Creating Community

The most expensive part of a workplace is the salary of the person who occupies it.

(Kevin Kampschroer, Director, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, General Services Administration)

Woman at desk

I am optimistic that the facilities world is gradually getting beyond purely physical measurements of workplace efficiency (eg, cost per square foot, square feet per occupant); we are in the early stages of learning to look at the relationship between workplace design and the employee experience, which is what ultimately drives organizational effectiveness.

At IFMA’s World Workplace conference in New Orleans in September I was pleased to hear David Karpook, Nancy Johnson Sanquist, and Joe Harris of Manhattan Software/Trimble discuss their research on “Workplace as Experience.” Drawing on The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, David, Nancy, and Joe educated all of us in attendance about just how powerful an impact place has on people.

And then my appreciation of how important that impact is rose several more notches when I heard Kristine Woolsey of Carrier-Johnson+Culture talk about the connection between workplaces and communities at the recent WorkTech14 summit in San Francisco. I was so impressed with Kristine’s insights that I invited her to meet and share her perspectives with my Talking About Tomorrow conversation group a few weeks later. Read more

Driving Strategic Conversations

Eisenhower on planning

(photo: FEMA Mgt. Institute)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
(Dwight Eisenhower)

All too often as executive teams attempt to develop visions of the future and define strategic plans for growth and profitability, they descend into arguments focused on differing predictions about the economy, or technology, or the workforce.

Or they become distracted by “bright shiny objects” like powerful new technologies (driverless cars, voice recognition, holographic distributed meetings – you know what I mean) that may be fascinating but usually have little to do with their own business.

Like so many other areas of organizational leadership, developing new kinds of conversations and new forms of inquiry about the future are critical components of organizational leadership.

Historically, strategic planning was all about focusing an organization’s attention on a particular marketplace and ensuring that it had the operational capabilities to compete effectively in that market segment. And today most strategic plans continue to make explicit assumptions about future trends, estimated probabilities, and include educated guesses about what’s going to happen.

However, in today’s highly volatile and unpredictable world, assuming any kind of predictability in the marketplace can be fatal. Traditional strategic planning is worse than useless when dealing with the uncertainties of today’s economy. Indeed, I believe that traditional thinking about the future, as if it were actually singular, and knowable, is downright dangerous. Read more

Moving a Mountain (of people)

Imagine this: you are the head of workplace services for a large high-tech firm that has just been acquired by Google (that’s the good news).

Here’s the tough part: you are responsible for a major suburban campus facility that houses about 2,000 employees and you’ve just been told that your immediate task is to build out several floors of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to replace that suburban campus – and to persuade that entire workforce to begin spending about 90 minutes every morning and evening commuting between their homes and downtown.

As Stephen Monaco, Head of Global Real Estate and Workplace Experience for Motorola Mobility, described his experience carrying out that assignment, he began by observing: Read more

Make Your Meetings More Meaningful

BizMeeting 000018482966XSmallHow often have you walked into a corporate meeting wondering why you were there? Or walked out angrily after wasting an hour getting absolutely nothing done?

As a good friend said recently, “Meetings are the bane of our existence.” And if you want to generate universal consensus, just make a comment about how horrible most meetings are.

What’s going on? In my experience there are two major shortcomings in the way most meetings are handled. And I’ve developed a four-question checklist to help me and my clients turn meetings into productive, energizing experiences.

Read more

Telling isn’t Teaching

A lecture is a process in which the notes of the professor become the notes of the student – without passing through the minds of either one.

– Immanuel Kant

ceo speaker

The most energizing experience I ever had as a teacher was many years ago at an IBM customer executive seminar, held at IBM’s development center in the bucolic hills near the Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York City. It was part of a five-day program called “The President’s Class.”

The course was designed to expose senior IT executives to the kinds of issues their presidents faced. IBM brought in a different Harvard professor each day to cover a single topic – marketing, finance, operations, HR, government relations, and so on. Each time we taught the course there were about 40 IBM customer executives and an equal number of IBM sales personnel in attendance.

My topic that day was leading large-scale organizational change. I taught two 90-minute classes in the morning, using Harvard Business School case studies. The well-known HBS “method” was to engage the class participants in an open, wide-ranging conversation about the decisions facing the protagonists in the case story.

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Bring Out the Blue Chairs

Conference RoomPlace matters. Last week I focused on the way most of us knowledge workers are moving around from one workplace to another, finding “the place just right” for getting our work done.

Sometimes we need a quiet place, sometimes we want to engage with colleagues in an informal lounge-like area, while other times we attend meetings with either focused group decision-making or open-ended brainstorming agendas. Each of those activities works best in a different physical setting.

Okay, that makes sense. But how does the design of the workspace affect your mood, your creativity, your ability to concentrate? More importantly, how does place impact conversation? And how does a change of place change a conversation?

Read more

White Paper: “Enhancing Employee Productivity and Quality of Life with Big Data”

click here to download a pdf version of the full report]

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 8.39.21 AMOrganizations today have an unprecedented ability to capture data about both their facilities and their workforce’s activities. However, while FM professionals hear a great deal about smart buildings and how Big Data supports facilities management, there seems to be far less attention being paid to smart behaviors and almost nothing to smart management. [continue reading...]

White Paper: “Flexible Work: Rhetoric and Reality”

[click here to download a pdf version of the full report]

White paper sponsored and originally published by Citrix Online in December 2011

FlexibleWork Rhetoric and Reality

Old habits die hard. Even with all the hype, publicity, and discussion about how we’re now living in a world where people can work “any time, any place,” our research suggests that reality for many knowledge workers continues to lag well behind that vision of ultimate workplace flexibility. [continue reading...]

White Paper: “The Future of Business Collaboration”

[click here to download a pdf version of the full report]

Sponsored by Citrix Online; published in November 2011

The Future of Business Collaboration

There are two things we know without question about the future of work:  it will require significantly more collaboration, and it will be dramatically more distributed. But what really matters is that these two trends are in direct conflict with each other. [continue reading...]