Lattes and lofts alone don’t lure knowledge workers
By Tom Gibbons
July 20, 2003

I have trailed the knowledge worker to his den.

Patrick Scofield is showing me his vintage war plane. The plane is located in a hangar, two stories below the office of Scofield’s firm, Concept Designworx, at Mesa’s Falcon Field.

Scofield and his business development guy Dave LaSorte asked me there to talk about a concept called experienced-based design and marketing. They are holding a series of workshops — the first is Tuesday — in Mesa and Southern California in the coming months, on the concept.

I have another motive for visiting. I want to see knowledge workers in their environment. To experience them, as it were.

I have become interested in knowledge workers because it seems every political, business and education leader in our state is interested in knowledge workers. In training them, luring them and retaining them.

Finding a knowledgebased company at Falcon Field, I have been led to believe, is something akin to finding an armadillo in downtown Minneapolis. Knowledge workers, I have read, are interested in "cool" places — which are urban, downtown environments filled with high-end coffee shops and lofts.

When I first arrive at Concept Designworx, I take a sneak peak into the break room. To my utter horror, the coffee maker is the standard kind — not an espresso machine.

I am somewhat relieved when I meet Scofield and LaSorte and they show me their main work room, with young people working on iMacs. Maple, hardwood floors. Cutting edge.

Scofield and LaSorte take me to their office, where Scofield launches into a passionate description of experience-based marketing. The idea is that a great deal of value comes from the experience. Let’s say you want to drink coffee, he explains. You can go the cheap route, or you can go to Starbucks, where you pay $2.70 for a latte. What you’re paying for at Starbucks to large degree is being in Starbucks and enjoying the experience.

It’s more than a commodity. It’s a show.

Scofield shows me an example of using experienced-based industrial design. It is a card the company did for Duraswitch. The card has sample switches and a "rat tail," a set of little wires so a user can test the switches.

Scofield is quick to point out that he didn’t invent the concept.

This is something he started using about five years ago, he says.

I am still somewhat troubled by the lack of an espresso machine in the break room. So I ask straight out: Are you guys knowledge workers?

"Yes, that would include us," Scofield says.

So what are you doing so far from a cool, urban setting?

"We have the Confederate Air Force right next door. There’s always something going on here," LaSorte says.

Then he points out the view of Red Mountain in the distance.

And it occurs to me, there might be a way to lure knowledge workers without lattes and lofts.

Concept Designworx Inc.