Here is an excerpt from an article written by Tom Kelley and David Kelley for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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What does it take to spark your creativity?
For Doug Dietz, the executive behind GE Healthcare’s magnetic resonance-imaging (MRI) equipment, it was seeing a little girl cry.
He remembers the day vividly. He’d come to a hospital to see one of his machines in action and was initially pleased. The scanner looked beautiful and was functioning well; the technician on duty had no complaints. But just as Dietz was about to leave, he saw a child, clearly distraught, crying and clutching her parents’ hands, terrified at the prospect of entering the MRI suite. When she couldn’t be calmed, an anesthesiologist was summoned. That’s when Dietz learned that hospitals routinely sedate young patients to get them to lie still for the procedure. The realization triggered a personal crisis. “I was so focused on the shiny object, the new features, how clever we’d been, that I missed the big picture,” he recalls. He resolved then and there to improve the MRI experience for pediatric patients.
He first shared his concerns with his boss at GE, who suggested he attend a customer-focused innovation class at Stanford’s Hasso Plassner Institute of Design, or d.school, which is where we met him. Fueled by that experience, Dietz then pulled together a small team of volunteers including childhood learning experts from a children’s museum and child life specialists from a local pediatric hospital to help him think holistically about how kids experienced the MRI technology. Soon, the group developed a prototype of what would later become the Adventure Series of GE scanners. The complex equipment inside the machine remained unchanged, but the outside, indeed the entire MRI room, was transformed with colorful decals suggesting a journey to outer space or a cruise aboard a pirate ship. The team also wrote imaginative scripts for the MRI operators so they could lead their young patients through the story — for example, telling them to listen closely for the moment that the rocket ship would “shift into hyperdrive” just before the machine makes what might otherwise be a scary, loud noise.
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Tom Kelley is the general manager of IDEO and the co-author of The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm (Crown, 2001) and The Ten Faces of Innovation (Currency/Doubleday, 2005). He is an executive fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and at the University of Tokyo. David Kelley is the founder and chairman of IDEO and the founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, where he is the Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering.
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Christine Fruechte, president and chief executive of Colle + McVoy, an ad agency in Minneapolis. She observes, “We put up all of our ideas, and they are there for everybody to see and to give feedback on.” As a result, she says, it has no room for big egos.
To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Where Ideas Are Always on the Wall
Bryant: What were some early leadership lessons for you?
Fruechte: I’m the oldest of four children, and I think my entrepreneurial spirit was instilled at a very young age. My dad worked for a lot of Fortune 500 companies, and then quit the corporate world to start his own business, a management-training consultancy, out of our house. I spent a lot of time working with him on his business — opening envelopes, stapling things — and it instilled a really strong work ethic. A lot of people say to me: “You’re from the Midwest, yet you seem to be very direct. Where does that come from?” The answer is that every night at dinner, my father’s management training consultancy kind of spilled over to the dinner table. We’d pass around feedback like we passed around the bread. We’d talk about the day, what happened and how things could have been done better.
My dad was a management training consultant by day, but he was also a magician by night. Before he would perform for the Twin Cities Magic Shop, he would perform for his family. He would say: “O.K., I’m going to try something. Tell me what you think. How can I be better?” So it was very natural. I would say, “O.K. Dad, if you do this or do that, it will be better.” And he’d say, “Great, great.” So I saw his excitement and enthusiasm for me giving him feedback.
Bryant: What was your first management role?
Fruechte: I had supervised account executives, but I think the biggest challenge for me was when I left Minneapolis for an opportunity in Honolulu. And for the first time in my life I was leading a department. I was 28 years old, and I was not really aware of what I was walking into. First of all, there was age bias. There was gender bias. And I was also from the mainland. It taught me a lot about how you have to earn respect. Just because you have a title, respect isn’t necessarily given. And it also taught me to be very direct with my expectations and how I’m here to help people achieve greatness in their role. It was really about sitting down with people one-on-one, understanding how I could help them be best at their jobs. I didn’t know what they needed, so spending that time together was really helpful.
I also just tackled a lot of the biases head-on. I would say: “What is your problem with me? Obviously I’m sensing that there’s some frustration with either me in the role, or the way that I’m managing the situation, or the way that we’re working. Help me. Tell me about it. Let’s talk about it.” I’m not going to walk on eggshells. We’re all too busy.
Bryant: Were there other early lessons for you as a manager?
Fruechte: A great lesson for me was to learn to open up more and let people get to know me, because I can be very buttoned up. And that tends to be somewhat intimidating. If you want to be approachable and if you want people to let down their guard, you have to be a bit more casual. And people want to know your personality. They want to know what you like to do on the weekend. It doesn’t need to always be about work. Learning to humanize myself as a leader was something that was really important. After that, it was a different level of engagement and interaction with my team.
Bryant: Can you share your thoughts on how you build a corporate culture?
Fruechte: An effective culture is grounded in having a collective purpose. And a culture also is deeply rooted in core values. You know what your principles are, so if you hire someone and they’re not operating by your core values, even though they may be incredibly talented, they’re going to be rejected from the culture. If you don’t act quickly, they’re not going to be healthy for the culture and it will turn cancerous very, very quickly. You have to live by the core values, and reinforce them constantly. We remind people what the core values are anytime we have agency meetings, and they’re built into our performance reviews. If you’re not living by the core values of the organization, you’re not going to be allowed to advance.
Bryant: What are those values?
Fruechte: One is integrity. I have a very short fuse for anyone who is not going to operate with high integrity. If they step over that line and start to do things that are suspect when it comes to ethics, they’re out immediately. And yes, I have terminated people very, very quickly, and it’s a very easy decision to make for me because I’m not willing to compromise when it comes to that.
Another core value is entrepreneurial passion, and a third one is collaboration, and they kind of go together. To be successful in our environment you have to be an entrepreneur and you have to have passion for the business, and you have to be a builder and someone who wants to invent. Some people are very comfortable in a very corporate structure — they say, in effect: “I do this, this is the only part of my job, I’ve never done that, that’s kind of scary, that’s someone else’s, someone else should figure that out.” That’s not to say that’s good or bad, but you will not thrive here unless you have the mind-set or DNA of entrepreneurial passion and are constantly trying to figure new things out.
Collaboration is a word that’s overused a lot, but we do practice . it. Our offices are completely open, and all of our work is posted on the wall. So if you’ve got a big ego, leave it on the elevator because the creative business is a very vulnerable business. We put up all of our ideas, whether they are strategic, digital, media, and they are there for everybody to see and to give feedback on.
You have to have a lot of confidence in the notion that the endgame is the best idea. It’s not about whether you look good, or are the smartest person in the room. Every idea, every project that we’re working on is basically all on the open wall. So if I’m gone for a week, I can come back and literally walk along the walls and catch up on the majority of everything we’re doing. People will rewrite headlines. People will say we need ideas for this or that. People will submit. We post it all up there. And then you don’t know whose ideas they are. You just start circling the ideas that you think achieve the objectives.
Bryant: What else?
Fruechte: “Creative” is not a department at our agency. We expect it from everyone within the organization. You aren’t just defined by one little role. We’re all defined by really trying to create standout ideas. And we also expect insightful thinking. And that means always having a point of view. I don’t care if you’re the receptionist, or if you are a new copywriter, you have to have a point of view about anything. It’s not just about shiny objects or the latest and the greatest products, it’s about how they add value to human behavior. And you have to be very, very insightful to uncover that.
The other thing that I really try to foster is a grass-roots culture, so people can feel empowered that they have ideas of how to enrich the culture. One copywriter asked if the company could offer interest-free financing for bikes. Within 15 minutes we said, new policy — bike financing program — and we talked about it at our next all-agency meeting. You have to celebrate those victories to encourage more people to look for more opportunities to do things like that.
Bryant: How did you come up with the core values?
Fruechte: There was a core group of about 12 individuals, but we vetted the ideas with the people who would be living them every day as well. It’s not just about the words, but it’s also about defining what the words mean, because if you say “creativity” or if you say “collaboration,” you can define them a lot of different ways. We actually conducted internal focus groups as we refined the core values. Talk to us, we said. Push back. What are we not thinking about? How else should we describe it? What can make it more accurate? Is this real or is this not real?
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his new book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.
The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm
The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization
Thomas Kelley and Joinathan Littman
The Executive’s Compass: Business and the Good Society
How to create and then deliver new or better products and services
This is one of the volumes in a series of anthologies of articles that first appeared in HBR. In this instance, its ten articles focus on one or more components of a process by which to inspire and then execute breakthrough innovation. Having read all of the articles when they were first published individually, I can personally attest to the brilliance of their authors’ (or co-authors’) insights and the eloquence with which they are expressed. Two substantial value-added benefits should also be noted: If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be at least $60-75; they are now conveniently bound in a single volume and for a fraction of that cost.
Here in Dallas, there is a Farmers Market near the downtown area at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples. I now provide what follows in that spirit.
In “Innovation’s Holy Grail,” C.K. Prahalad and R.A. Mashelkar use the term “Ghandian” innovation because, “at the core of this type of innovation lie two of the Mahatma’s tenets: ‘I would prize every invention of science made for the benefit of all’ and ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s reed’…Ghandian innovators solve problems in two ways: by acquiring or developing technologies and by altering business models or capabilities.”
In “The Customer-Centered Innovation Map,” Lance A. Bettencourt and Anthony W. Ulwick suggest that all jobs have the same eight tasks. To use job mapping, look for opportunities to help customers at every step.” They are:
1. Define: Determine their goals and plan resources
2. Locate: Gather items and information needed for the job
3. Prepare: Set up the environment to do the job
4. Confirm: Verify that they’re ready to perform the job
5. Execute: Carry out the job
6. Monitor: Assess whether the job is being successfully executed
7. Modify: Make alterations to improve execution
“Because problems can occur at many points in the process, nearly all jobs also require a problem resolution step. Some steps are more critical than others, depending on the job, but each is necessary to get the job done. Successfully.”
In “Innovation: The Classic Traps,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter identifies and then rigorously discusses eight (8) common mistakes that must be replaced by the “potent remedies” she recommends. The mistakes are:
• Rejecting opportunities that at first glance appear too small
• Assuming that only new products count – not new services or improved processes
• Launching too many minor product extensions that confuse customers and increase external complexity
• Strangling innovation with the same tight planning, budgeting, and reviews applied to existing businesses
• Rewarding managers for doing only what they committed to do – and discouraging them from making changes as circumstances warrant
• Isolating fledgling and established enterprises in separate silos
• Creating two classes of corporate citizens – those who have all the fun (innovators) and those who must make the money (mainstream business managers)
• Allowing innovators to rotate out of teams so quickly that team chemistry can’t gel
• Assuming that innovation teams should be led by the best technical people
Two by Thomas Kelley with Jonathan Littman:
The Art of Innovation
The Ten Faces of Innovation
and two more recently published books:
The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge
Vijay-Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
Innovation to the Core: A Blueprint for Transforming the Way Your Company Innovates
Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson
One of our unique services at Creative Communication Network is our ability to offer training on important topics based upon the information that we derive from books that we present at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
We call these Crash Courses, and you can look for the first offering, focusing upon Change and Innovation very soon. Don’t miss the opportunity to register for this first course. We will send an e-mail to you that announces the date, time, location, and method for registraiton.
In these Crash Courses, we take principles from several best-sellers on a particular topic and transform these into skill-based activities, facilitated discussions, assessments, and self-reflection. You won’t find anything else like them anywhere. We are putting the final touches on this first course right now.
We have two major components in our first course on Change and Innovation, with these objectives:
Part One: Creative Thinking
Objective 1: Identify strategies to actively seek out and hire people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles
Objective 2: Explore steps to effectively manage resistance to novel or experimental proposals
Part Two: Demonstrate how to develop processes, products, and services.
Objective 1: Describe how to evaluate new opportunities unconstrained by existing paradigms but keeping an eye towards organizational goals
Objective 2: Identify and describe steps to maintain the organization’s competitive edge with breakthrough solutions and disciplined risks.
In this Change and Innovation course, we draw upon principles from these books that we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and others:
Kelley, T., Littman, J., & Peters, T. (2001). The art of innovation (lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm). New York: Doubleday.
Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The ten faces of innovation : IDEO’s strategies for defeating the devil’s advocate and driving creativity throughout your organization. New York: Currency/Doubleday.
Mauzy, J., & Harriman, R. A. (2003). Creativity Inc.: Building an inventive organization. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Sutton, R. I. (2002). Weird ideas that work: 11-1/2 practices for promoting, managing, and sustaining innovation. New York: Free Press.
Tharp, T. (2003). The creative habit: Learn it and use it for life. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Look for information about this course really soon!
We hope you make plans to join us.
After having read and reviewed so many business books, I now share brief comments about what I consider to be the 25 most valuable business insights and the books in which they are either introduced or (one man’s opinion) best explained. Here are second five:
6. Customer Evangelism: Satisfaction is determined per transaction; loyalty is determined by sustainable satisfaction; zealotry occurs only when customers say “Yes!” to this question posed by Fred Reicheld: “Would you strongly recommend us to a friend, neighbor, or colleague?”
Best Sources: Fred Reichheld’s The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth and Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force co-authored by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba.
7. EDNA: This is an acronym I devised long ago when I began to teach English at Kent School in Connecticut.
Exposition (i.e. expose, reveal, open up, reveal) explains with information.
Description makes vivid with compelling images.
Narration explains a sequence and/or tells a story
Argumentation convinces with logic and/or evidence
Effective communication relies on mastery of one or more of these four.
Best Sources: Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition) and Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High co-authored by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
8. Employee Engagement: Recent research indicates that, on average, less than 30% of a workforce in the U.S. is actively and positively engaged. The others are either passively engaged (i.e. mailing it in) or actively disengaged (subversive and toxic). Increase active and positive engagement by (a) convincing workers that they and what they do are appreciated, (b) making crystal clear what expectations of them are and how their performance will be measured, (c) earning and sustaining their trust and respect by setting an with what you say (both verbally and non-verbally) and with what you do.
Best Sources: Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth co-authored by Brian M. Carney and Isaac Getz, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Edward M. Hallowell’s Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, and The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win co-authored by Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich.
9. Innovation: In essence, innovation achieves improvement of what already exists and that could include almost anything (e.g. an idea, assumption, theory and strategy as well as a product, process, or behavior). Almost anything can be improved and almost anyone can do that by embracing that challenge and pursuing that opportunity.
Best Sources: Tom Kelley’s The Idea of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation (both co-authored with Jonathan Littman) as well as Steve Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and Henry Chesbrough’s Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology
10. Lean: The concept of “less is more” can be dated back at least to ancient Greece. In a business context, its core concept is elimination of whatever is wasteful such as a production process that consumes too much time and effort as well as raw materials, one that results in omissions, duplications, redundancies, and flaws. Albert Einstein probably said it best: “Make everything as simple as possible…but no simpler.”
Best Sources: James Womack’s Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated and Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together, both co-authored with Daniel T. Jones
Note: You may also wish to check out Most Valuable Business Insights: 1-5.
Here’s the quote:
There’s an old adage in Hollywood that “directing is 90 percent casting.” Great Directors build a team of people who need little direction and can lead by example themselves.
The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
Here’s my comment:
Companies need self-starters, who can and do set the good/right/effective example in a multitude of ways. This is who you look for when you are ready to hire your next person.
Here is my take on what Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson learned during a lengthy and probing study of the Pixar culture:
1. Celebrate failure with the same intensity as you celebrate success. View each setback as a precious learning opportunity.
2. Become a “prototype junky.” There is no project too big [or too small] to conduct a real-world test of it within a few weeks.
3. Develop your own “skunk works” within the organization. [click here.], At least form a small group and enable it to meet regularly to brainstorm how best to answer questions, solve problems, and respond to unmet needs…especially those identified by past and current customers.
4. Dream BIG. Ask team members to think of ten over-the-top, outlandish, eccentric, far-out, wacky, unheard-of, unorthodox ideas for a project.
Note: In the most innovative organizations (such as IDEO, Nike, Apple, and yes, Pixar), two quite different approaches are taken: generate lots of what Jobs calls “an insanely great idea” and then decide what to do with them, or, tackle an especially serious problem with a totally open mind.
5. Don’t cry poor. The best new ideas tend to be produced by groups whose members are world-class scroungers. External limits and constraints tend to inspire original thinking and below-the-radar initiatives.
6. Planning is OK but do not allow the process to be a distraction from achieving the desired objective. Beware of meetings and considerations devoted to “planning to plan.” General George Patton once said, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan next week.”
7. Each project is a “work in progress” so establish a planning center (perhaps online) where evidence of progress is on display. Grab low-hanging fruit” ASAP and celebrate completion of “baby steps” to reassure everyone that progress really is being made.
8. Forget about lengthy meetings, reports, analyses, etc. What’s happening NOW? Why is it happening? What more needs to be done? Who will do it? Everyone involved must have a sense of urgency. John Wooden said it best: “Be quick but don’t rush.”
9. Assume authority and do whatever must be done and done NOW. If appropriate, ask for forgiveness later. That said, be sure to do your homework, consider all the possible implications and consequences, and be prepared to explain later why the initiative you took had risks but the decision to make it was rigorously thought-through and prudent. Also be fully prepared to explained what of value was learned, especially if action was unsuccessful.
I highly recommend Capodagli and Jackson’s Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Corporate Playground, published by McGraw-Hill (2010).
The best books on brainstorming, idea generation, etc.? Check out these two:
The Idea of Innovation
The Ten Faces of Innovation
If you need additional assistance:
A Knock on the Side of the Head
A Kick in the Seat of the Pants
Roger Von Oech
Thinkertoys (Second Edition)
Jump Start Your Brain
Six Thinking Hats
Edward De Bono
I recently re-read two books written by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman, this one and The Ten Faces of Innovation. In both, Kelley provides a wealth of information and counsel which can help any decision-maker to “drive creativity” through her or his organization but only if initiatives are (a) a collaboration which receives the support and encouragement of senior management (especially of the CEO) and (b) sufficient time is allowed for those initiatives to have a measurable impact. The Art of Innovation is one of the best business books publisged in recent years, a “classic” in my opinion, but don’t be misled by the title, “Lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm.” Unlike almost all other authors of worthy books on the subject of innovative thinking, Kelley does NOT organize his material in terms of a sequence of specific “lessons”…nor does he inundate his reader with checklists, “executive summaries”, bullet points, do’s and don’ts, “key points”, etc. Rather, he shares what I guess you could characterize as “stories” based on real-world situations in which he and his IDEO associates solved various problems when completing industrial design assignments for their clients.
As he notes, “We’ve linked those organizational achievements to specific methodologies and tools you can use to build innovation into your own organization…[However, IDEO's] ‘secret formula’ is actually not very formulaic. It’s a blend of of methodologies, work practices, culture, and infrastructure. Methodology alone is not enough.” One of the greatest benefits of the book is derived from direct access to that “blend” when activated.
Characterized as “loosely described,” Kelley shares IDEO’s five-step methodology: Understand the market, the client, the technology, and the perceived constraints on the given problem; observe real people in real-life situations; literally visualize new-to-the-world concepts AND the customers who will use them; evaluate and refine the prototypes in a series of quick iterations; and finally, implement the new concept for commercialization. With regard to the last “step”, as Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman explain in Organizing Genius, Apple executives immediately recognized the commercial opportunities for PARC’s technology. Larry Tesler (who later left PARC for Apple) noted that Jobs and companions “wanted to get it out to the world.” But first, obviously, they had to create that “it.”
IDEO is quite properly renowned for the design of products such as the Apple mouse, the Palm Pilot, a one-piece fishing mechanism for children, the in-vehicle beverage holder, toothpaste tubes that don’t “gunk up” in the cap area, “mud-free” water bottles for mountain bikers, a small digital camera for the handspring Visor, and the Sun Tracker Beach Chair. However, the material in this book that interests me most is that which focuses on (a) the physical environment in which those at IDEO interact and (b) the nature and extent of that interaction, principally the brainstorm sessions.
In the Foreword, Tom Peters has this in mind when explaining why Kelley’s is a marvelous book: “It carefully walks us through each stage of the IDEO innovation process — from creating hot teams (IDEO is perpetually on `boil’) to learning to see through the customer’s eyes (forget focus groups!) and brainstorming (trust me, nobody but nobody does it better) to rapid prototyping (and nobody, but nobody does it better…).” Whatever your current situation, whatever the size and nature of your organization, surely you and it need to avoid or escape from “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Granted, you may never be involved in the creation of an “insanely great” product but Kelley can at least help you to gain “the true spirit of innovation” in your life. I join him in wishing you “some serious fun.”
Kelley is general manager of IDEO, the widely admired design and development firm that brought us the Apple mouse, Polaroid’s I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting edge products and services. He’s also written two outstanding books on innovation that share the secrets of IDEO’s success: The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm and The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Through Your Organization, both co-authored with Jonathan Littman.
Here is a brief excerpt from my interview of Kelley.
Morris: IDEO has demonstrated that the workplace environment can nourish and support breakthrough creativity and innovation. How to design such an environment? What are the essentials?
Kelley: Here are three underlying design principles that come to mind:
1) Spaces that encourage serendipity: layouts and architectural elements that encourage “accidentally” bumping into people from different parts of the company and spontaneous discussions among small groups. In some companies, that means a wide staircase between floors or a casual touchdown space in the hallway that is available for an impromptu five-minute meeting.
2) Spaces that empower people to customize and adapt them. If the protocols in your office space include a lot of restrictive rules (e.g., no decorations sticking more than four inches above the cubicle, no tape on painted surfaces, no moving desks or tables without permission from the facilities department), then don’t be surprised if those rules also restrict the flow of ideas in that space. The ideal workspace is one where you feel empowered to adapt it to your team’s workstyle and the unique circumstances of the moment—a space as flexible and easily reconfigurable as a kindergarten classroom. Putting everything on wheels would be a good start.
3) Spaces that deliberately emphasize what’s important to the organization. The right space reinforces your cultural values, which helps attract and retain the right kind of innovators to suit your unique interests. At Timberland’s headquarters in New Hampshire, the first thing you see after you get past the reception desk is the running tally of how many thousands of hours Timberland employee have donated to social causes. The social conscience of the organization is not something dreamed up by the PR department, it’s baked into the culture, and it is very evident in their space. At Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, all of the administrative offices are built around the practice space where performers work on new shows, as a constant reminder of what the business is really about. At Pixar, the workplace is as colorful and animated as the characters in their successful films.
Ever notice that the most innovative companies often have the most creative work places? Does that seem like just a coincidence? Space is a strategic tool that any company can use, but most organizations insist on treating it as a utility.
If you wish to read the entire Kelley interview, please click here.