Business place redesign is essential to The Social Enterprise. For decades, office design was driven by two factors: cost and solitary information transaction work. Social Enterprise Redesign is a foundation of all future organizations.
In the early 2000s, your Colabria Action Research Networks worked closely with the Information Worker Productivity Council (IWPC) to examine the future of information work. They were sponsored by the largest technology companies like Microsoft and Cisco. The IWPC researchers produced this framework of Enterprise Information Workers.
It was concluded that most information workers inhabited the Left Hemisphere. However, since then, there has been a fundamental shift to the Right Hemisphere propelled by The Social Enterprise. Meanwhile, for most organizations, plant and workplace design is still squarely in the Left Hemisphere. They are stuck in the 20th Century workplace archetypes.
To make matters worse, often the ‘Facilities Dept.’ is in-charge of office configuration. Their main performance driver is cost. They have no empathy for collaborative or expert workers. Dealing with them for even modest changes is a frustrating battle. ‘Space Wars’ is a common refrain.
In addition, work real estate is often used to map to hierarchy and org charts. Unfortunately, workplace design was more an expression of power than to facilitate productivity, growth and innovation.
“The difficulties of getting people to comply with the essential details of redesigned work explain why failure rates among the first wave of business process re-engineering efforts were as high as 70%.” –Andrew McAfee
Expect the same painful results for business place redesign. Unlearning is hard work.
Recall the archetype for the modern office is monks working in a monastery circa 1500. These medieval masters were the first information workers. They’re information occupation was writing, copying, and making books.
The physical plant of the monastery (office) was designed to facilitate isolated, individual information tasks. There was a strict vow-of-silence. Simple meals were taken alone, again, in silence, at long tables…
Monks strained to attain conformity. In the cenobitic monastic tradition, bishops (managers) were chosen (promoted) from the ranks of monks for their ability to conform (not perform).
Hmmm, sounds eerily familiar to the vast cubicle ‘ice-trays’ and farms of today’s modern office.
Fortunately, leaders of The Social Enterprise are slowly beginning to have influence on business and workplace redesign. Social Objects, social network analysis (SNA), mobility and Millennials are fundamentally and finally altering the enterprise landscape to fit workplace design the social reorientation of knowledge workers and knowledge management.