Peak-performance cultures: why design should support and not lead

The traditional view that workplace design shapes organisational culture will be turned on its head by a sharper focus on corporate culture that leads design, according to a new book

How can we move to a peak-performance culture at work, in which corporate strategies are implemented rather than sidelined when things get tricky?

A conventional view has been that workplace design change can be a catalyst for culture change. But according to US0-based change consultant Chris McGoff of The Clearing, a keynote speaker at WORKTECH Toronto 2017, and the author of a new book, Match in the Root Cellar, workplace design needs to do more to support ‘culture on the rampage’.

McGoff argues that culture should lead and he describes a series of principles for creating peak-performance cultures, including:

  • Interconnectedness
  • Keeping the ‘main thing’ the main thing
  • Giving up on ‘something is wrong’
  • Alignment of key people on critical activities
  • Assignment of decision rights
  • Conversing for learning and growth
  • Standing on principle for as long as it takes

McGoff believes that these principles should shape office design rather than the other way around. Banning adversarial meeting room layouts is one example of responding to cultural needs, he says.

We can expect more challenges to conventional thinking on design and culture to make an impact in 2018 as companies search for new ways to enhance the performance of their people.