Offices, banks, shops, libraries and sports halls all have one thing in common; when they’ve served their intended purpose and visitors leave, the shift ends, the lights are switched off and the doors are locked. This is typical practice and environmentally sound in most cases too. But could an equally important contribution to society be made if you keep the premise open even when you’ve headed home?
Applying this unordinary thought in a very ordinary way means letting others make more of what you’ve got. Read on to discover three very different examples of what can be achieved when you think beyond the end of your shift.
Be upstanding please
Okay, so churches don’t actually shut but the venue can wind down when the parishioners are not in attendance. Or do they? A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of my favourite bands; Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo. It was an emotional night being one of the last gigs for the North American folk sounding band before they split. The ticket stated the venue was on 197 Piccadilly, London. I couldn’t recall a concert hall there. When I arrived I discovered it was in fact St James’s Church, Piccadilly. Their music is not religiously intended and their subjects cross a boundary that some regular parishioners may feel at odds with. But as a venue with atmospheric up-lighting and acoustics bouncing around the dome, for the 400 of us jammed it came alive.
I spoke to a couple of the volunteers who explained this is an idea for raising funds beyond the conventional approach. Their venue has dwindling audiences and is expensive to upkeep. Where as bands have a great following prepared to pay handsomely to see them. By leaving the lights on, the Church attracts a new paying audience and the band has a memorable venue to play in.
Taking a rain check on skateboarding
Earlier this year I watched Ida Auken, the former Minister for the Environment in Denmark, impressively present at TEDx Houses of Parliament. She recalled a great example of a project she was involved in regarding optimising neglected space in Denmark. The area of Roskilde suffered from increasing levels of rainwater causing flooding to the neighbouring towns. But rather than a standard drainage project being commissioned, Danish architect Soren Nordal Enevoldsen, famed for skateparks, was invited to tackle the problem.
Enevoldsen and his company, Nordarch, designed a concrete area with graduating slopes that collected and transported the water into a canal. They also ingeniously transformed the 24,000-square-foot drainage facility from a potential public infrastructure eyesore into a multi-functional recreation area by shaping the water collecting bowls with half-pipes and grinding edges for skateboarding. Now the Rabalder Park project has become a gathering place for both rainwater and skateboarding enthusiasts.
The odd couple: banking & yoga
Umpqua Bank has 364 branches spread across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho and it’s growing. They are bucking the trend of retail banking by profitably opening branches when others are heading for a digital relationship. That’s not the area of unordinary thinking they apply.
For instance they open their doors when the branch stops its regular trading. Along with yoga they organise virtual bowling on the big screens for seniors, art exhibitions and even ‘stitch and bitch’ sessions for local resident groups. These out-of-hours sessions are helping them to connect with their customers and prospects beyond banking. It’s also giving those attending an opportunity to see their bank is as much a part of the community as they are. Will it catch on? With $22 billion in assets to date, perhaps truly customer-led thinking is a strategy more banks should consider.
So the next time you are about to clock off and leave your work place, have an unordinary consideration about who else could be optimising your space when you are not there. It might just be the making of your business.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director
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