By Jill Mendoza: Part 3 of “Destination NeoCon 2012” series. If you recall, Part One was about; Sustainability as a Given, and Part Two addressed Evidence-Based Design, PART THREE is dedicated to the idea that “SPACE = ASSET, building a truly effective collaborative organization” In today’s business landscape, it is a well-known fact that people are the primary assets of any organization. But when you think about the connection between people in an organization and their ability to reach their highest potential one does not always think of the space they occupy. Furthermore, when considering an organization’s strategic objectives and key factors in one’s ability in successfully executing those objectives, spacial and design aspects of the workplace are just a few of many other perhaps more important variables to ponder. So what does it mean to build a truly effective collaborative organization? And, what is all this talk about collaboration in today’s modern workplace? As designers, collaboration is emerging to be perhaps one of the most challenging ideas we have encounter so far. One school of thought that explains this complexity was presented at NeoCon by Jim Prendergast with Goettsch Partners, in what he called the old standard of “rugged individualism”. Where he noted; “Rugged individualism has deep roots in American culture and has spread throughout the world with the proliferation of American media in celebrating the iconic silhouette of individual achievement. The “Me first” emphasis of global consumerism has reinforced a self-centric view of the world that drives our interactions with colleagues and inhibits fundamental collaborative thinking.” In the design of today’s work space, collaboration takes center stage as an enabler of impromptu, informal meetings and discussions. Mr. Prendergast notes; “These discussions encourage the generation of knowledge-sharing networks, which in turn accelerate the dissemination of new thinking throughout an organization.” He also suggest that before collaboration in an organization can be effect, one must perhaps consider the greatest obstacle to implementing these practices and that is; in many organizations assessments that attribute to the contributions to the enterprise are largely based on individual performance. As we discovered in Part Two “Destination NeoCon” discussion, it is not only the traditional management hierarchic in an organization that have flattened, technology has allowed communications to be more transparent and fluid and individual performance is no longer about the individual. All these variables have shifted the accountability for an organizations performance far beyond the central leaders to include ever department, team and individual. No wonder space has become so important, so many of our office environments remain frozen in the “Me First” era. Today, you’ll hear everyone in our industry talking about this trend; a trend that is shifting the workplace from “Me Space” into “We Space”. Where the “Me Space” once supported old management structures, old communications tools, individual work space and individual performance measures and “We Space” brings shared social and collaborative areas to the center stage. Creating an office environment which supports the overall collaborative performance of an organization can definitely bring new meaning to the idea; “Space=Asset”. Transforming management structures, communications tools, organization assessments and the old standard of “rugged individualism” illustrates the complexity of the idea and its challenges.