Space affects moods. A beautiful space can make people happy; a small cramped office can make them feel depressed. But more important, space also affects behaviors and communication. Open space offices allow an easier flow of communication among team members and can convey a strong feeling of belonging, but they also can make it harder to focus. Separate offices allow for more privacy and concentration but can easily create silos that separate people and teams. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you need to be ready to manage space not only from a budgetary standpoint but also from the perspective of what it is your creative teams actually need in order to be creative and to deliver the level of innovation your company needs. To achieve this, some companies will have to literally give away space–that is, to sacrifice space for its positive impact on the environment, the company culture and ultimately the creative output.
Office space is an expensive commodity, especially in the world’s most competitive markets, and historically offices have been designed and furnished to maximize administrative efficiency and minimize facility costs (private offices only for senior executives, “cube farms” for lower-ranking personnel). But today companies are looking at efficiency differently, and consequently they are looking at space differently. They are looking for ways to maximize the creative output of their employees, and from that viewpoint the most efficient use of space is one that supports creative interactions. For example, Pixar’s California headquarters–where bathrooms, mailboxes, and meeting rooms are clustered at the center of the building–are designed to ensure that employees from different divisions of the company are certain to run into each other throughout the day. This facilitates informal and random conversations among diverse team members and allows creative ideas and collaborations to be born. I once had a client who wanted to close off an open space in their New York City offices; I struggled hard to convince them otherwise. The company needed more private meeting rooms. Moving out of their existing facility was not an option, nor was renting another floor, so the president of the company wanted to build elegant glass walls to enclose what in his opinion was wasted space.
My observation was quite different. The open space, which offered an inviting round table nestled by a large staircase, was the only place in the office where different members of the product development team would spontaneously sit to discuss their projects. Account managers would stop there after coming back from client meetings to share the latest developments about those clients and their projects. In other words, it was the perfect spot for informal communication and feedback loops. In the end, the precious open space was saved in spite of financial pressures.
How can your workspace benefit by creating places for accidental encounters or informal meetings?
My advice to any executive who has decided to take on an accelerated path to innovation and sustainable growth is to resist the temptation to systematically seek immediate financial results and short-term solutions. To go beyond business as usual, and to reach truly innovative solutions, you need to shift your focus from financial profitability to sustainable value creation. The financial logic is exact but not very conducive to imagination. The concept of sustainable value opens our business reflections and strategies to new horizons. To make deeper and better decisions, you need imagination, patience, and open mind, and tolerance for ambiguity and confusion.
This calls for a new awareness. It requires us to balance our faith in logic with the secular wisdom of instinct. In doing so, we will need to tap into our intuition, an attribute of the feminine part of our psyche. Intuition opens up new possibilities to feed the masculine part in us, which is ruled and often restricted by the logical mind. And that is the message of Intuitive Intelligence: anything is possible when the feminine and masculine energies join to cooperate creatively, where improbable solutions can come to our rescue.
In our postmodern age we are still not used to the discomfort of the unknown, the demands of the feminine, and the fact that we are not in control. But with determination, courage,and faith we can surrender to another belief system, one that enables us to overcome our fear and escape the deadening impact of our need for control. As is the case with any creative journey, we have no guarantee of success, and no one can show us the way, because the way is unique for each one of us. But we can receive guidance from the part of ourselves that knows better–the intuitive voice of feminine wisdom–and finally find our way out of control mode into a novel clarity and a deeper relationship with life.
Just as it always is for the mythical hero, the path we’re facing is filled with challenges and unknown factors. However, we can choose to look at these challenges as parts of a creative process: the process of evolution. And we can rely on Intuitive Intelligence to help with decision making and creative problem solving in these unpredictable times. It will provide unexpected creative answers, which will feel like magic to us because we cannot always explain them. In this particular time of many unprecedented challenges we have a unique opportunity to engage and be taught in new ways.
There are many real-life successful examples in the business world that prove there is a plausible route beyond conventional logic. This will always require a leap of faith, but the leap can be an educated one. We need to rethink the way we think. We need reinitialize our thinking program in light of a new scientific understanding of the power of instinct and play and the quantum laws of matter, which show the paradox of our limited individuality within the holistic force of our interdependence and an unlimited number of possibilities. In this new world view, power has to be reconsidered, money deconstructed and reconstructed into its real purpose: the prosperity of all. We’re called to move on. No time to waste. A new generation is already there, and we can all do it. Together we can create a more meaningful, more prosperous, and more balanced world, It requires some adjustments and faith, but it is possible.
The Lakota people have a saying: “It is not about peace on earth but peace with earth.” When we observe nature, we see how everything and everyone in nature contributes to the whole; that nothing can exist without the others, the conflict, tension, destruction, complexity, and mystery are also part of it; and that the sum of it all is the most mystifying system we could ever imagine and learn from.
Whereas the traditional business model was solely about profit, the new business model is about sustainable value creation. In the old economic paradigm, we typically used hierarchical power structures and fear to achieve dominance. In the new economic paradigm, successful businesses leverage collaboration and cooperation into a competition for significance, such as offering value to all the people who are involved, directly or indirectly, with your business activities. When you deliver substantial value to all of your communities, profitability follows naturally. The following questions will help you understand the focus of your business model.
Is your business strategy profit-centric or based on sustainable value creation?
Do you believe that sustainable value is beneficial to all of your stakeholders?
Are you looking at short-term or long-term sustainable value creation to measure the impact of your decisions?
Are you spending enough time anticipating where technology is going and how it will affect your business?
Are you capable of designing totally new product line tailored to untapped consumer groups, including developed market nonusers and emerging market new consumers?
After you’ve answered these questions, you should understand whether your business model is focused narrowly on dollars and cents profit, or if it is focused broadly on value creation.
"So what BP's mistake is revealing is that all our human operations and our system of wealth creation need to be reconsidered when it comes to oceans preservation."
The tragedy in the Gulf continues. By now we’ve all seen the horrendous images of seabirds, fish, dolphins, and other forms of aquatic life – dead or dying, helpless as they slither about covered in oil, an agonizing sight for all the world to see. We’ve seen the Cajun shrimpers bemoan the loss of their lifestyle, and we are witnessing a slow, lingering devastation – as the sea itself seems to be gasping for breath. Read More →
"The "Intuitive Intelligence" conference I put together for HEC MBA has become one of the top global downloads for iTunes U."
iTunes U gathers more than 250,000 free podcasts of lectures, films, interviews from 600 prestigious universities and institutions from all over the world. The weekly statistics provided by Apple, routinely show 60,000 to 70,000 visitors. Read More →
"At the core, Roberts challenges the hubris of viewing all society's problems through the lens of innovation."
Hats off to Grist‘s David Roberts for putting together a thought-provoking line of thinking in Why Bill Gates is wrong. And no, he’s not talking about Bing.
At the core, Roberts challenges the hubris of viewing all society’s problems through the lens of innovation. Read More →
"As we well know innovations comes from executives' ability to generate new ideas. But idea generating does not follow a linear path! Studies show that on the average an executive generates 80% of his daily value in 20% of his or her time at work."
A while back, I published a short article on the strategic role of Human Resources in the new economy. The article: Le rôle stratégique des DRH dans les 10 ans à venir is in French, but since I get so many requests to talk about this issue, I’ve translated it here for you. The main point I’m making is that in today’s disruptive economic climate, HR can and must become a critical differentiator.
The strategic role of Human Resources in the coming years
To generate creative added value is one of the surest ways for companies to win in the global competition today. Innovation is the new imperative. Read More →
"They make the point we have been making at The Human Company for some time now: only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. "
In their recent article Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation [Harvard Business Review September 2009], Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami argue that sustainability isn’t a burden on the bottom line; instead, they make the case that going green can lower costs and increase revenues.
They make the point we have been making at The Human Company for some time now: only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. Corporate sustainability does not bloom without effort, however, and the authors describe a 4-phase maturity model for the process:
In our experience, we find most that far too many companies view sustainability as a “corporate social responsibility” and not as an engine for growth.
Let’s call this STAGE 0: GreenWashing – paying lip-service to sustainability. In this phase,companies view sustainability as a PR exercise, as a community building initiative, but they let it fall far of its true potential. For them, this is corporate citizenship, not competitive advantage.
At this phase, we also see that there is no accountability for sustainability. Often, it is the CEO’s job. This is a cop-out of course, but the data is clear:
To add insult to injury, the next step often ends up with the “coronation” of a corporate “sustainability officer” – which again is simply the wrong approach.
Fortunately there are examples of companies that are using intuitive intelligence to challenge their traditional assumptions and create real solutions for lowering costs, eliminating waste, creating new products and services, and even changing their global business models.
Wal-Mart, for example has taken the greening of its supply chain very seriously. The release of data on its scorecard for the environmental
friendliness of its vendors’ product packaging, is a clear, measurable initiative which is already impacting over 2000 suppliers.
The Wal-Mart scorecard evaluates the “green quotient” of product packaging based a number of attributes, such as:
Greenhouse gas emissions related to production
Product to packaging ratio
Recycled content usage
The amount of renewable energy used to manufacture the packaging
The recovery value of the raw materials and emissions related to transportation of the packaging materials.
Wal-Mart also announced plans for an
similar scorecard for their electronics suppliers in 2008. Criteria for the electronics scorecard includes:
End-of- life solutions
Size of the package containing the product
to use innovative materials that reduce the amount of hazardous
substances, such as lead and cadmium, contained in the product
Then there’s GE. Of course, we’ve all seen their “ecomagination” campaigns on TV and print, but they have have taken that all important real step to transforming their product innovation process in ways that can only be described as radical.
Instead of appointing a GE Tsar of sustainability, Jeffrey Immelt brought in Professor Vijay Govindaran as their Chief Innovation Consultant. His job, to work with specific divisions to identify real opportunities for global products and services.
The approach they created “reverse innovation,” is outlined in How GE is Disrupting Itself(Harvard Business Review, October 2009). VG describes their thinking as follows:
Why does intuitive intelligence help you think in sustainable terms?
The answer is very simple.
Our instinct is responsible for the survival of our species. We can reasonably say that human instinct is pretty reliable because it’s helped us survive successfully for thousands of years.
Our modern thinking, however, relies on our analytical intelligence. It’s brought along the prowess of the scientific mind. The problem with this approach is that without genius scientific thinking can be very linear and very exclusive – to the point that it excludes our instinct not complying with reason.
Intuitive Intelligence blends our analytical mind with our instinctual aptitudes. Necessarily, it brings balance to our thinking. The Intuitive Compass™ facilitates sustainable business thinking and helps us design sustainable business models.
Intuitive Intelligence can be learned and developed, provided we accept that today most of us are not thinking but simply being logical, we can open up to this new mindset.
Why is it necessary to use intuitive intelligence?
Because we will not be able to solve current problems with the outdated way of analytical thinking that created these exact problems.
We face a sustainability imperative. We have to develop and use an intelligence that can think in sync with our ecosystems – in other words an intelligence that understands and respects the creative process of life.
All great scientists recognize that the history of our universe is the consequence of a number of fundamentals laws explained by science as well as a long series of unexplained accidents. Logic alone cannot explain everything. The same goes for business.
In order to help you engage the creativity of your teams, in order to inspire long lasting respectful relationship with consumers, in order to design innovative, sustainable and profitable business models, in order to lead organizations into a successful and sustainable future we developed an original model: The Intuitive Compass™.
How does the Intuitive Compass™ help companies achieve breakthroughs in sustainable innovation?
We use the The Intuitive Compass™ as a tool to assess and
chart progress as companies (and executives) learn to harness intuitive
intelligence in four key areas:
Strategy: how to employ
intuitive intelligence to create sustainable, innovative business
models which deliver real value to customers in their local environment.
Leadership: the transformative power of intuitive intelligence energizes and builds movements – with clarity of vision and purpose.
Work Culture: the ecosystem health of your business culture is reflected in your bottom line results. The Intuitive Compass™ helps create the open culture you need to succeed in the intelligent economy.
Consumer Needs: map your customers needs and wants using The Intuitive Compass™ – creating a value innovation agenda for your customers.
We help companies and leaders get a “southwest” perspective, and focus on creating sustainable value. Our mantra: sustainable business is a the core of future business success.