Subtle Anarchy

In any organization – if you’ve been there for a while or are brand new – there aren’t many ways you can get away with introducing some change, shaking things up a little, and get away with it. Here are some stealthy, subtle ways to bring in a little healthy anarchy (they get progressively riskier) …

  • For recurring meetings, make a point of sitting in a different chair every time. People like to maintain the status quo, which often manifests itself by sitting in the same chair every time. Watch – notice how people always pick the same seat in those weekly status meetings? So … just arrive a little early next time, and sit in a new chair, one that someone else always sits in. Hilarity ensures as people come in, see their favorite chair occupied, but are too polite to say something about an ostensibly minor thing …
  • Another funny during meetings – if your neighbor is rocking their chair, you start rocking yours to a slightly different cadence. Try to be unobtrusive – this works great when they are engaged in the meeting and paying attention … they will subconsciously sense the difference and change their own rhythm to match yours. Fascinating …
  • Corporate templates for Power Points – make some tweaks and personalize these to fit your style. Now, this one is dangerous, because “good looking” “effective” “elegant” design elements are fairly subjective, and you should be pretty darn confident and correct in your changes, or this will backfire (ie. don’t make it look worse)! Also, you have to be fairly subtle .. don’t change the whole color scheme, or switch fonts from serif to sans serif. A typical corporate mistake is a too-big logo in the corner – try reducing the size by 10-15%, and re-positioning it.
  • Blackberries and iPaqs and most any PDAs come complete with time-wasting games. If I am really feeling on-the-ball, or I’m monitoring a meeting but not super-critical path or a key contributor, I have been known to play games. It sounds insane, I know, but I found that it actually helps me concentrate, because my mind does not wander as I listen to other folks talk. Let’s face it – it can be difficult to concentrate 100% on what everyone else is talking about – sometimes you are sitting there not listening, but waiting for your turn to speak. When fiddling with the PDA, any spare brain activity is taken up with a mindless breakout game, and I actually pay better attention than if I allow my brain to start working on other problems.

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.