Meme – Co-locate Teams

Break down the barriers to ideas and collaboration by collocating teams.

Innovation is a dynamic, ongoing … social … act.    Opportunities, problems, and ideas arise throughout the day and throughout the week.   People need to look in each other’s eyes, hear the off-hand comment, and feel the experience of others.    

Traditional project management with its periodic status meetings and conference calls only offers a tiny intermittent bandwidth for complex multi-dimensional communication.    Problems are identified late in the game.  It becomes easier to blame rather than solve.   The possibility of shared insight is lost.  There is no shared hope.

Co-location is an amazingly powerful tool.  Physical presence drives successful collaboration and creativity in almost every setting that allows for spontaneous, genuine interactions:  

Mix The Cubes – Intermix business and technology teams in adjacent cubicles.  Sprinkle developers next to the business staff they support.  And too, mix the offices of various technical domains rather than having ghettos of specialists.   Encourage prairie dogs to stick their heads up and carry on impromptu conversations over the wall.

Live in a War Room – Find a large conference room and stake out a war room.   Work shoulder to shoulder.  Make sure there are lots of white boards, network ports, and markers.  Make it official.  Put a sign on the door.   Tolerate some mess.   Invite people in.   

Send Ambassadors – Is the team separated by an ocean or a continent?  Bring a representative of one team over for a few months.  Let them work in the “other world”.  Let them see the reality of their problems and understand the meaning of their words.    Then send them back to rejoin their team an ambassador for better insight and communication.

Go On The Road – Leading a team?  Business Innovation Architect?  Get yourself on the road.  Meet often and well with the entire extended team.   Don’t leave out vendors, business users or others who might be outside those who part of comfortable and conventional work relationships. 

Have a Party – Get out of the office.  Spend some time together socially.  This is no replacement for face to face work, but it can transform (or create) relationships that make a difference for months to come.  People become known to each other as people. 


Nothing beats spontaneous real face to face contact. 

Good Reads: 


Brainstorming Questions

  • Who is part of the team?  
  • Can we move in with each other?  Business?  Technology?   The entire team?
  • Can we get a war room?   How can we make it our own?
  • Who can come over from the offshore team ?  Who can go work with the offshore team?
  • When is the next trip?  Who hasn’t been touched lately?  What should we talk about face to face so that we encourage ideas, spontaneity and shared vision?
  • Do we need a party?   Who and when?   Why not tomorrow? 

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