Every Christmas I always make sure to watch one movie in particular – Scrooged. In truth, I am a huge Bill Murray fan so any chance I get to watch one of his movies, or mention him in a blog, I absolutely take it every time! If you haven’t seen it (shame on you), Scrooged, is a modern take (or at least it used to be) on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Like every other movie, Scrooged portrays the ultimate job success as a huge office, with slick oak furniture, open fire and endless supply of Whiskey, on the top floor of a skyscraper in Manhattan. The executive office. But is it really how companies become successful? By isolating their shining stars from the rest of the staff? And is it what people really seek in a job?
In short, True Start is an innovation incubator in Victoria, designed to connect new innovative & disruptive startups with established businesses & brands, creating opportunities for everyone involved.
When I arrived at their building, the first thing I noticed was their office. Oliver explained, that when a startup comes on board, they move into the big open plan space. The first point in which a business is getting the opportunity to be connected. Here startups can network with other businesses, help each other out on projects, and carve out new opportunities.
This really made me think about collaboration, and how it was another example of how valuable it can be. It reminded me of an article I read by Roger Schwarz called, ‘What the Research Tells Us About Team Creativity and Innovation‘. Roger explains that innovation is based on two key stages, “the generation of new ideas and the implementation of the ideas”. Later in the article he argues that what can create innovation, can also stifle it. That different skill sets are required to achieve stage one and two of innovation, and these skills are not always available in the one team.
If different skill sets are required in order to achieve innovation, then is the open plan office something that should be implemented in more businesses – has the often coveted Scrooged executive office had its day?
It appears as though it has. Nowadays, even some of the worlds biggest companies are promoting their collaborative office designs. IDEO, Virgin Airlines and Facebook are actively seeking to maintain a creative environment within their offices.
Of course though, this is not something that every company will, or even probably should adopt. Every business does things differently. While seeking a creative, collaborative and innovative environment may be hugely important to Virgin, other airlines may be focusing on something else. And just in time too for Pepsi!
The truth is, there will always be companies that motivate staff with giant offices at the top of skyscrapers. But it seems that at least some of the bigger companies see beyond that. Because maybe not all staff are really motivated by money. Doug and Polly White ague that motivating with money will only see short term results, and that staff need extrinsic motivation. They need to know they are valued and contribute to the success of the business. They need to feel – part of the team!
Google go to great lengths to ensure their staff are continuously motivated and have gone as far as to put furniture on wheels to make it easier to design the room the way it’s needed, and all the surfaces like walls and tables can be written on. OK, maybe that’s going too far – but maybe it’s not. As Schwarz points out, there is still a lot on this subject that researchers are trying to work out.