MEREDITH Strategy + Design

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

SMPS Michigan Workplace Strategy Panel

I was part of a panel speaking before the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professionals. The event took place on February 18th and focused on some of the emerging drivers influencing the path of workplace planning and design strategies for our clients and markets. The panel was an excellent one including representatives from a client organization, a real estate professional, a change management consultant and myself, representing design. (Link)

My comments reflected some of the matters that we see important to our clients and how we are responding to them. Guided by the moderator's questions, I addressed five subjects –

  1. Evaporative cooling – a condition some clients are experiencing in which their workplace, more a hindrance than a help to achievement, contributes to the progressive loss of their top performers.
  2. Managers' versus makers' spaces – how workplace design has rarely focused on the makers, yet this is the largest base for design, engineering and manufacturing in the country. Makers are much different from managers and need a different approach to workplace planning and design. (Link)
  3. Four layers over the workplace – Our perception that the workplace can learn from gaming. Think about the catalysts for four actions: Check in, Meet up, Join in, Move up. (Link)
  4. Plazas and warrens – the lexicon of the old and new workplace – open versus closed, for example – is too charged and evokes solutions before purpose. Spatial metaphors can hel break out of conventional solutions.
  5. The new suburbanization – the trending desire in the 'burbs to do an urban makeover, essential to the way that work is being done now.

Let us know if you'd like to have us speak at your event.

Happy Labor Day

Wow! I had thought that there would be a lot posted on these pages since the beginning of Spring and our move through the Summer. Perhaps it's just that there has been too much going on!

What's been keeping us busy?

We've been working for close to a year on a portfolio of more than 100 buildings making up close to 20 million square feet of very diverse uses. Along with partnering consultants, we've done a deep dive into organizational purpose, emerging and future organizational and operational concepts, the evolution of corporate culture, and alternative concepts for a workplace positioned for an anticipated future in which all of this changes. We expect to start soon on making this all concrete through the first moves in a projected 10-year plan.

In that project and in others, we've developed ideas around what we call The New Technical Workplace. We've become deeply interested in the way that people come together to develop products. We now believe that the legacy spaces and places where creative and technical work have been done no longer have relevance and contribute to the erosion of competitive position of American companies. The New Technical Workplace comprehends a new way of working with new tools and techniques and erases the boundaries and impediments to innovative acceleration that have been generally taken for granted. After almost two years of study, we are now beginning to design one of the more radical shifts in workplace character that we have seen anywhere.

This focus on the ways that people work has also taken us through a number of smaller commissions in health care related companies, technology companies, manufacturing companies, financial and legal services companies and others. In each, we have searched for the defining characteristics of the industries or professions our clients are in, uncovered and understood each company's differentiating DNA, and designed settings to advance competitive performance in their domains of operation. We'll write about theses engagements and processes in our main blog this Fall.

In the midst of all of this we've also redesigned our own workplace. We've occupied half of the space so far and expect that the rest of the move will take place in the next month. The change is extraordinary, and we are thrilled. We've made a place to inspire clients and engage our staff. This has already become a very successful illustration of what we believe in and what our clients are seeking for themselves.

We have a big agenda for the Fall, as well, and hope that we'll find the windows of time to write about the things that matter to our clients and you.