Take a look around your work environment. It can be anything from a floor in an office building, to your car, to the local coffee shop, to a hotel room, to an academic department, to an airport VIP lounge, to the plant floor. With access to information no longer the rate-limiting aspect of where we work anymore, the concept of the workplace has morphed. How we develop business, execute sales strategies, and how we engage in engineering can become rather fluid. Regardless of how free-form our work space seems to us, and/or to others, there’s still a lot of discipline involved in making that space a place where we can productively engage in our work.
What is the nature of the work you are engaged in? Is it creative work where you are innovating and designing and teaching and creating? Is it process-driven work where there are specific steps involved to produce your output, requiring that specific types of equipment are also present in the same location? Are you working on your own or with others? How is the usability of your work evaluated?
How do your customers “think” your work space has to “look”? What would happen if they requested to tour your office space in order to validate whether you were capable of working with them? Would you be defensive about justifying that you do your best work over a cup of java at the local coffee house at 7 AM, even though your customers work 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM in an office building? Or would you rent an office they could tour, just so that “your” space resembled “their” space?
If you work in an office space full of cubicles, take a look around your work environment. What is the nature of the work you are engaged in? Now… go to the place and space in which you do your best work, with the people you do your best work. Same deal with the coffee house or your car or your home office or a seat on an airplane.
Regardless of where you work, it can become your cubicle. It can limit your thinking, after a while. Cubicle mindset doesn’t require you to sit in a cubicle. But it sure gets you to think inside a cube. No matter how creative you think you are, or how collaborative.
Cubicle mindset impacts all of us. From time to time, taking your own business or engineering pulse is involved, just to see if you are getting too comfortable. Too complacent. Too involved in a specific pattern of activities.
You might need to determine whether you are oblivious to the obvious, whether you are going for complex solutions and missing the simple stuff. Just because you are maintaining a pattern of activities and mindset that you’ve built up over time. We have to step outside of ourselves, and take a look at ourselves from the outside looking in. After all, that is what we are asking our customers to do, right?
Be on Cubicle Mindset Alert. CMA keeps you alert to situations and contexts and perceptions which, when configured together “differently,” can lead to new insight about old circumstances.
Cubicles are just really boxes that we put ourselves in, over time. Make sure yours isn’t getting too comfy or predictable. So that you can continue to offer relevant, insightful and valuable ideas to yourself, your colleagues and your customers.
Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset ® speaking, coaching and consulting programs bring entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to individuals, teams, small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools to enhance client-focused outcomes.