My thoughts about… The office clean sweep

agile, blog, management30

I was with an client a while ago. A company that is more than 50 years old and who used to be 100% Management 1.0. However, they are in the process of trying to change the company–make it a Management 3.0organization and apply new things such as patterns from Sociocracy 3.0. Sometimes with good results, and sometimes with no results. It will take time, but the people who are driving the change are aware that you can’ t change the culture of an organization with a history of more than 50 years in just a few years.

When I visited the client, they were discussing the sweep-through-the-office-event scheduled by Facility Management. I hear you thinking: “A sweep-through-the-office-event…?” Everyone understands an office needs to be safe–you should not block emergency exits, or have your household appliances installed that you got from your grandmother 73 years ago. 

However, a clean desk policy? Does this mean you’re only allowed to put up posters and other expressions of communications at designated areas? Of course, everyone was pretty upset by this announcement. In the end, it was as bad as expected. Yes, they cleared posters off some walls, but thank god not all sticky notes were removed.

However, it made me think about what this says about an organization. As Einstein already said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” We offer an Agile Talent workshop to have people working with people (often called HR) experience HR. Should we create an Agile Facility Management workshop?

I believe co-workers should be allowed to personalize desks and offices. They should be allowed to stick anything they want to a wall, and even install a decent coffee machine in some organizations. It is not just the core organization who needs to change into a new way of thinking and working, but also all support departments.

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