Like many of you, I passionately believe that we can live happier and higher-performing lives with others when we enable others to use best talents together more often. Hint: a mutuality mindset probably matters more than your smarts, money, title or contacts in this increasingly complex yet connected world.
That belief is at the heart of my TED@IBM talk on September 23rd, which you can watch live: “The Web of Humanity: Becoming an Opportunity Maker.” I am in awe of the line up of speakers on “how to reimagine the world.” Here’s one method to spur greater camaraderie, serendipitous innovation and collaboration amongst co-workers:
How Musical Chairs Can Foster Mutuality
At the evolving Downtown Project in Las Vegas, Tony Hsieh purposefully assigns parking spaces that are at least a block from where employees work to spur “collisions,” meaning serendipitous meetings between individuals. Also, some startups and technology firms are periodically moving employees around so they sit next to different people.
Why? Well, “A worker’s immediate neighbors account for 40 percent to 60 percent of every interaction that worker has during the workday, from face-to-face chats to e-mail messages. There’s only a 5 percent to 10 percent chance employees are interacting with someone two rows away,” according to Ben Waber of Sociometric Solutions.
His firm uses sensors to analyze interaction patterns at work. Waber concludes, “If I keep the org chart the same but change where you sit, it is going to massively change everything.” See what happened at Kayak, Hubspot and other firms that played musical chairs. “Grouping workers by department can foster focus and efficiency,” discovered MIT’s Christian Catalini, yet “mixing them up can lead to experimentation and the potential for breakthrough ideas.”