I once worked in a building where the official name of the wall color was Touch of Gray. It was stark raving neutral with a hint of depression! When I took on the task of improving creativity and innovation, I suggested that we change the default color to something warmer, and also let people paint their offices. That idea was nixed, so for my own office (and sanity), I spiced it up by hanging colorful curtains and reupholstering the gray cubicle walls that made up my desk with red fabric. Suddenly my office became a wellspring of ideas and a place that I wanted to sit and work. To influence change, adjust the environment.
Our physical environment affects our perceptions and emotions, and enables our activities. It’s best if the environment in your organization aligns with the change you want to implement. Ask yourself:
- Are conference rooms equipped and decorated in ways that support how you want people to act in meetings?
- Do the layouts of break rooms and other gathering locations facilitate the types of interactions you want to create?
- Does the flow of the manufacturing floor or the distribution area enable good decisions?
- Do the plaques and displays in the lobby give the right impression about the direction the organization is going and the things you want to celebrate?
- What adjustments might you make to the parking lot? The mail room?
I was just reading yesterday about a study that showed that people who sit in comfy chairs are more amenable to negotiations, and those sitting in hard chairs are more rigid in their positions. Holding hot coffee instead of a cold drink makes people more generous. We are very much connected to the world we live and work in. Take an inventory of the environment of your organization and see what might need adjusting to help support your change.
How might you adjust the environment?
Read more of the 99 Ways to Influence Change.