I’ve spent the last to days at Orgatec, the worldwide leading office furniture and concept trade fair in Cologne. I am working on a summary of my thoughts at the moment but a particular conversation inspired me to capture my thoughts separately.
I had a chat with the co-founder of a co-working space in Cologne. She described to me that their offering is not just the physical space. Their concept includes the creation of connections between the people that use the space to do their work. Physically (welcome back classic black board) as well as digitally (social media style) challenges are matched with talent and the other way around. As per her that offering is used frequently and has delivered successful and fruitful connections.
Now…thinking about my passion of enterprise 2.0 I suddenly realized that co-working spaces might be a metaphor for corporations that…
- don’t have a formal hierarchy or structure
- consist of self driven individualists
- are aware that sometimes the own talent needs support
…but still experience a certain kind of steering.
In a co-working space every protagonist is responsible for the success of the own endeavor. If you fail, you will loose a customer and you have to go through the struggle of securing new business to pay the bills. The individual person is in charge. If start-ups use the co-working space as their first home base they are in charge of their journey as well. Probably one of the major drivers of entrepreneurs: see your baby grow and be in charge of providing food and education.
To create a connection to others and to find skills that compliment the own set – or even completes it – is a huge opportunity in a well organized and managed co-working space. In this context I am deliberately using the expressions of organizing and managing a co-working space. Because it’s down to the owners that
- provide the means of networking,
- nurture conversation and catalyze connections,
- select the right people and nurture the variety of skills and
- fill gaps of skill, expertise or resource.
However, their concept and offering to the actual co-workers has to be so compelling that they WANT to join the ship. They WANT to join with the awareness for the opportunities and the openness for complimenting talent.
In a co-working space enterprise 2.0 is creating individual and collaborative value…measurable by the success of individual or joint projects. Each co-work will have some kind of measurable ROI.
So the owners/managers of the co-working space might be a new form of leaders. They are the coaches, the guides, the mentors that we consultants talk about all the time when we talk about the change in managerial culture. The change away from hierarchy and task management towards network driven value creation and productivity driven success measures.
To silence the critics straight away: a 20.000 people industrial manufacturing corporation will never be some co-working space for engineering, production, sales and marketing talent. I agree to that. But for the small and medium corporations the concept of co-working and co-creation could be a valid alternative to growing companies that loose agility and flexibility with each single new full time employee.
Well…just a thought… 🙂