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Three Rules for Innovation Teams

It’s a good thing that I read Continuum CEO Harry West’s Three Rules for Innovation Teams in our soft conference room, door closed; I couldn’t stop myself from saying “mmm hmmm” or “yes!” out loud as I read each sentence. Then I made a chart that mapped each of West’s points to analogous processes or protocols in our projects, company, and industry.


1. Manage Creative Friction
Sounds a lot like one of the “why IPDworks” principles that Howard Ashcraft highlighted so long ago at the Autodesk Waltham kickoff. And then, he gets even more IPD:
  • Share the Experience: Include the entire team in the full ideation process. I experienced this firsthand on Autodesk Waltham. Interacting with users to understand their needs and aspirations is motivating and creates a strong sense of shared purpose.
  • Remove Communication Barriers: We think we’re removing communication barriers when we exchange models or get people together in a room. At Continuum, they do “social styles analyses to help people understand how their teammates tend to communicate”. Yes, we learn how to maximize our effectiveness with individuals over time, but I’d much rather do it sooner.
  • Have at It: Engaging multiple perspectives creates a better result. “Lock yourselves in the project room and engage in a passionate debate.” See colocation.
2. Bring the Creativity to the Center
According to West, a project room (i.e. colo room) is:
  • A dedicated space teams use from conception to execution
  • Setup with natural light (check), plenty of space (oops), pinup space (got it!), AV access (check)
He also indicates that “a successful project room should not isolate the team [from the company as a whole].” This is where we have some thinking to do.
When we pull multiple people out of their different company offices into a single place, we leave out the “home office”. Furthermore, individuals who work near the colo room (rather than in it) sometimes lose track of the action.

3. Stand For Delivery
“Innovation is the creation and the delivery of new value.” Yes! This is why we are using VDC –using innovation to deliver a better product. 

West also refers to the handoffs from conception (design) to execution (construction). “Make sure there is an extended team of stakeholders who have responsibility for the entire innovation process.” This is extremely critical and probably one of the biggest struggles.

What are your "rules for innovation". Are you following any of Harry West's rules?

No "ish" in Modified Project Delivery

While I'm continually frustrated by the terms "IPD-ish" and "IPD-like", I really like what Kitchell and Cannon are doing at UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center with "High Performance Team" delivery.

I don't know what the contract looks like, but the linked article describes the following:

Team Governance: Board of Directors, consisting of at least the key owner, architect and contractor
Mission: transforming people, processes, place
Core Values: reliance, passion, resolve and enjoyment
Environment: what sounds like a significant colo room which includes subcontractors

I hope to hear more from the team on the process to date and the results going forward. Oh, and by the way Cannon, amazing video describing the design.



Is Colo a Form of Local Supply Chain?

I finally finished listening to "Retraction", a recent episode of TAL. My favorite part of the episode was Ira's discussion with NYTimes reporter Charles Duhigg on the facts of working conditions at Apple’s supply chain partners. At one point, Duhigg referenced his January article on why manufacturing jobs go overseas. It’s all about the supply chain, which can quickly scale up, scale down, and responds to changes in design or demand. Although it’s quite logical when you compare the “minimal” labor costs to material expenses, it isn’t usually part of the mainstream conversation (or at least the conversation that I hear).

The day after I finished Retraction, I read “Not-So-Dumb Technology” in March’s issue of Metropolis. The article, written by Karrie Jacobs, offers a low tech comparison to Duhigg’s argument: cardboard. (Duhigg was in my mind as I was reading; in fact, Jacobs concludes with a reference to the very same January article.) MIO, a Philadelphia-based “quirky household goods” design firm, opted to work with the local supply chain instead of Chinese manufacturing. The 5-mile drive between MIO and Weber, a cardboard manufacturer, enables Jaime Salm, MIO co-founder, to keep a close eye on practices and quality. It also enables MIO to make rapid product design changes.

These two articles just wouldn’t quit swirling around in the back around in my mind, but after a few days I realized why I was so stuck on them. It’s basically co-location.

Creating a local supply chain for commercial construction is challenging. A few LEED credits “force” us to aim for local products and manufacturing, but don’t actually create the benefit of a local supply chain. On the other hand, co-location creates a very local supply chain. Like Jaime Salm visiting Weber, architects and engineers can keep a better eye on the manufacturing plan – and they can make and implement informed design changes.

I always appreciate making connections between our process and other industries - especially when they validate what we're doing! It is nothing profound, but I've cleared some space to chewing on something else on my reading list.