Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

1) Admit it, you’ve probably giggled at the death-by-power point presentation style the NSA appears to have fallen prey to. At least one designer has taken on the task of advising the agency on how to improve in that regard. But what about office space?

While a bad presentation can kill a meeting, poorly designed office space can be just as deadly — if not more so. It can kill the will to collaborate, be creative and, with the advent of powerful, light-weight laptops and mobile devices, employees may not even feel the need to stick around (see: “Marissa Mayer, work-from-home memo“). So, can an office space work the other way around and, instead, prevent a boring office meeting rather than fuel it?

As Wired’s Joseph Flaherty writes, Herman Miller (the company that brought you the Aeron chair) has undertaken the challenge, releasing the “Public Office Landscape” designed by Fuse Project‘s Yves Béhar. The design looks more like a modern coffee house in some ways than an office layout, combining bench seating and cafe tables with traditional office chairs and desks. Given the growing number of coffee-house denizens armed with laptops, they appear to be on to something. The design also does away with the traditional, closed-off meeting room, opting for more collaborative environments.

Fuse Project describes the impetus behind the project on its blog:

“In theory, we could all be working from home, but the reason why people still want to go to an office is to collaborate with others. Under the sea change initiative that Herman Miller’s Living Office represents, our Public Office Landscape addresses collaboration not in moments, but as movement throughout an office: ‘Social Desking’ that invites dialogue at the desk, ‘Group spaces’ to allow collaboration in proximity, and ‘Interstitial spaces’ which convert in-between spaces into community space, are sets of ideas and furniture solutions that make up Public Office Landscape.”

The office design was presented at the design conference Neocon 2013, which ended on Wednesday. Would you redesign your office space this way? Let us know in the comments.

(Fuse Project via Wired)

2) The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is hosting a networking event in Washington, around its fourth-annual Impact Report on Thursday evening. The ANDE, a project of the Aspen Institute, focuses on supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) in emerging markets. The report offers three key findings, or “action areas” regarding SGBs:

  • Start-ups struggle the most to get initial funding among SGBs
  • Even though women represent roughly a third of all small businesses in emerging markets, women-owned businesses have more barriers to success than their male-owned counterparts.
  • Poor market linages and management are plaguing agricultural businesses

The report, released June 10 13, covers the organization’s work during 2012.

3) It appears 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. That’s according to TechCrunch’s John Biggs, who reports that Amazon’s 3D printing store front has, along with other brick-and-mortar stores, made the technology accessible to the public at large. It still, he writes, hasn’t lost its “cool” factor, but he doesn’t expect that to last long:

“I’ll know it’s gone mainstream when my Dad asks for one and, the way things are going, that should be some time next week.”

4) As Vivek Wadhwa writes for The Post, happiness plays a key role in innovation. But what about cognitive bias, specifically functional fixedness (or that thing that keeps us from seeing couches as pirate ships and blankets as fort building materials like we used to as kids)? As Andy Zynga writes for the Harvard Business Review, “as we get older, knowledge and experience increasingly displace imagination and our ability to see an object for anything other than its original purpose.” That inability to see things in a way other than we have always seen them in our professional lives can make innovation difficult-to-near-impossible:

“Companies often struggle to develop breakthrough products because they are hobbled by Functional Fixedness. Technologists, engineers, and designers not only have their own expertise, they have their own way of applying their expertise. Ironically, the more success they’ve had with their approach to a solution, the harder it is to imagine a different one.”

5) Watch statistician Hans Rosling use LEGOs to explain the world as it is and as it could be. (via io9)