It’s all well and good talking about this stuff, exploring what other people are doing, and reporting on it. But how am I actually walking the walk?
I’m just at the beginning of a new project looking at how an organisation can rethink the way in which it operates. This is not specifically about technology, but more about how people within and outside of the organisation change how they work, and change the patterns of how they collaborate with one another.
At the core will be an idea, I think, about how the world of work is changing. We move from a world where work is a place, and (for knowledge workers) the output of working are documents. At present the organisation uses a lot of email, and still much paper. There’s nothing inherently wrong about any of that, but tying an organisation to physical places has limitations in a world in which we are increasingly mobile, and in which we work with people who aren’t necessarily employees of the organisation.
To kick the project off, I took a couple of my colleagues to see some art.
Back in the Spring at the Names Not Numbers event (itself a remarkably tinkering institution) I was lucky to see artist Mat Collishaw speak about his upcoming installation Thresholds. It fascinated me – a combination of virtual reality technology and a crafted physical space that would allow participants to move around, see, hear and touch a recreation of a space from the 19th Century, Fox Talbot’s first ever exhibition of photography. The blurring of the physical and virtual worlds.
We popped into the exhibit this lunchtime.
Now Thresholds isn’t a model for how my client should reorganise itself any time soon. But taking colleagues to see it was an opportunity to see how the physical and virtual worlds today are able to be blurred. And might give us not only some ideas about how some of these emerging technologies might be of value to the organisation (there’s a lot of GIS-type information in the place), but also might give us a bit of shared experience and language to take into the work we have ahead.
I don’t know how that might work out. It was a little experiment, something for which I couldn’t produce a cost-benefit analysis up front. But it only cost £4.50 per person and about an hour of our time – so why not?
Would this have been something I would have done 12 months ago, before I started thinking in these terms of tinkering vs planned activity? Almost certainly not. It was a fascinating little diversion which sparked a few little embers of ideas. They might burn, they might fade. That’s tinkering. We’ll see over the course of the project how that might develop.
Thresholds is running at Somerset House in London until Sunday. The show moves on to Birmingham next week and then to Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire and various other places.