More on Yahoo! and Einheit

Ester Dyson, Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist, reinforces the point about physical proximity building Einheit:

So, yes, online work can make a lot of sense in many situations, but when you are trying to fix a broken corporate culture, you need the commitment, human engagement, and creative interaction that happen most consistently in a physical workplace. In the end, it is up to good managers to decide who can work where, and to make meetings short and useful.

It’s an interesting article, especially since Dyson doesn’t work in an office:

Personally, I come at this from the opposite direction. As an independent angel investor with no real day job, I don’t have an office to report to every day. But I would miss the companionship of people working around me – even if they do not necessarily work with me.

And she confesses that same of her viewpoint may be colored by personal interests:

And the benefits of human contact and interaction are why salespeople still call on customers instead of using Skype, and why Meetup (which supports organizers of face-to-face meetings; I am on the company’s board) changes lives in ways that Twitter and Facebook rarely do.

She makes a good point about salespeople, many of whom, ironically, work from home: Face-to-face contact is very high bandwidth because  voice tone and body language are often better indicators than the words themselves, particularly if you’re trying to sense when it’s right to pop the closing question. And Skype, Facetime, and Google+ still only give you a window, still filter something essential out. You can still look much deeper into a prospect’s emotions in person.

Anyway, I guess that all-in-all, I’d have to give Mayer the benefit of the doubt. In a turnaround, you have to do something dramatic. Check out The Turnaroundby Dean Lenane on our Articles page, for some examples perhaps more in tune with Boyd’s framework. If you have the same system / culture, then people are going to act in pretty much the same ways and produce pretty much the same results. The question is whether now that she’s shattered domains, as Boyd might put it, she can build a new snowmobile at Yahoo! Time is of the essence because what she has right now is a potentially poisonous stew containing lots of resentful work-from-homers.


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