How much does our working environment stifle creativity, and particularly collaborative creativity? The extract below, from some people who do this for a living suggest rather a lot. Glasgow being not always convenient for a handy bit of future drawing, what else could we do? [suggestions containing the phrase ‘A0 printer’ are at risk of disqualification]
I like to say that if there are more than two IFTF people in a room, someone’s going to write on a wall (we have whiteboards or windows everywhere). Not only are we a highly visual culture, but we also tend to be very public in our visualization: our habit is to construct them in ways that invite collaboration. To make them inviting, you put them in a public place– on a whiteboard, not your own notebook– and you make them big enough so other people can easily see and add to them.
It makes me wonder: how many collaborative work environments don’t have objects or representations large enough for people to gather around, talk through, and work on together? For all the fascination with collaboration in business today (think of the number of companies who don’t think that collaboration is important), I suspect we underestimate the degree to which scale and physical layout affect the way that collaboration happens, and the kinds of knowledge that can be
shared among participants. Of course it’s possible for collaboration to happen electronically, among people who live miles apart; but there are things that you can communicate in the room– and things that you think to communicate– that you can’t over e-mail or blog posts.
And how long before you can replace the room with a wire–before you can have virtual collaboration that really is a replacement for being in the same room with other people? Is it just a matter of bandwidth and processor cycles? Or are there essential elements of collaboration that can’t be bottled?