Fourteen years ago Bernard Charlès, CEO of Dassault Systèmes had a vision for improving the processes through which innovation could be inspired. Today Dassault Systèmes products and practices enable clients to design life like three dimensional prototypes and simulate real world usage. The brand has achieved the number one position in the Product Lifecycle Managment (PLM) realm and the execution of Charles’ vision has transformed how companies around the world imagine innovation.
In tandem with the growth of the Dassault Systèmes brands, the company recognized the value of employee co-location on their core values of collaboration and innovation. Recently, amidst employees, leadership and dignitaries from the US and France, we heard words of thanks, commitment to growth, encouraging partnerships and STEM initiatives during the ribbon cutting ceremony at their new Waltham, MA location that will co-locate employees from numerous locations under one roof.
As a business person, listening to the steps that preceded this milestone was inspiring. As an Experience Designer, I appreciated learning how both the voice of the employee and the customer were integrated into the new campus design to skillfully support both their passion and their purpose – Collaborative Social Innovation. And I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at the new campus. Here are a few highlights that demonstrate their user centered design approach.
Goal # 1 – Virtual Reality The first stop on the tour was in the 3-D virtual reality lab. We worked virtually on the filtration system on a ship and then explored the halls of ancient pyramids. The range of companies adopting Dassault Systèmes innovative processes continues to grow because their approach provides insights early in the design process often saving companies anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars by mitigating product failures. Fact.
Goal #2 – It’s not about the Desk. Creating an environment for clients and employees that would foster collaboration and innovation was a key design requirement. I didn’t find traditional rows of cubicles, rather there are open work spaces. Whether in the Café, a manager’s office or an employee’s personal workspace, the open environment boasts glass walls and in order to facilitate what Dassault Systèmes does best: design innovative products.
Goal #3 – The Open Balance When a concern about whether the open concept work space would provide adequate privacy was raised, the design team responded by reframing their work space design to achieve the right balance. The outcome is a work space design that balances open spaces for collaboration with private spaces to be used as needed. Feedback was quick to be received from employees applauding the design as well as the new face to face time resulting from the employee co-location.
Goal #4 – Informal Spaces When a space has a family room feel with comfortable chairs rather than a traditional meeting office with big Mahogany conference tables impromptu conversations are more likely to transpire. With wireless throughout, informal spaces are dotted around the campus encouraging interactions that inspire new ideas. I especially liked the Café on the second floor next to an area of open work spaces. It had a Starbuck’s feel to it minus the shelves of logo dry goods you find at the coffee shop chain.
Goal #5 – Outdoor Connectedness The buildings are connected by walkways, trees and green space and wireless is available in most of the outdoor space. The ‘campus’ like feel is intentional and designed to inspire innovation and attract world class talent often found at colleges and universities in the region.
Goal #6 – Environmentally Friendly The company’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices was evident as soon as I pulled into the parking garage. A sign directing fuel efficient cars to a desirable parking area was prominently displayed upon entry. Other features in support of sound environmental practices range from reflective roofing to rain water recapture and efficiencies gain through windows and lighting. These and other related efforts have earned the campus Leeds Gold Certification in construction and interior design.
The new campus is the result of years of relentless focus on strategic goals and humbly announces the real Dassault Systèmes story which is one of people and of passion. It’s about the convergence of art, science and technology and that which is at the heart of their DNA – Collaborative Social Innovation. And while some companies in their market position might view this as an opportunity to take a reprieve, for Bernard Charlès and Dassault Systèmes Team, it’s clearly only the beginning.
Previously published on Collaborative Innovation Blog.