We wanted to make this one of those “fly on the wall” pieces but realized that the kind of enterprise we are talking about would not provide a bug-friendly environment, so drone it has to be. It’s 10.30 PDT as our drone hovers silently in a truly huge parking lot just off Tasman Drive in San Jose, CA. It has in its sights a software development center of one of the world’s best known technology names. Even the most perfunctory dip into Google will show that the company is a leader in the game and employs thousands of knowledge workers pushing the boundaries of technology in several countries around the world. A slightly deeper search will show that the company is also leading the way in deploying Mindful practices across the enterprise – perhaps cause and effect? Enough hovering and searching – let’s zoom in for a closer look.
As the drone slips silently past the reception area and enters the massive open plan office off to the right, it quickly becomes apparent that something is up. Pretty much all the cubicles are occupied but there is a curious absence of noise. The few phones that ring go straight to Voice Mail, there are no “dinging” message notifications on smartphones and there is no crowd around the water coolers and coffee machines talking about Super Bowl XLIX (Go Patriots!). A closer look shows that people seem to be working with complete focus on their individual tasks – a peek at a calendar shows that we have wandered in during what seems to be called “Golden Hours” for this group. A swift check confirms that at this specifically designated time slot the employees are expected to focus on their core-tasks. This is not the time for meetings, emails and communications. Phones are on silent mode and message notifications and social media are turned off. Things seem to be buzzing, well, silently buzzing.
The drone peels off towards another section of the office where a discussion is underway. A meeting seems on but it’s not like most meetings we are familiar with. For one no one seems to be sneaking in quick glances at their smartphone or working on their email while others are talking. That in itself is unusual but what is even more striking is the prominently displayed “Agenda” for the meeting. There seems to be a clear idea of what is being talked about – clearly the people here have prepared before-hand. It is also clear that the meeting is scheduled for 60 minutes and a thread of conversation in the room suggests that even that is longer than the norm in this company. Even as we watch, the meeting reaches a conclusion after a vigorous debate and everyone signs off on the conclusion before moving away to other tasks – coffee and doughnut in hand. We fly off too.
Over there in the distance we sight a section that seems to have a bit more going on – at-least as far as noise and movement go. This seems to be a slot of time just after one of those “Golden Hour” slots we encountered earlier. Clearly this time is set aside for breaks, communications and those other little personal tasks that cannot be put off. There are phone conversations going on and a bunch of people working to make a dent on their inboxes. Some folks seem to have pulled an early shift – that explains them stepping away for an early lunch towards the cafeteria located conveniently on the same floor. This also seems the slot of choice for people to make the long walk across to other groups to get that client entertainment reimbursement cleared, convince HR to adjust the paid “days off” balance and so on. Clearly these breaks mean business too!
As we prepare to move out, we encounter a group that also seems similarly inclined. This seems to be a group supporting an operation in a different time zone. As they wind up for the day, the time everyone is taking to review the day that went by and to make a plan for the day coming up next becomes quickly apparent. The objective seems to be to take a long and hard look at facts below the surface – for instance the talk seems to be about “time at work” rather than the “time at office”. This seems to suggest that what is really important here is the time spent on core activities and of the productivity that results rather than on more superficial measures. It is also apparent that this review is intended for each employee to hold up a mirror to his or her own work-habits. The aim seems to be to encourage reflection and considered self-improvement.
It’s time for our drone to fly off to other missions but even this slice of time of the Mindful Enterprise™ has shown us so much worth emulating. We would have loved to delve deeper into other sections of this company to get more such examples but our drone seems to have taken the “Golden Hours” concept into its electronic heart – our calls are going straight to Voice Mail.