Learning from Successful Creative Organisations

WATERHOLE:  image by Heyheyuwb at en.wikipedia

WATERHOLE: image by Heyheyuwb at en.wikipedia

What are the key common features between most creative office spaces?

  • First and foremost, there is a shared understanding of the culture of the organisation
  • Diversity in design of spaces, to allow people choice & ownership of their workspace & flexibility to redesign workspace so that it best suits the type of work you are doing at the time;
  • Different kinds of spaces for collaboration, reflection, informal & formal meeting spaces, such as neighbourhood spaces & private spaces, fun spaces, rejuvenation spaces, “hanging out” spaces & working spaces.

Why is office space deemed so important?

Research is showing that physical space can impact on the productivity of employees (and therefore company productivity), but more importantly on the health  well being of employees.  We are spending more & more time working, so our workplaces have to meet more of our needs (eg. health & well being)  beyond just our working needs.  There is a saying “Happy wife, happy life” that I think can be applied to workplaces too – happy employees, happy company.

Workspaces need to be designed so people WANT to come to work.  Digital technology is allowing more people to work anytime and anywhere – what makes them WANT to come to work?  Employees themselves need input into the design of their workspace so they feel like they belong there.

How can I apply this to my workspace in a primary school library?  By asking myself, my students and staff these questions:

What puts a SMILE on your face in this space?

HOW do you like to learn?  How can this space help you do that?

How might the culture of an organisation help or hold back the development and use of a creative newly designed space?

I found it interesting to hear Ralf Kloeckner say that the physical work environment may not be able to CREATE a work culture, but it can certainly reinforce your culture; then go on later to say if you get people interacting good things will happen (which can only really happen if the space has been designed to allow for that).  It reminds me of the “Which came first – the chicken or the egg?” argument.  I don’t think you can presume that creativity & innovation will naturally take place in open-plan, creatively designed spaces; while on the other hand I think it is difficult to foster collaboration, creativity & reflection in spaces that don’t lend themselves to those kinds of interactions.  I like the idea of people creating spaces they need to work, and spaces evolving into different kinds of spaces dependant on the type of work going on at that time and place.  This is difficult to do in places created with fixed walls or cubicles, heavy furniture or too much furniture.   I think the culture and the physical environment of a space have a symbiotic relationship – very much dependant on each other.  Which should come first though?   SHOULD one come before the other, or should culture and space evolve together?

What are some of the cultural attributes of successful creative organisations?

I think that people who work in successful creative organisations ultimately see themselves as lifelong learners (I couldn’t help but notice that Pixar calls its workplace Pixar Campus).

I recognise many of the elements of the equitable, social & participatory nature of connected learning in the cultural attributes of the creative organisations we have been introduced to so far.  Through reading and viewing,  I have observed teams that share a common INTEREST/common purpose that is production centred (project based); in a PEER CULTURE where all team members share an understanding of the culture of their organisation and want to personally become part of and contribute to that culture; and ACADEMIC SUCCESS (although success in business organisations is measured in business outcomes & success rather than academic success) equating to creating a creative and innovative solution to a problem.

I think the kinds of activities that are associated with the 5 different kinds of learning environments described in Runnquist’s blog create the cultural attributes of successful creative organisations:

5 learning environments

LABORATORY:  hands on experiences, working in a societal & experimental context

WATERING HOLE:  people come & go, place of exchanging communication, flowing back & forth; places you would naturally go and “bump” into each other

CAMPFIRE:  communication flowing from one to many

CAVE:  immerse yourself; a space for seclusion & contemplation

SHOW OFF on the MOUNTAIN TOP:  showcasing what you have done, requires space for display & exhibition

Some take away challenges for me are:

  • HOW CAN I ORGANISE THESE SPACES IN MY WORKSPACE SO THAT THEY WORK EFFECTIVELY (eg. where can quiet spaces be created in a large open-plan, usually noisy space?)


A RARE LOOK INSIDE PIXAR STUDIOS  Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/video/movies/1248069625002/a-rare-look-inside-pixar-studios.html

 Google Startup Lab Workshop:  Space Design  Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0wM_NIXUYY&list=UU51bU7uJjsdcIEUzY1HHZsA

Knapp, J. (2014, May 1). Google Ventures: Your Design Team Needs A War Room. Here’s How To Set One Up, Fast Company. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028471/google-ventures-your-design-team-needs-a-war-room-heres-how-to-set-one-up

Runnquist, A. (2011, May 25). Learning environments based on learning, Research and Development Blog. [Weblog post] Retrieved from: http://vittrabloggen.wordpress.com/tag/ict/

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