When a Building Thinks

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According to the erection date chiselled into my cornerstone, I’m a middle aged corporate building as measured by employee years. However, as all the other offices around me keep telling me, with age, comes experience, and I have seen it all.

My occupants come and go, make noise during the daylight hours, but thankfully they let me rest during the night which allows me time to recuperate and get my office back in order with the assistance of what they call “cleaners”.

Like all thinking entities, as I get older, I do start to lose a few fibres from my carpets, the walls and fixtures take on a slightly more shabby look, and there is the occasional random odour from the basement, but a regular make-over seems to do the trick which helps me look decades younger. The key to my youthful appearance is in having a well defined, and rigid inspection regime, where a realm of specialist tradespeople annually check me over and make sure my inners are operating efficiently. If not, a non-working item is quickly identified, rooted out and professionally replaced with something more modern. Any discomfort, or embarrassment that I may experience during this operation as my private rooms are exposed to all observers, is quickly forgotten when I consider the longer-term benefits.

As I’m more “buildingly” mature, I also have the ability to be the master of my occupant destiny, a trait many younger buildings can only aspire to, and one that I’m regularly quizzed about. For those of you that have read my many interviews in the Harvard Building Review (HBR), I won’t repeat the details here so as not to sound too pompous, nor repetitive. But for those that haven’t, the key is in using your inherent building skills to manipulate those within you. For example, should I experience an internal people upset that needs to be purged, I evoke my fire sprinkler system to remedy and dampen down the origin of the disturbance. Another option is to deliberately rest a people section of my building structure by strategically removing the power supply from the offending area. For those occasions that need a rapid solution, nothings beats the immediacy of a broken sewer pipe or gas leak which seems to work every time! But as a word of caution, don’t use this last one too often, otherwise you may find yourself being served with an official building condemnation notice which can cut short your life expectancy quite quickly.

Like all buildings, there will come a time when I’m no longer appreciated and I will be asked to make way for something an architect deems younger, more fashionable and environmentally friendlier. No, I’m not perturbed, because I know that I will be reincarnated once again into yet another building as my structural DNA is recycled and used as foundation rubble fill, thereby continuing my thought, and influence, in the corporate office.

 

Ageless Innovation

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We start from an early age exploring our surroundings where we learn new experiences on a continuous basis. Some of these learnings are positive, others may be negative, but through each individual encounter our foundation of knowledge increases.

Even as we grow older, we confront different environments and challenges which ensure that we are constantly adapting to our changing surroundings, just like our physical appearance alters with increasing years. However, there is a common constant in place throughout this learning and ageing process, that being the ongoing linkage of ideas where one thought is added to another thought to build a larger and ever expanding idea base.

To demonstrate this process, let us consider one of the most used building blocks that is familiar to all of us, that of a single brick of Lego® (“one idea”). To this brick we add another brick (another “idea”). We then add more bricks which are accumulated with time (“as we age”), where the process continues until we have a vast collection of bricks (or “ideas”). We could just leave the bricks in a large random pile, but we don’t. We join these bricks to make various shapes which we continually modify based on our experience and desires.

This simple analogy demonstrates that what it means to age where the concept of idea innovation becomes ageless. As we get older, we add our accumulated ideas and thoughts into an assembly of activities that are relevant for each stage in our life. The key is to keep finding new “bricks”, not to sit back and be impressed with what we have “built”, but to keep on building!