The eleventh of our 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa: strategic co-location can foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Through unique partnerships and an intense focus on building collaboration, you can allow innovation to flourish and break down steep hierarchies for a more egalitarian workspace where employees are unusually happy to come to work.
 
Why has this worked for us? We worked hard to get the recipe right and focused on aligning values, co-proposing, and creative agility.

View our previous big idea >>

Co-Location

Co-Locating for Creativity

Idea #11: Co-Locating

Photo by Aaron White

We’re a small team in CCL’s Ethiopia office. 
Starting up, we chose to share an office with 2 other small companies, each with a unique skillset that complemented our focus on leadership development.

Desert Rose Consultancy is a local innovation and design firm that fuses a deep cultural knowledge of East Africa with creative problem-solving. The second company, a spinoff of Desert Rose, is a local language publishing company that focuses on creating contextualized literature for indigenous languages.

Through this unique three-way partnership, and an intense focus on building intercompany collaboration, we allow for innovation to flourish. We’ve broken down the steep hierarchies that exist in the culture and have engendered an egalitarian workspace where employees are unusually happy to come to work.

Why has this worked for us? We worked hard to get the recipe right and focused on aligning values, co-proposing, and creative agility.

  • Values – Surprisingly, we don’t have a formal MOU between the 3 organizations. We decided that by aligning our values, and actively living out these values, we could create a strong sense of community. We eat lunch together, we celebrate together, we work through problems together.
  • Co-proposing – We’re much better together, so much so that we often go after projects together. Our clients see us almost as one organization and have come to rely on the unique competencies we each bring to the table.
  • Creative Agility – There’s a lot of creative energy because we co-locate. Our ability to test and experiment through quick pursuit, reflection, and adjustment—something we call creative agility—allows us to bounce ideas off each other and quickly get to the prototype stage.

Questions for Further Reflection:

  • Was there a time where your organization partnered with another to address a problem?
  • What are the benefits of a diverse workforce and partnership?

Tell us your big ideas in the comments.

<< Our previous big idea | More to come!


Leadership Beyond Boundaries - Center for Creative Leadership logoThis series, 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa, was brought to you by CCL’s Ethiopia office and Leadership Beyond Boundaries, an initiative by the Center for Creative Leadership to democratize leadership development and unlock the power of human potential around the globe.

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