Solving problems

Some of the more interesting things I find myself reading turn up via my twitter feed. I have not yet identified who is best at identifying the things I find interesting, but someone during the week was reading about brainstorming and creativity.

I found this interesting because one of the things I have hated about brainstorming is the lack of critical analysis of the output. I find that where you have discussions where the merits and the demerits of an approach are considered – and you are prepared to listen to them – you’ll get a far more positive outcome. What interested me about that article however was not the discussion on brainstorming, but the discusssion on building design. This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately not necessarily in the context of effectively getting things done but in the context of utility (which indirectly leads to getting things done I suppose).

What I have been leaning towards is that concentrating on the beauty of an environment is of secondary importance if the utility is limited. A key example I have to deal with lately is the idea of beautiful dustbins which are miles from anyone’s desks. It doesn’t appear to have occurred to anyone that this was probably not a good idea as people will just get dustbins and put them near their desks anyway. Utility wins over form. To some extent, when I look at the examples cited in that article, that’s what I see happening. People will do what they can to create an atmosphere where they can get their job done.

I’m not familiar with what research is done at an architectural or interior decor level into this. I know a lot of work goes into looking at the built environment but that’s not the same. I know that a lot of interior decorators who have decorated kitchens in houses that I have considered buying or renting in the last 10 years have clearly no idea how to cook. Or else they weren’t interior decorators. Apartments with inadequate storage, for example.

And work offices. I’ve worked in a few over my time and can say without any shadow of doubt that the aesthetic beauty of an office is of secondary importance to me than whether it makes it easier or harder for me to get my job done. This leads to me – for example – introducing headphones to shut out the noise which gets amplified by the aesthetically designed ceilings, or photographs on my desk to provide some humanity to the stark black and white design.

But the environment is only part of the problem. Communication while facilitated or hampered by environments is still controlled by human beings and a lot of human beings are happy to talk but not so happy to listen.

Somehow if we could more people to listen and analyse rather than talk and reject anyone else’s talking, the world might be more efficient.