Richard Florida researches innovation hubs. He designs spaces that encourage “interactions and connections between people by creating space and time for a cocktail of creativity, intelligence and courage”. Ford calls these interactions and connections, casual collisions. How many spontaneous casual collisions have you had this week?
Just about every client I’ve spoken to in the last 90 days is missing work place casual collisions. Many did not even realize how much they enjoy and rely on those little casual collisions in their workplaces. For example…”I always have the first sips of my coffee with this one office mate” and “Twice a week I walk with a friend at work to get take out food” or “I stop by and visit with people during a break just to say hello”. Indeed, we are longing for casual collisions.
Workspaces are often designed to create a culture of casual collisions. Connection, conversation, ideation, and friendship emerge spontaneously. For example, the Semler Brossy Los Angeles office flows in a way that everyone walks by each other at different times of day. Energy, innovation, and compassion emerges as they connect spontaneously. They have built a culture of casual collisions as a way of building and energizing their teams.
We usually have casual collisions at work, on the way to work, at the coffee shop, at the grocery store, at places of worship, and at schools. While we are “flattening the curve”; we are on a real casual collision starvation diet. Ford notes that casual collisions are the engines of society as they “create connections, generate ideas, and create wonder. ” How do we integrate casual collisions during a pandemic?
Many people are missing the morning ritual of grabbing a cup of coffee and spontaneously chatting with a friend at work for a few minutes with coffee cup in hand. When I ask,”why don’t you call for a quick chat with a colleague when you get your coffee?” The response is “oh, I don’t want to interrupt them.” I invite you to reconsider that mindset. My guess is that very person is missing you too.
Granted, technology makes it easy to text someone. Yet, that’s not a casual collision. I’m actually inviting you to embrace a casual collision where you replicate some of what you are missing.
Here are some steps to consider:
1. LIST your daily routine as if it were not a pandemic.
2. Identify WHO you have collisions with for each activity. For example:
- Walk the Dog…My neighbor
- Take the Train or Ferry to Work… The person in line as we wait to load.
- The first cup of coffee..The person who has a desk next to me.
- After a meeting…My best friend at work.
- Waiting to pick a child up from school or after school activities? The grandmother who picks up her children.
3. LOOK at at the people you’ve listed as casual collisions. Select one person you are missing.
4. TEXT: Text him/her and say…I’m missing our….. For example, I’m missing our cup of coffee each morning at your desk. Want to drink our coffee together and chat on the phone for 10 minutes before we start our day?
5. CONNECT: Spend 5-10 minutes in a casual collision phone call this week.
We are missing out on many things right now. Yet, we can take little steps to create energy, wonder and connection.
What’s your one casual collision that you can plan for this week?