These words were used to describe me over 12 months ago, mid-way through a SAM engagement for a global client. I might have shrugged off such a comment; however this statement came from my boss at the time. So whilst I felt disappointed that I wasn’t (in their eyes) the embodiment of commercial acumen, it did get me thinking – what is corporate?
I spent just under 8 years in the Royal Navy wearing a uniform kept to almost surgical standards of husbandry; I marched with, and saluted, individuals whose charm and personality could reverse the effects of global warming in the Arctic – and I spent a lot of time struggling with outmoded traditions that were accepted as Standard Operating Procedures because no one took the time to re-think better ways of operating – I got out!
I learnt much from my time in the RN, but “life in a blue suit” was not my calling.
Fast-forward more years than I care to admit, and I am no longer working for the RN, or for the ex-boss who said I wasn’t corporate – and you know what? I am happier now than I have ever been.
And I believe the reason is I keep asking “why?”- As a SAM consultant with a heavy reliance on the process aspect of life, I consistently see routines develop and become entrenched into the corporate psyche; and so as a corporate individual I might not be expected to challenge the way things are; but rather accept them and salute as I do so.
However, process-improvement is about change and hopefully change for the better, and so asking “Why?” is the foundation of analysis and hopefully process-improvement.
“I’m not corporate” will happily be the first tattoo I ever get (once I get the bicep to do it justice!)
And so, before I depart the office for the gym/tattoo parlour, this is how I introduce “Why?” into process improvement: