agree to be one.

7. Give yourself prizes. Set some work goals and create rewards for their completion that can be enjoyed on the weekend.

8. Motivation through memories. On the way to work think about the times in your life when you were the most enthusiastic, excited, motivated and happy. Remember the way you felt, identify why you felt so good, relive those experiences.

9. Go to work with a specific mission and deadlines. Make specific commitments for goal completion to others.

10. Decide to take a vacation. Burned out, stressed out, unable to focus, unable to get excited? Take time off, disconnect from work (that means no email, no telephone calls). Recharge your batteries. Figure out when you are going, for how long, with who and where.

11. Let cosmic forces and your subconscious decide. Sit down in a quiet spot, turn off the cellular phone, lock the door and try to clear your mind. In a matter of minutes you will begin to be bombarded with ideas or things you should be doing, and their priorities. Open your eyes, and get started.

12.  Music.  You know the tunes that start your feet tapping or set your soul soaring.  Record them, put them in your I-pod, burn a disk for the car.

13.  Change.  Setting a routine is quite normal, and comforting, but not motivating.  Change something.  Maybe it’s breakfast, the way to work, your clothes…who knows.  Fiddle around with your patterns and routines.

14.  Altruism.  Do something for someone else, without seeking anything in return.  Random acts of kindness.

R elated Links

Showtime – how do you want to live your life

Motivation, what gets you out of bed

10 things you should do on a Friday afternoon





Showtime – how do you want to live your life?

8 09 2006

I’ve had limited experience in show business. The highlights of my entertainment career include the magic show I produced and starred in at age 8, various band performances, and a walk-on supporting role as a wise man in a Nativity play. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, my biggest show business role. I was involved in retail sales.

Retail sales can be a limiting and brutal environment, physically and emotionally. But it is one of the best environments for learning and practicing how to perform with and for others.

Retail sales is all about people, it is not about merchandise. Listening to what people want and helping them find it. You are performing all day, and when you realize this, it can be an exhilarating and fun experience. You can prepare, rehearse and modify your performances daily.

What am I talking about? Performing? Exactly. If you assume the role of an enthusiastic, informed and helpful person you can give something to each person you encounter during the day. You will feel great about yourself and the client or co-worker walks away with an unexpected gift of meeting and connecting with a positive human experience.

I was involved in the fresh flower industry. Olga and I opened a “bucket-shop”, which at the time was an innovation, and dedicated ourselves to making every customers experience distinct and important.

No one buys flowers because they have to. They are sought when one wishes to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, birth of child, graduation, religious holiday, or wedding. They might be using the flowers to recognize an illness or death, as a thank you, to recognize a special person, to say I love you or I’m sorry, or as a emotional pick me up.

Flowers are objects that represent an emotion. Customers were not buying flowers. They were seeking a symbol of their feelings or the feelings they wished to transmit. Isn’t that true about most consumer items?

Understanding this, how can you NOT be enthusiastic about coming to work and giving your best performance?

During the time clients were in our environment, we were part of their search to represent their emotions, our advice was of great importance in order to find the right symbol, the perfect flowers. It was much more than a commodity transaction.

It’s important to recognize that false enthusiasm isn’t going to work. You have to believe in yourself, your abilities and knowledge. You have to believe that you are going on-stage everyday, and that your “performance” has to be genuine. You have to listen to the people around you, and determine what they are really seeking, and help them get it.

People used to stop in and visit us to get a shot of enthusiasm and positive attitude. There was always a smile, a greeting. The environment was light, fun, open, accepting. It was an amazing experience for us and for the clients. We gave a positive attitude, and customers gave us back more positive attitude.

All it took was our dedication to providing the best “performance” we could manage, everyday, no matter who was in the audience.

It’s “showtime” in your life every morning (remember Rob Schneider’s performance in “All that Jazz”?). It’s your decision to assume the role you are going to play. Will it be the angry, grumpy, distracted, negative you? Will it be the upbeat, enthusiastic, focused you?

It’s “showtime” right now.

It’s always “showtime”.

Related Links

Change your life – change your attitude

Passion – Enthusiasm – Common Sense?

Motivation, what gets you out of bed?





5 ways to promote creative thinking and idea generation

28 08 2006

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition.” Albert Einstein

The process of innovation and creation begins with the analysis of current situations. Once we know where we are, what we want, or what we don’t want, the next step is the creation and exploration of ideas and alternatives.

Idea creation should be supported and facilitated by all members of the organization. We must feel free to create. We should know that the generation of the ideas is of great importance to the organization. We should feel comfortable and in a supportive environment for this to occur (children don’t play unless they feel safe).

It should be clear that the next step in the innovation process is the evaluation of the ideas by others in the organization. Our ideas will eventually be analyzed and criticized to determine their viability or economic impact. This is a separate and distinct process, and should occur only after the ideas are generated and not during the brainstorming period.

In order to spark discussion and interaction, brainstorming and idea generation here are some simple, low cost methods to get you and your organization moving in the right direction toward the creation of ideas and innovation.

How to promote creative thinking and idea generation

1. Purchase or subscribe to various magazines that have nothing to do with your industry (not world, national or economic news or analysis). Pass them out and give permission to mark or highlight any articles or ideas of interest. Give a time limit, 3 or 5 days. When the magazines come back, send them out to different people. Examples would include trade magazines from other unrelated industries, magazines dedicated to; design, art, travel and living, tattoos or wresting, music, movies, technology (backpacking or camping equipment, boats, bicycles, home office, cameras, computers, etc.).

2. Encourage book reading. Give out gift certificates to the local bookstore once a month. Start a community bulletin board with recommendations on great books, no matter what the subject.

3. Ask everyone to identify where or what makes them creative or gives them inspiration.  Where are they when they get their ideas?  What triggers innovative or creative thinking?  What time of day and what day of the week?

4. Move the furniture.

5. Bring in toys or puzzles that require manual manipulation. Toys unlock reasoning and assist in activating parts of the brain required for creativity.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” Mary Lou Cook

Related Links

Weird ideas that work

Does your company like new ideas?





10 Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

24 08 2006

To complement my list of 10 things you should do on a Friday afternoon (Link), here are some of the activities that should be avoided on Friday afternoons.

Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

  1. Initiate a major project
  2. Schedule any type of meeting or seminar with customers or employees
  3. Give an employee review
  4. Make important strategic business decisions
  5. Ask people to work extra hours
  6. Give bad news to the office, your team or co-workers
  7. Raise your rates or product prices
  8. Obsess about or relive any failures that occurred during the week
  9. Go out for a 3 martini lunch and come back to the office complaining
  10. Give the boss an ultimatum or try and force a decision

Related Link

10 things you should do on Friday afternoon





10 things you should do on Friday afternoon

18 08 2006

Friday afternoons are not known as the most productive times in an organization. Why not take advantage of Friday afternoon, and do the following:

10 things to do on Friday afternoon

1. Clean up your desk, file the important documents, throw out the rest. Make your desktop visible again.

2. De-fragment and tidy up your computer and files, backup important information. Boring, but has to be done right?

3. Make a list of the projects and tasks you wish to deal with on Monday morning. Make Monday easier.

4. Review your calendar and schedule for the coming week, confirm appointments and make sure you’re prepared for meetings and presentations. Be on time and prepared.

5. Return all pending phone calls that have accumulated during the week. Follow-up.

6. Clean up your email inbox. Follow-up, follow-through, keep the communication moving.

7. Smile a lot, get excited about the weekend. Think of the future, not the past.

8. Call your spouse, significant other or best friend. Tell them to get dressed up and go out to a casual relaxing place that you have not been to in a while. It should remind you why you worked so hard all week. Give yourself a reward. Enjoy it.

9. If you are in a leadership or management position. Get out of your office and walk around, talk to people about anything but work. Ask if they have something special or exciting planned for the weekend. Listen and learn.

10. Do small random acts of kindness for subordinates and co-workers, these might include; give out Milk Duds and Lemonheads, buy a lottery ticket for everyone, take the “front line” workers out for a drink. Random acts of kindness. No ulterior motives.

Related Link

10 things you should never do on Friday afternoon