Thursday, February 3, 2011

Great expectations

When I read Seth Godin's musings about how the space where you do "what you do" impacts what gets done, I immediately thought of the room at MPOW where we have nearly all of our meetings.

We have informational all-staff meetings there. We have committee meetings there. We have brainstorming sessions there. We have big meetings there. We have small meetings there. Basically, if it happens at MPOW, there's a good chance it's happening in this room.

If you ask me to describe this room, I would say this about it's physical attributes: it's well lit with sturdy tables and reasonably comfortable chairs. It has a pretty good AV setup: computer, overhead projector, screen. I would also say that it's also usually always cold.

In the closing lines of his post, Godin says "I think we can train ourselves to associate certain places with certain outcomes."

I think Godin's right. If I'm honest, I associate this particular room with certain outcomes and that colors how I feel when I go there.

An anecdote:
One of the meetings that I attend regularly has met in this particular room, or it's Far Campus equivalent, for as many years as I've been going to the meeting. One day, we when we tried to use the Far Campus room, we found that we had been displaced by another event. The meeting moved to a "lounge" that had no tables and couches and wing back chairs.

You would not be surprised to learn that the meeting had an entirely different feel.

Godin's nugget about places and outcomes made me think about how when we want to innovate, we shouldn't meet in the same room where ideas go to die by committee.

So try a new space or a new place. Or, maybe take a baby step and start by rearranging the furniture in your meeting space. Shake things up and, in the process, change people's expectations about what the outcome will be.

Be proactive. Be visible. Be awesome.

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