big

NOOP.NL | The Creative Networker

Move Your Desk

04/06/2013

Desk colorThe more I thought about the idea of walking around, the more I got the feeling that the practice is suboptimal. Years ago I realized that the concept of “being there where the work happens” can be taken a step further. I solved it by picking up my stuff to go and sit with my team, at an ordinary desk, just like everyone else. It might have been the best management decision I ever made, vastly increasing the amount of social time I could enjoy with my team members.

Social time turns out to be deeply critical to team performance, often accounting for more than 50% of positive changes in communication patterns.

- Alex Pentland, “The New Science of Building Great Teams

After I had moved my desk, whatever happened, I was always around. This allowed me to pick up much more of what was going on, and understand much better what other people cared about. They regularly asked for my opinion, when otherwise they only did this when I happened to be walking around. And I picked up signs of joy and frustration, which I wouldn’t have noticed if I had not been there. This convinced me that MBSA (Management by Sitting Around) can sometimes beat both MBWA and MBFA.

Interestingly enough, not everyone is of the same opinion. Richard Branson, the famous founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, has always practiced the opposite approach. He prefers not to sit with his management teams, because in his view this could inhibit their creativity and self-reliance. Instead, he prefers to leave them to their own devices most of the time, but guarantees regular face-time with everyone by flying around all the time.

But of course, that’s easy to do when you have your own airlines.

Personalmaps-front-miniThis text is part of Personal Maps, a Management 3.0 Workout article. Read more on my mailing list.

This article is written by on in Uncategorized. Jurgen Appelo is at Happy Melly. Connect with Jurgen Appelo on .

This article was posted in:

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mpkangas Mpkangas

    And if your people are located in different wings/buildings then you should share desk time with everyone

  • Anto Jurkovic

    Right solution to the similar “problems” depends on a context.
    I agree that the best situation is when a manager is with his team. That is not always possible especially if organization has deep hierarchy.
    The worst case is when several managers in the line start practicing MBWA distracting the same people, for example people from R&D, with the same questions on different times. It is better to just walk around and chat if someone stop you or talk with people at coffee place.

  • Hitoshi Ozawa

    We actually don’t have private desks at our office. Employees are able to sit where he/she is needed at that time. If an employee is a member of several projects, he/she may move during the day to where different project members are.
    http://htshozawa.blogspot.jp/2013/06/doing-away-with-personal-desks.html