James Layfield : Curating collaborative business

12 : 11 : 2012 James Layfield : Central Working : Collaboration

James Layfield, co-founder of Central Working, has created the members network brand as a series of ‘airport lounges in the city’ that enable the sort of new collaborative ways of working that we think will be prevalent in the era of Symbiotic Branding.

Top five take-outs

1. Being open leads to better ideas. ‘Privacy and private space are explicitly softer here because people come here to make connections and collaborate,’ says Layfield. ‘That is why they are here and not in the office.’

2. Be open – 90% of what you create is in the execution. ‘Don’t worry about telling everyone,’ says Layfield. ‘Because they are not you, they can’t manifest your business: 90% of what you do is in the execution.’

3. Involve your network in your decisions. To choose Central Working’s furniture, Layfield invited 500 potential members to a ‘furniture night’. Attendees put Post-it notes on the seats and desks they preferred.

4. Play ‘what if?’ with the variables of successful ideas. To create Central Working, Layfield asked ‘what if there were airport lounges in the city?’ and changed one variable – location.

5. Don’t just create something and hope for the best. To make it successful, you have to continually put in effort. Layfield is adamant that Central Working is not simply a place to work. Instead its aim is to help businesses grow – he wants to help 10,000 by 2012 – through collective ideas and collaboration. ‘That doesn’t happen randomly,’ he says. ‘It’s like curating a piece of art, and working the thing like mad. We have community managers whose only job is to do this.’

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