It is said that one of the greatest agents of innovation is chaotic change. Celanese is full of change these days.
We have a new CEO, a new fuels business segment, and new innovative opportunities across all of our businesses. But the biggest driver of innovation, at least for those of us in Dallas, may be the renewed layout of our new headquarters building.
In case you don’t know, after 20 years, the headquarters of Celanese is changing buildings. The former building was eight stories of back-to-back offices, for which most of us have become accustomed. The new office building is an open floor plan with the majority of employees residing in cubicles. Break-room space has also been expanded. This allows more employees to eat lunch while chatting with colleagues, rather than in solitude at their desk or at an outside venue. What does this shift mean to the employees at Celanese? This inevitable overlapping of social networks will have a dramatic effect on the diffusion of knowledge between teams and functions.
To some, this move represents a dreaded transition to cubicle-life. But in my opinion, cubicles might just be a step in the right direction for Celanese. Yes, cubicles are smaller, lack privacy and have an even bigger stigma after the movie “Office Space” was released. Yet, can we all agree that cubicles facilitate easier communication, networking and approachability than what we had before?
By working closer and communicating more often, our exposure to new functional areas outside our core responsibility will increase. As our learning increases, we become better-informed employees. Our ability to see the “bigger picture” is strengthened and translating disparate ideas into innovative concepts might just emerge. The social sciences would refer to this as a breeding ground for innovation.
The chemical business is complex, especially for those new to the industry. And we hire great people who bring a myriad of knowledge from their prior career. But it’s difficult to absorb that knowledge into our collective organization. Why not foster an environment where two-way learning can exist? The new atmosphere in our headquarters is a great start.
I believe the value of a corporation lies in the sum of the contributions of its people.
Now that many of us no longer have a door to close, the ability of the collective organization to speak-up and contribute just got easier.
*The Dallas based headquarters is the fifth global company location to go to an open workspace.