Sat Jan 02 2021 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Ollio is 5!
Hard to believe, but its five years since Ollio The Building Performance Consultancy was born. Its been a fruitful journey so far with lots accomplished, but still lots to do. I am happy Ollio now commands a relevant place in the zero-carbon design and post-occupancy in-use building performance market.
Over time we have strengthened existing relationships, and built some new ones with a cohort of forward looking architectural and project management practices. We have gained the confidence of some great clients and constructors, some are global household names who have seen the value we bring in being both innovative and agile. However, the strategic objective is not for Ollio to chase business growth for growth sake. I want to shape a business that is big on impact; impact to have this industry depart from its race to the bottom and begin to deliver better yet still affordable buildings for deserving clients and the planet we all share.
Joining some great project work in zero carbon building advisory, our most impactful achievement to date was the successful proof of concept of Agile in Buildings with Innovate UK and Kollider back in 2019. Those of you who have been following our Ollio journey will know that Agile in Buildings uses new thinking to help clients use the power of their own people to create better, more insightful briefs for their new or even existing building upgrade. The IUK project taught us is that Agile in Buildings works, it is elegant and it supports the kind of design thinking that delivers not just better buildings but better performing client organisations too. Joining HOW people want to work with WHERE they want to work is suddenly, in 2020, big currency which makes for interesting times and exciting opportunities ahead for Agile.
Alas, with innovation sometimes comes failure and learning. It's a shame we failed to get the IUK funding we needed to do the same proof of concept testing for ShieldED as we did for Agile in Buildings. ShieldED uses the same Virtual Reality prototyping techniques necessary for Agile in Buildings to drive informed feedback of users requirements for capture in the client's new brief.
With Shielded we asked the question could we adapt our VR knowledge to move 25 pupils into a Virtual Classroom and have them have the same (or better) educational experience they would in the real one. This is Zoom on steroids!
Technically it's achievable. Alas the problems and lessons learnt were similar to those of teachers upgrading to Zoom, i.e. not having enough time to learn the medium then reconfigure curriculums to fit with the new delivery modal. Also, frustratingly, our UK schools are so pathetically funded when it comes to provision of the latest IT systems or Cloud access, it meant that the issues are more logistical than technical, and they would not be solved with pure time alone. As it transpired our own team's time was also in short supply as we each wrestled with increased workloads while working from home during a pandemic lockdown. However, we are continuing the progress, moving the focus for the moment to our third sector Universities collaborators who don't have the same logistical issues, and are more used to online delivery modals. What has become clear is that even when the pandemic moves on there will still be a place for online education, as well as for our Agile clients to want to come together to test how buildings will work before they use them.
Given the experience we have had in designing spaces that clients can try out before they build them for real, and delivering this at low cost as part of the better brief development process, we have been asked to present a webinar to our Agile Methods and BIM friends at Bricks. Bricks started by architects Sebastien Lucas and Francois Muzard back in France in 2017.
At 5pm UK time on January 28th January we are joining forces with the chaps at Bricks to present Building Design for the Real World: A Case Study which will feature details of our HippoDigital office conversion case study of award winning Agile in Buildings. In the webinar I hope to explain how Agile in Buildings works and how using its new approaches to brief development and design thinking we used Virtual Reality to allow office users to inform how their new office needed to work then rapidly test the evolution of the design before deciding what they though they should physically build out. You can register here
Government Soft Landings and agile in Buildings
Our discussions with and interest in the work of the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH), the government think tank on how the industry improves its constructed outcomes in a post Grenfell, Brexit and Pandemic world, continues. It was satisfying to see on a recent webinar David Philip describe the great work that is happening behind the scenes on the latest upgrade to the Government Soft Landings (GSL) methodology. As David explained, the aim of GSL is threefold, first better CLIENT BRIEFS development in keeping with the design and information management requirements of BS8536 Parts 1 and 2, second OPTIMISE operating performance, and last but not least ALIGN the actual building in use performance with that expected at the outset. All of the things that we here at Ollio have been promoting best practice in since our foundation 5 years ago. It's not clear yet that CIH have made the connection that the answers to achieving all of these objectives enshrined in GSL is encompassed in Agile Methods (Scrum) and Agile in Buildings, the former a methodology created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber 25 years ago to overcome exactly the same sets of problems in the software development industry that we face in the property and construction industry now. In 2015 Jeff summaries his experiences of Agile Scrum in his book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the time. He should have added ... "with Twice the Quality". Using Scrum the three legged stool constraint of pair any two of price, time and quality, no longer exists, you can literally have your 3-legged stool shaped cake and eat it. What it all comes down to is that the construction industry is one that concerns its self more with TIME AND COST management rather than PRODUCT and QUALITY management. If only it could spend a bit more time at the beginning to define first what the product and the quality required needs to be for the client, then build the best variable version of that, i.e. to construct something that would end up being 80% the size of that originally intended but with 100% client satisfaction, rather than 100% of something that the client could do without 20% of and is only 80% of the quality required. If building only what is needed meant building less with more quality, then it serves that there would be more budget for the required quality and it could be built faster, all with less risk less waste, and greater value for customers. Surely this makes sense, doesn't it? This is Scrum, it's been out there for 25 years, being used by the most profitable, customer savvy corporates on the planet... why are we not using it yet when there is clearly such a great need and it has demonstrated it works over and over again? It's just dumb not to. We will keep banging the drum with Government, one as we enter 2021 seems to be starting to be heard.
In 2020 we entered Agile in Buildings into two awards competitions. First up was the national Estates Gazettes Awards where we were shortlisted in the Innovation in Alternatives category. The ceremony was a virtual live ceremony which allowed seperate meeting rooms (tables) for us to congregate with our own invited guests. I decided to order a little food hamper from Bettys of Harrogate for all of our guests and had it delivered to them in their homes so we all had the same eats and drinks while we chatted in real time online. Then, we all moved to the main virtual auditorium for the main presentation of awards event hosted by EG magazine editor Samantha McClary and her sponsors. Afterwards it was back to the tables again before we were kicked out at event end time. It was a great event and showed virtual events can be made fun, it just takes a little imagination. Of course virtual is no substitution for real face to face but it is putting in the extra effort to bridge the gap a little.
The EG was quickly followed by the Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber Region Awards. Again a great event ably organised by the dynamic duo that is Leeds Becketts' Donna Lee and Liz Schofield with their backing crew led by Mr Tom Oulton who provided his now legendary wit and charm to compare a great finale. We were pleased to carry off the Innovation award on the evening and now await the outcome of the Constructing Excellence National Awards on the 29th January where all of the regional winners vie for the national title. Fingers crossed again for that one. Roll on 2021 for business as usual for the #CEYH awards ceremony.
On that note I will wrap up this newsletter by wishing all of our customers and supporters a happy and safe 2021. Take care.