5 ways to a better integrative process

bill

We have some pretty fantastic advisors at iLiv and Bill Reed is one of them. In the green building and sustainable design space, Bill is a leader, a thinker, a teacher, a practitioner’s practitioner, an architect, and an author.

Bill’s ideas about Integrative Process are applicable to any team seeking to change the way they work together in order to achieve results that far surpass anything they have done before. So those of you who are not green builders or sustainability overachievers should keep reading in any case.

There is more about Bill at the bottom of the page, but for now, let’s get straight to what Bill has to say:

Any movement towards a sustainable condition requires change.

Moving towards sustainability means that we need to move towards understanding how life works. This means we need to engage in the awareness of complex systems interaction. While most people may feel that they are “systems designers” by the very nature of their work in delivering complex projects, they typically are not working at the level of finding deep synergies among the multiple human and technical systems involved. Nor are they deeply considering how the people processes within the project team, and the living systems beyond, are engaged in a way that inspires long-term health.

Here are 5 ways to a better Integrative Process:

1. Understand the invisible living and operating connections and patterns in and beyond the project

Sustainable design requires a different mindset or mental model. This model is able to look at systems in a more complex way. Instead of looking at just the physical elements of the building, the invisible connections between the elements need to be understood. These invisible connections and patterns, for example, may be manifest in the downstream impact of toxins in building materials, the multiple efficiency and cost relationships between the many variables in an HVAC system and the building envelope, or the impact on social systems due to logging practices or any raw material extraction. At the social scale, it may be engaging in helping the client understand how to be in a more powerful and community building relationship within the place you are building. From an environmental perspective it can mean identifying the healthy patterns of life in the watershed within which you are building and developing new patterns of relationship as part of the process of design.

2. Engage your team beyond just coordination

Sustainable design is not simply about the “coordination” of design features. A rigorous level of enthusiastic and early engagement by all participants is required. A deep understanding of the tools and processes used to explore and make evaluations is required. Since no one has all of this knowledge himself or herself, the role of the team takes on great importance. A systems approach requires a collaborative approach.

3. Don’t be “experts”, be “co-learners”

The very strength of the integrative approach has in it a potential weakness: fostering and working within a collaborative framework is hard because we have been trained to be “experts”. The client expects it, and the team members feel they need to exhibit it. But the basis of a systems approach is the establishment of a network of mutual learning. It is essential to move from being experts to being co-learners. The nodes of individual knowledge that each team member embodies are important, but the network of collective knowledge is far greater and more powerful. Click here to learn about an online collaborative process tool that focuses teams’ collective knowledge through ongoing integrative process.

4. Ask questions, question assumptions, reconsider conventions

The role of questioning is critical in order to inspire answers beyond the conventional. By far, most successful green projects (i.e., projects that achieved the high environmental goals they originally set out to achieve) have done so because the teams had a willingness to ask many questions about the potential beneficial relationships between all the systems in the building, site and region, and to explore many different ways to reach toward better ecological integration. Environmental concerns were not secondary, but neither were they dominant: there were an integral part of the design. The usual “right” answers were never assumed; in fact, they were always questioned. Click here to learn more about one of our projects.

5. Take pleasure in change, and being changed

A mental model that is open and willing to change the way things are done drives the successful integration of green design. Change can be hard. But the process of changing is actually the most exciting aspect of reaching towards sustainability. It is the change of perspective, the change of heart, and the fundamental reawakening to, and awareness of, our deep integrative relationships with the systems of life that makes all this effort worthwhile.

About the author, Bill Reed:

Bill Reed is an Architect and leader in systems thinking. His work centers on managing and creating frameworks for integrative, whole-systems design processes. He is president of the Integrative Design Collaborative, and a Principal of the regenerative planning firm Regenesis.

Bill has been an advisor to iLiv since 2011. He served as co-chair of the LEED Technical Committee from its inception in 1994 through 2003, was a member of the LEED Advanced faculty and one of the first twelve United States Green Building Council trainers of the LEED Rating System, and was a founding Board Member of the USGBC.

Bill is the co-author of “The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability“, and has written numerous articles on Regenerative Development and Design. He currently serves on the boards of Yestermorrow and AWE, and is an advisor to Environmental Building News.

iLiv Founder Opens Show for David Suzuki

Tensegrity Sound Source #5 Played by Andrew Culver
Tensegrity Sound Source #5
Played by Andrew Culver

I’ve been putting-off writing my first blog post for a while now because I have been learning so much about this industry that it seems like with every day that passes, yesterday’s news has become just that. But now, it’s finally time to introduce myself – I’m Karen Tucker. I wear a lot of hats at iLiv, but most of my time is spent “product managing”. I spend time asking a ton of questions to users and potential users of our software, and I translate what I’ve learned to our programmers and to our sales/marketing team. As they say in the business books, I’m the “customer in the room” — I represent you. And this morning, you’ve got your happy pants on because it’s just been confirmed that iLiv’s very own Andrew Culver will be performing at this year’s Living Future unConference. Yay!

And here’s why we’re so excited about that:

I met Andrew Culver in April of 2009 because a friend, who had been raving about his music and telling me I would love it, invited me along to a show. That night, Andrew was performing with electro-acoustic music design and performance group, Sonde, at the Sala Rossa on St-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. It was the second time that I had the opportunity to see the group, but my first time meeting Andrew.

Sonde had learned from Composer Mario Bertoncini that in order to make original music or “sound”, they would have to create new sound sources. And that’s just what they did. And it was beautiful.

It was obvious that Andrew had also been hugely influenced by the music of John Cage and the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, and I found out that he had actually worked as John Cage’s full time assistant for 11 years, collaborating with him on all aspects of composition, including the design of a computer program that would be responsible for all of Cage’s Chance Operations thereafter. Andrew had also exchanged letters with Buckminster Fuller, and in 1983, he received a personal invitation from Fuller himself to perform his Tensegrity Sound Source #5 – one of a series of 9 sound sources designed along Buckian lines – at his event, Integrity Day. Ironically (because of the course Andrew’s life would take twenty years later), then-journalist, now-environmentalist, Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org), covered Integrity Day in The New Yorker, favourably mentioning Andrew’s performance.

Needless to say, I was impressed – I even married him in 2011. But there’s a lot between 2009 and now that led to Andrew’s upcoming performance of the same sound source at the Living Future unConference this month in Seattle.

At the end of that April evening, Andrew handed me a business card with his contact information. The card belonged to his company, iLiv, a local tech start-up focusing on collaboration in green building design and operations, he told me. He explained that he had been impressed by results he’d gotten from composing scores that were designed to give performers in a large orchestra the freedom to create, or as Andrew described it, “making each individual performer into a soloist”. He explained that iLiv’s software would help other types of teams to collaborate effectively, harvesting the creativity and know-how of each team member in much the same way. In green building specifically, this would lead to better buildings.

An entrepreneur myself, I joined the iLiv team later that year, and began by interviewing the kinds of folks we nicked-named “deep greenies” about their own collaboration processes. I met Bill Reed and learned about Integrative Process, Huston Eubank (an iLiv team member), Ann Edminster, Danny Pearl, Phil Williams, Tom Lent, Steve Selkowitz, Michael ChandlerNadav Malin, and Pliny Fisk, to name a few. They all reported a disconnect in building and a need for a big change and a new way to work together in order to get a building that would be more than the sum of its parts (i.e. a building that was a working system, and part of a greater ecosystem).

It was Mary Davidge who introduced me to the Living Building Challenge, a system like the LEED Rating System, only more stringent. I attended my first Living Future unConference in 2009 and haven’t missed one since. Last year, I even had the opportunity to host a session alongside Ann Edminster and Christine Magar.

In 2012, Living Building Challenge was recognized by the Buckminster Fuller Institute and named winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Andrew and I ran into LBC Founder, Jason McLennan,  at Bioneers (another “deep greenie” conference) that year, and we pitched the idea of Andrew performing at the next Living Future. Jason and his team accepted and have slotted Andrew as the opening act for this year’s keynote, David Suzuki. Andrew will play his Tensegrity Sound Source #5 the same way he performed it at Integrity Day, only this time he will be introducing David McConville (BFI President) and David Suzuki instead of Buckminster Fuller.

So, come check out Andrew, opening for David Suzuki’s keynote, at Living Future in Seattle this year. I’ll be the one making home videos on my iPad (and sending them to our Twitter followers). 😉

Where: Westin Seattle Grand Ballroom

When: 6:30pm, Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Cost: $75 for reception and keynote only (including David Suzuki), or if you’re already attending the conference, admission is free with your full conference pass.

Spring

Every Project has it’s seasons.

Spring, as we all know, represents rebirth, the re-emergence of life after the death and quiescence of Winter.

But not every Spring starts as expected. Sometimes the mantle of Winter reappears, concealing, even deceiving. That rebirth can look distant, or in peril altogether.

Don’t fret. There’s warmth under that blanket. And moisture. If Winter was cold and dry, this will even be a blessing for the shoots and seedlings awaiting their moment.

There’s always a little green in there somewhere. (Look at the picture again).

It’s the same with People and Projects. Delays can be positive, giving time for ideas to strengthen, and relationships to gel.

And Spring is on the way, just as surely as Earth revolves and oscillates.

When a Project seems to be suffering a setback, caused by external or indifferent forces — don’t fret.

Give it a few days.