corporate creativity & innovation
Fine in theory, but different in reality! © 2006 David M. Weeks.
25 - Acting a Fool! can be very fulfilling
One of the innovation used in [email protected] was the Fool!. Based on the experience of the Corporate Fool it was like a breath of fresh air compared to the typical, feedback to staff system which tend to give 'company- non responses' to staff - full of spin. Staff know they were being fobbed off.

The Fool! became very popular. Neutrally biased, he neither took the staff line or the company line trying to steer a path between. It worked! Staff began to value the ability to say what they thought and get it published. It was a way to get a voice heard despite the hierarchy.

But as with all ideas that are controversial the Fool! expected to be pulled at any moment. He prevailed for a whole year - obviously management were too busy looking elsewhere. But this is where the grass root voice was. If you really think people are your most important asset this is a way to prove it.

creativity & innovation diary    I am a temp at the moment and I am not seeing any future at Nabbey Rational. I work hard and get good results, but there is no sign of a contract anywhere down the line.... I need permanent employment, and I will look else where soon, I am a valuable person and an asset. I am so cheesed off that I am becoming blinkered, I need a fool's help!!!!!
(9th May 2001)

The Fool replies.
You are sitting on a fence, but you must get off soon. Its rickety feel is making you anxious. On one side of the fence you see Land, on the other you see a Stream. You'd like to jump down to Land, but something is obstructing you. First you should try to remove this obstacle. But, if you can't, you've no choice, but to jump into the Stream and go where it takes you. Eventually you will arrive at new Land.


creativity & innovation diary    Answering phones all day proves to be a little monotonous. Have you any tips on how to fill in the spaces we have between calls. Something light and ientertaining. We read the creativity site each day, but its just not enough!!!!!!!
(13 May 2001)

The fool replies:
I get a lot of feedback from staff who work with the telephone. An area in need of a lift me thinks. My daughter started a Saturday job in Telesales recently. She says she needs to sell two different products in a day to stay sane! Just one drives her crackers! Anyway, onto your question about filling small chunks of time:

creativity innovation  Light and entertaining - sounds like Radio 2 piped through your headset. You pick the station. Would your management agree?

creativity innovation  A contantly (every hour) updating morale booster website. Tell me the benefits to you and Nabbey Rational of providing this - better morale, less sick, less turnover, happier people => happier customers...give me more.

creativity innovation  They must have thought of job rotation (?)

creativity innovation  Graham Bell never wanted it this way


    What i REALLY want to know is why i NEVER get credit for my work, i spend hours doing things for people then someone else comes along & gets all the credit for it, and also, how long does it take to get some decent training???? I've been here for nearly 2 years and am still in the same place now as when i started, Whats going on there then????? And how come if you're different you get treated like a complete outsider???
Sorry about that, but you did say we can rant and rave!!!!!!
(May 14th)

The Fool replies:
Well, I hope you feel a little better after that. The fool is here to serve you.
You have a boss who doesn't appreciate you and you don't spend enough time promoting yourself. Firstly talk to your boss about how you feel. Use a specific example. Dare you?
Next, (it may not be in your nature) be more pushy - prove it by talking to your boss. Don't let people take the credit. What happens exactly? Is it different people or the same one? Is there a consistent pattern? Work out what to do to break it.

What training do you need - when you see your boss tell him/her what you need. If he/she has objections - 'not enough budget' - counter with 'I understand that, but I have been waiting for 2 years, I need to know when I can attend' If it is internal, no money goes outside the company anyway. Make sure you get an idea of time-scales - i.e. within 3 months.

People who are different do get treated like Outsiders.
Read A Peacock in the Land of Penguins, Barbara Hateley
This may not help, but I am a fool of course!


    The only reason im writing here is that there are no repocussions of what I say.
Our dept had a general meeting not that long ago with all the managers and the Ops manager in attendance. After the presentation the Ops manager encouraged us to say what was on our mind about how to improve our quality of service. There were a few people that spoke out regarding several issues and the ops manager dealt with those queries accordingly at the time. The thing is, after the meeting the ops manager told the managers to have a word with the people who spoke out (there were a couple of gripes). So nearly all that spoke out were quietly disciplined. Don't you think that's contradicting Nabbey Rational policy? Joe Bloggs(NRFIS)

The fool replies:
Keep bringing up issues. Dangerous I know. Do it in a positive way. When they realise you can't be silenced the 'whips' will disappear. If it escalates you're on solid ground! Let me know how it goes.

25a - Foolish talk gets heard
A steep hierarchy can be very inefficient. And managers don't like problems. An intermediary like the fool can help bypass it and get things moving.

creativity & innovation diary Dear Fool,

I write to you in desperation. I work in the Telesales Mortgage Underwriting Department. For approximately one year now, me and my colleagues have been appealing to our line managers to get our salaries sorted out.

Our Job Spec says our job would only involve checking that customer's wage slips/accounts tallied up with what was said at the point of sale. Hence our job titles were to be Customer Support Administrators.

After about one month, it became (crystal) clear to us that what we do is UNDERWRITE. Our problem is that our salary bands correspond to CUSTOMER ADMINISTRATION, and our wages are considerably lower than what underwriters generally get in other companies.

I try not to think about it too much, as the more I think about it the more it riles me! Our job carries a lot of responsibility and Nabby Rational seem to be getting away with paying us pittance!

Now, I am not complaining about our line managers. The poor people are the only ones we can complain to, and, God bless them, they have argued with their line managers our case until they are blue in the face.

Where can we go from here? Morale is at an all-time low. Our manager states that she has spoken to several people and everyone agrees that there is "an issue" here. WHAT???? No one seems to be wanting to take any action.
Fool, please let me see this situation in a different light.

As well as publishing and replying to the message the Fool! gets proactive by passing it to the Call Centre Director (with permission from writer). Often senior management do not know about grass root problems which get filtered by middle management. This is what they are supposed to do, but if they are helpless to act it needs escalating upwards. Often this doesn't happen because it demonstrates they are impotent sometimes.

creativity & innovation diary From: Telesales Call Centre Director
Sent: 11 April 2002 09:30
Subject: RE: Feedback
David

Many thanks for forwarding this on to me. The issue raised was a major one last year, but until the last couple of weeks, we thought it had "gone away". We were made aware of it just recently when one of my Departmental Managers sat in on a team meeting, and when he asked for feedback, this particular issue was raised. So the timing of this is really no surprise.

I am now going to escalate the matter with our HR contact for our Channel. As far as the team affected by this issue is concerned, we are simply going to let them know that the matter has been raised again, though we will take care not to raise any expectations incase the outcome is not favourable for them.


creativity & innovation diary What a cool Fool!!!

For the first time in several months our voices are being heard and I now understand that our problem is at least being looked at instead of being swept under the carpet until we shouted loud enough. ... this letting off steam business seems to work; I felt better as soon as I pressed that 'send message' button.
Fool, your site has been a credit to the Company. All the best mate!!!

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