October 15, 2000
Originally part of the Enterprise-Wide IT Architecture newsletter, sign up at the website http://ewita.com go to the ADMIN selection.
During the early stages of any collaborative effort, when group members are forming commitment to a team, a project, an idea, a way of working together, involvement in the design of the team's physical and virtual space can help clarify and solidify goals and processes. Communal design of a project room or team space can help the group think about how members are going to work together, as well as promote esprit de corps. The work space that results is likely to be highly functional, having been designed by the people who actually use it, and one that can serve as a concrete reminder of group identity and resolve.
While creativity can't be programmed, the environment can be used to "influence the pattern of experiences over time, increasing the probability that new ideas or connections will occur to people who can do something with them.
Work space (virtual or physical) should be -
In addition to stimulating ideas, visual display or representation can serve as a medium of collaboration. It can be called "shared space." It can be a whiteboard, a project room with models or prototypes, an intranet home page, or just a paper napkin passed between two people at a coffee bar. Whether physical or electronic, shared space is essential to successful collaboration, providing a medium for communication that goes beyond the exchange of information that typifies meetings and conversations to allow people to create information, to think out loud, together.
Important qualities of shared space are;
The space becomes a partner in the collaborative process, ensuring that "the whole of the relationship is greater than the sum of the individuals' expertise."