You would have had to be living under a rock (especially if you were in Sydney) a few weeks ago if you missed Spencer Tunick’s human installation/sculpture/photography on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. He photographs thousands of naked people together in countries all over the world. He receives quite a bashing in the overseas art press for what he does with many considering what he does not ‘art’. The event was organised by the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and with a very strong message referring ‘to the sameness of individuals, regardless of their sexual preferences’. Tunick said “Gay men and women lay naked next to their straight neighbours delivered a very strong message to the world that Australians embrace a free and equal society.”
So with the massive media coverage, did Australia into buy into Tunick’s message of a free and equal society? Watching Mel and Kochy giggle like naughty primary school children on Sunrise (yes, I was watching ) and make bottom jokes all morning makes one wonder if any part of the message got across at all. Maybe not. I heard and read all sorts of commentary ranging from the work was amazing to the work was perverted. The great thing with art, as I always say to friends and family, you don’t have to like it for it to be worthwhile. Even if you hate it, it makes you think in a way you normally would not. It engages a part of your brain and heart that you most likely don’t access every day. And a heart and brain workout can only be a good thing. It makes you look at the world in a different way, if only for a minute. Long live getting naked on the steps of the Opera House….
Valuing Diversity in Organisations
I was facilitating a conference recently and heard the keynote speaker tell a great story about Australia Post and how they transformed the company and the brand 20 odd years ago. The keynote was not on innovation but provides a great insight into fostering innovation. In summary, the story went something like this.
In the mid 90’s a new CEO came to Australia Post. She had no experience in the industry but took over a business that was highly bureaucratic and losing $100+ million/year. She she asked everyone in the company from counter worker to postman what they thought could do to turn the company around. All ideas were welcome and EVERY idea would be read. What came from this? Transformational ideas. One suggestion from someone who served customers was to remove the glass that was at all of the counters as this felt very impersonal. Done. Another suggestion by a postman was to redecorate the postal shops with a bright colour schemes to make a more welcoming environment. Done. One of the delivery drivers suggested using the postal delivery vans at night when they were traditionally locked up for the night. Australia post is now the delivery vehicle for one of Australia’s largest supermarkets. Australia post’s retail network now boasts an after tax profit of $100+million/year and is a thriving success story.
The sheer diversity of people in any organisation provides a fantastic hot bed of ideas and creativity. All that is needed is the platform for those ideas to be heard and enable everyone to contribute and importantly, remembering the best ideas don’t only come from the top but from the least likely places. When was the last time you sought fresh ideas to an old problem?