04/12/2013 1 Comment
One aspect of ‘managing an organisational environment’ with the objective of ensuring that knowledge flows from the parts that have it, to those that need it, and vice versa, is the ‘role’ played by the physical (work) environment. In other words, the extent to which the buildings (including room layout and office furniture) in which knowledge workers work act either as an enabler, or as a barrier, to knowledge sharing, collaboration, knowledge transfer, innovation etc.
I was reminded of the importance of ‘physical space’ and (from a knowledge management perspective) that conversations matter whilst waiting for a key-note presentation to start on day 2 of Online Information 2013. The experience of waiting for a key-note to start is not new to me; after all, I had a similar experience on day 1, or had I? For whilst the waiting and build-up were the same, the conversations with other attendees were very different. Why? Well largely because on day 1 the room layout was ‘classroom style’ and on day 2 ‘round table’ style.
And guess what, at the start of day 2 there were more conversations (attendees sitting at the same table introduced themselves to their colleagues), engagement (you could hear many “and what do you do”, and “what did you think about” conversations), activity (the exchange of business cards/email addresses) and the associated sharing of knowledge, contacts, and networking, than there was at the start of day 1.
What a difference a table makes – and in particular a round one! If readers to this blog need further examples of the importance of ‘managing an organisational environment’ so that it is a conducive to knowledge sharing and collaboration then they should no further than King Arthur and the use he made of his round table.
Photograph from neilalderneys123′s Photostream on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilsingapore/with/1696263846/