Friday, October 10, 2014

Best Practice

This is becoming a habit: my turning over of meaningless business jargon with the reality of projects.

"Best Practice" is the next on my list.

All I can ask is "Who is it 'best' for?"

If its best for this project, let's test it and find out; but better, let's work up the project delivery team to produce processes that will be the 'best' for the project through educated critical process checks, system refinement and check again on the results.

That is, we engage the intelligence and experience of the people doing the work, informed by others, but not slaves to what someone else in some other circumstances thinks is best for my project. A project they've never thought about, let alone seen.

Design Thinking

The Multidisciplinarian has a post on 'design thinking'.

It covers a lot of good ground, including having a stab at the 'fadism' that pollutes business discourse. A short time ago...a few years...'design thinking' was the beaut new thing to boost the revenue of consulting firms who are ever eager for solutions to their declining revenue opportunities as the last beaut thing fails to deliver. It often fails to deliver because it fails to deal with the interests of the customer, and prefers to pander to the needs of management, but that's another story.

In the building industry I meet and work with architects and engineers all the time, so encounter 'design thinking' and design talking, as well as design doing also all the time.

There are probably many varieties of 'design thinking' but the factor that I think may connect them all is the discursive use of resources to meet the requirements that will give life to an opportunity.

Note I avoided the word 'problem' and the phrase 'problem-solving'. I doubt that design is fundamentally a problem solving exercise. To characterise it as such is trivial, although architect-instructors at university use it all the time:

Practicing architect: "I'm designing a library."
Academic architect: "What's the problem?"
Librarian: "The problem is that there is no library!"

See? It gets us nowhere.

Rather there's a need and an opportunity.

Design occurs when resources are marshalled to meet the need. It entails meeting a set of criteria that may be changed as they are explored and challenged during the design process. It entails varying the 'power' of criteria as the work proceeds. This might include solving problems by employing tradeoffs and compromises, but that's on the way, not the object. The object is to realise socially useful shelter that meets the need, speaking at the broadest.

As the Multidisciplinarian points out that 'design thinking' is not magic, but usually proceeds when there is no obvious means of meeting a need or taking an opportunity, or realising a return. A parametric envelope is created by user requirements. As the response to the requirement set is developed, the parametric envelope, and the options available close in on a result. At bottom there is probably no strict algorithim to do this, although architects and engineers do have algorithmic-like behaviour as they develop their designs.

That's part of the craft of design in the building industry.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Sensible 12: No. 12!

12. The project must deliver the expected value to the customer.
We all know a project is measured by successfully delivering the scope on time and within budget. I believe the true measurement is successfully delivering value to the business or customer. Value
encompasses all three of these components: scope, schedule, and cost (as well as quality). The value to the customer will not be realized unless the vision of the project is met.
This is the only reason for the project; if it doesn't occur, then the customer will not be back.