Last week I spent a great day visiting the Herman Miller company. Part of a small group of people looking for ideas for our new corporate offices, I had expected to see a showroom full of desks, chairs, tables, and filing cabinets presented in a myriad of configurations. Instead, we met with company officials and learned their story (great company, by the way), visited the factory, toured one of their office campuses, and met with people whose job it is to help clients manage change in their organizations. We left without seeing an office showroom.

At least, that’s what my colleagues thought.

Actually, we had spent the day immersed in showrooms. Every functional area of HM’s offices uses a different furniture family. The modularity of the components allowed for many different configurations, with each person configuring his space slightly differently. Not only did we get to see the furniture, we also got to see it in action. What better way to demonstrate the utility of the components than to see people actually working with them in place? What better way to demonstrate their modularity than to see the way each person has chosen to set up his own office? At the end of the day, I left with loads of ideas, inspired by this real-life showcase.

Way to go, Herman Miller. Showing is always better than telling.

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