Preparations are all already underway to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the cubicle into the American office scene. The man called the father of the cubicle — Bob — was asked to characterize the legacy of his brainchild and he said, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
The week-long festivities which some are calling the “Super Bowl of Office Furniture” will be held in Toledo, Ohio, which has the largest concentration of Red Roof Inns in the nation. Events will include workshops on cube art, hospitality cubes, a tradeshow showing the latest cubicle designs with a sneak preview of the industry’s new experimental models. The week ends with a gala dinner /dance hosted by once-good-golfer David Duval.
Not everyone is happy with the cubicle, though, and the discontent has sparked a revolution among office thought leaders promoting fresh ideas, such as: (a) telecommuting, the “second office”; (b) sprawling out your papers and laptop and muffin with bits of cream cheese on your table while talking annoyingly loud on your cell phone in a Starbucks, the “third office”; and now (3) the “fourth office,” TBD.
The “fourth office”
Just what the hell is it? It’s just out of our reach, but visionaries have theories as to how the “fourth” will manifest itself.
“I see it as an office of the mind,” explains Dart Maxn, head curator of miscellaneous things at Milan’s Museum of Heavy Industrial Objects. “No paper, no calendars, no nothing! You carry everything around in your head. If it’s important you will remember it; if not, then you won’t remember it. It’s nature’s perfect system of prioritization.”
“For instance, if you miss an important meeting with your most important client, then you won’t get the sale. So in the fourth, companies will have smaller revenues but there will be no need for wastebaskets.”
One radical idea has been developed by Jason Calpt, parking lot security guard at a Fortune 500 Corporation, in charge of fixing the lift-gates when they break.
“It dawned on me one day that all those cars in the corporate parking lot were sitting empty all day and then whammo, it came to me: every car in the lot is an office! Think about it. You’ve got space, privacy, HVAC, tunes, and adjustable leather seats.”
Tickets to the 40th anniversary of the cubicle will be available soon.
I wanted to run something by you, which may or may not be something you want to do or you may not have the time. But I thought of you immediately and think that you are well suited to this task.
I have a very good long-term friend who recently asked for my help to identify someone who could facilitate a negotiation between my friend and another owner with the goal of merging their two respective businesses. They have in effect reached a “gentleman’s agreement” to merge the businesses after having teamed together on some research proposals for the last two years and been very successful doing so. They’ve been talking about this for the last two years. Now they just need a neutral facilitator who can help them close in on the best plan and legal framework for merging the two businesses into one, and that’s where you would come in.
I can give you a few specifics:
- These two businesses are both involved in highway pavement engineering and research.
- One is located in Portland Oregon; and the other is located in Tampa Florida.
- The two companies are of the same approximate size, each generating $800K – $1M per year in revenues and they are both profitable.
- The two owners feel that the companies complement each other perfectly.
- Both the owners and staffs are compatible and have already worked together.
- The two owners are certainly prepared to pay the going rate for professional services of this kind.
- I don’t think they are looking for any further capitalization, but I do know that they want to grow the merged business.
These two Owner/CEOs are looking for a trusted third-party to help them talk through the process and reach a consensus on the best way to merge their two companies from several perspectives: legal, operational, strategic, and financial/tax.
If you are willing to consider this, I would like to suggest your name because I believe you have the integrity, personality, insight, and overall business background to help them pull these pieces together and agree on a plan of action so that they can go to their respective attorneys and say, “Here’s what we want to do, draft an agreement that we can sign so we can get started.”
So, what do you think? I’ll give you a call and see if this is something you’d like to take on.
Describe the importance of public libraries.
I often run past the UIUC underground library, and one day I stopped to read the words inscribed on the stone wall: “Let this be a holy place for the human spirit consecrated to the forces which magnify the soul,” and, “Books are alive to the man who knows how to use these sources of inspiration and power.” The clarity and truth in these quotes has made a lasting impression on me and emphasizes so well the importance of libraries.
Describe your background and what you bring to the board.
My background is a combination of engineering, entrepreneurship, and writing/editing. I have served on many for-profit and non-profit boards, so good governance is a special interest of mine. My family has lived in the same house for 30 years only blocks from the CPL, so this library has played a special role with our family and my kids growing up.
Tell us a little bit about your family, pets, etc.
My wife Karen and I have been married 42 years. We have three children and three granddaughters. I’m an avid runner, tennis player, golfer, traveler, reader, writer, and tinkerer.
What have you read, watched, or listened to lately?
Read: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Watched: The Golden Globes, mostly to see and hear the comedy genius of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I listen to NPR just about all day, every day.
by Scott Pickard
People still like to do business on the basis of good faith and a handshake. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can put in writing what you want to do based on common sense and plain english. It should be one page, take you less than 30 minutes to write, and you’re off and running.