Innovation at Work

Over the past 40 years I've worked in a variety of workplace settings, each appropriately serving its intended purpose. I did not appreciate how much a workspace influences my productivity and mood until I starting working at Mayo. My new role focuses on convening stakeholders and facilitating discussion. A supportive workspace is transformational.

In my mid-teens, I worked in shared office space at TRW (a predecessor company to Raytheon) with large metal desks, filing cabinets and fluorescent tube lighting

In my late teens, I founded a company in a basement and worked at a drafting table next to a bed

In my 20's, while running the growing company and completing my medical education, I worked in a glass walled private office so I could watch the flow of daily activity.

In my 30's, 40's, and 50's as a CIO, clinician and professor, I worked in a cube but spent much of my time with customers in other people's offices.

For the past 2 years, I've worked in an open space ad hoc desk/meeting room arrangement that was efficient, attractive, and highly functional.

Now, as I approach 60 at Mayo Clinic, I work in the most innovative and collaborative space of my career, the recently remodeled Mayo 11 administrative floor. No one on the Mayo senior team has an office - not the CEO, COO, CFO nor Presidents. Everyone uses open plan hoteling desks. The desks are surrounded by huddle rooms and meeting spaces that can be reserved via touch screen or calendar invite. Everyone sees each other every day for hallway conversations. I can ask the CEO any question, any time, by just walking through the space. There's a common kitchen area with meeting tables and healthy food offerings

The furnishings are simple - a kind of Zen functional elegance. Reminders about Mayo's vision, mission and values adorn the walls. The lighting is all 5000K LED daylight. See photos below.

While rigorous days are common, the time never feels long because of the richness of human interaction that takes place in the Mayo 11 space.

Per my previous post, my apartment is a 6 minute walk from my bedroom to the Mayo 11 office. I've shaped my new life routine around these living and work spaces for maximal focus and impact. I leave the apartment at 6am, walk 2 minutes to the skyway, which is a heated walking corridor connecting buildings in downtown Rochester. I arrive in the office by 6:10am, have breakfast, write goals for the day in my journal then review the day's presentation materials and agendas. Every 30 minutes from 7am to noon, it's easy to move among meeting rooms, some on Mayo 11 and some in surrounding buildings. A shuttle that runs every 5 minutes takes me to nearby St. Mary's Hospital where I spend time with my clinical and laboratory colleagues. By noon I return to Mayo 11 for lunch and a catchup with my colleagues. Meetings and presentations continue from 12:30pm until evening. The walk back to my apartment passes by a great market, an all vegan restaurant, craft breweries, and a boutique wine store. Dinner is usually a simple bowl of rice, beans and vegetables. I spend the late evening writing plans and reading the briefing materials prepared by the Mayo Platform team, partners, and collaborators.

From 7pm on Sunday night until 7pm Thursday night, I'm in Minnesota, living this very productive and satisfying pattern. I return to Unity Farm Sanctuary in Massachusetts by midnight on Thursday. Friday is a mixture of calls, video chats, and writing in my farm office.

On Saturday, I work with the animals and do complicated/time consuming farm tasks from 6am until late evening, completing a task list that my wife writes in a notebook awaiting my return. On Sunday, the morning is filled with less complicated work, leaving me relaxed for my afternoon flight back to Minnesota.

Well engineered, highly ergonomic workspaces make this level of commitment possible in Minnesota and Massachusetts. In 2019 I flew 400,000 miles to 40 countries, while also spending 3 hours a day driving around Boston in traffic. Comparatively, my 5 hour commute to Mayo on Sunday and Thursday is a respite.

I'm a fan of a life that is constantly self-examined. At this point, I could not ask for a better workplace ecosystem that encourages accomplishment and engagement by design.

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