Winter2016 /Spring 2017

Sun Mar 26 2017 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Winter2016 /Spring 2017

Agile Antics

It’s been a busy period for Ollio over the last few months.

Our first Agile project is now up and running. We can’t say who our client is with just yet, we still need to respect their confidentiality.  However, what we can say is that already the method is looking magnificent.  The business we are working with expects to move to a new Cat A office sometime during the summer of 2017.

Our new Agile approach is helping their people, from Chief Exec to Admin Assistants, to become involved in what happens when they get to the new office.

Usually a business like this would look to a property agent, a project manager or maybe even an interior designer, to go away and come up with a design proposal and a programme for implementation.   The problem is, interior designers and architects, don't know the day to day business needs as routinely as the staff who will work there.

Conversely, "business' personnel do not know how buildings are put together, or the available design solutions, as well as interior design professionals or architects do.  There is a translation gap in the middle that is rarely if ever mapped correctly. This is where our Agile 4 Buildings methodology comes in.

I have spent a long time going back to find out how the people using them were getting on with their new buildings.  Most were buildings I was involved in the design of myself.  All fantastic solutions with innovative and imaginative designs which won numerous awards.

But not one of these buildings managed to get more than sixty percent of the people who used them to say they liked working in them.   How could this be? It turns out we were not alone. It's a common metric across the majority of the property industry.

Four years ago, I set about developing a new approach to property procurement.  One that would help users get the building they need and not the one they get given.

It turns out the secret is in bridging the translation gap between users and designers PROPERLY.

Users don't need to be consulted; they need to be involved in the solution if they are to like it.  Our new Agile 4 Buildings approach works by enabling the big design decisions to bubble up from the users and not as is usually the case, have them cascade down from designers.

We have fashioned methods developed over twenty years ago in the digital technology industry into a strategic approach that we can use.  It works by having users set the design problems, then doing small amounts of design around them, i.e., business or health and wellbeing issues, that users and designers sit and solve together in small teams.  When the teams have what they believe is a working solution, the users in the team take it back to have it road tested by the rest of the users who critique it. The reviews generate more issues that are subsequently solved by the user design team. The process continues until users are happy.

We are hopeful the method will spark the new office move to become as a staging post that helps this business become a stronger and more vibrant community. A workplace team that will ultimately be better together at what they do, as well as having a new office that helps them be better at what they do.  We hope it also makes them feel better, healthier and more in tune with the values of the company, which sees them as such a vital part of its success.

We are road testing the method to get to a working version.  We are using Agile Methods, prototyping, testing on ourselves to polish it. We want it to be wrong, so we can be given the opportunity to learn quickly and make it right.

Guest Blog – Conscious Cities

In December, we were pleased to provide a guest blog piece for Conscious Cities. I chose a to write about why clients need to be closer to design teams and Conway’s Law.  Conway’s Law provides an unyielding rationale for why customers need to make sure their people are part of commissioned design teams, to keep the professionals focused on the things that are important to the business.  Take a look at what I think you will find to be an interesting narrative here.

COYO – King Ecgbert School, Sheffield

In the first week in December I joined Alison Watson (COYO), Lee Mullin (Autodesk), Peter Noble  (TenThirty Architects) and representatives from Department for Education, for a discussion and demonstration on the effectiveness of Class of Your Own curriculum Design Engineer Construct! (DEC!) in delivering transformational careers education to secondary school pupils.

On a morning tour of DEC! teacher Miss Vardy’s Classroom we met twenty-five Year 9 pupils who were in the middle of project work as they moved towards their DEC! GCSE exams next year. Some were designing a residential block, others an eco-centre. All are using the latest Building Information Modelling tools, to arrive at fantastically innovative solutions.

The Design Engineer Construct! (DEC!) programme at King Ecgbert is sponsored by Arup, HLM and NG Bailey, who provide professional support to Miss Vardy and the pupils on an on-going basis, in what is a groundbreaking example of the good things that happen when Schools and industry come together for mutual benefit. More on Class of Your Own and DEC! at this link.


CIBSE/ASHRAE UK Midlands Event Sheffield. – On February 15th I am excited to share a platform with Ian Ellison of 3 Edges at Sheffield Hallam University. The Joint CIBSE/ASHRAE event titled Commercial Buildings: Redefining Performance In Use, will explore our wider but independent research suggesting the performance gap between what occupants owners and users expect from buildings. Not something that is improved by analysing what we already do.  To solve it, we need to look wider, at sciences outside of our industry, to help us to arrive at solutions.  Tickets are on sale at this link