April 8, 2011
What better way to explore the question of collaboration than by collaborating? I recently participated in a Design Storm with 20 students from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, as they tackled this real-world issue over a period of two and half days.
For Herman Miller, this was an opportunity to ask the next generation of designers about the workplace, about collaboration, and about how they envision the two melding in the future.
Brainstorming, discussion, sketching, and critique; round after round, the students worked through their ideas toward a final concept. The atmosphere was awesome. The results were even better, ranging from the intangible “office as a second skin” and “implicit boundaries” to the tangible “mobile work pods.”
The experience left us wishing we could replicate that spark back at the office. We value our partnerships with universities and colleges of all kinds; they provide us a fresh perspective, all while connecting with future innovators. Who better to create the future with?
Better World, What's Up
April 6, 2011
We’ve been working to get to zero operational footprint by 2020. Right now we’re 91 percent of the way there. People have recognized us for our effort and, on Friday, March 25, I accepted an award on behalf of Herman Miller for Best Sustainability Performance at the Social Innovation Awards. It was an unusual experience because, unlike the other eight or so award recipients in other categories, Herman Miller had no opposition! There were no other nominees in our category, no nail-biting seconds of silence, no exciting build-up of tension. It was only us.
The audience of CEOs, CFOs and VPs from major blue chip companies, such as Coca Cola, Cisco, Nokia, Nestlé, Walmart, all heard there was just one company so far ahead of the game there was no need to ask for other nominations. And if they want to understand how to make a real difference and get that message to stakeholders, then they would do well to take notice of what Herman Miller is doing.
At that moment, I understood how far Herman Miller has come and how much people respect us for doing the right thing.
Design, Education, Innovation
April 4, 2011
What was your college experience like? Ramen noodles for breakfast; Chock-a-block lecture halls; No class on Fridays. Am I alone here?
Well, some students are demanding more of their education and universities are stepping up, providing them an opportunity to work outside the traditional parameters of academia. Innovation centers give interdisciplinary teams of students a chance to tackle a project in which they design, fabricate, and test a prototype that solves a particular problem; sometimes in conjunction with for-profit companies.
No specified number of hours, no professor at a podium, no classroom—just a deadline and a problem to be solved. Which raises a problem: Your average classroom is not the highly flexible, dynamic space that will stimulate, support, and contribute to success of the young innovator. But, what is?
Looking to answer this question, Herman Miller convened a Leadership Roundtable to explore the innovation process and develop characteristics of creative spaces. Comprised of university innovation center leaders, national associations tracking educational innovation, and architects and designers, the group focused on several questions:
• What are the characteristics of an innovator?
• What are the barriers to creativity and innovation on campus?
• What attributes of creative environments that make them unique and supportive of the innovative mind?
The answers to these questions all touched on the type of space needed. Innovation centers require spaces that satisfy both the physical and psychological components of innovation. They have to be an ecosystem in which ideas can grow uniquely with each project.
Pictured: Prasad Boradkar, Director of InnovationSpace (a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU).
April 1, 2011
As the words “green” and “sustainability” become part of business vernacular, it shouldn’t be a surprise that hundreds, if not thousands, of conferences have emerged to discuss these topics. The conference we never miss is Fortune Brainstorm GREEN, held this year in Laguna Nigel, California, April 4-6.
Fortune, together with its program partners, The Nature Conservancy, NRDC, and the Environmental Defense Fund, gathers, as it describes, “the smartest people we know” in sustainability from business, government, and NGOs.
Since 2009, Herman Miller has been a major sponsor of this dynamic event. We enjoy contributing to it, but we feel that we gain even more through the rich conversations and relationships we build there.
We’ll be live tweeting from the conference, so follow us @hermanmiller for real-time updates. Or you can also follow @brainstormgreen or search for hashtag #FortuneGreen to get an inside look into all of the discussions happening during the conference.
And, though it’s too late to join the conference in person, you can virtually participate in some of the sessions via video stream.