Monday, 19 August 2013

Life Hacks - Creative ways people find to simplify their life.

Life hacks are the little ways people invent to make life just a bit easier.

I love the way these often re purpose stuff we probably all have lying around the house. All it takes is your creativity and imagination to see the new and different uses.

Most of these came from a great post on tumblr. More tips and tricks can be found at reddit. 
Here are my favourites:


Thursday, 15 August 2013

To boldly go - beyond your own frontiers

Many of my 'Pond buddies' are leading Innovation in big organisations. One of the struggles I hear them talk about is the difficulty in encouraging people to get out of the office and look for inspiration in the outside world.

They know that by spending just a bit of time seeking out fresh inspiration and maybe even exploring how other industries approach similar challenges can and does pay dividends.

While many companies talk about ‘external focus’ many in practice still spend most of their time with heads down looking inwards. We can learn so much from both related and non-related worlds but alas it isn’t always the priority it should be.

Barriers to making this a reality are many and numerous ‘I don’t’ have time’, ‘Why bother’ and ‘Maybe next year’ and all responses regularly heard. However the sign of a healthy business or industry is one that constantly looks outside of its own sphere for new ideas.

 Here are just a few real life stories to act as stimulus along with a couple of ways you can stay fresh with new experiences to get yourself sparking with new ideas.

 Deliberate Focus

GSK/McClaren are a great example of where a couple of companies who are collaborating to share their knowledge with a very deliberate focus.

In September 2011, GSK and the McLaren Group joined forces to share knowledge and expertise with the aim of improving their business performance and driving a more dynamic business culture.

“There are four core pillars to our relationship - business performance analysis, sports nutrition science, employee engagement and the creation of a new McLaren-GSK Centre for Applied Performance”.

Having a focus for the topic you want some new thinking or learning about is a great way to start.

Random inspiration

This is all about being tuned in and receptive to making new connections from what you see and hear as you go about living life. If you routinely meet the same or similar people, go to the same places, read the same magazines you will generally expose yourself to the same stimulus over and over again. To increase your chances of getting new inspiration try….

a.    Taking a different route to work.

b.    Reading a different newspaper/ magazine, genre of Book.

c.    Learning a new skill

d.    Eating at a different restaurant and trying foods you’ve never tried before.


It’s amazing where we can get inspiration and ideas and here are a couple of examples

Shell –  ‘Getting inspiration in the most unlikely places’.

 The bendy straw drill - A nice you tube video (based on true events) that shows how a simple drinking straw led to a new methods of accessing oil more cleanly.


Virgin Galactic –

Burt Rutan designed the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the sub-orbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 for becoming the first privately funded spacecraft to enter the realm of space twice within a two week period.

His inspiration for the plane came from observing how a shuttlecock fell to the ground!

 Virgin Galactic contracted aerospace Burt  to build the Virgin Galactic mothership and spacecraft.

Air New Zealand – How ‘Aerobics’ stimulated a very different pre-flight safety movie.

Let Richard Simmons get you fit to fly. Lose the baggage, fasten your safety belt, take a breather and let's GO! 

None of these examples would have been possible if someone hadn’t either first stepped out and reached into another industry sector or got inspired by something they saw out of the office!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

5 Good reasons to re think your office environment

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve had from ex colleague since leaving the corporate world is ‘Are you renting an office space’. It’s strange that many people consider the need for some sort of defined space we call an office, for serious work to be done!

It led me to think about our working environments and gather some stimulus and inspiration for you to either start a conversation at work or indeed a revolution!

Let me begin by telling you a story close to home.

Since leaving my job to start my own Innovation business I’m now working from a ‘home office’. I’d certainly had the option of working from home previously but never seemed to be able to actually do productive work there. Too many distractions seemed far more important priorities at home ‘maybe I should put the washing on, fill the dishwasher, clear those weeds’ etc. My mindset was stuck in ‘I’m at home I do home stuff’.

However once faced with the prospect of actually having to work from home I decided to focus on making an environment that encouraged me to work.

My first mistake was to try to create an ‘Office’ just like at work! The desk arrived along with a docking station, monitor, office chair and the rest of the paraphernalia I needed to re-create my corporate office here at home.

After a couple of weeks surprise, surprise I was resisting using the space in preference for the kitchen table, garden or even my bed!

My aha moment came when I realized that I needed to change my office into a place I actually wanted to spend time in and stopped thinking that I should only work in a place we call an office. In fact my best ideas came to me in moments when I wasn’t actually doing what people call work!

My work space is now much more like a ‘hang out’ space yes its got a desk but it doesn’t dominate the room and yell ‘You can only do productive work while sitting HERE’. My room now includes my sewing machine, Art supplies, favourite books/pictures, my collection of cameras and various other vintage nick naks Ive picked up over the years. It’s now a place that ‘works’ FOR me. I’m sure others would find the space a little ‘strange’ but that’s the thing is we all work differently.


5 Good reasons why rethinking your office environment can boost creativity & culture.

 1.    Bring your whole self to work:  When individual personalities are subdued at work and everyone interacts on a safe, ‘inside-the-box level’, you won’t see a lot of energy or passion and you won’t get ‘out-of-the-box ideas’. People are generally more creative and innovative when they can be themselves at work and a stuffy, stifling work environment also stands in the way of collaboration.  Ultimately everybody including the business will benefit by being able to be more comfortable in their own skin at work. Creating a strong culture of ‘personality’ that aims to give explicit permission to be themselves is a great recruiting tool and you will find people will actually want to work in a place like this.

Examples: Going beyond the family pictures and your favourite mug or pot plant brought in from home, why not as one company does, provide each employee with a voucher to buy something for their workspace they simply love and would want at home.

2.    It’s got to be fun. Our best ideas come when we are relaxed, laughing, socialising and having fun. Connections with other people from diverse functions, backgrounds etc is crucial to real creativity. An element of play can help establish social bonds as get you know people on a different level. Making it ‘acceptable’ to have fun is a must.

Examples: At Google different teams personalise their spaces and competitions are run for the most creative team space. In addition to cubicles, some staffers share white fabric "yurts," tent like spaces that resemble igloos. The average time for moving desks is every 6 months.

 3.    Behaviours trump Culture: An Innovation buddy of mine recently said “Culture is a by-product of behaviour”. Every company has two cultures – the one they aspire to creating and the reality of the one they have created. In truth it’s the sum of every employees’ behaviour that make up the culture dynamic business backed by a passionate, energetic, and engaged workforce is evident from your first interaction at the reception desk.

Examples: Behaviours typically associated with young students are important to Google – idealism, curiosity, creativity and fresh thinking.  To encourage these behaviours and create a focus on learning and problem solving, the Google offices are uncannily like a university campus with a large cafeteria, chill-out games rooms, and lots of informal meeting spaces.

4.    Mix it up. If people generally come to the office, go to their spot, mix with the same people and go home, the organization is not capturing the benefits that come from spontaneous interactions among its ‘thinkers’. “When there are no water cooler chats or meetings popping up in the middle of the space, it’s a sign of a poor culture.

To prevent the establishment of silos employees at Innocent Smoothie Company don’t sit with their teams but with a random selection of people from across the business. Every six months the company have what they call the ‘Big Shuffle’ at which people are encouraged to move desks and sit next to different colleagues

There is a very sensible business rationale behind even the foozball table at Google - getting people together and talking. Free food in cafes follows the same idea – if you are sitting with people from different parts of the business ideas will emerge.

5.    Design the space: There’s a key consideration that we should not overlook when thinking about the design of our workspaces and that’s our overall health and wellbeing. We generally spend 8-12 hours in our workspace and that’s a chunk of time we could be improving our overall health. We are not designed to sit for long periods of time so keeping mobile is critical. We need to stop thinking of ‘our chair and my desk’ in preference from a variety of spaces that we can move between.


·         ?What If! knows that its employees communicate and work in a variety of ways, and that their needs change from day to day—or even hour to hour. The open plan supports a variety of needs, including the need for quiet. The “Library” features wing back chairs and a large work table, and wallpaper with photographic images of books helps set the tone for this quiet space. There are also several phone rooms for private conversations, as well as a variety of meeting rooms (all of which are managed with iPad signs outside the doors to indicate if the room is occupied and the meeting is not to be disturbed). Conversely, the Extrovert room is furnished with a sectional sofa and custom wallcovering made with a photo of a bustling East Village street scene. It is also equipped with DJ equipment, so making noise here is encouraged.


And Finally: Go to Business Insider for a selection of office tour pictures and videos of some of the chicest, cololest and weirdest, even a sneak peak into Warren Buffett’s office!