Tag Archives: Dan Pink

An Integrated Design Strategy for Every Man, Woman and Child

“The concept of integrated design is key to a sustainable future and ultimately quality of life,” 
Laura Lee

Just as Finith Jernigan’s Makers of the Environment envisioned the average American benefitting from building information modeling (BIM),

Professor Laura Lee’s vision for South Australia reads like an integrated design strategy for every man, woman and child throughout the world.

While her publication was prepared as a series of recommendations to the South Australia government, upon reading it, it soon becomes clear that she had more universal applications in mind.

With her report, “An Integrated Design Strategy for South Australia – Building the Future,” Lee envisions a framework for uniting sustainability, behavior, materials and the external environment into a whole that satisfies the needs of people, environment and place.

I’ve read the report from beginning to end a couple times now and am happy to share my, however haphazard, impressions.

The excellent introduction acknowledges the potential – and urgency – of the state of the world today: the perfect set-up for what’s to come.

It answers why anyone would want to read this report – and, as importantly, why now.

Instead of just writing about design, the booklet (as a product) itself is a perfect argument for the value of good design.

Little touches – such as the global quotes in blue and local quotes in orange – and larger ones: that it is so well written, edited, illustrated and like all great works of art, all-of-a-piece.

Like the integrated design process itself, the report contains myriad voices (a strategy and conclusion I also came to for my own book on Integrated Design.)

From now on, all Integrated Design books really ought to be crowdsourced.

In fact, Lee had 15 partners (represented by 24 people) in the residency, only 4 of whom were designers, which if it was a challenge, doesn’t show.

The report leaves you with the impression that it was created by a singular sensibility in that it has one, compelling voice throughout.

Stevie Summer’s diagrams are intelligent and truly mesmerizing: the perfect accompaniment for the text.

The natural imagery of many of these diagrams – conch shells, DNA – are intertwined & interrelated with the book’s theme and text. Stunning.

Professor Lee invested so much time in the diagrams because she is interested in raising visual literacy.

Interestingly, it soon becomes apparent that the process in conceiving the report served as a model for those she worked with along the way for the integrated design process itself. What an effective way for those she worked with to ‘get’ integrated design.

One of the most appealing attributes of the report is that the overall tone and word choice is strangely non-academic. This is a report anyone could love.

Lee, for example, quotes Dan Pink where she could have quoted Roger Martin. In fact, the report verges on being populist were it not for the fact that the whole thing is so smart.

Because this does not read like research, one can see how it will be implemented (and not – like so many reports – sit on the shelf.)

By the time the reader gets to the end, they’ll recognize that the very tenets of integrated design went into the making of this brilliant and beautiful document.

The tone throughout is optimistic, forward-looking: exactly what it needs to be. No need to threaten readers with impending apocalypse (it doesn’t.)

Most reports and books fizzle out near the end – having spent all their ammo in the first half (if not the first chapter.) Here, some of the best, freshest information and diagrams occur in the recommendations section of the report, near the end, what Professor Lee calls “the heart and the future of the work.”

Many, many more people need to read this report.

Professor Lee is in the process of making an Integrated Design Strategy guidebook with roadmaps for each recommendation along with best practices, weblinks, and case studies and a website with PDF downloads that hopefully will be available soon.

Read the final report of Professor Laura Lee, Adelaide Thinker in Residence in 2009.

Read about Martin Seligman and other thinkers in residence http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/ including Prof. Laura Lee http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/

Read more about Laura Lee, FAIA http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/who.aspx

Check out these videos featuring Laura Lee, and also this and this video

And look into the integrated design work of other thinkers and makers, including Renée Cheng, Daniel Friedman, Frances Bronet, Ann Dyson, Billie Faircloth, Kiel Moe and many more.

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Filed under craft, craftsmanship, education, Integrated Design, people, process, writing

The Way Out is the Way Through

Happy architects are all alike; every unhappy architect is unhappy in his own way.

–          with apologies to Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina

Architects complain that contractors and owners are positioned to benefit from utilizing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) but that architects are not.

It is clear that owners and contractors benefit from BIM and IPD. That there are fewer RFIs because the technology detects clashes before they occur in the field alone should be reason enough to convince owners and contractors that it is to their benefit to work collaboratively in BIM. But there is more – cost estimating done in advance, value engineering on the fly – the list of benefits seems to get longer every day. So who wins?

The owner wins. And to a lesser extent the contractor wins as well.

What about the architect?

No so much.

Architects complain that they have to do a lot more work up front, often hourly at-cost – and do work that they normally would do later in the process, and get generously compensated for.

So what are architects in it for? What do architects hope to gain by going down the BIM and IPD path?

Who benefits?

We were warned at the outset that none of us would get rich (nor become Frank Lloyd Wright.)

We went into architecture originally to be professionals – and somewhere along the way we were wooed by the prospect of making money. Yes, we need to survive and not be victimized, take-on needless responsibility and risk without opportunity for reward or recompense.

But the truth is if we work hard and do a good job it will be recognized – perhaps not on this project but the next.

We are motivated to do a good job – not by extrinsic rewards but rather by the promise of rewards more intrinsic.

But then the money’s doled out and we cry foul: the contractor and owner see all the benefit.

First we must realize that this is not true. We always did more work than we were compensated for. Today, with BIM, LEED and IPD, is no exception.

To empower ourselves – right now, at this moment in time – we need to do the work, earlier in the process, upfront, and yes maybe more of it than we’d like.

What’s the value proposition? We ask, despite the fact that if we were honest with ourselves we’d have to admit that the words – “value proposition” – weren’t even in our vocabulary a few years ago.

The value – and benefit – will come. It will come when

1. We first value ourselves and our own contribution and our own people. If you don’t value yourself and your people how can you expect others to?

2. Do the hard necessary work. Communicate with the contractor – what is needed for their model to be worthy, useful? Talk to your attorney and insurer – identify where they are willing to give a bit – and take it.

3. Be the ultimate professional you are capable of being. Be fun to work with – yes, fun. Be someone others want to work with. They will come to you again as much for the experience as for the sheer joy you create in others.

4. Identify the things you can leverage – your permitting ability, your political connections or clout, your experience and insights.

So for now, you may not get rich like the contractor or like the owner, but…do it anyway.

“80 percent of success is just showing up” — Woody Allen

Do it anyway? That’s right.

But what’s in it for us architects?

1. You’ll stay in the game.

2. You’ll be the first others think of when things pick up.

3. You’ll gain valuable experience working with BIM and related technologies and the collaborative work processes enabled by them.

4. Perhaps most of all, you’ll be perceived as being easy to work with.

So in the meantime – no matter the answer – do it anyway.

While the answer is being worked out – you’ll be at the game, at the show. It will go a long way to prove yourself a team player. And that in itself, in this economy, in these crazy times, is something, not nothing.

That you’re in it for more than obvious financial gain will become apparent to all and appreciated by a few.

For now, for the time being, do it anyway.

Balky Architects

But they won’t praise us.

Do it anyway

The extra effort won’t be appreciated.

Do it anyway

It’ll just give us additional exposure we don’t need.

Do it anyway

It’s not our responsibility.

Do it anyway

They say they’ll just use another firm if we balk.

Do it anyway

They say we won’t get any more money because we should have been doing this all along.

Do it anyway

The Way Out for Architects is the Way Through

As much as you might like to, you just can’t avoid it. You can’t resist it. No, you can’t sit this dance out. You have to go through with it. You have to play to win. And if you play nicely, with a good attitude and a positive mindset from the outset – all the better.

The way out is the way through. There is no other way.

Not around. Not under. Not by standing still until 9you hope) it goes away.

There are no workarounds for architects in the Game of BIM, LEED and IPD.

You have to show to play. And you have to play to win.

Being obstinate won’t work. Blocking, playing hard to get, holding back, balking, withdrawing, thwarting, resisting or retreating – none of this behavior will work. There is only one thing that will work right now, today.

Give Unconditional Architecture

Author Kent M. Keith was a Harvard student in the 60s when he first wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments,” a manifesto about doing good in a crazy, ungrateful world. These commandments have been quoted by the Boy Scouts of America and discovered in Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta. They’ve taken on a life of their own and are the basis of his repackaged and expanded book Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World available for a penny, .01 cent, here.

What architects need most to do is to do the right thing.

Architects need to do good, right now, in a crazy, ungrateful world.

The Architect’s Paradoxical Commandments

1. People you work with and for are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.

Serve them anyway.

2. If you do good, contractors will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

4. The good you did yesterday will be resented today and forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you appear weak and vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest architects with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest clients with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be shelved or even destroyed overnight.

Design and build anyway.

9. The public and users really need help but may attack you if you try to help them.

Help them anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

– with apologies to Kent M. Keith

Until there is a clear advantage for architects – Do It Anyway

I was talking with a colleague the other day – she has been looking for work for some time and said that the basic attitude out there in the job-hunt warzone is:

“No BIM, no LEED, no interview”

Imagine a sign on the office door that reads:

No BIM

No LEED

No interview

You may not have a shirt on your back – and your shoes may be in ill-repair – but you can have these. BIM , LEED and IPD – or BIM and Integrated Design, for short.

You know the sign that reads: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service?”

BIM is the shirt on our backs.

LEED and IPD each of our shoes.

We’re not too far off from being turned away from RFQs and RFPs and, yes, from interviews:

No BIM

No LEED

No interview

There are a lot of reasons to learn BIM. And a lot of reasons to study and take the LEED exam.

Not fall behind, to remain competitive, to stay sharp, to help our clients achieve their goals,to help make the world a better place for all (need I continue?)

I have in my time been accused of being an architect. And, by association, idealistic.

I suggested the other day to a colleague in my network that there was a dollar amount above which was unnecessary for me to make to be satisfied, fulfilled and happy. And that person called me an idealistic architect.

And in doing so he was being redundant. Idealistic defined here as foolhardy, unrealistic and lacking any business sense.

And architect?

Doesn’t pay what I’m worth? I don’t care – I do it anyway.

There are lots of reasons NOT to do these things

No time

No money

No motivation

Helpless

Pointless

Too many people out there competing for the same positions

There are no jobs…

All excuses

No time?

Do it anyway

No money?

Do it anyway

No motivation?

Do it anyway (the most important writing advice I have ever been given? 3 words: Butt in seat)

Feel helpless? You are not your feelings. The feeling will pass.

Do it anyway

What’s the point?

Do it anyway

Too many people out there competing for the same positions.

Do it anyway

There are no jobs!

Do it anyway

You get the point…Do it anyway

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