26 Oct

Innovation and collaborative spaces

Innovation and collaborative spaces

Innovation requires the interaction between individual or between groups, the better these individuals or groups interact the best result on innovative or creative ideas. The spaces where individuals or teams interact makes the difference, such spaces can be either personal space or team space for interaction, Winneman & Serrato (1999) resume as best practices for team collaboration the following:


  Work station or group stations should provide a level of comfort to allow employees maximum performance on their task.


Team works requires certain level of proximity to allow collaboration and support intergroup communication.

Sharing work place

Common space such a work table to share equipment promotes communication as collaboration.

Meeting places

It is important groups have access to group meeting where important work is complete.

Displays areas

Displays areas are important to show prototypes or work in process products helps other understand task team is involved.

Informal gathering places

The way employees flow on their facilities should promote informal communication on informal places, such as rest areas or restroom areas.

Somebody may believe that the best practices listed above are too much and nobody cares about them, actually there may be companies do it backwards, and try to provide just a place to team members no matter is adequate or not for the sake of “savings” and avoid employees interaction for the sake of “productivity” and may believe employee interaction is “relaxation” on their behavior toward important goals, however this is not the case and there is several examples of companies and teams really cares about this best practice, let me elaborate on the following examples:


Steve Jobs created a full equipped lab to Jonathan Ives’s creations, the “Ive’s Studio” described by Issacson (2010) on Steve Jobs Biography  was a very reserved place, where few had access, describe work stations for designers and steel tables as display areas for work in progress designs. Jobs took very seriously team spaces and layout to promote innovation.


Steve Jobs influenced Pixar studio in order to promote collaboration, convinced on Ive’s Studio success provide open spaces around the work stations so that collaboration occurred even on the way to restrooms, again Issacson (2010) describes Pixar new studio on detail on Jobs Biography.

Building 20

Initially Building 20 hosted MIT Radiation Laboratory, following by   Research Laboratory of Electronics and finally Laboratory for Nuclear Science, This place was claim as the most important research center that nurtured creativity and innovation “Magical Incubator” because its unique informal design allowed informal (random and unplanned) collaboration with a wide range of different groups doing totally different stuff.

As conclusion good ideas can be goldsmith by informal collaboration, when spaces host those scientists and engineers provide work stations that provides comfort, tools and environment for collaboration good thing may occur most of the time unpredictable.

Do you feel your work environment foster creativity and innovation? Do you feel comfortable at your work station? Let us know your experiences they are important for us.


4)      Wineman Jean, Serrato Margaret “Facility Design for High Performance Teams” Jossey-Bass 1999 USA.

5)      Issacson, Walter “Steve Jobs” Simon & Schunters USA 2010.

6)      Lehrer, Johan “Group Think” http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/01/30/120130fa_fact_lehrer?currentPage=1 The New Yorker 2012. Recovered October 2012.

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