It is increasingly being recognised that the "spaces' in which creative and innovative activities take place play an important part in the innovation process. Designing effective workspaces to create desirable spatial interactions is becoming the focus of organisational efforts in many firms. It is also apparent that companies are paying close attention to the design of the physical environments in which innovative activities takes place. For example, design consultancy IDEO make strong claims about the way in which their environment and infrastructure enhances their creativity and innovation performance; their whole workspace not only reinforces their corporate values, but supports innovative activity through the provision of appropriate resources, visualisation and model making facilities and the ability to reconfigure for new projects. Some of the larger consumer goods companies have created spaces for encouraging consumer input into new concept development (e.g. Kodak, BT & Nokia). In addition, many companies are beginning to consider how the work infrastructure supports effective group work and communication, for both distributed design teams and also the day-to-day activities of product development teams (e.g. Cisco, DTI). Other companies have developed dedicated spaces to support group creativity and encourage creativity as a key component of innovation, (e.g. Royal Mail, Dutch Tax Office, Orange). Finally, several organisations have created dedicated environments for demonstrating and evaluating new products (e.g. Philips, BT).
However, despite the emergence of such spaces, there is little empirical evidence of their benefits or of the wider implications for the design of workspaces to support/enable innovation. Furthermore, there is little that takes this notion further to identify the characteristics of effective environments. It appears that firms are creating spaces based on instinct and personal judgement, rather than genuine insights based on firm evidence. Indeed, many such spaces are replications of environments publicised by or experienced in other firms.
This research aims to address this gap and generate an understanding of how the physical environment influences innovation performance and to identify the components of effective environments.
University of Manchester
- Moultrie J, Dissel M, Haner U-H, Janssen S, Nilsson M, Van der Lugt R, (2006), Innovation spaces: towards a framework for understanding the role of the physical environment in innovation, Submitted to the Journal of Creativity and Innovation Managment
- Lewis M, Moultrie J, (2005), The organisational innovation laboratory, Creativity & Innovation Management, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp 73-83
- Moultrie J, Lewis M, Dissel M, Gregory M, (2004), The organisational innovation laboratory, EIASM 11th NPD Conference, Dublin
- Lewis M, Moultrie J, (2003), A preliminary exploration of the 'new' organisational laboratory phenomenon, Experimental Interactive Learning in Industrial Management, 22-24 May, Aalborg, Denmark
An exploratory study was funded by the EPSRC through the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre within the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University. A proposal for further work is currently under development.