Accelerate Your Collisions

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Hadron Collider

It takes me 16 steps to get from my workplace to our little office pantry, which serves as the unofficial hub where most interactions between departments take place. On a slow summer day like today I meet 4-6 people. On a busy day it might be 8. I never reach 10. There are others who stay longer, though, and meet far more people.

So what’s my point?

If you want to create more innovative moments in your organization, you’ve got to think about office interactions and office design.

Google, Nike, Apple, Facebook and Zappos get it. These companies decided that their campuses should provide constant opportunities for daily interactions between colleagues. This in turn allows for better idea-sharing, idea-generating experiences, which leads to innovation.

What’s more interesting to me, though, is that this idea of creating interconnectedness works not only for office campuses, but also for the entire cities. Take downtown Las Vegas, for example.

3 Cs of Tony Hsieh

In his recent keynote address at the US Chamber Small Business Summit, Tony Hsieh, Co-founder of Zappos and the leading architect of The Downtown Las Vegas revitalization project, shared his 3 Cs of success: Collisions, Co-Learning and Connectedness.

These 3 Cs have helped Tony and his team to make the downtown of this infamous Nevada city into something unbelievable.

Tony committed $350 million from his own funds to transform downtown Las Vegas into “a place of inspiration, entrepreneurial energy, creativity, innovation, upward mobility, and discovery.”

The key was to create the “most community-focused large city in the world” by nurturing an environment where whole neighborhoods would interact in meaningful ways, by having people see each other more. These chance collisions create opportunities for co-learning and connectedness through better communication.

Tony suggests that by accelerating collisions, co-learning and connectedness, the communities will become luckier, more innovative and productive.

“Forget ROI, Focus on ROC”

Met with Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO in DC @ US Chamber Small Business Summit

My “Collision” with Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO @ US Chamber Small Business Summit in Washington, DC

“Forget ROI (return on investment),” says Tony, “and concentrate on ROC (return on collisions and return on community) instead.” Don’t forget to think of ROL (return on luck) as well – you’ve got to maximize your serendipitious interactions between residents.

And what extra value is there when someone is out in the neighborhood 3-4 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 40 weeks a year? It’s 1,000 collisionable hours, says Tony. If you add a culture of openness, collaboration, diversity and creativity, you will quickly transform your city into a productive hub of activity.

Of his $350 million investment, $200 million went to real estate, $50 million to technology startups, $50 million to arts and education, and $50 million to small business.

As a result, the Downtown Project produced over 70 construction projects, 50 small businesses and over 100 technology companies. Add dozens of restaurants, clubs, parks, shopping centers and even a school.

Most of all, residents noticed how drastically their neighborhoods have changed since The Downtown Project started.

Tony’s idea became a reality – the community has become the main benefactor from all of these investments.

4 Ideas To Make Your Office Collision Friendly

So how can these principles help your organization? You don’t need to have millions of dollars to embrace the 3 Cs in your company. Here are four ideas for you:

  1. Consider how many collisionable hours makes sense for your office. How open are your employees to greater interaction? How much focused individual time do they need, versus creative collaboration time?

  2. Use common space more often and more actively through special events and promotions. Invite outside experts to share their best practices, and make sure that you follow up on this shared knowledge.

  3. Create opportunities for your employees to share their special skills and passion with their colleagues, and learn from each other.

  4. Increase your organization’s involvement in community activities – volunteerism helps build valuable connections, and trust, and can spark new ideas you’d never get in a cubicle.
    What do you think?

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