Ideas incubator

Here showcases gary chen's ideas, theories & etc on various aspect of architecture practice. Particularly on new business model for consultancy business.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Outdated issues in Architecture Practice

As a matter of fact, the issues discussing here are some outdated issues being debated by RIBA architects neon years ago. The main problem was lacking of a meaning outcome from that dialog and the solutions were never seriously adopted and implemented even amongst the participants.

At that juncture, the RIBA architects were concerned over the outdated business model of an architecture practice which is closely resemblance of Nomadic Lifestyle. Firstly, there is lacking of a continuous influx of workload into an architect firm even the top firms in Britain are hunting from job to job. This phenomena resulted in low utilization of company resources, high turnover of experienced staffs, lacking of capacity to lobby for bigger job at particular timeframe and architect firms size remain small. All these issues constraint architecture practice from adopting high end or latest technology in business management i.e. supply chain concept, Just-in-time & etc and limit architecture practice absorbing business management elites and grow the business exponentially.

Architect firms are never lacked of innovation instead architects tend to waste their innovation and new ideas. Even if requested by a client, an architect would never revisit his old, mature & fully developed ideas for a new project. Indeed, we like to explore new idea for every opportunity we have. As a result, our client could never capitalize on our experience to shorten the product development cycle but to invest and pay for our exploration of new ideas. The more well-known of a practice; the more serious of this problem is affecting their clients.

On the contrary, the design industry as in Automobile and Aviation i.e. Boeing or Airbus have aggressively adopted latest project management techniques via a realistic & comprehensive work-breakdown-structure that used for years. Basing on this working framework, automobile or aircraft designers could tremendously reduce the time spent on new product development. The recycling of existing technology on major components of a new product has also ensured the commercial viability, feasibility and marketability of this new product. Architects may be the only design profession that never bothers to master these new skills over the pass two decades.

Besides this, architecture practices tend to be highly local centric with low surviving rate when exploring oversea market. An architect indeed need to have knowledge about the legal framework of a particular job site and the whole submission process in order to develop a design that is suited to be implemented. Otherwise the clients would suffer and hamper by numerous of obstacles occurred along the line and usually resulting huge financial loses. The architects may like to argue that this characteristic of our business are the root to the primitive business model of architecture practice.

On the contrary, I hold a different perspective. Rules are made to be broken. We are creative in developing our idea than applying our creativity into our life and business. I will diagnose and analyze in detail the adoption of open source concept in architecture practice. You will see how this concept will alter the nature or architecture practice.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Open Source as in the software industry

How does open source concept works? To most people from a struggling-to-survive society in the developing or poor country, it sounds rather unbelievable for someone to give up a gold mine.

If you understand the system of a developed country then you could appreciate how brilliant this idea it is. Let us first check its’ meaning from Wikipedia:

“Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials—typically, their source code allowing users to create user-generated software content. Some consider it as a philosophy, and others consider it as a pragmatic methodology. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet and its enabling of diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.[1] Subsequently, open source software became the most prominent face of open source practices.”

In layman term, you are using something free to create something free for others. How you could survive and make a living out of it? Well, you can’t for all your association and investment in the open source game. Then you might say isn’t it is a stupid idea? It is not. In fact your association would tap you into the mass, the 50 millions populations and you could re-establish yourselves as somebody rather than nobody. For instance like the Skype, this little communication tool used by everybody, its’ creators are not getting rich by distributing or writing the software but they manage to pool up a big mass. Then the capitalist could come along to capitalize on this mass market.

The game plan is as such that you throw out a free gig that could draw a big pool of mass. Then you could sell the mass to capitalist. It is a new formula. Of cause, your idea must be very brilliant to draw the attention of 50 millions people.

What are the other incentives for big companies Sun or Oracle to embrace this concept? The open source forum itself used to draw the attention of thousands talents all over the world. These people would contribute freely without incurring a single cost to tackle a problem. Most of the time, even you want to spend; these errant workforces might not even lay a glimpse over the offer you put up. Open source concept might mean you let go something in turn for something really big. By virtue of today pace in technology development, a new idea wouldn’t last very long before it become outdated. Therefore, if a company could use this tactic to refine an idea to a more commercially-viable stage with little cost; why not?

I personally interested in adopting this concept into architecture practice. It would fundamentally alter the way we practice architecture these days. Wish to find out more? Keep follow up with this blog.

Good or bad service from a beautiful hooker

According to The Ten days MBA, service is an intangible product that can never be stored or recycled. It is consumed as soon as it is created. Therefore it is rather subjective to rate the quality of a service delivered!

A good or bad service is depend to perception of both the delivering and the receiving parties at certain time frame. An architect who gives an excellent service to a client at one point might never able to deliver the same qualities of services in future project when his priority has shifted. The principle and architects within a same firm would deliver a different level of service. Although client is always in search for the best service available but paradoxically he would never get it. It is just like to in a night club when a lot of beautiful faces are lining up in front of you; I bet you will never know who would give you the best satisfaction.

So all architect firms are dressing up with beautiful and seemingly solid portfolio; all the principles are all wearing flamboyant suits and speaking artyfarty to lure the client to commit a million dollar deal but it is always a lose-lose game. Those firms who win will continue winning and get a lot of deals until they have no time to deliver each deal properly. So you can never get a good deal by gauging from fore-front cover of a portfolio.

Just like dealing with the hooker, you can’t judge the book by the cover. It is not necessary the bad looking or the best looking girl would be suitable to you. It is highly relying on the chemistry of both people. Until you really open it up; you can’t be sure she is the one. Until you are penetrating; you can’t be sure it is ergonomically fit for each other. A good deal is normally happened when the architect like you and you like the architect.

As a matter of fact, the architect might be the only artists that selling service rather that product. Tom Hanks would act a play then sell the play. He would never flaunt around and tell you to pay him first for a good play! Likewise Picasso sell painting but never get pay for providing painting service. He does collect money and paints portrait for rich women but they buy his painting not the service. Can’t we change for better?

Can we put our bungalow plans like cabbage, potato & tomato on the shelves for selections? So the client are buying something-pretty-sure because it is fully developed. There are no ambiguities in the whole deal.

This is why I wish to command a change. I never enjoy the feeling like a beautiful face hooker sitting on the bench and using my eye motion to deliberately hint to the men; come, get me, I’m the best!

Monday, January 1, 2007

The Pirate and the modern day Robinhood

The contemporary artist Andy Warhol always felt that as and when a learned fellow wants to share his knowledge and wisdom with the general public; there would always be some kind of barriers created by the capitalist to ride on for profit which disqualified most unfortunate people from knowing these knowledge and wisdoms. Whereas these unfortunate people are the one really need these wisdoms most.

The learned fellows at Warhol generation are widely influenced by Karl Marx who favorite of pinpointing the capitalist as the culprit for every ruined parts of life. Unfortunately, they are quite right in some parts.

We lately have a heated debate during our New Year Eaves Dinner when one of our colleagues started the spark by pinpointing those people who buy the pirated books, songs, games & etc are people of ill-moral and only benefiting the ‘Pirate’. Belonging to the semi-well-to-do level, many of us we could afford most genuine products rather than going for the knock-down version. We do agree on the portion that our actions of buying the pirated products might discourage the creators’ i.e. novelist, architect & etc for further creations while spawn numerous of ‘side-effects’ as captured in the anti-piracy propaganda but branding us and those unfortunate people as ill-moral are harsh and definitely an overstatement.

We definitely believe thing happen for a reason. It is rather unfair for Bill Gate and Tom Hank who have made a fortune for a relative small contribution to society. Nelson Mandela should be wealthier in comparison to them. Therefore, we romantically believe the existence of the Pirate is as those days in the Caribbean Sea to strike a balance between the fortunate and those not. They are the modern day Robinhood who prints CDs to rob the richest and help the poorest. They have given the poorest an equal chance to obtain knowledge & entertainments as the well-off people; a chance to fight back to the top rank. Therefore so long there is gab between the rich & the poor, those afford and those not; there shall always exist the Pirate to fight and break the system like Keanu Reave in the Matrix and bring the world back to a more balance equilibrium. So to speak, Tiger Wood is really talented and should be better off in comparison to lay person like us but his fortune should be some sort of double or may be triple of us rather than a thousand times of our lifetime earning.

I believe the pirate way is the less costly and little bloodshed method of rebalance the society. Alternatively we should learn from Andy Warhol. As he believed the Art belongs to the people, he has printed Campell Soup in mass quantity and sold in lowest possible price to general public. Likewise, we architect should not be so copyright conscious but should segregate our creations from our service and brand. We could embrace the Open Source concept in practicing architecture to make our design more affordable for the public. By doing so, we could definitely create a better world.