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Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 124).

In a world of complexity and noise it is useful to reduce things to their essence. Personally I use this technique to make sense of the chaos and muddled thinking I experience on some projects. IMHO reductionism is a powerful tool and one way I prevent myself from going crazy.

So what is reductionism?

Reductionism: In simple terms, “the practice of analysing and describing complex phenomenon in terms of simple or fundamental constituents”.

The three best examples of reductionism I know are:

1.  Jerry Seinfeld’s explanation of magic: 

  • Here is a coin,
  • The coin is gone,
  • You are an idiot.

2.  Property Development:

  • Design the box,
  • Build the box,
  • Lease the box.

3.  Building Commissioning:

  • Trust, but verify.

I often hear statements such as;

  • buildings are too complex;
  • the design is not integrated or incomplete;
  • the contractor is no good.

All true on some projects.

Yes, there is increasing, and I would argue sometimes unnecessary, complexity in buildings leading to poor design and contractor incompetency. Lets list the design disciplines / specialisms in 2017 that require integration for construction and project delivery:

  • Architect
  • Interior design
  • Landscape design 
  • Engineering
    • Facade
    • Civil
    • Electrical
    • Controls (BMS)
    • Fire
    • HVAC
    • Plumbing
    • Vertical transportation
    • Energy modelling 
  • Green Building Consulting (LEED, BREEAM etc.) 
  • Security & Access Control
  • Testing, Adjusting & Balancing 
  • Commissioning 

Are there a lot of design inputs and specialisms? Yes. Is that an excuse for incomplete, uncoordinated bad design and poor construction? No.

We do not accept complexity as an excuse for poorly designed and constructed laptops, phones and cars, why do we accept complexity as an excuse for poor property development outcomes?  We should not!

It is simple really:

  • Design the box,
  • Build the box,
  • Lease the box,

                     and always

  • Trust, but verify.

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:
#111 – Information Quality & Transmission ( )
#105 – Bad Projects? No, Only Bad Leadership ( )
#87 – You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure ( )

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