I honestly don’t know what’s happened to the corporate world, but I can say one thing: the spaces where people meet and work suck. For one reason or another, most companies seem to have concentrated on building this perfect factory floor of people in cubicles and stale furniture and conference rooms with little to no life. Worst of all, the lighting is almost always a stale and completely draining (at least on me) white. It’s as if everyone set out to create a hospital atmosphere rather than a creative one.
Nobody likes hospitals. So when receiving a potential partner, why would you ask them to step into your hospital-like working space?
Having a good, positive, creative space for meeting with your prospective partner is a critical, critical thing. There should be enough space, but not too much – it’s difficult to establish the kind of personal closeness effective partnering requires if you’re sitting on opposite ends of a room that looks like an airplane hangar. And the energy in the room should be positive.
Now I’m not suggesting you should sit together on a couch in a greenhouse or something. I’m just pointing out that space is important and you should consider the space in which creating happens and partnerships can happen. Stale environments contribute to stale, boring conversations. Beautiful, creative environments are the recipe for successful ventures. The room sets the tone. So set the tone right.
How do you do that? Consider the following factors:
- Avoid unnatural white light (natural lighting is best).
- Consider a space that is not completely closed off by four solid walls.
- Pick the spot with the best view (it is always a good thing if the people in the room can see both inside and outside space at any given time).
- Set up in a space that allows for places to congregate. Separate lounges or common areas are best – places where your attendees can go to take a break from the session before returning to the main meeting location.
- Provide comfortable seating (this should go without saying).
- Have water available and as close to the table as possible (placing pitchers of water on the table is a nice touch).
- Snacks are great and better if already on the tables, particularly for innovation sessions.
- Provide white boards, flip charts, and/or legal pads to write on. There is nothing more devastating to creativity than sitting in on a meeting with nothing to write on or present with. Without these tools, there is simply no way to work as a group.
One final important point of note: Just because you are the one doing the inviting does not mean the meeting has to be held on your offices. In fact, when you are doing the inviting it only makes sense that you go to their place of business. In this scenario, you’ll just have to hope that the meeting space is a positive and productive one. If you know the partner’s space from past experience – and you know that it’s not good – or even if you don’t have appropriate space available in your own offices, find the best place possible that you know it will support your intentions for innovation. Meet in a place that you know supports your intentions. Whatever the case, do your best to ensure that the environment demonstrates your desire to enter into a relationship of creativity and potential.