[Link] The Truth About Open Offices

Like many others, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber question the value of the open office in this article in the HBR from 2019.  It’s particularly relevant when several companies are nudging their employees to return to the office, ostensibly for ‘collaboration‘ or ‘valuable human interaction‘:

When employees do want to interact, they choose the channel: face-to-face, video conference, phone, social media, email, messaging, and so on. Someone initiating an exchange decides how long it should last and whether it should be synchronous (a meeting or a huddle) or asynchronous (a message or a post). The recipient of, say, an email, a Slack message, or a text decides whether to respond immediately, down the road, or never.

Interestingly, the article also has this nugget, months before the pandemic driven remote-working enforcement:

If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.

[Link] The Spread of Improvement

Anton Howes in this excerpt from 2017 describes why innovation accelerated in Britain, what he attributes to:

the emergence and spread of an improving mentality, tracing its transmission from person to person and across the country. The mentality was not a technique, skill, or special understanding, but a frame of mind: innovators saw room for improvement where others saw none. The mentality could be received by anyone, and it could be applied to any field – anything, after all, could be better.

But what led to innovation’s acceleration was not just that the mentality spread: over the course of the eighteenth century innovators became increasingly committed to spreading the mentality further – they became innovation’s evangelists. By creating new institutions and adopting social norms conducive to openness and active sharing, innovators ensured the
continued dissemination of innovation, giving rise to modern economic growth in Britain and abroad.


[Link] The Three Elements of an Innovation Ecosystem

Note to self: Yeah, it has too many buzzwords in the title.  Read it anyway.

Developing an innovation capability within a large organization is a daunting prospect. In the past, many have tried but few succeeded. Often difficulties are linked to a too narrow and shallow approach, such as training a group of employees in an innovation methodology and expecting the organization to turn into an innovation powerhouse as a consequence. It’s become clear in the last few years that building a sustainable innovation capability requires a more systemic approach.

The most pernicious cliche of our times [Article]

George Orwell pointed out that stale phrases mechanically repeated have dangerous political effects. Judith Shulevitz nominates “Disruptive Innovation”, a term coined by Harvard professor Clay Christenson to explain why upstart enterprises drive better-established companies out of business.