Imagining Tomorrow’s Workplace

Here’s a question for you. How do you think small businesses will need to change to meet the challenges of tomorrow, and by the way, what does your crystal ball show for those challenges?

I’ve been acting as a Workplace Design Consultant on Tomorrow’s Workplace, a project sponsored by the Surrey Board of Trade. The project hopes to discover what can help good small businesses handle the challenges of the future and move toward being a great small business in the process.

When the project began we really didn’t have a clear idea of what might be needed, but as we’ve moved forward with the businesses in the pilot (one is an engineering firm, one a lumber products company and one sells promotional products for events and a wide variety of other uses) we’ve discovered some common themes even though the business activity differs greatly from business to business.

1. It is more important than ever to be focused and clear about the business you are in and who you are as a brand.

2.  Building alliances with other businesses and with the community helps both the business and the community.

3.  Learning how to communicate well in the midst of change is a core competency.

The project website has information on the project process and insights, podcasts from team members and more. Here’s the link:

The Three Marriages

3marriagesReimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte

David Whyte’s earlier book, The Heart Aroused, is a favourite of mine so I looked forward to reading this one, published in January 2009.

In it he gives us a new take on work-life balance, writing about the way  most  approaches to this elusive quality lead us to two undo-able and often opposing agendas (of course it’s not meant to happen that way, but I agree, it’s pretty much what happens). Instead he looks at our longing to meet both personal and work demands and says it’s really more like a three-strand rope to weave than something to balance.

Work, relationship and self are intertwined and need to be understood that way rather than as separate areas competing for our attention and time.

He’s a good story teller and illustrates this perspective by exploring the lives of some great writers (Dante, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson) and the way their commitment to work, self and relationship informed their lives and work. It’s a poet’s call to go after the deeper satisfaction you seek in your life together with meaningful direction on accomplishing this; the writing is lovely and persuasive.

Metaphor Sparks Innovation

rowingSteve McCallion’s Fast Company article, Building Consumer Experience Value Using the Power of Metaphors, provides another avenue to explore when trying to think outside your current box.

He says that thinking about innovation has shifted from products to consumer experience and provides examples of businesses that have used a focus on experience to build market share.

“A lot of companies struggle with the idea that this orchestration can create significant value. They are often looking for a silver bullet–a single product concept that they can patent and protect. But with experience innovation, the organizational device that holds a collection of products and services together is critical to value creation–the silver bullet is often a metaphor.”

McCallion cites Whole Foods metaphor of an outdoor market bazaar, and Apple’s learning centre metaphor.

So here’s the question to consider as you continue to work with your mission, vision and values statements:

What metaphor will add value to your customer experience?