It's more than a house. It's an adventure.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Remodeling without a plan

While in his law school's library today, Eric observed some people touring the place, talking about remodeling some. He tells it better than I can:

Then I realized something. I didn’t see a single law student in the group. I know that we’ve all received email surveys, but those surveys are very general in nature - they ask you if you find the staff helpful, and if the stacks and microfiche give you a warm fuzzy, but they don’t ask your input into any specific changes. Personally, I think they would do well to consult some editors from the three law journals on campus, since we utilize the library far more than most students.

It was at that moment that I became skeptical again. This school is very good at throwing money away on mismanaged endeavors (e.g. the flat screen closed-circuit television system), and not so good at accurately tending to the needs of those of us who use these resources on a daily basis. What is to convince me that this will turn out better?

I had a similar experience a few years ago at my previous employer. A few of us were asked "would you like to help us plan the new layout for IT floors?" and we jumped at the chance. We thought it would be a terrific chance to build our "programmer's paradise". A clean furniture arrangement. Privacy and openness at the same time. Collaborative spaces for team brainstorming. Presentation areas to do demos for clients and other IT teams. Small meeting rooms for...small meetings.

Then we heard nothing for about a month. We figured this was another one of the "toss 'em a bone, then forget about it." Finally, we were invited to a meeting with the building services people. They wanted to do a show & tell for us.

A blueprint was laid down on the table. We were told "well, this is what we decided you're getting. The furniture and fixtures have been ordered and are en route. So, we really can't change what you see here. But we wanted you to see it before we start building." We tried to protest, but it wasn't worth wasting our breath. Bait & switch. Decision made. We were getting a cookie-cutter layout, a little more space between aisles for collaborative tables, and a little more light as a result, but that was the extent of it. Future floors didn't even get those luxuries, as management decided that they needed to put more people in per floor to minimize the per square foot cost of the IT staffing and eliminate the need for an extra floor.

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