What would you call the most important place in an office? The most important spaces in an office are not the boardroom, nor your own desk. In fact, most important places are those where a company’s executives aren’t regularly hanging out. But you’re busy, I know that. So I’ll just tell you.
The most important places are the places where ideas are born. Not where they are executed, polished, reviewed and approved. Where they are born. Ideas that potentially will take your company to another level, or at least move you forward. And where do ideas come from, you ask? Coffee machines.
The space around coffee machines is long known to be a creativity hub. “Let’s go get a coffee” you’d say to a colleague to go bounce off some thoughts casually. Or bump into someone unexpected and catch up on what they’re doing. However you look at it – the coffee machine is a place outside of routine. And breaking the routine is potential inspiration.
How to make it a creativity hub?
- Make sure there’s enough space for people to hang out without creating a corridor traffic jam or occupying the coffee machine for half an hour. Create space; put a couple of chairs and a small coffee table. Do not encourage a ‘get your coffee fast and go back to your desk’ behaviour. Let people talk!
- Encourage people to take coffee breaks by offering good coffee (or a good range of tea). Connecting people from different projects and departments can be a hard task with great benefits, so don’t be cheap on this one.
- What’s on the wall next to a coffee machine? While waiting for coffee to pour, I often read what’s around (if there is no one to talk to). Place some ideas boosters. But not company propaganda. You don’t leave your desk to go to a coffee machine in order to find what your mailbox is already full of. Make it a break – some industry news, some office projects, some crazy ideas from management magazines? Or maybe even leave it up to employees and ask them to share stuff on an empty cork board.
And when next time ‘Creativity’ or ‘Networking’ are on your board meeting’s agenda as issues preventing you going forward, – maybe there are easier solutions to this problem you can think of.
Ever played office buzzword Bingo? It’s also known as Bullshit Bingo game and if it’s still doesn’t ring a bell – even Dilbert has known it since 1994. Basically, it’s a bingo game with most commonly used words in meetings, and if you hear one, you cross it out, until you can claim BINGO. It’s very engaging. It’s all about the words most used in your meetings, words that fill up your conversations, presentations and ‘motivational posters’. If you could create one for your corporate meetings, what would the words be?
The challenge with buzz words is that we hear them so often, that we stop question their meaning. People often rely on subconscious knowledge of words they heard before. We don’t question what ‘running’ or ‘breathing’ means, as we don’t question ‘creativity’ or a ‘true leader’. We either use words for something we once defined or in worst case scenario for something that we never explored the meaning of. Often when people join a company, they hear about ‘leadership’, however often we don’t explore together what it means, we just assume we all know what it means. And when we stop questioning the definition, what happens is that the word loses its meaning. We continue using slang that doesn’t mean much to us, doesn’t motivate us and can potentially lead us in a wrong direction. By placing more and more buzzwords in our communication to employees, in reality we only cultivate indifference and boredom.
The good news is that lately we’ve seen new trends rising to create new, more engaging company vocabulary. From more casual and more exciting language in the meeting rooms, to letting employees to choose their own job titles (when did job titles mean anything anyway). Instead of making it more ‘corporate’, many companies now create a feel of entrepreneurial spirit. The corporate language is now more and more in the hands of employees. They are the ones who make things happen in your company, so let them decide how to speak.
How to encourage revamping your corporate lingo? Here are few simple suggestions:
- Redefine. Do not assume that we all know what being ‘proactive’ or ‘agile’ means. You might all be thinking different things and someone in the room wondering what the hell it means. Sit down and discuss what it means for you and your team. Align. See if the word is still relevant or if you want to call it something else.
- Listen. What do people talk about outside the meeting room? What words do they use when discussing ideas that engage them most? Listen, and help them feel comfortable talk ‘normal’ in all meetings.
- Rename. Some words are too vague. Discuss in a team and break down a concept to specific words or something that sounds more human or familiar to everyone. This will also help to prioritise action instead of chasing big-concept-words.
- Review. It’s good to change every-day talk, but if corporate communication is still full of buzzwords, it won’t get much credibility or meaning, and therefore, attention.
The key is to keep things simple, clear, genuine and human. Say it like you mean it. Say it if it means something.