Saturday, October 10, 2015

⌂ Build a vision to live in! ⌂

Everyone needs an identity,

Any living thing: an animal, a (wo)man, an organisation, a country.

An identity can give us a focus, a direction, and a sense of harmony.

Being a dancer unites you to move as one, being an artist focuses your search for beauty and expression.

You see a dancer when you meet one, you recognize an artist in a glance.

And a human with no purpose may be lost, feel insignificant, and lose direction.

So may an organisation...

Today I propose a game, to define an organisation's identity thru building it a physical metaphor.



ACMS (A Company that Makes Something, as opposed to ACME) , an IT company, think of their identity, and are passionate about innovation - they yearn to generate and drive new innovative ideas.
That's an exciting decision, for sure, but decisions that are taken by a management are diluted and misinterpreted when diffused along the corporate chain, can we help them inject the value of innovation to the company's DNA?

Can we put this intention in the way ACMS is actually structured? physically, I mean, in the offices where the people (who are, after all, the real soul of the company) work and play?

Step 1: Define you HEART !
In this case, it would be building the innovation rooms. let's imagine what's inside:
- Writing and drawing materials full of color, games, playdough, aprons, disguises, etc.
- Noise and fun, lots of it!
- Recording materials
- Funny toys, modular furniture,
- etc, etc.

Step 2: Who are the people at the heart?
In our case, (let's say) the Product-Owners generate and examine ideas, argue, and come up with mockups, prototypes and half baked ideas.
Sometimes they go to the heart to make noise and generate innovative ideas, but sometimes they are quietly working at their post, they need this quiet, but they also need the noise close by. 

Hence - we put the POs around the Center and isolate the center's noise from them.

They don't work in a vacuum, do they?
Do they work with the technical teams? the ones who examine the feasibility of the ideas? The sales that needs to validate the prototypes with customers ?

Step 3: Who do the people at the heart vitally need?
Let's put the technical people, and the sales people around the POs, so communication is easy and flawless, 
- the people around are usually divided into clusters, marketing and dev (perhaps) don't communicate much, do they? and dev is composed of several teams.

These layers are vital for the generation of Innovation, since they are the Innovation generators and their supporters, but of course there are other vital department: HR, IT, etc.
These are a vital part of the organization, but not vital for its heart to grow, hence they are on the exterior (like petals of a flower.)

Step 4: Connect the rest of the organisation, as petals to a flower's center, as satellites to planets.
This way, they are far from the heart's buzz, (that isn't vital for them) but are still connected and ripples by the heart.

Step 5: Add spices
- To help people work in quiet, sprinkle some noise isolation movable wall (that can be also used for postits?) . office toys (centered around innovation)
- To contain standups, talks, etc - add (noise isolated) meeting rooms, surround your space with it, in abundance.
- Put everything on wheels if you want your company dynamic, and dont - if you are about stability.
- You can color code desks and chairs by teams to visualise roles.

Put a big sign in the entrance; "ACMS - Innovation is at our heart!" et Voila!

The result may look like this:

And now what?!

Of course - let's smash the old buildings and build a new and great home for our spirit!

But even if not, an image of this new home, presented in this way to all members of ACMS, may start aligning intentions, making connection, and make people realize what their common vision is...

Note: once the goal of the ACMS changed, and becomes (For instance) "We are about our clients", the heart changes (more phones, monitors, lists of clients, etc), the people who were outside (sales?) now move inside, etc...)

What do you think?

--- After-thought (or giving credit where it is due...)----

Oh! I just realized something important!

This idea (as most) is in no way my own!

It was highly inspired from the city my heart yearns to - Auroville.

- The city is a spiral shape (like a hurricane)

- And is built around the Matrimandir which s at it's heart:

A round (non-religious) temple to meditate in.

A few differences:
- The Matrimandir is the most silent place in the city, while ACMS's heart room is the noisiest.
- Of course corporates and spirituality don't go well together... (or do they?!)

But I do believe any business has to have a soul in order to survive, thrive and grow,
So why not treat it as a pure one?

What do you think?


  1. This is a real infrastructure and looks really good.
    We than need people to fit this. Or could people working "normally" convert to this? Maybe this is not even important.

    About the heart, I think deep down everybody is constructed in a way you described, but the heart is silent in my case so I do not really understood the noisy heart. Or is it a noisy heart but I did not listen to it lately? Something to think about.

    Even if this looks like a ground change, it is more of a mindset than a real organization (desks, colors, team grouping) that is the hardest part. Having a setup as you described have other large benefits: encourage interactions between let's say PO and devs in a natural way without many rules in place. Rules that are most of the time in place because something else is missing and could not replace the missing thing most of the times.

    1. Tons of stuff:
      - People are not forced to 'believe' in the same goal, but their position optimizes the info/ energy flow to serve the company's 'heart'.
      - Sometimes the heart can be silent, depends on your goal.
      - this is a metaphor, but making the office to support it will make it clearer.

    2. Reading back, you totally get it.

  2. One day after meeting the concept I like the most it's simplicity.

    1. Thx!

      Some use cases... (perhaps to make it more complicated?)

      If you have three separate projects in parallel? and you dont want the "noise to leak between them?
      - You can use the portable walls to divide the circle to three so noise from one (transverse project) doesn't leak to the other too much.

      Your roles are amorphic (great! we are agile!) so someone is a little bit PO and a lot developer...

      - People naturally choose a sit at the right place, and the right distance from the center.

      And a question (no answer yet...): how to totally isolate someone who has to be alone now? (and do we need to?)

    2. Another thing: how do you support several sites?
      A: Make a building with as many floors as needed (virtual) and provide slides and ladders to go down/ up the floors :)

  3. lots of resonances ...

    first , i very much appreciat the idea that alignment of form and fonction , strategies and intentions

    second, having design thinking in my heart as much as agile , the heart , for me , would not be POs, but users. and POs trying to formalise their needs with empathy. ( formalise : shape it, form it, prioritize, understand what creates values )

    lets us the metaphor of inspire and expire .

    in the matrimandir, in the centrer, you search for inspiration , using empathy .
    then you expire to the POs, so they can trans- form this inpiration and shape it . ( desirability ) , they relay it to people with a view on clients (marketeer, looking for ,viability ) , and view on for feasability ( technology ) .


    space wise , i d like your idea of mobility of artefact and it reminds me of the the [d school]( mindset .

    ideally , would we not be constrainned by space and weather , we could imagine " urban tents" which we could reconfigure depending on the projects

    also , in the original design , theis only one heart... whic is probably the "project " in this mindset .

    what about a company running several projects ?
    should we use this circles orgs like fractals? replicating one per project ? ( rather than silo per fucntions ? )
    no idea yet, but interesting mind fretting all this is ...

    1. The heart is not the POs! The heart is creativity...
      The people who use it are the ones generating creativity, can be POs, can be users (some innovation is secret) , can be developers...

      Form the people working in the company, the POs (in this example) are the ones who will occupy it most. to isolate the noise of creativity from the rest who need quiet.

      I have ideas of several hearts, (like splitting the stucture vertically by a soft wall.
      As well as mutlisites.

      But this idea is related to current situations, so I didnt go too far away :)

      Anyway, great to see someone actually reads this,