Driving Change: A Process for Innovation
Two imperative questions: What world are we living in? What can we do to thrive in it?
In a world that is changing faster than ever, these questions matter more than ever. Opportunities to facilitate change are hiding in plain sight. We are getting so much less than we should get out of time, money and people when it comes to architectural education and architecture as a profession. There is a pent up reservoir of knowledge and offering between the two that need to be tapped. The following will briefly look at what we can do to drive change and innovate within the building design and construction industry.
“If you are asking the wrong questions, the answers don’t matter.”
Some phenomena lie under the radar while others are under a spotlight, making them more obvious. It is important to imagine, anticipate and notice these issues early-on to assess how they might grow and whether their growth should be encouraged, discouraged or ignored. What challenges do you see in your current day-to-day business that need an investment in human capital, knowledge capital or financial capital? Are these challenges impacting your bottom-line or influencing human welfare or somewhere in between? Whatever these challenges may be, they are all important. It is important that the profession and academia hone in on real-world challenges, near or far, to properly plan ahead and apply the best available evidence. Research is needed in market sectors across the board; from higher-ed, healthcare, retail, residential, commercial and so on. We must pause and reflect on what has been done in the past and what needs to be done in the future. Share what you face, so you don’t go at it alone.
“The rich invest in time, the poor invest in money.” – Warren Buffet
Investigation takes time and time is money in the business world. This is why it is so important to spend time tapping into the minds of our academic partners. Academia is defined as “the community concerned with the pursuit of research, education and scholarship.” It is important to investigate what has been done and what can be made better. Looking at issues on various scales (from global to direct impact) will take into consideration all facets of a challenge. It is only after thorough analysis of these challenges that potential solutions can be communicated efficiently.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the key to becoming relevant. This is where the gap between the profession and academia can begin to close and allow knowledge to flow. The building design and construction industry must effectively communicate knowledge on a relevant level that is able to be processed, refined, reciprocated and further developed to be applicable.
“If you cannot communicate, you cannot collaborate. If you cannot collaborate, you will be less creative.” – Tony Wagner
If we want to think outside of the box, we must get outside of the box. Knowledge needs to be exchanged among different organizations in a shared space that is uninhibited by outlying organizational restrictions. Effective application of knowledge would not be possible without the cross-pollination between the profession and academia working collectively around an issue. It is necessary to get the right people around the table to share their perspectives and create innovative insight. It is necessary to understand each person’s strengths within an organization and it is vital to collaborate with others who do not share your same weakness. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand an organization’s strengths.
“Knowledge without application is like a book that is never read.” – Christopher Crawford
Architecture is the marriage of thinking and doing. The practice of architecture needs to apply the best available evidence into real world applications. We are preparing ourselves for failure if we do not utilize innovative insights gained from a collaborative investment in time, money and people. In this real world game of life, the choices we make now will determine if we win or lose in the future.
“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” – John C. Maxwell
Leadership is a visual act that is communicated daily. Leaders need to take inventory of strengths and weaknesses at an organizational and individual scale. Deciding to challenge the status-quo is the most critical part of a company’s development, because if you don’t someone else will. Competition will always be close behind!
By utilizing the above components, you’ll begin to lead. Professional practice has a leg-up on competition; clients improve their investment; academia contributes to real-time and real-world challenges; and last, but not least, current and future generations benefit from smart design that adds to their success and not demise. Understanding that perspective is not about what you see, but rather about where you look. We must look to one another. When we become intentional, we will change who and where we are.
by Austin Poe
Austin has a doctorate of architecture degree from the University of Hawaii and offers a widespread experience across different markets. When he's not at the M+A office, you can find him golfing, boating or watching the buckeyes.