MEREDITH Strategy + Design

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

Makers of virtual meeting spaces make them in face-to-face space

Perhaps relevant to our last post is this delightful interview by Adam Richardson that I found in a guest blog at the Harvard Business Review. Citrix, the makers of GoToMeeting, have a new collaboration space where the leading work in their innovation process is done. It is fascinating how the makers of virtual work spaces develop their process in carefully considered face-to-face space.

It is not a "crappy" space, and this is how they describe its benefits:

Opening the design collaboration space was a big milestone on our design thinking journey. It's already played a key role in fostering a more collaborative culture that involves less over-the-wall processes, fewer silos, more and earlier collaboration, and better integration of design into the product development process.

We needed to create a shift in behaviors, and realized this would be best achieved by having people live the change, not just being told about it. The space facilitates this.

Perhaps most significantly, it seems to lie at that upper quadrant of my not-yet-finished diagram in our last post. That upper quadrant is where I speculate that "signature" form but "occupy the workplace" space can generate high performance and engagement.

The interior design is quite minimal. The "beauty" of the space comes from the work that happens inside it: sketches, flow charts, Post-Its full of blue-sky ideas, new product concepts from raw idea to real formation. The space was intentionally left not-too-perfect, so people are encouraged to manipulate it, not be precious about it. It's intended to serve as a canvas for creative thinking. It's also very flexible and can quickly change from working studio to lecture room.

It seems also to fit some speculation we were developing about "auto-updating" space.

Like all good design, iteration is part of the process. We have discovered that we do need a better system for engaging remote participants and better ways for capturing brainstorming and meeting notes in real time, so that others can see them later. This is something we are investigating for our next "release" in 2012.

Richardson's interview is packed with information. I found at least 10 principles for a workplace designed for innovation –

  1. Align the design with your mission – with the "why" and not just the "what" of your business
  2. Relevance to all disciplines supports multidisciplinary work better
  3. Recognize that space shapes the behaviors you want
  4. Your space is an indicator of the authenticity of your purpose
  5. Agile and adaptable space is more valuable than CRE-regulated space
  6. Anytime space supports creativity better than assigned and scheduled space
  7. Casual space supports sharing and trust better
  8. Authentic space recruits
  9. Learn from others and engage users on your design team
  10. Good design strategy reinforces good strategy design

Let me know your thoughts on the article, and your own experience.