THE BLOG

18
Apr

Generative Spaces: The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan

Image via The Agency Post

Image via The Agency Post

Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, recently wrote a guest blog post for The Agency Post sharing Five Tips for Making Your Office A Creative Space, but where did the idea for an open office floor plan come from?

In her latest article for The Agency Post, she discusses The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan:

Here are some excerpts:

“…one of the office features we often mistakenly attribute to startups is the open office plan. We tend to equate this setup with the startup attitude of free-flowing space, an open atmosphere and equality of space. But for 60 years, the open office floorplan has been both the standard and ideal for office design. Mirroring economic changes since the 1950s and into the 1990s, architects have designed work environments for the booming “knowledge industries,” spaces where people create and produce ideas as part of their company bottom lines.

Symbolically speaking, people like to work in open office spaces, because they report feeling connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. These spaces do well at creating “communities.” And while the research shows that intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on measures of productivity. Workers in open plan offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction.

We cannot create without other people. We are social animals. Some philosophers and scientists argue that physical and sensorial evocative environments act like our scaffolding into the world, giving us humans opportunities to deepen our brain activity and expand into the world. When building an environment that supports and amplifies creativity, though, it’s important to keep in mind that the best solution usually isn’t an open floor plan.

Creative spaces require different setups for different mindsets: fun areas for unconscious processing; reflexive spaces where minimal thinking can go on, and reflective spaces wherein people must go beyond superficial thinking to find those kernels of creative thinking.

14
Apr

Design Thinking The Steve Jobs Way

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Humans innovate. We are wired and curious seekers. And when it comes to work, we are, it seems, inexorably driven to tinker and improve the patterns, people and processes. We can’t help but seek out the novel ways to create and produce our services and products. Alexis de Toqueville in the 18th Century wondered about the “American” temperament of industriousness, what he and many after him, referred to as a resolved determination to seek more and more value in everything.

Interconnecting with what was thought to be a superficial “seeking of value,” is the active pursuit of innovation. It’s no small task to step back from habits and mindsets of work and build better products or engineer services people feel they must have.  Steve Jobs, heralded as the innovator archetype, embodies this philosophy and action, with his ambition and obsessive approach to product design.

But the way we frame Steve Jobs often overlooks his intellectual depth, passion and purpose. It’s an unconscious move, a mental shortcut really. It’s easier to evaluate successes backwards than it is to study the billions of people who almost succeed or fail any given year and to see what works.

Jobs’ many successes, the ones that matter to design thinkers, were his grit, systemic thinking, flexibility and originality. More than a leader of design-driven products, he drove businesses to understand the value designers bring to the bottom line and innovative company cultures. He taught us that design thinking is radical and cyclical. It seeks to outpace demand, and bring excitement to crowded and competitive markets. More than corporate value, thinkers like Jobs normalized the belief that designers were integral to business thinking.

There are plenty of books about Jobs, some good, but most unexceptional. I want to draw attention to a recently published book that isn’t about Jobs, but nonetheless carries his design-thinking legacy and places it firmly and realistically into our time.

The Rise of the DEO, Leadership By Design by Maria Guidice and Christopher Ireland is a how-to book that doesn’t promise you will become a design thinker — but you just might. By way of clear prose and case studies, the authors take you out of yourself and hold up a mirror of reality. Times are quickly changing; it’s no longer enough to think like Jobs. To stay relevant, firms need to find and retain talent who will work, experiment and work some more. Innovative firms are run with the help of innovative people who ask for help, make mistakes and do what scientists have done for centuries — laboriously use their minds to craft solutions. Take a step back and think harder and smarter for solutions. It’s the 10,000-hour rule with mind maps and directions.

So surround yourself with people who will push, challenge, instigate, and affirm (or not) your pursuit of becoming a design thinker.

 

04
Apr

Millennials Make Us Better Creatives

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Many of our colleagues recently gathered in London for the PromaxBDA Europe conference. One of the talks discussed provided some insight into new data around Millennials, specifically on their hopes, dreams and trust levels.

For us in the entertainment and branding spaces, Millennials are important. Their tastes, interests and desires will directly imprint and shape our creative efforts, process and work. Depending on how young or old you skew this group, there are any number of key and actionable insights for media and entertainment. Our job is to translate these values into tangible creative and experiences. We interpret them in order to inspire and connect with Millennials in particular — and audiences in general — in a genuine and meaningful way.

According to the last Pew Research, Millennials describe themselves as motivated by the values of individuality, authenticity, optimism and integrity. At the same time, however, this group has surprisingly little trust for people and society. A scant 19% of respondents said they trusted other people and governments. This is not often seen in this way nor explicitly mentioned as a trend we should worry about. I think we should at the very least think about this paradox, and turn it into an opportunity.

How can people have so little trust and at the same time describe themselves as generally optimistic? In Psychology there’s a term called cognitive dissonance. It is a situation where a person feels uncomfortable, stressed even, because they hold two contradictory values at the same time. I want to prod us creatives into a state of “dissonance” because I think it will, in the long run, make us think and work smarter.

We shouldn’t be so sanguine about Millennials’ distrust because we are, in our unique way, functioning as institutions just like any other social or political organization. We create within the social fabric, shaping and distributing stories, ideas and values, into content. Whether we’re experimenting with the latest ad tech, native advertising or app, thinking about and understanding our cultural role, and the way we create to savvy digital natives, gives us a chance to work more intelligently and differently.

Talk about disruption. Listening to young audiences and consumers, building their trust and earning their respect — now that’s creative that I want to be a part of.

 


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