Revisiting Some TheoriesJanuary 7, 2008
When I first started out in business, I wasn’t the titan of industry I am now. But there were inklings of my genius, even in the formative stages. I would come to my bosses with various productivity enhancing theories, none of which were ever enacted but I think they helped distinguish my capacity for outside the box thinking. Looking back on it, from my lofty perch, it may be time to better understand the nuggets of wisdom that I had wrapped in my nougat of youthful optimism.
Idea #1: Too many office supplies. This idea was prompted by the game of musical chairs. Early on in business I realized that not every desk needed a stapler & tape, etc. But how do you know which desks need the office supplies, and which desks merely want them there for the appearance of doing work? The solution? Let the market sort itself out. Randomly distribute office supplies to 80% of the desks. Those who really genuinely need to staple will go steal the staplers from their neighbors. Those who don’t want their tape stolen will hide it where only they can find. Eventually, everyone has what they need & the office supply budget goes down by 20%, of which 10% goes to me as a commission on the idea.
Evaluation: Is it GENIUS? Yes. I can’t understand why this isn’t a common practice in every office in America today.
Idea #2: Public rumor mill. Nothing is more typical of corporate America than having to hear about stuff through the grapevine, like “hey, Gloria just quit” or “I think Sally & Jeff are sleeping together.” What this situation needs is a publicly accessible gossip board (like on an extranet or something), with anonymous posting, so that people could more quickly & efficiently keep up on who is quitting/fondling/suing whom within the company.
Evaluation: Is it GENIUS? Yes, although the one refinement I’ve come up with in the years since I first thought of this idea is to add the concept of “blind items” a la gossip pages that are afraid of getting sued. So the posts would read like “which Chief Executive Officer of a local firm was recently seen walking around the restroom with his pants completely off?” and “rumor has it a certain up & coming star of the art department may have purchased her fantastic (and newly gigantic) boobs over the Christmas break.”
Idea #3: Employee popularity meter. This one is essentially like Digg.com, only account membership is restricted to employees (one account per employee) and instead of voting on submitted stories, you just vote on your coworkers. Bonuses at the end of the year are awarded accordingly. This system financially rewards the more likable and helpful employees, punishing the meaner more callous employees.
Evaluation: Is it GENIUS? I’m not so sure. When I was young, likable & helpful, this idea sure seemed like GENIUS. But now that I’m older, meaner & more callous, I’m kinda glad management had the foresight to kill this baby in utero.
So, there you have it. A 66% GENIUS rating. My work here is done. Ta-Da!!