Archive

Thought Leadership

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Trust and Knowledge Management. Sustainable Campus Model. Design for Healthier Cities. Uncertainty in Design.

Trust is Essential in Knowledge Management. Andrew Trickett, Global Rail Knowledge & Information Manager at ARUP, writes about the value of creating a work environment of trust to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and cooperation among employees. He stresses that employers should remove barriers from competition and that by taking the time to review both a projects’ accomplishments as well as its short falls, that a company can increase its overall performance and client satisfaction.

If as a group people are sharing, and talking about knowledge through their experiences, then this can be the starting point for people to ask unorthodox questions, experiment with new ideas and ways of working in a safe setting before they expose a creative idea to the organisation.” – Andrew Trickett

Via Arup Thoughts Blog

A Model for Sustainability on Campus. Many older colleges and universities face outdated and inefficient infrastructure resulting in unsustainable water and energy consumption. Hoping to create a more sustainable campus and lower energy bills, Lynn College in Boca Raton, Florida implemented an innovative Sustainability Management Tool that brought administrators, faculty, students as well as municipal officials and third party consultants together to implement sustainable objectives from the school’s master plan.

Central to the Sustainability Management Tool are:

  1. A strong organizational structure
  2. The elimination of “boundaries”
  3. Partnerships
  4. Discussion

By reaching out and engaging in discussions with the community, Lynn College was able to reduce their energy consumption and costs dramatically.

Via Design Intelligence

Making Cities Healthy Through Design. Kristian Villadsen from Gehl Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark recently spoke at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam about connecting vibrant public spaces through safe biking and walking areas in cities to increase the health of urban dwellers.

In his presentation, he discussed Copenhagen’s many bike lanes, public spaces and in particular the city’s Harbor Bath which is only a mere 700 meters from city hall.  In addition, he elaborates on an effective and innovative pilot project in New York City’s Times Square which studied the impacts of increasing public space in dense urban areas.

Via Gehl Architects’ Blog

Uncertainty in Design. In this thought-provoking article by Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies graduate student Renee Kaufman, she examines both the philosophical and scientific question of uncertainty in the study and implementation of ecology in landscape design. Hoping to lessen uncertainty and the anxiety it causes, she proposes adaptive management as a means to acquire better and more effective data about a project’s performance after construction.

Via Landscape Urbanism Blog

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Are you like 88% of the A/E professionals we polled who are using social media to position their firms’ experts? Perhaps you should consider Sweden’s approach.

In December Sweden democratized their Twitter account by giving control of @Sweden to a new Swede each week. (You may have seen the headlines about the when Sonja Abrahamsson stirred controversy with her less-than-politically-correct tweets). This approach is now being adopted by other countries with the Netherlands as the latest to try it out.

Granted, Sweden’s objective, to entice tourists to visit, doesn’t directly relate to the field of landscape, architecture and engineering professional services. But the concept of associating a personality and their particular point of view with a brand, could be a great way to showcase the many facets of expertise within your organization.

If you have willing and qualified participants (and please be honest with yourself, not everyone is capable of being a thought leader – it takes knowledge, drive and communications skills), ask yourself if you trust your subject-matter experts to operate the account in a responsible way – professional but personal and gaffe free.

In addition to building your firm’s reputation for each of its areas of specialization, this approach could be a fun way to get more employees and leaders involved in your firm’s social media program. Offer your operators solid guidelines and tips so they are communicating effectively. Help them out by scheduling the first few tweets with them, so they can get a chance to learn from you and overcome any fear of tweeting. For those who are already using social media personally, encourage them to amplify what they are doing for the firm’s account by talking about it and retweeting through their personal accounts — maybe the firm will pick up some new followers as well.

Clearly, this idea is not for every firm, but for the right organization it could be fun. What do you think?

If you decide to try this out, please let us know so we can stay tuned!

Earlier this week, I responded to a new discussion question by Kristin Kautz on the SMPS LinkedIn Group about how to structure a communications campaign around a retiring executive.

I offered five tips to Kristen based on the communications campaigns I’ve led for mergers and acquisitions with the final tip being “Keep it positive!” After all, retirement is the rite of passage that we all strive for and it should be a celebration of this person’s accomplishments and contributions to the company and their profession.

A day or so later, Jason Mlicki offered an example of exactly this sort of celebration. As a marketing consultant to environmental services firm Verantis, Mlicki built a microsite to celebrate the career of Woody Wilson West, one of Verantis’ retiring engineers. The Wonderful World of Woody site features a fun and only partially-fictional list of Woody’s super hero-like accomplishments and the ability for anyone to add their memories and congratulations. Perhaps the most effective part of this is that the message focuses on Woody’s specialization – FRP Fans.

Not that I have any idea what an FRP Fan is, but I assume that most of the site’s visitors do and that this topic is something that Verantis proudly pioneers. Mlicki and Verantis show that Woody and his subject-specific expertise has been an asset to the firm AND that he has built the firm’s body of FRP Fan knowledge – a subtle assurance to Verantis clients that Woody’s know-how is ingrained in the firm’s systems and minds of its remaining consultants.
Nice work Jason and thank you for sharing the link.

In case you are interested, here are my five tips:
1. Consider your audiences. I’d suggest running through your list of audiences and considering what their concerns would be — e.g. Clients: Will my project be affected? Do I have someone else at the firm who I trust and want to continue to work with? Will this affect the firm’s ability to maintain overall quality or business acumen?
Staff: Who will fill the void? What upward mobility opportunities does this create in the firm? …

2. Consider your messages to each audience. The more concerns a group has, the more personal you’ll want the communications to be.
– With staff, consider a company- or office-wide meeting to announce it.
– With clients, perhaps phone calls by the partner him/herself on the projects they lead directly, otherwise the clients’ primary contact at the firm. My hunch is that having a trusted person in place is going to be one of the most important messages to clients, so a series of in-person client meetings with the replacement leader or new contact would be necessary.
– With vendors, perhaps a letter is sufficient
– With the industry/press/public, press releases are standard, but perhaps they could be accompanied by a video highlighting this person’s contributions to clients and the industry. Meet w/ select industry journalists to see if there may interest in a profile story.

3. Consider all your existing communications vehicles and who they reach and include these channels as a part of the announcement — e.g. newsletter, e-blasts, website, blog, Facebook/LI/Twitter.

4. Consider the sequence and timing of communications: e.g. 1. Tell partners. 2. Tell staff. 3. Tell clients and vendors. 4. Tell the public.

If this is a high profile firm/individual, time your communications closely together so the rumor mill doesn’t scoop you.

5. Keep it positive. Make this a celebration of a full career and new opportunities for the next tier of leadership at the firm

Community project. The HMC Designing Futures Foundation board recently approved a grant to fund the restoration of the Micheltorena Steps in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The steps are a main pathway to Micheltorena School for children in the neighborhood, and are unsafe and in disrepair.

Scott Plante of the LA Studio, who proposed the project, lives near the school, uses the steps and is committed to improving the quality of life in Silver Lake. He went to the Silver Lake Urban Design Committee with a design proposal to provide light steps and underpasses throughout Silver Lake. Recognizing the safety issues with children and the adjacent school, the Micheltorena Steps were selected as a prototype for repairing and relighting similar steps throughout the neighborhood.

 Via HMC Architects Blog

Written by Adrienne Luce, Designing Futures Foundation Executive Director

LEEDing the Way. This week Portland International Jetport became the second commercial terminal in the United States to achieve LEED Gold certification. Gensler on Cities interviewed project manager Jim Stanislaski to find out what’s next in the field of sustainable aviation design.

It’s important to note that while the LEED program has done a great job of transforming the marketplace and generating public awareness for the importance of sustainable design, these certifications are not the finish line. To solve the current energy crisis we need to look beyond LEED. We need to start thinking about how to achieve net zero energy and net-zero water airport terminals. On paper that may seem daunting, but we aren’t that far off from making it a reality. – Jim Stanislaski

 Via Gensler on Cities

Written by Leah Ray

Enabling mobility. Steelcase’s Jan Johnson blogs how mobility in the workplace means many things to different people.

“Mobility requires much more than a real estate strategy du jour to save space: It can and should be one of the ways we enable worker choice and control.”

Via Metropolis POV

Interview with BIM expert. Chirag Mistry has been at HOK for eight years and is one of HOK’s leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) experts, focusing primarily on lab and research facility design and development in HOK’s Science + Technology practice.

In this Q&A interview, Mistry talks about the biggest advantage for project teams designing lab and research facilities using BIM, his most favorite and most challenging aspects of being a BIM expert and what the future holds for BIM.

Via HOK Life