MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Narrow the Information Gap to capture higher value in design for workplace transformation

A continuing subject in the work we do is the concept of knowledge creation. It seems to be a subject that is rarely in an architect's or designer's commission. It may reside implicitly in the background of a design project, or may not ever be part of the conversation. It seems, however, that for the role that the workplace itself, and workplace transformation projects play, it should come more to the forefront. We've talked before about how a change in the place or space of work is frequently a key component of an organization's transformation agenda. These workplace strategy programs have a wide spectrum of objectives, with cost-cutting/space saving at the bottom of the achievement graph, and authentic interest in contribution and accomplishment higher on the scale.

Any project's place on the scale is generally determined by its origin. Workplace and workspace matters lie in different silos of organizations. Projects arising out of finance may have cost savings as a primary success metric. We've had some projects arising out of a grassroots interest in advancing the creative output of an an organization, so the primary success measure there has been transition to a different shade of operations culture.

"Change management" is a discipline that is frequently evoked in these programs and here, again, there is a significant range of content, influence and impact. We have seen some programs in which the sum of content is a directory for day-one occupation of the new place – how to find a printer in the new layout, for example. More robust programs establish web sites and other communications programs to provide information over a sustained period of time from the initiation of the project to or through its occupancy many months later.

We reflect on this because the proximity, content and communication of information is a key component in evoking the engagement with intention that is at the core of achieving the real benefits of change, especially where knowledge creation, innovation capability and creative capacity are among the intended goals of the program.

Below is a nice introduction (from Jeff Monday) to the "Information Gap" theory of George Loewenstein. I cite it both for its general relevance and also as a guide to initial thinking about change management programs and their role in achieving the intended purposes of transformation programs, and beyond.

Understanding the information gap in the design, communication and implementation of workplace transformation programs can significantly contribute to the engagement of those affected by them, and through that to significant enhancement of the performance – the knowledge creation – of the organization overall.