When we designed our place, I originally wanted to have desks in the open. When this did not fly, I suggested offices that had two walls and opened to a common area. That wasn’t popular either. The compromise was building complete offices with a glass wall at the front. We can all see each other, but we don’t have to listen the stream of phone conversations that are a natural byproduct of project management. We also built a 21’ x 7’ stand up conference table in our common area, where we can gather around and share the challenge and the solutions.
Above all, I wanted to set the gymnastics to be quite collaborative, creating an environment where our team would think of information as a tool and not a possession. We want to share (and share some more) for a common goal, teaching our folks to learn to depend upon each other, rather than the boss of the day. I feel like this has worked fairly well over the years.
A couple of things I’ve learned from around the table:
No one knows it all. When a company is hitting on all cylinders, there is usually enough knowledge “around the table” to solve that day’s challenge.
Fewer meetings. Collaborating should become second nature, and actually lead to fewer formal meetings. It just becomes part of the way one’s workday plays out.
To me, a leader’s goal is to focus the organization on working together, then coach them along. Everyone will be more successful this way.