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Innovation: Disperse or Congregate?
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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/23/2014 | 7:17:40 AM
Re: Innovation Challenges
I guess if they give you a set of phone cubes and they are always full it would indicate that either there is a general issue with your office plan or everyone you employ has a top secret side job.  I know in some industries it just isn't going to work but when you have sales teams that have to collaborate with other teams it helps quite a bit.  Pulling down walls between the teams that are supposed to be working together removes a lot of the communication issues.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2014 | 1:03:57 PM
Re: Innovation Challenges
@SaneIT- Yes, the open offic ei worked at also had the little phone cubes. But they were all full. they might as well have given everyone a little phone booth because so much business is done on the phone these days. I guess a lot of it depends on your job function.

But you are right. You have to balance ability to work and ability to collaborate.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 7:14:42 AM
Re: Innovation Challenges
It is a balancing act but the company I was at with the most open floor plan did a lot of business over the phone.  I can't say I'd want to have a private conversation sitting in a cubicle but we had small meeting rooms on the perimeter that could be used for that.  Companies talk about the problems with silos but then they design their office space to build those silos.  I don't think I'd do well in a floating office environment but I'm to the point with my own office that I could move just about anywhere, even the hallway and be able to do my job.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2014 | 1:02:37 PM
Re: Innovation Challenges
@SaneIT- I think you are right about hallways. I think they kill collaboration. On the other hand, I tend to think open floor plans kill productivity because of the noise. It is a tought balance.

I've worked in very open office plans where I felt it was hard ot have a phone call without disturbing people, and I've worked in my own office with a closed door and realized a whole day went by without my talking to another soul. I'm sure there is a middle ground. Not sure where it lies.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 8:31:01 AM
Re: Innovation Challenges
The way most office spaces are built just add to this issue.  I can only think of one company I worked for where everyone mingled at company functions or at lunch time and I think that the building layout had a lot to do with it.  There were no hallways, just one big open space with offices around the outside.  Everyone who did not have a position that came with an office sat in the open space and there was no real division based on department.  Members of certain departments did tend to be close to the CFO's office but there were HR folks and IT folks mixed in that area as well.  Everyone got to know everyone else because there weren't any walls to hide behind.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/18/2014 | 11:35:40 AM
Re: Very True
@Lorna- You are right. It can be done. And you display the kind of effort it takes. Many internal wikis have been created, punded down the throats of emplooyees, and then died after millions were spent trying to make that easier. 

If anyone wants to make a difference in their company they could come up with a way to pair people with ideas and the ability to execute those ideas so people don't need to keep the type of lists you do.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/18/2014 | 11:32:50 AM
Re: Innovation Challenges
@jastro- I might be naive, but I think there's no reason different types of job functions won't sit together in the cafeteria if they mingle differently from the beginning. People tend to mingle with their teams because they sit together and they get to know each other. If we build teams and seating differently, we'll learn we're a lot more alike than people think. 

OK, here endeth my message of peace and understanding. :)
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/18/2014 | 11:30:23 AM
Very True
As a longtime telecommuter, the concept of idea vs. follow-through rings very true. I often have to resort to a cheat sheet culled from the org chart to know who outside my group to ask about projects, just because I have no faces connected to names. So it stands to reason that it's a challenge to pull together a diverse team.

It can be done -- we turn plenty of ideas into reality. A prime example is the Women in IT focus at the recent Interop show. But it takes effort. 
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
6/18/2014 | 11:07:27 AM
Innovation Challenges
@dave – great article, and you've covered all the arguments re:  on-site and remote work and then some

To your idea >> Have more cross-functional team meetings

I'm going to expand to: have standing cross-functional working groups and teams – on site and remote.

Because engineers won't ever site with marketers in the cafeteria, or the other way around. They don't know each other and have no reason to.

But, getting people from different groups together working on products and services on a regular basis makes them true co-workers, and not working in a silo. Change group composition every year, and make sure nobody is left out, from the bottom of the food chain to the top – everyone contributes.

The challenge is making the group work together – finding the right keys to stimulate thinking and to balance ideas, while keeping it all on track. The results can be really valuable


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