/* */

20 February 2008

On analytic environments

It has been a while since we have revisited this subject. We are still strong believers in the adage that if one stares long enough into the cubicle, then the abyss stares back. However, long gone are the halcyon days of an IC influenced by the dot com era, seeking to implement revolutionary new space designs for a more creative atmosphere. Now, we face constant compression, and the ad hoc creation of new kinds of environments in the far flung realms of our forward deployed edge, as well as the unique spaces of the watch and fusion centers that now proliferate throughout the community.

But it is occasionally worth reflecting on what might be, if one were to challenge the dominant archetype of the current analytic environment. New spaces are being built all the time, and the further one goes from the Beltway, the more potential one finds for innovation – especially in the face of decentralization pressures.

We are not looking for something so radical as to be out of place even in modern corporate culture. Certainly nothing like the brooding industrial era estates one finds out in the wilds of “other” Virginia that might be readily re-purposed to the cause, but would remind one of a nearly HP Lovecraft atmosphere better fitted to the home of the fictional Laundry (or perhaps more appropriately, its American Black Chamber counterpart.)

Rather, we look to the best in class commercial entrepreneurs whose primary business is that of the mind. We have written many times before about the approaches taken by Google, and think enough has been said for that comparison. We would this time around seek to highlight the new spaces created for Microsoft’s Research division, also as iconic an institution of thought as any in modern America. We are fortunate that the roving blogger Robert Scoble has profiled this unique environment in a recent photo series.

We think there are lessons in these designs which can be distilled for the new IC. We are certain that given the option, many of the best and brightest would vote with their feet in favour of such environments - should they ever become available in an enlightened organization.

Labels: , , ,