Category Archives: benchmarkwalks

where is the service user innovation …

I attended the SCRI event on Service User Innovation in Salford Uni’s new Lady Hale Building yesterday, listened to four influential speakers and participated in thoughtful discussions and break outs.

POE (post occupancy evaluations) were mentioned too often – I have an issue with POE  as a means to evaluate performance, and as they have been referred to before are the wrong tool for the wrong job.  Yes there needs to be post project evaluation, for as Ian Cooper notes, every building project without a feedback loop is a prototype. But to measure people performance through their relationship with the building is the wrong starting point. After all its about the service users ‘experience’

The four key speakers were Prof Peter Barratt at BuHu Salford University – key message here for me was his comment that all the successful projects were led by Facilities Management, his case studies included the Sydney Opera House and Wm McCormack Place in Cairns as part of the Australian Facilities Management Action Agenda, the Trondhiem Hospital where the construction team were selected by psychologists to ensure they understood health issues, and John Zeisel‘s work in Boston USA with Alzheimer’s centers

Neil Sachdev, Sainsburys Commerical Director, illustrated how they engage with their customers on store design,

John Lorimer from Manchester City Council on testing furniture with pupils against a background of how the school environment shapes and influences education , and

Nigel Oseland on POE’s who also . Nigel also introduced the Dunbar’s number concept of 150 and talked on biophilia kinship, of our history of camp fires and story telling, of seeking nature and space and waymarking, but now confined into office cubicles.  (We need to get out more, tell stories have camp fire meetings and connect with nature – not surprising then the increase in barcamps and benchmarkwalks)

The investment in really engaging with and empowering end users is impressive. Five years in the case of John Zeisel in understanding Alzheimer’s needs in the USA , a huge investment from Sainsbury’ s and the patient work in understanding pupil and teacher needs from Manchester City Council.  None of these three examples start with the building, but with the users.  Why then as an industry do we fool ourselves we can do the engagement stuff with one or two value management exercises and a POE?

I was not alone in noting an under theme of web 2.0 in the presentations and discussions.  There was the mention of pupils using second life to determine space and colour requirements, of the use of Web2 (twitter maybe, blogs, or facebook groups) in getting real, unsolicited, feedback from facilities users. I sensed though it was something to put on the wish list and get on with the business in hand.

It is a pity this was an under theme as to me as is where the real service user innovation lies. Service users make use of web2 technology outside of the work place, ie in second life, in twittering, in facebook, in myspace … etc etc etc.  The innovation is in using this in design and facilities management.  We seem to be blind to or just awakening to its potential. The potential to allow continuous dialogue between service users and service providers / designers   This is not rocket science – those using twitter can contact the government on issues (and get a response) and be kept in touch with the Prime Ministers actions, speeches and even thoughts.

And then where – consumers constantly in dialogue with a supermarket on store layouts, on colour, on products and costs – office users ditto with the fm’s on suggestions and wc complaints –  pupils on school design, residents on city facilities and urban design – on eco town developments,  and all in real time as it happens.

Definitely a topic to be discussed at the be2camp event in October

Advertisements

sustainable connectivity

A new look for isite with a new image on the top banner(*). I like this design as it includes a RSS button – to get isite delivered to your desktop, and a search facility to search back through isite items.

But a little more too. After reflection on this blogs contents and direction, I have slightly amended the purpose of isite.

Yes it will continue to be a news views and comments blog for the built environment, poking here and there when things dont seem quite right or dubious, or indeed covered with greenwash. It will continue to be a voice to the online world for the Lancashire Best Practice Construction Club and to a lesser degree the CKE, and will continue to focus on collaborative working, integrated working, facilities management, futures and improvement towards excellence. The emerging web2.0 or even 3.0, and I include second life here, is an important theme that links and enables allot of what we, what I do, so will remain a key element of the posts and comments.

isite is also of course the outlet to the world for my business – fairsnape.  (the name was taken from the local hill in the Forest of Bowland visible from my base here)

However, more importantly I see isite starting to look at connectivity with the natural environment. A number of activities I have been involved with lately has made me realise we may be where we are today because we have lost, and struggling to regain connectivity with our impact on ecology in its widest sense.

What does this mean? – Ecological footprints more than carbon footprints – as John Muir said when we tug on a single thing in nature we find it attached to everything else . – natural materials rather than harmful – renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, community based FM rather than endless target driven fm, about responsible sourcing rather than supply chain bullying, all putting a new direction to CSR.

I have long used the triptych of fit for people purpose and planet (before it became enshrined into the triple bottom line concept I like to think) . It is what Patrick Geddes would call folk, work and place, nearly a century ago, and reading Satish Kumar over the weekend – he described our modern trinity as needing soil, soul and society. Soil for the environment. soul for a spiritual dimension and society for justice.

Kumar a great walker – now based at the Schumacher college in Dartmoor, that incidentally run courses on Zen and Construction, talks about never trusting ideas that you never worked through whilst walking. “when you walk you are connected with nature, when in a car or a building your are disconnected, you walk to connect yourself”.

A while ago I started a benchmark walking programme to do just this – getting workshops and learning sharing events out of a training room or hotel into the countryside. With a loose agenda that emerges to deal with peoples real improvement needs, benchmarkwalks allows real learning and sharing, I likened it to doing business on a golf course – but this is business improving on a walk.

So all this as a preamble to a new thread for isite – connectivity – one I hope that will give it more scope, depth and importance as we address the sustainability issues, the soil, soul and society issues facing the built environment.

(* taken at Beacon Fell, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire recently – a location for many benchmarkwalks)