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Frankenstein's Cubicle

Cubicle_dwellersDo you know who Bob Probst was?

Any guesses?

You may not like the answer.  Bob Probst is a "reluctant serial killer" of sorts.  Everyday, his creation sucks the souls and life out of countless professionals.  He was the Director of Research for Herman Miller, and (according to a research paper from my students) the man credited with creating the cubicle.  One of the ironies was that he originally called the prototype of the cubicle the "action office."  (OK, you in the 15th cubicle from the window, quit laughing so loudly.  You're disturbing the other 3,957 cubicle-dwellers on your floor.)  The other irony is that Bob spent the rest of his life regretting his creation, stating that he had never wanted the work environment to become hostile because of his creation.

As somebody who strives to seize the accomplishment, I just found this story interesting and had to share it.  For those of you sitting in cubicles right now, please try to find it in your hearts to forgive Bob.  He didn't mean it.  Really.


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So, wait, are you saying Bob regretted building the "prairie environment"? Did he intend it to be a temporary type office for work on the move (ergo "action office")? Man, that was a concept that took a left and kept going. Honestly, so have some of the project decisions that have taken on life. My most memorable was: color choice for a locator site--puce. We actually had customers report that they puked from the color.

Timothy Johnson

Yup, ol' Bob regretted creating "Corporate Whack-A-Mole"

Puce? Ick.

Scot Herrick

He is actually the hero for my "about" page on Cube Rules.

The Fortune article describes his original invention as the "Action Office" where there are three sides to the office to hang stuff associated with collaborative information.

But, tax laws -- that taxed walled offices and not cubes -- allowed corporations to make four sided cubes and pretend they were offices and save money.

From my site:

the inventor of the office cube - the “Action Office” - came to quickly view his invention as one with dramatic, and unfortunate, unintended consequences. He called it “monolithic insanity.” You can read his story, and the story of the cube, in Fortune’s “The Great Escape.”


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