Coca-Cola Workplace 2020 – Visit to AOC

What might the world and functions of innovation demand of our workplaces? How might our work environment complement – even promote and spur – the activities and necessities of an organization striving to innovate? Such questions are a major line of investigation for me and for the school where I am blessed to work – Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. And so, we explore and research in order to learn.

On Friday, April 15, 2016, I was fortunate to visit and tour the Coca-Cola Atlanta Office Complex (AOC). Thanks to friend Rodney Drinkard, who works in security and risk-management at Coke, I ventured into the Workplace 2020 transformation happening at Coca-Cola corporate headquarters, and I was accompanied by colleagues Blair Peterson, Head of Upper School, and Rosalyn Merrick, Chief Philanthropy Officer, at Mount Vernon. The time at Coke’s AOC was invaluable and incredibly thought provoking. They are doing tremendous work there to leverage brand and culture to transform space…and to create a virtuous cycle for space to build brand and culture even more purposefully.

As detailed in Design Leveraged,

Enter Workplace 2020, a massive project to instill Coke’s facility with a sense of optimism matching what consumers feel when they see the brand’s polar bears or hilltop singers. That may all sound touchy-feely, but this project is far from a feel-good exercise; the goal is to increase brand value, grow product lines faster and boost the bottom line.

From the very beginnings of our Coke tour, I was reminded of my recent visit to IDEO in San Francisco. At IDEO, the office is intentionally designed to facilitate creative collisions for collaborators. Similarly, at Coke AOC, the Workplace 2020 transformation, partly informed by input from IDEO, seeks to purposefully facilitate such creative collisions and collaborations, too. With innovation stemming from networking and associative thinking, an environment that supports bond-making rather than isolated task-doing promotes the conditions needed for enhanced innovation. Overall, the surroundings at Coke are constructed so that people will benefit from the principle of “we are smarter than me.” While individual space still exists in great quantity, the quality and number of spaces to meet, work together, share and collaborate are superb.

Two of the many things that impressed and intrigued me:

  1. The brand qualities of optimism, happiness, and sharing a Coke with a friend were expressed as part of the physical architecture and decor. The space felt alive with the culture that Coke works to exude.
  2. The degree of prototyping going on was tremendous! There were future product prototypes in numerous places, and the Workplace 2020 team was utilizing experimental space to conduct user tests for various configurations and work-pattern sites.

The photo gallery below contains my image captures from the fabulous visit to Coke AOC. I know that there will be countless views that I make to this gallery as the team at MVPS continues to research and design according to our principle and practice, “Learning demands interactive and flexible spaces.”

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Make learners conform to the room, or make the room conform to the learning? #EdSpace

$9.99

That’s what a small can of chalkboard paint cost at a hardware store nearby. With several cans of chalkboard paint and a few cans of whiteboard paint, a lower school teacher transformed the learning environment for the student learners coming to her soon.

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Instead of students “getting in trouble” for writing on the desks, Miss F altered the typical “classroom” environment so that desk writing was not only permissible, but encouraged and fun.

For 1st graders. Learning to write and express themselves through writing.

When the student learners gathered in the room for the first time, during a recent orientation day, there was much writing and drawing on desks! They owned their learning environment with those acts of defiance turned and transformed into acts of creativity.

And should the student learners tire of sitting, there are standing-level desks and exercise balls to bounce on while one learns. A far cry from “Sit still!”

What an act of transformation. To reverse the typical paradigm. Instead of expecting students to bear the lion’s share of conforming to the rules of the room, the rules of the room were re-conformed to promote the desired dispositions and learning explorations of the student learners!

And with such a flip in conformity expectations, transformations are made possible. And deep relationships forged.

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Recent, incredible resources on space re-design:

“8 Tips and Tricks to Redesign Your Classroom,” Edutopia, August 6, 2013, by David Bill (@DavidSBill) and The Third Teacher+ (@TheThirdTeacher)