Recent decades have seen scores of offices embrace an open-plan format - as many as 70% of all workplaces. The rationale for doing away with doors and walls was clear: by bringing down the barriers that divided us, greater collaboration, communication and cohesion would result. In addition, a more flexible and fluid office layout would suit an increasingly mobile and transient workplace. Or so we thought.

While open-plan offices have certainly benefitted companies in that they've significantly reduced floor-space requirements and therefore costs, the data is becoming increasingly clear: open-plan offices aren’t really working.

Consider the evidence:

3 reasons you procrastinate (and how to stop)

Sat Jan 1 2017 Michael McQueen

What are you putting off right now? Vacuuming the house, walking the dog, going to the gym? Maybe it's making those phone calls, tackling your inbox or submitting the job application you’ve been ‘working on’ for 3 weeks?

While procrastination comes naturally to most us, have you ever wondered why it can be so hard to shake off the shackles of inertia and get moving?

Here are three common reasons:

Enjoying Downtime without Experiencing a Downturn

Wed Dec 12 2016 Michael McQueen

Enjoying Downtime without Experiencing Downturn

As we draw to the end of another year, if you’re anything like me you’re looking forward to downing tools, closing up the laptop and switching off from all things work.

For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the holiday season coincides with our summer break – that blissful and carefree time where beaches are full and office towers are empty.

For my Northern Hemisphere friends, the coming weeks may only be a short break but a break no less.

The New Zealand All Blacks are by all measures legendary. With a rich heritage dating back to 1903, this iconic Rugby team boasts a staggering 77% test match winning record and are statistically the best team to have ever played the game.

While they may be known worldwide for their customary Haka – a traditional Māori challenge dance – the All Blacks are something of an institution back home in NZ.

Imagine a world without carparks!

Wed Oct 10 2016 Michael McQueen

A little while back I had lunch with one of the most switched on business leaders I have met in recent times. The man in question has had a long and distinguished career and yet has managed to stay below the radar – he is far less famous than he ought to be.

In early 2015 I was approached by a number of Rotary International’s key leaders to form part of a strategic planning committee tasked with mapping out Rotary’s future. As an organization that is well over a century old, Rotary’s 1.2 million members have had a phenomenal impact on the globe (including the near-eradication of Polio). However, the organization has languished in recent years as it has struggled to clearly define what a 21st century service movement should look like.

As part of a recent gathering of this strategic planning committee, we reviewed a simple but brilliant TED talk by business strategist Knut Hannes.

What struck me most about Haanaes’s message was the simple way he described some of the common dynamics that can cause an organization to fail. In short, he said that every leader and organization committed to maintaining growth and vitality must strike a balance between two things:

The Power of Focusing on Friction

Thu Sep 9 2016 Michael McQueen

Innovation is often thought of in terms of creation and invention – coming up with new ideas and new solutions. However, working with clients in recent months I have discovered that often the most powerful forms of innovation are more subtle. Rather than focusing on development and discovery, the best innovations focus on incremental improvement – getting better at doing the basics and addressing the factors that negatively impact on the people we are looking to serve and impress. Factors often referred to as friction.

We often assume that innovation and strategy ought to be the domain of those with experience and expertise. The novice, the newbie or the inexperienced is often told, even if indirectly, to learn ‘how things are done around here’ and only to make suggestions once they’ve earned the right to have an opinion.

But what if we’ve got it all wrong? What if the most valuable source of strategic innovation and creativity is actually the person with almost no experience?