Looking for Tenders

Article

Project debriefing now standard practice at Diamond & Schmitt Architects

0 190 Home

by Patricia Williams

Over the past 30 or so years, project debriefings have been a fixture Friday afternoons at Toronto’s Diamond + Schmitt Architects.
Project debriefing now standard practice at Diamond & Schmitt Architects

Construct Canada 2010

Over the past 30 or so years, project debriefings have been a fixture Friday afternoons at Toronto’s Diamond + Schmitt Architects.

“We’d bring in a case of beer and put a project up on the wall in front of the entire office,” recalls Jon Soules, a principal in the firm. “We’d then have a free-for-all discussion.”

Building on that tradition, the firm now has put in place a more formal approach to debriefings, which are intended to help apply lessons learned from one project to another and minimize repeated mistakes.

The tool, which implements elements from flight training into an architectural context, was developed by Chen Shalita, a former pilot who interned at Diamond + Schmitt after completing architectural studies.

“It is important to understand successes, but mistakes teach us the most,” said Shalita, who now heads Alfa Sustainable Projects Ltd. in Israel.

An overview on the debriefing technique was presented at a session at Construct Canada by Shalita and Soules.

The first debriefing using this approach took place at the Toronto architectural firm’s offices in March 2009. To date, seven projects have been debriefed. The project scope ranged from $20 million to $100 million.

“This is a very formal process,” Soules said. “It puts people in a frame of mind of conveying information.”

Under this approach, a project is reviewed upon completion by the team. A list of problems and successes is developed. Questions are asked to determine the root causes of these problems or successes.

The top three lessons learned are identified and then presented to the office at large.

Debriefings are archived in digital format and hard copy for reference on future projects.

“The reason for the debriefing exercise is to try to avoid certain problems and to establish best practices,” Soules said.

One of the key lessons that has been learned, Soules said, is that design goals should be clearly articulated at the beginning of the project in order to avoid costly revisions further down the road.

“Listening carefully to the client about what they need and desire and setting about solving those items and gaining approval before moving on is important as well.”

Soules said the debriefing regime, whether formal or informal, has helped Diamond + Schmitt become a more inclusive company by providing an opportunity for staff to provide feedback on a given project.

“Therefore, we have some very engaged people at all levels.”

Leave a comment

Or register to be able to comment.

Copyright ConstructConnect TM. All rights reserved. "ConstructConnect" is a dba for CMD Holdings.
The following rules apply to the use of this site:
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement