The importance of collaboration

The importance of collaboration

Amazing insights and creativity can come from the most unusual places.

During the Second World War a temporary structure was built to house a radiation laboratory at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  Its purpose was to provide a space for engineers to refine a radar developed to help win the war.  The intention was for this temporary structure, known as Building 20, to be taken down post war.  Instead of demolition after the war Building 20 became known as a “Magical Incubator” where all sorts of ground breaking developments were made until it’s eventual demolition in 1998.

During the time it stood, Building 20 staff included one fifth of US physicists and amongst its members were nine Nobel Prize winners.

Building 20 was the equivalent of co-working spaces today.

It encouraged people to communicate and interact with each other.  On a weekly basis there were speech lunches where those working in the building went to a conference room to listen to someone speak about what they were doing.  It kept others informed about what was interesting and what they were working on.

The concept of co-working spaces has gained traction because of its cost saving for small businesses or as an incubator for solo or micro businesses.

But what would it mean if in a broader sense organisations encouraged informal opportunities to share amongst teams without judgement? 

What if the sharing of ideas, whilst informal, became a deliberate attempt to open up creative channels in organisations?  Whilst it might seem like a waste of time, what if one thing someone said was the missing piece to someone else’s challenge? 

What if sharing information on projects, insights or ideas reduced duplicity in processes or tasks?  Would that make the time valuable?

If the concept of an incubator worked for the greatest minds in science, it could work for business too.  Whilst it may seem like an effort, the collaboration and sharing without expectation may offer just the insights you, or your team, need to solve a problem, fast track a task, or perhaps even create the next big thing in your organisation.  Surely, it’s worth a bit of time to find out?

Does your organisation provide an opportunity to incubate its talent and ideas?

If it doesn’t maybe it should.

Donna works with organisations and their teams to help them increase productivity, engagement and communication.  Find out how Donna can help your organisation or team, visit

Find out more about the history of MIT’s Building 20

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