Every afternoon, a novel and unique type of innovative interaction takes place in the Corning office of Larson Design Group, a process affectionately known among participants as the “2:30 Wheel of Controversy.”
Some even call it LDG Corning’s “secret sauce.”
“It’s all about our people,” says Maureen Bower, P.E. Project Manager, Site Group. “It’s never planned, it’s never on the same topic, and it isn’t always work-related.”
What the 2:30 Wheel looks like is a generally spontaneous gathering in the reception area where staff can talk, share and debate the issues of the day. Perhaps someone needs to vent about frustrations with difficult personalities or technical questions that are posing a roadblock. Maybe someone’s workload is light that day and can take over some tasks for someone else who is over-loaded.
Sometimes a 2:30 Wheel conversation involves a parent seeking guidance for their child’s college planning. Or maybe someone’s favorite sports team has lost a big game or there’s fascination over the celebrity meltdown of the week.
From time to time, the process leads to a reality check and an attitude adjustment over expectations of issues or processes that just cannot change.
Regardless of the topic, the great value of the 2:30 Wheel is a comfort level where everyone is free to communicate, where staff can debate issues despite large differences in age and where opinions and topics are openly discussed, with the goal of deriving sound advice or a resolution to a problem.
The only downside to the wheel is that conversations can, at times, get a little heated. But it’s all in good fun, Bower says, and “no one gets bloodied, it helps get the frustration out and it always generates positive outcomes.”
Adds Bower, “It’s built an incredible amount of trust among people who spend more time at work than they do with their families. Our team genuinely want to help each other.”
The 2:30 Wheel experience started in about 2012, likely when someone randomly passed someone else in the hall mid-afternoon and a conversation was sparked. It proved to be such a valuable experience that it repeated the next day, and the day after that, and all the way to today.
Says Bower, “Corning is a very tight-knit office. The wheel appeals to the needs of millennials and others who want more from their work experience, a community within the office. They want more than just a paycheck.”
Time-tested and trust-building, the 2:30 Wheel has proven to be priceless and a key element of LDG’s culture of innovation.