Leading for the Long Haul
dancker’s president and CEO, Steven Lang, has long-held beliefs that teamwork is what leads to wins, and with that core philosophy he works hard to connect people with what they’re passionate about. A trusted advisor to his clients and a coach for his dancker team, Steve kicks-off our blog series about dancker’s people and personality, and the ideas and inspirations that are born from them.
dancker has a rich history that goes all the way back to the workplaces of 1829 and the roll-top desk. I’m immensely proud of that heritage, but even more proud of the fact that we’ve never stopped evolving. Throughout our storied history we’ve stayed focused on the way people work, and yet with each decade comes new experiences that we learn from and new ideas that help us move forward. We push ourselves to think big so that we can inspire our clients to think even bigger. During my own 20+ year tenure we’ve grown from a furniture dealer to an interiors solutions company. We integrate furniture with architecture and technology, in a way that the modern workplace demands. Simple, easy and ubiquitous. Our clients understand our role: To seamlessly integrate the details – the logistics of the furniture, architectural and technology elements to create a workplace, an environment that has, well…. FLOW! We do it all as a collaborative partner. At our best: a trusted advisor helping to leverage key real estate & people assets. We study this stuff. We live, sleep, breathe and eat it for breakfast. Many of our clients we’ve had for twenty or thirty years. In just eleven short years we’ll celebrate our 200th birthday – 200 years! – and I say with confidence that by then we will have evolved again, multiple times. We never stop learning and looking toward the future; it’s what we do, for us, for our clients.
The workplace of the future is something I’m very passionate about. We already provide leading edge solutions to our clients and yet I can’t help but think about what will come next. I was inspired by a recent segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes about MIT’s Media Lab, which presented a technology that enables the user to search the internet using his or her brainwaves. Essentially the brain uses what it has and gets the rest from Google and delivers it to be spoken as answers in seconds. Information is not just at your fingertips, it literally helps augment your brain to go beyond its own capacity. Imagine what that kind of technology can do for the way we work. Just as today’s tools empower us to be more connected, collaborative and creative, future technologies will make those connections even richer. Collaboration can happen more quickly and be more dynamic. And the creative process can be enhanced – ideas are unhindered by plans or processes that work well now but may be considered archaic in the future. The next generation of leaders is already thinking about this, so we must be thinking about it too if we want to recruit and retain those young leaders and motivate them to carry us forward.
New technologies are making space even more powerful and productive, too. We can use sensors placed throughout a space to measure how it’s being used by tracking human activity and movement. This puts actual data in the hands of decision makers – it addresses the question of real estate’s effectiveness and efficiency, and helps any organization ensure that its space continues to serve the changing needs of its people appropriately.
We’ve recently turned our own Somerville, New Jersey, office into an Experience Center that allows us to test new design ideas and technologies to showcase real-life solutions for our clients. It also helps us motivate and empower our own team members by inspiring them to do their best work for our clients in a space designed for them to practice what we preach. We’ve looked closely at the kind of work we do and how we do it, and our office now responds directly to that. This is exactly what we do for our clients too – understand how they work, define what is important, productively challenge conventional wisdom and use our expertise to create a range of work settings that address those needs. The office becomes the physical manifestation of our culture and mission: To create an environment that connects people, passion and purpose.
Sometimes I feel like I won the business lottery; I’m very fortunate to love what I do and where I do it. When I started at dancker in 1997 I was honored to work with a group of strong leaders who inspired me to learn and nurtured my passion and potential until ultimately giving me the opportunity to buy the business I now own. Today, I feel a real sense of responsibility, an obligation, to teach and develop the next generation of dancker’s leaders so they can achieve their greatest potential and in doing so help the company continue to prosper. As the current company steward, that’s a responsibility that I cherish and take very seriously. I believe that’s what will keep us around for another 200 years.
President & CEO
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