MC of Events
Over the last few years there has been the ‘great debate’ around the water cooler in every office, as to whether the ‘open plan office’ is a cost saving measure by management or, a clumsy way of getting workers to increase communication and collaboration. In more recent years, the debate has shifted to businesses creating areas and work spaces for people to collaborate in order to improve efficiency and project outcomes.
Interestingly, out of this early debate came the problem-solving technique that states, brainstorming seems like an ideal technique, a feel-good way to boost productivity. But there is a problem with brainstorming. It doesn't work.
Scientific advances have lead to a situation where all the remaining problems are incredibly hard. Researchers are forced to become increasingly specialised, because there's only so much information one mind can handle. And they have to collaborate, because the most interesting mysteries lie at the intersection of disciplines. "A hundred years ago, the Wright brothers could build an airplane all by themselves," says Ben Jones, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, at
The larger lesson is that the increasing complexity of human knowledge, coupled with the escalating difficulty of those remaining questions, means that people must either work together or fail alone.
Exposure to unfamiliar perspectives can foster creativity.
Debate, rather than brainstorming, may be less pleasant but it will always be more productive...because the power of dissent is the power of surprise.
Criticism allows people to dig below the surface of the imagination and come up with collective ideas that aren't predictable. And recognising the importance of conflicting perspectives in a group raises the issue of what kinds of people will work together best.
The best research is consistently produced when scientists work within ten metres of each other. "If you want people to work together effectively, you need to create architectures that support frequent, physical, spontaneous interactions," says Isaac Kohane, a researcher at
How to become a Network Linchpin
A new generation of laboratory architecture has tried to make chance encounters more likely to take place, and this trend has spread in the business world.
Since all the work in every business is done through relationships, it makes great sense to utilise technology to allow people to connect and collaborate easily and effectively.
Understanding and facilitating these relationships, which flow through a web of professional networks and across functional boundaries, allows employees to create productive change. And since competition is a matter of relations, the company’s ability to structure and control the process of securing productive relationships will determine success in the marketplace.
The best meetings happen by accident, in the hallway or the nearby local cafe. So consider, to become the network linchpin of your work group, a very good place for your open-door office location is the one closest to the rest rooms!
When the composition for the work group is right - enough people with different perspectives running into one another in unpredictable ways - the group dynamic will take care of itself. Although such conversations will occasionally be unpleasant, that doesn't mean that they can be avoided.
The most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.
With assistance and thanks, Coach2Coach newsletter, February 14, 2012.