The Power of “Pleasant”

Over the past year, our staff has grown dramatically. What happens when you grow dramatically in a highrise office? You run out of space. Fast.

We were no exception and we quickly ran out of space for new team members and co-located spaces for teams. We began to do what we could to give people their own space while we look for more permanent digs. Temp space is not ideal. To be honest, it blows. Even so, our teams have done a fantastic job keeping their spirits up while we are in transition. Even they realize that temp space was inevitable (for now).

Interestingly enough, I recently hired a leader for one of our teams. He happened to be the new manager of one of the teams in our temp space. He hated it and I felt bad for he and the team. But something interesting happened. He began making simple, cosmetic changes to the area. Nothing earth shaking. Removing old vertical cabinets, arranging the coffee pots and desks in a particular way to open things up. Removing clutter around the windows to let light in so teams could see the great views from their floor.

Now these aren’t crazy changes. They’re simple, low cost, reasonable changes that have made a dramatic difference. You might say, “so whats the big deal? Seems like a few simple little changes. Anyone could have done that!”

Exactly… So why didn’t they?

I think the reason is non-trivial. I’ve written in the past about managers and their tendency to assume that the affect of a change is in direct proportion to the force applied to the change. For instance, they feel that if a change is dramatic, or expensive, or earth-shaking, it MUST be a change worth pursuing. They also feel the inverse is true. If a change is small, why do it? How could it possibly yield results?

The sad fact is that most big wins come from small, inexpensive, sometimes miniscule changes to the landscape. The simple act of paying attention to these details (ie “we feel like we are in a storage room”) and making micro-enhancements has a huge effect.

In a word, this manager has made his team’s space “pleasant”. Not extravagant. Not expensive. No approvals had to be given. No blood was spilled.

Pleasant….and it has already made a world of difference.