Inventive activity depends on research and development, and R&D depends on, among other things, the exchange of ideas among individuals. People’s physical proximity is a key ingredient in the innovation process. Steve Jobs understood this when he helped to design the layout of Pixar Animation Studios. The original plan called for three buildings, with separate offices for animators, scientists, and executives. Jobs instead opted for a single building with a vast atrium at its core. To ensure that animators, scientists, and executives frequently interacted and exchanged ideas, Jobs moved the mailboxes, the cafeteria, and the meeting rooms to the center of the building.

This article appeared in the Third Quarter 2013 edition of Business Review.

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