The premise behind I wish I worked there! is simple: In order to be constantly innovative, businesses need to create spaces in which to innovate. By isolating the environmental factors that enable this process to happen Kursty Groves sets out to show that physical space “can be used as a tool within the creative process” (p. 10). On her journey visiting some of the most successful companies in the world she identifies four main categories of creative environment. Spaces that stimulate, spaces for reflection, spaces for collaboration and spaces to play.
The book takes her far and wide to some of the most extraordinary work environments. There’s Goggle’s water lounge to encourage ‘chillaxing’; Lego’s Innovation Room, a blank canvas on which to create; Nike’s running trail dotted with bronze statues of sporting legends; and Aardman’s meeting spaces designed into corridors and staircases.
They are the types of spaces that would probably appeal to Sir Ken Robinson. Creativity, he defines in The Element (2009) is applied imagination, “It involves putting your imagination to work to make something new, to come up with solutions to problems, even to think of new problems or questions” (p. 67). And creativity he posits is something sorely missing from our education system. In fact something that he believes is systematically drained from children.
As educators we are constantly being reminded that we’re preparing learners for an unknown future. Remember the original Did you know? It suggested that, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist... using technologies that haven't yet been invented...in order to solve problems we know don’t even know are problems yet”. So how do the environments support the creativity that is being demanded of us?
The companies that Kursty Groves visits in her book are all examples of highly successful creative spaces. These are truly inspiring buildings where creativity is valued and nurtured. Suspend for a moment the constraints of budget and think, ‘How could schools benefit from the same thinking?’ How could our schools ensure there are spaces that stimulate, spaces for reflection, spaces for collaboration and spaces to play. It’s an interesting exercise and I wonder how they might look. Are they already our there? Perhaps there’s potential for a sequel Kursty, ‘I wish I learned there!’
Groves, K. (2010). I wish I worked there! A look inside the most creative spaces in business. Chichester: Wiley
Robinson, K. (2009). The Element: How finding your passion changes everything. London: Penguin