Choosing Your Own Seat


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Greetings.  In an interesting and slightly bold experiment, our son Noah’s fifth grade teacher decided to start the school year by letting all of the students choose their own seats.  ”Sit with whomever you’d like,” she told them when they arrived for the first day of school.  And, as one might have imagined, they all decided to sit next to their best friends in class.  And, as one might have also imagined knowing ten-year-olds pretty well, most of the boys chose to sit next to other boys and most of the girls decided to sit next to other girls.  I can only assume that these choices will change in the next few years.  But after a couple of weeks of seeing all of the students in action, and watching friends spend a bit too much time talking with and distracting each other, Noah’s teacher decided that the experiment–while interesting–required a bit of reengineering.  

Which begs the question of who any of us would sit next to if given the choice and, whether or not there is a better seating arrangement for nurturing innovation and delivering greater value to customers.  A seating arrangement that might produce a much higher level of curiosity, fresh thinking, vital conversation, and purposeful change.  And, I would imagine that the answer is yes.  Because, in our own funny and grown-up way we’ve decided to have similar people sit together.  People with similar ideas.  And similar skills.  People who do roughly the same jobs and look at problems and opportunities in roughly the same ways.  People who are less likely to stir the pot and less likely to challenge us to get out of our comfort zones in order to stretch, grow, and be as bold as we can be.  Kind of like fifth-graders sitting with their closest friends and having predictable conversations and making predictably incremental changes in the way we do things.

So maybe it’s time to experiment in your company or organization.  By asking people to sit in different places.  With people who have very different ideas. And very different skills.  People who do very different jobs and look at problems and opportunities in very different ways.  People who are likely to stir the pot and challenge us to get out of our comfort zones in order to improve the way we do the things that matter most.  People who could become our new closest friends and collaborators.


We win in business and in life when we hang out with people who are very different than us.  And when we challenge each other to discover our true genius.  Maybe it’s time to your to change your corporate seating chart.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.


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