Everyone hates to love some things. The thing I hate to love is a stinky old mouse infested double wide portable trailer that leaks when it rains, is far too hot when it is hot, and, in my opinion, is a fire, health, and beauty hazard. Our church office with its paper thin walls, interesting eco-systems, and over crowded desk space is set against the backdrop of a beautiful monastery type locale of lush green forest atop a mountain. It is in this setting of a decaying twenty-five year old ATCO trailer that I have come to learn and love the idea of shared space.
Shared space in our office is not an option…there is none among us who have the luxury of privacy. We have two actual offices in our building, a boiler room, two bathrooms, and a common area. In this small space we have eight people with their own desks and another open desk available for interns and our out-of-office staff. The dynamic of cramming everyone into such a small and ghetto place has been one of those leadership things that we have learned by accident and have been pleasantly surprised by the result. In fact, as we have been brainstorming our new offices we have been trying to figure out ways to ensure that shared space is still an active part of our office structure with playrooms and common areas.
Because all of our space is shared our brainstorming, problem solving, sermon preparation, mentoring, reading, and writing is influenced, developed, and sculpted in a community environment. I would call it an eclectic learning environment that allows for and encourages the input and creativity of anyone else who happens to be around. To me, here is the most important aspect and question to ask; how can one lead a community without leading in community? It’s brilliant.
I’ll leave you with this, a quote I found on the back of a Starbucks cup while we traveled through the High Sierra desert this spring:
“If we really want to understand innovation and collaboration, we have to explore shared space. Consider Watson and Crick; how many experiments did they do to confirm DNA’s double helix? Zero. Not one. They built models based on other peoples data. These models were their shared space. Their collaboration in that shared space powered their Nobel Prize winning breakthrough. If you don’t have shared space you are not collaborating.”
- Michael Schrage, MIT Researcher.
I will never forget our portable office.