Chapter 11Break Out of Insanity

It is expensive to be mediocre in this world. Quality has always been cost effective. The tragic mistake in history that's always been made by the well-to-do is that they have feathered their own nests. Today we know that society does not survive unless it works for everybody.

—J. Irwin Miller

As a historian, Stephen Ambrose saw the critical role that environment plays in life. He opened his epic saga of Lewis and Clark's Western expedition with this line: “From the west-facing window of the room in which Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774, one could look out at Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an opening to the West that invited exploration.”1

Clearly, our surroundings influence what we envision and produce.

The organizations highlighted in this book have discovered—and many of us are still learning—that we have a deep connection to space. We impart meaning into space by the very approach we take to defining it. Space becomes the context for culture, and culture has the power to release (or constrain) engagement, creativity, and productivity. We all seem to understand that when we speak of homes, museums, art galleries, places of worship, or airports. But we often undervalue space when we think about our places of work.

One of the managers at Google described their workplace evolution this way: “During our 1.0 phase, we were interested in fast and cheap. During our 2.0 phase, we ventured into iconic design; we looked for ...

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