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February 16, 2012

Open Air Rooms...

Gillian Tett

A little while ago, I had a chance to visit New York's City Hall, where Michael Bloomberg - the former trader-turned-financial-information-mogul - now works as mayor. As I entered his empire, I experienced a small shock.

During my career as a journalist, I have often walked through government buildings, and become accustomed to seeing a rabbit warren. Across the western world, senior officials typically work from offices interconnected by corridors, guarded by secretaries in ante-chambers.

Bloomberg's building in downtown Manhattan, though, is different. He sits in a vast, airy, open-plan room, surrounded by officials and banks of giant data screens (showing information on things such as traffic flows or public satisfaction with the police). Anybody holding a meeting is encouraged to sit on a central, raised dais, rather than scuttle into a private hole; the idea, as one employee explained, is to encourage a climate of transparency and collaboration. In theory, in other words, anyone in the mayor's office can see - and yell at - everyone else; much as they can on a modern financial trading floor or at a newspaper (which, of course, is no accident given that Bloomberg spent most of his career building the financial information giant that bears his name).

Open air classrooms blew through the local education world some time ago.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at February 16, 2012 2:57 AM
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