Director of Sustainability Jean von Bargen Root presented at the 2020 Women in Construction conference. Focusing on risk management in today’s environment, Jean dives into the importance of setting attainable goals for each project at your firm. In this blog, we will share with you Jean’s pearls of wisdom on managing external risks by setting goals around people, planet, and profit for each project.
After reading part one in this blog series, you should now understand the importance of employee satisfaction within your firm. Happy employees are better equipped to support external issues. Without the stress of internal risks, employees can put their full effort towards the success of a project.
Frankly, it can be hard to feel successful in the middle of a pandemic. External risks such as schedule changes, budget cuts, and slowed timelines are just a few curve balls thrown at architects in the past year. So how can you feel successful when so much is out of your control? Come together as a team and set your own standards of success.
Goal #1: Listen to people
Assume that you will need community outreach for every project.
Jean recently spoke with a client who emphasized the importance of collaborative leadership and responsive communication, even in tough times.
By leveraging stakeholder analysis tools, you can collect data on the interest levels, roles, and responsibilities of the people involved in your project. This data helps attain a clear vision of how your project impacts internal and external communities.
Be fearless in your conversations and addressing concerns, not steamrolling people but creating the opportunity to empower them. You can attain a more meaningful design response by working with the people affected by the project and creating a unique solution together.
Communities have varying demographics. It is your responsibility to identify the best way of communicating with the people you are designing for and tailor your outreach to meet their needs. This will enable you to solicit meaningful feedback regardless of barriers in age or language and provide fair representation for those affected.
Make it attainable
A helpful resource in community outreach is creating online forums to publicize on multiple platforms.
How do you choose which platform to use?
- If the community you’re working with is primarily tech-natives, then hold community input meetings via Zoom.
- If you’re working in a community of older adults, provide a phone number that acts as a community-input hotline.
- Other methods include social media, surveys, Next Door, etc.
If you identify and cater to the needs of the community, you can solicit meaningful feedback.
#2: Respect your planet
Allow sustainability to drive project decisions.
Ask, “How will this project impact our environment?”
Buildings are one of the top contributors to greenhouse gases. The construction and operations of buildings generate nearly 40% of all greenhouse gases.
The 2030 Challenge calls upon architecture firms to make all new construction carbon neutral by 2030. AIA supports this challenge with the 2030 Commitment, a group of firms that are taking steps towards achieving carbon neutrality. This commitment has brought together architects from across the nation; imagine how an environmental goal can unite your team. MWA is in the process of signing up, come join us!
Make it attainable
Where do you start?
- Choose early in the project to pursue a silver, gold, or platinum Earth Advantage Certification.
- Upon completion of the project, your team will feel successful having met this simple goal. Your client will also benefit by saving on monthly energy costs.
- Set an Energy Use Intensity (EUI)
- Join the 2030 Challenge
#3: Maximize your profit
When we can’t meet with teammates, clients, or community members in person, we must rethink how to complete a project successfully. Rather than abandoning the input that we desperately need from others, embrace cloud-based technology, and enhance a collaborative environment.
We must welcome the change as an opportunity. See this as a moment to analyze past methods. Ask, “Were there inefficiencies before that this moment of disruption can become the time to fix?”
Once you identify inefficiencies, adopt a new methodology for a more significant profit. Ask, “How can we invest in our hardware, software, connectivity, and staff to compliment remote project practices?”
Make it attainable
- Use cloud-based 3D modeling tools such as BIM360 to achieve a real-time integrated design with consultants.
- Replace unnecessary meetings with comments and feedback tools within a program.
By finding ways to achieve your goals remotely, you lessen the risk of losing clients and projects. Instead, you create an environment that invites communication despite the circumstance.
Next, we will be sharing part three of Jean’s presentation: The #1 Way to Add Value to Your Firm