Space power! Tom Peters/0415.09
NOTE:To appreciate this presentation [and ensure that it is not a mess], you need Microsoft fonts:“Showcard Gothic,”“Ravie,”“Chiller”and“Verdana”
Managingspace—broadly defined here—is an incredibly powerful way to bring about change. Moreover, it is a “change tool” that’s typically underutilized. And a change tool that’s readily available because of the fact that others are unaware of the potency of the tool or the degree to which small changes in “space management” can have enormous consequences. I thought I’d collect a few examples here, from the mundane to the grand, to make the point. And, obviously, I hope to pique your interest if you don’t happen to be a fanatic on this topic …
Geologists + Geophysicists + A little bit of love =Oil
A story from my McKinsey days: In an oil company engagement, we were looking at variation in companies’ success in finding oil. It’s not as simple as I’m making it here, but one company did stand out—and one variable seemed to be of extraordinary importance. Throughout history, all functional organizations are at war with all other functional organizations. (The famed and ever so potent “silos problem.”) Scientists are amongst the worst actors. In oil-finding there are two particularly important scientific regimes. Geologists—who like rocks. And geophysicists—who like data about rocks. (I greatly overstate.) At any rate they are historically warring tribes. The “terrific” oil-finding company was the only one which co-mingled—physically—the two groups. The “synergy”—normally a word that scares me—that came from this co-mingling was, it appeared, to the company and to us, through results and interviews, was extraordinary.
Space as strategy: Stanford’s president says the great institution’s destiny will come via multi-disciplinary research. Such is the nature of the great problems confronting the world. Executing such a strategy has many parts. But one of the most important is a physical building which will be specifically devoted to multi-disciplinary research. Along the same lines, GlaxoSmithKline aimed to speed up drug discovery via multi-disciplinary teams. Again, a major component was space (a “home”) for each of the firm’s CEDDs/Centers for Excellence in Drug Discovery.
It was the only chart we used in In Search of Excellence! It arrived courtesy the research of Tom Allen and his colleagues at MIT. Studying communication patterns, they discovered that people more than a hundred feet apart might as well, in terms of communication frequency, be 100 miles apart!. Internet or no Internet (these days), that is nothing short of … stunning! And the implications are nothing short of profound!
Space of a sort. The psychology is clear. An enormous share of our perception of something is determined by first and last impressions. “Duh,” you say. To which I say, “Okay, I know you know that—but do you truly OBSESS on the design and management of … Beginnings and Endings? The longtime master of this is Disney. Disney, in its parks, puts as much effort into the design of the “parking lot experience” as it does into their rides. In particular, the parking lot attendants are considered primo members of the “performance arts” team—selection, uniforms, training, etc of those attendants is a no-baloneystrategic issue.
Round = 2X/allx
Table shape … as a “strategic” variable? Yup! At a round table there are more or less twice as many comments as there are at a square table—moreover, the % of people who participate shoots through the roof in the round (more equitable) environment.
If patients see greenerythrough their window, recovery time may shrink by as much as 20%.
“Paint it white!” — On Hashem Akbari’s [Lawrence Livermore labs] powerful program to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; using conservative assumptions, it could reduce 44 billion tons of CO2 emissions by cooling buildings, roads, entire cities (The Guardian, 0116.09)
Okay, it’s not really space except in a convoluted way (roof = space), but it is such a great story: In effect, a few cans of white paint would change the world. Paint (or otherwise coat) roofs, roads, etc WHITE —and save44 Billion Tons of CO2.
No waste baskets under individual desks leads to a jump, in fact leap, in paper recycling.
Amazing as it sounds, experiments suggest it’s true: If a serving plate is six-and-a-half feet away, the number of second helpings does down by almost two-thirds. And on it goes: smaller plates, less food consumed. First plate out is vegetables, and, yes, more vegetables are consumed.
Parking lot location + Van schedule + Elevator speed + Food court location …
Sprint, in its old incarnation, did a bunch of “little” things to enhance fitness and health. The parking lot is a quarter mile from the office—and thevans are scheduled infrequently. The elevators are maddeningly slow in a three-floor building. The food court is not centrally located—it’s as far away from as many people as possible.
Big carts = 1.5X Source: Wal*Mart
Wal*Mart increased shopping cart size—and saw its big-item purchases soar by 50%.
Bag sizes = New markets: $B Source: PepsiCo
Frito Lay went through a period years ago of trying to develop “blockbuster” products—to no avail. At one point the idea of changing bag sizes surfaced—hardly a blockbuster! New bag sizes were added—and revenue soared by perhaps more than a billion $$$. Turns out: New bag size = New market. Standard bag sales stayed the same (no cannibalization), while the picnic-tailgate party big bag sales-“market” went through the roof!
In a new HQ in Austin, 3M designed little sitting areas near the restrooms—informal, multi-disciplinary noodling increased markedly. Apple, in a new R&D center designed seating areas: The ones decorated formally went virtually unused; the ones with low ceilings and comfy, unimposing furniture were always beehives of activity.
“Broken windows”: Clean the streets, fix the broken windows, ticket the open-beer-can holders, etc, etc =Sense of order = Crime way down
The “broken windows” theory of policing has created no less than a revolution. To make a long story short, and a complex story simple: If you work on the “little” things that connote order— fix broken windows, clean up sidewalks —a community’s crime rate often tumbles. Issuing citations for little things—such as an open alcohol container—adds to the potency of the idea.