Rooftops and French Fries

Doug Neff

Written by

Doug Neff

I had a nice moment today when I walked by the whiteboard outside my cube. It contained a schematic of the proposed new work area for the content development team here at Duarte. The proposed space was directly above Nancy’s office, on the roof of the building, and many of my Duarte colleagues had added their ideas for making this new workspace even better.

My initial drawing contained a fire pole (for easy entry into the building) and a zip line leading to the parking lot below. Within days, the creative minds at Duarte added:

  • A moat, complete with sharks (with laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads)
  • Palm trees on the roof
  • An elf
  • Dumb waiter
  • Climbing wall (to facilitate access to the roof)
  • Satellite dish
  • Hang glider
  • and many other features…

Gotta love it. I’ll let you know when we move into the implementation phase.

So I walked by my whiteboard, admired the Duarte creativity emblazoned on it, then reached for the eraser. “Time for something new,” I thought, and erased it. And then I paused, realizing that it never even occurred to me to preserve this masterpiece of workspace design. It never crossed my mind that we should save this work, tape it to the refrigerator, hang it on a trophy wall, or even take a picture of it. Why?

Because it was just lighthearted doodling?

No, that’s not why. Sometimes I find some pretty amazing doodles on our whiteboards. Nancy even shares them from time to time.

I didn’t save it because I knew it wasn’t the last french fry.

Creativity flows freely at Duarte, and I know that we can generate a hundred great ideas any time we want. Since Nancy’s done such a great job creating an environment and culture that nurtures creativity, whatever great idea we have in the moment never feels like we’re eating the last french fry.

And that’s a wonderfully liberating feeling. It means you can pour everything you have into your work, then be confident that you’ll find more ideas when the next project comes along. Scarcity is a terrible thing when you’re trying to create something new.

So I finished erasing my whiteboard, added a new topic, and waited to see what would happen next.

Happy Friday.