Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting to the point

Continued from Short and to the Point.

What I found with organised open plan desks where teams are in tight clusters is that people can become quite tribal, defending nearby resources and establishing their own laws! Examples I saw were almost enforced silence except for agreed meeting times. Something that annoyed me was reduced interest in work in progress by some managers. They could now see who was at their desks working, so progress was assumed. Presumably these geniuses assumed that when progress hadn't been achieved in the past it was because staff were slacking off!

Anyway, the above hardly matters now because over time the need to adapt to new staff arriving, others leaving and projects ending, starting, etc. etc. means that many staff are sitting in spaces that became available rather than shoulder to shoulder with team mates. So 3, or maybe 4 moves on, I now find myself sitting by the entrance door. Not a popular spot, which was why I was able to secure it through a small number of swaps, but it suits me. One of the advantages being that it gives me some of the best notice board space in the building.

Most folks don't spend much time by my desk as they'd be blocking an entrance, but nearly all my colleagues will pass at least one each day, so they can't help but read any notice I put up. They're walking and I don't want them to stop to read, so I've established a routine of posting an A4 page with no more than 20 words in large font that I change frequently. Usually it's a quote from someone famous, but it could be anything that made me think, smile, or groan - depending on my mood.

So to get back to the point I was heading towards in my last post. I plan to extract short quotes from What Matters Now and post them on my desk to share with my colleagues.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Short and to the point

Just trying to think how to write what I'd like to say here... and I know already that it won't be short. Hopefully I'll get to the point eventually. But just in case I don't get there, or you get fed up and click "back" or decide to check your email again here's the important bit.

Today I read Seth Godin's excellent What Matters Now and felt moderately inspired by several of the contributions. (Seth is the editor, the material comes from a host of thinkers). Have a read, it's really very good, and will hopefully encourage many people to do meaningful stuff. As I read it I knew I wanted, as intended, to share the content.

Now for the story that is likely to take me drifting away from the point of this post never to return.

When my employer moved to a shiny new building near Exeter I was one of the first to move in, as I already lived locally and had been commuting to the old site in Bracknell. I was given a temporary desk in the first block to be completed. A couple of months later I moved to my proper desk with the rest of the team, as did all the other hundreds of small teams that make up our organisation. For most people it was the first time they had ever worked in an open plan office. The hope of management was that putting everyone in one building and teams in large open spaces would make us all more productive and better teams.

Did it work? More soon.....