Clearing the Air

Greetings.  We've just arrived in Sweden for our annual pilgrimage to the land of Vikings, Nobel Prizes, marinated fish, universal healthcare and blond people.  On the way here we changed planes in Frankfurt–a large and busy airport connecting flights and people from around the globe.  And it was interesting to see how many of these people either enjoy or are addicted to smoking.  So many, in fact, that the airport authority, in collaboration with the very wonderful people at Camel, have created an amazing number of "smoking zones"–clearly an attempt to allow this group of customers to smoke while maintaining a somewhat "smoke-free" environment for the remaining customers.  And it was even more amazing to see that these zones included a lovely sign that says "inspiring creativity since 1913."  

How's that for trying to rebrand a company and product that might not be major contributors to improving life on the planet.

Not being a smoker I can only imagine how delightful it must be to light one up in one of these "creativity" chambers, surrounded by so many strangers with whom have at least one thing in common.  And I can also only imagine the number of remarkable ideas that have been generated by people stretching their minds in such a concentrated and smoke-filled environment.

But as I looked at these smoke-filled rooms I couldn't help wondering about all of our companies and organizations and how often we not only allow, but condone, bad habits.  Habits that hamper innovation and collaboration, and work to suck the air out of the room whenever an employee or team of employees suggests some very new or different way of doing the things that matter most.  And how often corporate cultures conspire to resist new people and new ideas by putting up smoke that drives us to continuing the same behaviors and ways of thinking we've always had in the name of conformity parading as progress.  Or how we put up smokescreens in the hope of avoiding difficult issues and difficult questions.  

Because it's better to get another fix than to rethink the way we do things. 

Camel Station

We win in business and in life when we take the time to clear the air in our companies and organizations.  And when we give everyone the real opportunity to have a fresh start in bringing new ideas forward.


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