Re-Imagining Effective Work

Helping Others to “See Differently”

We hosted a party last night, for our second son who turned 21. It’s was a great celebration of life and living, and we enjoyed seeing family and friends share the dancing, food, fun and speeches of the night.

We hired a local hall we’ve never hired before. It was a very good venue for the party, but of course, part of hiring a new facility is being able to “see” how to run a party in a space that was designed for multi-functional engagements. We designated one of the rooms as the food room, and it was my job in the early afternoon to lay out the tables for the food. I did the practice: I stood with my eyes closed and looked at the space I wanted to create. It needed to:
– Provide easy access to plates, cutlery and the food.
– Enable quick and efficient access and flow for the 100 or so guests.
– Signal how to move in and out of the room without using words.

I saw it in my head, and then made it happen in the room. There were two key design ideas: the table with the plates was put down the far end from where people entered, forcing them to walk to the far end of the hall to collect a plate and their cutlery. They would then be able to approach the food table on both sides, and make their way down the table selecting the food they wanted and then walk out and back to the seating area for eating. It was perfectly conceptualised, and I discussed this idea with the people helping me set out.

Everything was set, the party started, the dances were danced, and the instructions given at 6pm for dinner.

But someone moved the table with the plates and cutlery closer to the entry door. This broke the entire design principle, and meant that people then circled around the whole table, breaking the flow efficiency in half.


I should have checked the room again before dinner, but was busy in a conversation.

I should have checked in with the others who had early access to the room – to explain the idea, to show how it would work, etc.

While seeing differently can start with one, it can’t succeed without more.

Oh well, there’s always next time.