We’ve moved into our new office building nearly a year ago and the place is great. There’s of course always something you can bitch and bicker about, but I’ve worked at different global sites of the company and this one is clearly the best.
Now, one thing the interior architects included on all floors are white boards which are integrated into many of the walls, not only in meeting rooms but also in areas which are designed for a chat or for breaks. These boards are quite big. They blend nicely into the environment and you have markers at hand that you can use to quickly draw an idea or something.
Now, what do you think happened on most of these boards in the past 12 months?
People don’t use them. There are many good reasons for that, but I felt this was sort of a missed opportunity. Not that I think we would further accelerate the rate of innovation significantly if people used them (and I might have better ideas for that to happen). But it’s a cultural thing, the “smell of the place”, if you know what I mean.
And, of course, I had in mind that huge white board at the Googleplex which I saw at one of my first visits there. This board was full of crazy ideas and thoughts from many different people. Really lots of fun stuff of which I still recall a legendary Star Wars tribute: somebody had drawn a speck on the board with the words “That’s not a data center…” (a reference to Luke, Han, Chewbacca and Obi-Wan facing “a small moon” in Star Wars IV: A New Hope).
So I started something on Monday this week: I drew a box on one of the boards and asked “What’s in the box?”
Not much happened except someone referring to Schroedinger’s cat. Not bad. As a reply I drew that cat and asked: “But is the cat alive or dead?”. The answer: “It’s 50% dead” with a zombie cat drawn next to it.
I then reset that and put a challenge out there: “9 ways to kill a cat”, suggesting the first one myself. This resulted in much more attention and ideas and till tonight we made it to seven… well: plus two which have no number, so we actually got to nine:
Still not as colorful as I had hoped, but some people really got quite excited to find ways to kill that damn cat.
This seems to work.
If I find time, I will reset the whole thing on Monday and try something else… let’s see.