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What’s your space?

 

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“Houston we have a problem”.

Whilst the unfortunate astronauts on the fated Apollo 13 mission had a problem for sure – those serving to protect them and bring them back to earth bore huge responsibility.

After man first landed on the moon with Apollo 11 – the benchmark for public interest had ‘peaked’. Questions were beginning to be raised about costs, and the risks, and the point. I grew up fascinated by the Apollo missions – and still consider the whole episode to be one of the greatest pioneering human achievements of the 20th Century.

Remembering the nail-biting episode of the three man crew of Apollo 13 splashing down in the ocean after their ordeal – I’m now (over forty years on) equally as fascinated by the environments the men at NASA’s control centre used to steer and guide these amazing missions into space.

Furthermore – NASA did some of us in the urban commercial horticultural industry proud. Until public money found it’s way into other avenues, we were going into space with huge human colony environments that would support life on a broader scale. That meant learning about what plants in a hostile environment were best to clean air – and sustain life – in enclosed spaces. Of course – it never happened. The costs were as astronomical as space itself – and it has hence remained a dream.

In NASA’s missions – everyone faced the same way – literally and figuratively.

In the command centres – they managed to get astronauts into successful outcomes and overcome unsuccessful ones. They were designed in such a way as to point everyone’s attention and talent in the same direction. Problems were faced, energy was harnessed and hence supreme focus was achieved.

However, what of many environments today? They are simply not as impressive. Why is this? Broadly three things:

  • No immensely seriously over-arching purpose or goal. Is ‘shareholder value’ a big enough goal? Key performance indicators either lack a high enough purpose – or one where it’s so obfuscated, irrelevant and/or diluted to people – you are just paying them a salary. That breeds an environment where people always put their own agenda and issues back into the top spot. Consequently – that bleeds huge energy to manage.
  • There is a poor environment – with regimented, noisy desks pressed with ever-higher density into ‘space’. Investment in an environment rather than space is in many cases – virtually non-existent.
  • No one is listened to, as they should be. For decades – people have written billions of words about how important it is to realise human potential – yet most of the time – developing human potential is secondary to chasing down the numbers and repetitive actions to keep shareholders and stakeholders from revolt.

“Don’t airbrush over serious problems with inane ‘smiley-face’ culture”

This is our biggest danger. Whilst I am a fan of positive psychology – real problems people encounter towards realising big goals needs raising, noting & handling. Whilst your face may be gesturing ‘yeah – obviously’ you’d be surprised at the number of times in which the genuinely clever solution, the breakthrough moment and the associated energy orbiting around both of those things – is stifled under a blanket of process, procedure and ‘keep smiling and carry on’ attitude. This must change.

How?

Start by taking a long hard look at the physical environment you put people into.

  •  Can they find quiet space? (p.s – the lavatory doesn’t count)!
  •  Can they find time & space to talk to one another and share ideas and offload issues without facing task-related pressure?
  • Can people escape noise and stress – even for a few minutes every hour?
  • Can people try different ways of things in a controlled way without feeling under threat?
  • Can the place where most of your people work – be seen to clearly reflect the highest and loftiest of your primary achievements and target goal?

If you have answered ‘no’ to most of the above – then I can positively guarantee you are NOT realising the best potential of your staff!

Sensescape provides stress-lowering living indoor plant displays together with soundscape and scent systems that turn a physical space into an environment that will improve productivity and create a healthier, happier workforce.

To find out more – please register your details on the contact page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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