Waterston’s in Durham is a company that I have long admired, really ever since I met its founders, Mike and Sally Waterston. The company is built upon their strong ethical values and shows that you can be successful while doing the decent and right things.
I mention the company as I was down there for a meeting of a new CyberNorth group. We were kindly offered space at the Durham office as there were a dozen of us or so coming from various parts of the region. Durham is fairly central.
I had expected us to hold the meeting in the coffee area yet when I arrived, a meeting room had been booked out for us. No sooner had I got my jacket off and opened my Chromebook however, I was asked to move as they had a group of clients coming in. We set up in the coffee areas as expected, pulling more tables together as everyone arrived.
The Durham office is fairly new to Watertson’s and it has few meeting rooms, or offices on purpose. The aim is to encourage dialogue across all of the organisation rather than have people hidden away behind doors and glass walls. Of course there is always a need for such spaces yet there it is a rare commodity and is used wisely rather than as a matter of course.
We ended up having the meeting in the coffee area as originally planned. It went well. A dozen people, many of whom had never met and in many cases were competitors of the others, helped to shape an idea that the CyberNorth team has been working on. We all agreed that it was worth pursuing and I was given clear direction on what to do next.
I am convinced that the informality of the meeting space helped. There was no boardroom table to get in the way and there was no hierarchical structure to interfere. Instead it was a group of like minded people coming together in a casual environment. The meeting also lasted half the time allocated.
Next time you need to hold a meeting, forget the formal rooms set aside for them and go for a casual meeting instead. You never know, it may work out to be better.