The M-Shaped Strategy Weekly for January 28, 2017
Should buildings have a "software experience," too? Arguing that incredible industrial design is not optional any more, this article in First Round Review observes that "If you buy a Tesla Model S today, the behavior of the car six months from now could be radically different because software can reshape the capability of the hardware continuously, exceeding the speed of customer demand...The best way to win in this environment is to create a software experience that connects multiple aspects of a user’s life. 'This is the core of product differentiation,' he says. 'Beautiful industrial design is just table stakes at this point.'" It is fascinating to consider this approach in the places and spaces of everyday experiences, extending Weinberg's notion of the room being the smartest person in the room.
Freedom of choice is what you have, freedom from choice is what you want. In a considered rumination, Gensler speculates on why people are saying they have less choice in the workspace these days. The article offers some theories, speculating that having more choice and exploiting that choice may now feel like the norm, and therefore not choice any more. In our own work, a client's representative told us of the totally unassigned, free choice workplace his company had recently implemented. One person broke the experiment by permanently taking over the best spot in the place as his own. Daring others to challenge his claim, he asserts his position at the top of the pile of earners in the company. One choice created a self-defined entitlement, reducing choice for others.
I'm interesting in the right next space Andrew Dubber wonders about the apparently intuitive process a DJ uses to select just the right next tune to play in a set. He is writing a book, interested in many things about these sequences and their impacts on memory, pleasure, and more. For example, "I’m interested in how lists of music make memories. I’m interested in how long the gaps are between the tunes on a record. I’m interested in how music programmers take listeners on a journey. I’m interested in theories about using light and shade to create variety. I’m interested in artist separation rules and dayparting in music radio programming systems...I’m interested in how we communicate using lists of music – how we reveal ourselves, attract a partner or impress a colleague with a subtle mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. I’m interested in hand-written liner notes and hand-drawn covers." And much more. Expanding on his theme, when we design the body of spaces that make up a building, do we consider "right next space" in people's experience of the place and the impact it will have in their works and lives?
Object Lessons I just came across this site by way of a great article on the sewing machine and the way that automation has not eliminated the craft. The concept of the site is to uncover and publish stories about "the hidden lives of ordinary things, from sardines to silence, juniper berries to jumper cables."
Designing avatars and designing for them Buildings are frequently shaped by a client's "program." This, in the weakest but the most typical practice, is a list of spaces, sizes and functional relationships between them. Absent are the descriptors of the purpose of the building in supporting the work of people within. To get past this unremarkable thinking, we tend to build personas, or avatars – representative characterizations of the people who work in the building and their activities and relationships. We build them through interviews, observations and workshops. These representations allow us to test our designs for their effectiveness in the real work of the place. We avoid the typical labels of "office" or "lab" or "conference room" by using a lexicon of activities, behaviors, purpose and culture. This one is not ours, but it reflects good practice moving in this direction.
Among the many other things that attracted us this week were these –
A cool take on the organization as three machines.
Switching off turns on creativity.
Related, How I got my attention back.
Are there really universal patterns behind innovation?
The global uberification of commercial property and the workplace.
Your Cognitive Biases Act Like Optical Illusions
Six conditions to assure you never run out of ideas again.