Briefing against risk (Part 2)

In Part 1, Simon Foxell discussed the need to refocus our approach to projects and our professional duty to discover whether the briefing we deliver is effective and results in the intended outcomes in countering risk. Here, he addresses how we need to respond to the challenges of concurrently managing demographic change and reversing damage to the environment in a joined-up way.

Image source: David Eccles

The temptation on the part of governments faced with major challenges could well be a regulatory move to a rigid system with a limited number of solutions intended to deliver certainty. This represents the very antithesis of briefing, with its explorative and open-ended approach, configured to encourage innovation and bespoke solutions to individual problems. Voices may warn policymakers that rigid systems rarely succeed and, with a horse that has already bolted, a far more responsive approach is required; but the temptation to enact strict dirigiste measures may be overwhelming. Briefing urgently needs to develop an alternative to this that combines certainty on a range of outcomes, a relaxed approach to others; possibly including matters of zoning, style or privacy; with flexibility on how they can and should be delivered. Outcome-based briefing and specification is, of course, not new, but the imperative to make it work is that much greater.

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Value-sensitive briefing

In this blog, Theo van der Voordt and Per Anker Jensen discuss the idea of ‘value-sensitive’ design and management of the built environment.  They also reflect on different values that are encountered and the challenges to balance different values.

The concept of “value” refers to what is important to people in their lives, ethics, and morality, and to beliefs that steer our behaviour and everyday actions. In addition to universal human values, cultural differences come to the fore as well. For instance, a feminine culture is associated with being more cooperative and caring for the quality of life, whereas a masculine culture is associated with being more competitive and striving for success. Similar differences come to the fore in organisational cultures. In workplace design, a high power distance may result in a higher level of privacy, territoriality, extra square metres, and a luxurious interior design for top managers, as an expression of their status and position in the organisation. Organisations who adopt the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility will likely pay more attention to societal values such as sustainability and incorporate the triple “P” of People, Planet and Profit or Prosperity.

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