The Capgemini Accelerated Solutions Environment team recently helped out at a small event at a client’s site.

We knew on entering the ‘sponsor cycle’ (where we meet before the event with the teams involved to scope the objectives and requirements) that it was going to be a challenging, problem-solving discussion. We also knew there were constraints we don’t usually encounter when we run a session ‘in house’; adding the ASE ‘flare’ was also going to take some thought.

One of those constraints was the room: a typical meeting space with a standard table in the middle, a couple of flip charts and a (very dirty) white board. It was also much smaller than we would usually use for an ASE.

We had some criteria. We needed the space to

  • Feel open, easy to contribute, safe to speak your mind
  • Be flexible, easy to move around and express yourself
  • Engage everyone, no hiding behind tables, other participants or laptops

In true ASE style we spent some time considering how we could best meet these criteria while using the resources we had. We investigated all avenues we could think of before arriving and asked ourselves some questions in the process:

  • Is there an alternative?
  • What breakout space is there?
  • Can we stick things on the walls?
  • How do we get coffee?
  • Is there AV, how does it work?
  • What is in the rooms around us?
  • Can the tables be removed?
  • Are there any magnetic services?


​What we did

It felt like we did very little to change the meeting room but the small tweaks we did make that certainly helped. Adding some nicely printed ASE axioms to the walls brought a whole different feel (brightness, colour, stimulus, challenge). Even cleaning the white boards seemed to give the space a new brightness.

Why do we try to solve all business challenges around a boardroom table?

This event signalled to me that the value of the ASE isn’t just about the fancy workspace we have with the movable walls and interesting props. It is about the way we have the time and capacity to think differently from others in the lead up to a meeting.

The outcome means we are in an environment that best supports the activities we need to complete during the allotted timeframe.

If during that event we sowed one seed of working differently (turning up a little earlier and tidying the space, printing large format to share instead of handouts, adding some stimulus, changing the layout…) then I’d be happy we made a worthwhile difference (for the record we definitely did more than that).

Figure 1: before and after: lighter, tidier and fresher. A more productive workspace?

How about you, how many times have you sat in a meeting wishing you could be tackling the challenge in a different way? How often do you walk into a room and wonder how the space may add (or take away) from the environment you are trying to create? Or, how often have you left a meeting to realise the effect the space had on your mind?

My challenge to you next time is to take note and make some changes.