Chairman’s address 2019

Its here! Digital Built Events Week is upon us and I’m so excited for the Design Technology Summit and all our sister events. There have been a number of posts in the last month as a lead up to DTS and I wanted to recap all of them and provide links for anyone coming to DTS this year, or for those of you who are just hearing and learning about DTS now.

The theme this year at DTS is Continuous Next, the idea that change is not only constant, but accelerating, particularly in the realm of technology and its impact on the practice of architecture, engineering and construction in general.
We talked about Continuous Next, where we got the idea and how we think it applies in this blog post: Continuous Next
We’ve broken Continuous Next into five topic areas based on what Gartner outlines as the part of the continuous next transformation:

  • Assistive Intelligence
  • Culture
  • “Product” Management
  • Business Management
  • Professional Development

To help set the stage for our discussions some of the posts in the last few months have taken on topics and issues related to these five areas of discussion.
In early June, we discussed “normalization of deviance” this touched on an important aspect of office culture and how it can lead to practices and behaviors that ultimately have a negative effect on the organization. One can see where if we expect to deal with constant change, a culture that accepts deviance normalization could create a higher level of challenge in keeping up with change.

In mid-June we brought up the challenge of communication and why is it that important messages are so easily ignored. This topic is closely related to culture, but it also directly impacts project work, so we can see where “cultural” topics ultimately spread out to all other topics in some way.
In March we touched on the topic of Assistive Intelligence (or Artificial Intelligence) and a rather major issue we face as an industry; good data to feed these new, thinking tools. We shouldn’t fear AI, and we shouldn’t think that somehow computers will start designing buildings, but perhaps more importantly we need to realize that if we want any AI tool to be helpful, we need to do a better job of wrangling our data to feed the machine.

Lastly, we most recently discussed a concept for how to frame a discussion, we’ll talk more about this when we open DTS on Wednesday, but we want you to consider the “Six Thinking Hats” a way of looking at and discussing a challenge from different perspectives in order to help avoid “Group Think” or simply everyone agreeing.

We can’t wait to see you at DTS, and if you’re not able to make it this year, we encourage you to register your interest with secretary AT rtcevents.com.

Learning Success

DTS this year is shaping up to be a great event! We’re enthusiastic about the topics and DTS speakers we have lined up for our simultaneous roundtables on Thursday and we’re very excited about the agenda we’re putting together for Wednesday’s discussions. As you may have previously read, Wednesday’s discussions are going to focus on a concept that has been getting increasing press “Continuous Next”; the idea that as technology driven change accelerates, we are less and less likely going to be able to maintain a steady state as it pertains to our technology platforms, tools, workflows and processes. Rather we need to be prepared for constant change and iteration and adapt ourselves and our practices to that nature.
So, what does that have to do with learning or success?  I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase fail early and fail often, or as JFK so eloquently put it “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”, I think these are important philosophies, but I also think that if we are going to be faced with continuous change we need to be able to learn from where we succeed as well. Not so much of trying to get into a routine, or “well it worked before, so let’s try the same thing again” (put another way if I have a hammer, everything is nail), but rather attempting to decipher from any successful outcome, what led to that success. Too often we spend time dissecting what went wrong that sometimes we don’t spend enough time celebrating our achievements and understanding what led to that success in the first place.
In a world where change truly is inevitable, we need to be prepared to focus on failures and successes. We must learn success, because success is going to be crucial and a state where there is always change. This isn’t to say that there won’t be failures, and we should be prepared to fail, but we also need to learn keys to success, we need to develop habits and approaches to thinking that allow for agility, adaptability and recovery; turning a failure into success.
More importantly, the cornerstone of DTS is sharing and discussion, we particularly look forward to people joining us who can share the techniques and approaches they’ve found most successful to implement and deal with change; how do we successfully change attitudes and mindsets in order to give our practices the best chances at success.

DTS 2018: AI, People Management and Challenging Practice Norms

As I sit down to write this blog post, it’s hard to believe that it is the last post I’ll write before DTS 2018 kicks off in St. Louis on August 7th! I’m very excited about our program this year, the committee has spent our last few meetings discussing how we will run the discussions and in if our own internal conversations are any measure this year’s discussions should be particularly fruitful and interesting. We are working hard to build on the energy of last year and push the envelope to establish the gaps facing our Design Practices in terms of how the practice of design must engage the 21st Century, its more than BIM, that much is for sure, it’s about restructuring our practice and thinking hard about where do we need to be prepared to go. 

 

For example, for too long the conversation has been focused on making our practices more efficient, without really challenging practice norms. How can technology help improve the lives of our design staff, efficiency does not necessarily equate to an improvement of the lives and careers of our users. Nor does technology alone force us to reconsider how we capture and disseminate knowledge, yet technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and “generative design” (what exactly is that) are going to force us to adapt, if not we quite literally may find ourselves and our staff out of a job. To take it a step further, what if you asked a Principal, and Project Manager and an Intern “what should AI do for you in your job” you’re likely to get some quite varied answers; but all the answers likely presume that person still has a job. On top of that, the answers from each are more likely to indicate negative consequences for the “other” person’s job. How do we help to meld all these different opinions together into a consensus that not only helps our firms be successful, but helps to establish criteria by which technology companies can design and develop solutions towards? 

 

We need to understand these coming technologies and their impact on our businesses so that know how our roles adapt and how the roles of our practitioners adapt. 

 

If all of this sounds interesting please consider joining us at DTS 2018, we still have open slots available and we would love to have you. 

 

The Sky’s the Limit

Lostinfog / Flickr

I’m back from attending my first BILT/RTC event in Australia, its been two weeks now and I think I’m fully back on my native timezone! It was wonderful to get to meet a variety of new people and enjoy Australian hospitality. BILT ANZ was also a great way to get excited and motivated for the upcoming RTC Events Week North American, in particular of course the Design Technology Summit.

While the learning and networking were great, one of the biggest takeaways I had from traveling thirty hours (each way) is simply how far technology has come in the last decade. My departure night, I sat in Logan airport, fired up my computer that weighs 2lbs (if I’m lucky) connected it to my mobile phone for internet (free Wi-Fi isn’t that great in a busy airport) and proceeded to manipulate a database sitting in Edmonton Canada. Twelve (or maybe it was fourteen) hours later I was doing the same thing in Dubai (their free Wi-Fi actually works), at the same time I was texting with my wife back in the US. Hop on the plain, keep working (no internet this time). Landed in Australia, slept some and I was back on-line chatting with a coworkers on the West Coast of NA and following up with e-mail, meanwhile chatting with a colleague from the Sydney office who had arrived at Stantec’s Brisbane office.

Amazing right? I mean stop and think about it for a minute, how much do we take for granted what technology has become in the second decade of the 21st century, what we can slip into our pocket with a second thought. It really came home when passing through security back in Boston, they had to search my back-pack, something that is I’m not un-accustomed to. Usually though they like to pull out the multi-tool that has no blade, or the multi-function screw-driver, wrench, ruler combo. Not this time, this time the security agent who was near enough in age to me, pulled out my Ipod Classic, and his quote, “oh this old piece of technology, they’ve never seen an Ipod Classic”.

If technology has come as far as it has in the last ten years, what does the next ten years hold? I believe that we most definitely stand on a precipice, the edge remains cloaked in fog, so I don’t know which one we stand on, but we continue to edge closer. At the same time, once we can clear that fog, we’re going to be ready to take off and fly, like I took off and flew half-way around the world. Events like DTS are intended for us, Design Technology Leaders to engage in meaningful conversation about where are our firms, where are we going, what opportunities does technology offer how do we embrace it in a meaningful way, and how do we collectively improve not just our designs and our businesses, but the lives of our colleagues.

If you step back for a moment, and find that you too, too easily take for granted the transformation technology has wrought, then come to DTS, lets have a discussion about what the future holds and how are we going to be part of that, how will we help our firms through it and what is the future of the practice of design in an age when I can talk to a computer in my own home and have it modify my environment or remember my grocery list for me.

Our Future with Technology

It has now been two weeks now since attending my first BILT ANZ and I think I’m finally back on my native timezone! It was wonderful to get to meet a variety of new people and enjoy Australian hospitality. BILT ANZ was also a great way to get excited and motivated for the upcoming RTC Events Week North American, in particular of course the Design Technology Summit. 

 

While the learning and networking were great, one of the biggest takeaways I had from traveling thirty hours (each way) is simply how far technology has come in the last decade. My departure night, I sat in Logan airport, fired up my computer that weighs 2lbs (if I’m lucky) connected it to my mobile phone for internet (free Wi-Fi isn’t that great in a busy airport) and proceeded to manipulate a database sitting in Edmonton, Canada. Twelve (or maybe it was fourteen) hours later I was doing the same thing in Dubai (their free Wi-Fi actually works), at the same time I was texting with my wife back in the US. I then hopped back on the plane, working with no internet this time, landed in Australia and slept a little, then I was back online chatting with coworkers on the West Coast of NA, following up with emails, while also chatting with a colleague from the Sydney office who had arrived at Stantec’s Brisbane office. 

 

Amazing right? I mean stop and think about it for a minute, how much do we take for granted what technology has become in the second decade of the 21st century, what we can slip into our pocket without a second thought. It really hit home when I was passing through security back in Boston and they had to search my backpack. This is something that I’m not unaccustomed to. and usually they like to pull out the multi-tool that has no blade, or the multi-function screw-driver, wrench, ruler combo. Not this time, this time the security agent who was near enough in age to me, pulled out my Ipod Classic, and his quote, “oh this old piece of technology, they’ve never seen an Ipod Classic”. 

 

If technology has come as far as it has in the last ten years, what does the next ten years hold? I believe that we most definitely stand on a precipice, the edge remains cloaked in fog, so I don’t know which one we stand on, but we continue to edge closer. At the same time, once we can clear that fog, we’re going to be ready to take off and fly, like I took off and flew half-way around the world. Events like DTS are intended for us, Design Technology Leaders to engage in meaningful conversation about where are our firms currently, where are we going, what opportunities does technology offer, how do we embrace it in a meaningful way, and how do we collectively improve not just our designs and our businesses, but the lives of our colleagues. 

 

If you step back for a moment, and find that you too, too easily take for granted the transformation technology has wrought, then come to DTS, let’s have a discussion about what the future holds and how are we going to be part of that, how will we help our firms through it and what is the future of the practice of design in an age when I can talk to a computer in my own home and have it modify my environment or remember my grocery list for me. 

 

Join us at the Design Technology Summit, August 7-8, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. Register your Interest Today!