The Value of Face-to-Face

Dateline: November 14, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Recently Walter Issacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Job’s biography and new book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution published a column on Linked In titled Why Steve Jobs Obsessed About Office Design and Yes Bathroom Location.   He shared some observations about the importance of in person contact and the serendipity that occurs.

Even though the Internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial. The most productive teams were those that brought together people with a wide array of specialties. Bell Labs was a classic example. In its long corridors in suburban New Jersey, there were theoretical physicists, experimentalists, material scientists, engineers, a few businessmen, and even some telephone-pole climbers with grease under their fingernails.

There is something special, as evidenced at Bell Labs, about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally. The founders of Intel created a sprawling, team-oriented open workspace where employees all rubbed against one another. It was a model that became common in Silicon Valley. Predictions that digital tools would allow workers to telecommute were never fully realized.

How do you foster face-to-face collaboration in your organization?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a fantastic weekend!

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