This Is Management
The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.
The uniform plastic basement
As long as workers are crowded into noisy, strerile, disruptive space, it’s not worth improving anything but the workspace
You never get anything done around here between 9 and 5
The amazing thing is not that it’s often imporssible to work in the workplace; the amazing thing is that everyone knows it and nobody ever does anything about it.
Time accounting based on flow
An hour in flow really accomplishes something, but ten six-minute work periods sandwiched between eleven interruptions won’t accomplish anything.
The Issue of Glitz
The person who is working hard to deliver a high-quality product on time is not concerned with office appearances, but the boss sometimes is. … The next time someone proudly shows you around a newly designed office, think hard about whether it’s the functionality of the space that is being touted or its appearance.
The creativity penalty exacted by the environment is insidious. … The effect of reduced creativity is cumulative over a long period. The organization is less effective, people grind out the work without a spark of excitement, and the best people leave.
Breaking the Corporate Mold
By making everything uniform, the “owner” of a territory exercises and demonstrates control. Like the gardener who plants seed exactly under a taut string so that the carrots will grow in a perfect row, this manager is threatened bu the kind of disorder that nature (in this case, people’s human nature) prefers.
The inconvenient fact of life is that the best workplace is not going to be infinitely replicable. Vital work-conductive space for one person is not exactly the same as that for someone else. If you let them, your people will make their space into whatever they need it to be and the result is that it won’t be unifrom. Each person’s space and each team’s space will have a definite character of its own. If it didn’t, they’d go back and alter it until it did.
Management, at its best, should make sure theure is enough space, enough quiet, and enough ways to ensure privacy so that people can create their own sensible workspace. Uniformity has no place in this view. you have to grin and bear it when people put up odd pictures or leave their desks a mess or move the furniture around or merge their offices. When they’ve got it just the way they want it, they’ll be able to put it out of their minds entirely and get on with the work.
The Second Pattern: Windows
People who wouldn’t think of living in a home without windows end up spending most of their daylight time in a windowless workspace. Rooms without a view are like prisons for the people who have to stay in them. We are trained to accept windowless office space as inevitable. The company would love for every one of us to have a window, we hear, but that just isn’t realistic. Sure it is. There is perfect proof that sufficient windows can be built into a space without excessive cost. The existence proof is the hotel, any hotel. You can’t even imagine being shown a hotel room with no window. You wouldn’t stand for it.
The Third Pattern: Indoor and Outdoor Space
The terrace has become our spring, summer, and fall conference room and eating area. For at least half the year, the outdoor space is in use virtually full-time. Whatever work can be done outdoors is done outdoors. … Our space costs a lot less because it’s not part of a monolith. You can’t accommodate thousands of people centrally in such space. You’d have to hunt out hundreds of special situation in order to get a large staff into anything like the situation we’ve come up with. And when you did that, they would not all have identical facilities. On a given sunny day, some of your people would be working on terraces while others were in gardens or arbors or courtyards. Hw impractical.
The Fourth Pattern: Public Space
Without communal eating, no human group can hold together. Give each [workking group] a place where people can eat together. Make the common meal a regular event. In particular, start a common lunch in every workplace so that a genuine meal around a common table becomes an important, confortable and daily event.
The Pattern of the Patterns
A common element that runs through all the patterns is reliance upon non-replicable formulas … The space needs to be isomorphic to the work that goes on there. And people at all levels need to leave their mark on the workplace.
Return to Reality
If you are part of the lofty reaches of upper management, then decide which projects matter most. Move the key ones out. It’s a sad comment that an important piece of work is likely to fare better off-site. It’s sad but true. Make it work for you.
Code Word: Professional
Conversely, professional means unsurprising. You will be considered professional to the extent you look, act, and think like everyone else, a perfect drone.
The Mentality of Permanence
The best organizations are consciously striving to be best.
A common feature of companies with the lowest turnover is widespread retraining.
It’s always cheaper in the short run to fire the person who needs retraining and hire someone else who already has the required skills. Most organizations do just that. THe best organizations do not. The realize that retraining helps to build the mentality of permanence that results in low turnover and a strong sense of community. They realize that it more than justifies its cost.