Chapter 7Using Space to Shape Culture

Consciously or not, we feel and internalize what space tells us about how to work.

—David Kelley, IDEO

On a trip to Columbus, Indiana, I met with a group of Millennial employees of Cummins Inc. As we talked, I said something like, “So you're in this small town and you make diesel engines. How exciting is that?”

Kimberly, a bright-faced 24-year-old, with just two years at Cummins, responded as if she had studied the question.

“A few weeks ago, as I got ready for work, I suddenly wondered, ‘What if every Cummin's diesel engine in the world stopped at the same time?’ ”

She went on to actually name villages in Africa that would no longer have power, hospitals that would no longer run, mines that would have to close, produce that would not make it to the markets, and a few other consequences that blew me away. She ending by saying, “We literally make the world run.”

My first thought was, Okay, clever. Marketing came up with this little slogan and she memorized it. So I did some homework; I Googled it. Her “slogan” was original. This was Kimberly's imprint of Cummins's mission and value and her heartfelt attachment to both. How does a company reach a freshly minted college graduate and create the kind of connection that causes her to find such identity within the company's mission?

The answer to that question has more to do with culture than it does with strategy or training. Edward Hall describes this elusive key; “Culture hides much more than ...

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