Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Future University – Edge Zones

I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of the university, and it seems to me that a new model may be emerging, one that has something of the traditional sanctuary of a place of learning, but that innovatively engages communities, both local and international. There will, of course, have to be those preserves where students and teachers can contemplate their experience and learn together, but there must also be what, for the moment, one might think of as an edge zone where interactions of many kinds might take place.

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Home » Featured, Headline, Lean-Design

Lean Delivers High Performance through Impeccable Coordination

Submitted by on May 23, 2011 – 5:14 pmNo Comment

by Brian D. Anderson

Lean Project Delivery (LPD) in the design and construction of buildings promises a level of performance not possible under current practice. LPD does this by delivering three linked opportunities:

  • Impeccable Coordination
  • Projects as Production Systems
  • Projects as Collective Enterprise

Under current practice the effort put into the production of buildings is siloed, where independent teams work separately on tasks at disparate locations. Owners’ conduct early needs analysis, architects provide designs, construction managers order materials and coordinate schedules, trade partners install, assemble and deliver the final product, and often a separate consultant provides the commissioning. Each team member toils away in his or her own silo of narrowly defined practice with risks and rewards defined separately for each.

In my study and practice of LPD and being an avid sailor I have come to see that LPD is a lot like yacht racing. Impeccable coordination, working together as a system and shared reward in practice are analogous to the discipline and organization to win races.

In a yacht race, a fleet of boats, all navigating the same course with the same wind should sail to the end simultaneously. But each time a boat or crew makes a mistake they are set back by precious, unrecoverable seconds.  The captain and crew must execute each tack flawlessly, trim their sails precisely to the wind, and anticipate the push and pull of tides and currents.  The boat that makes the fewest mistakes along the course, wins.

During a race, crews plan out and execute a series of repetitive tasks; for example, on an upwind leg a crew must tack into the wind and tighten the sails to point as high as possible. On a reaching leg the team eases the sail to maximize the pull of the wind, and reconfigures their positions to distribute weight and adjust the hull position in the water. Each crewmember has a specific task and responsibility for each of these maneuvers. By constant and collective review and analysis crews are able to optimize boat speed over the course of the race.  While each member has an assigned task, it is the group’s collective responsibility to watch and be vigilant, constantly looking to see if a sail can be adjusted or a line pulled in or let out.  If changes in the wind are noticed, a crewmember will call out to the helmsman who will make the appropriate adjustments.  And very often if a crewmate cannot react fast enough to a sudden wind gust or if there is a mechanical failure, it is the readiness to assist across tasks that prevents minor mistakes from becoming catastrophes.

There are myriad activities surrounding the production of built facilities, and numerous people providing services. To optimize maximize performance our goal at Anderson Porter Design is to facilitate communication and coordination. Lean Project Delivery is a systematic approach that delivers much higher performance levels by putting people together on the same team or,  metaphorically, together in the same boat.

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