Design: Then and Now

Guest blog post by Dave Ferguson, The Growth Coach

I spent most of my professional career in the construction industry. In that time technology radically changed how projects were designed and built. We now do things faster and better. Questions can be answered instantly. Measurements can be accurate to the thousandth of an inch. Design alternatives can be drawn in hours rather than days – and CAD programs can do material takeoffs and price each as soon as it is drawn.

The one thing that hasn’t changed much since the building of the pyramids is the human brain. That’s where design actually happens; where problems in the field are actually solved. In our rush to be faster and better we sometimes forget that the brain work takes time. No computer can equal its abilities to take disparate facts, weigh and combine them, and arrive at unique solutions. The process takes time but it often results in a blinding flash of inspiration. The challenge these days is to allow time for that process to happen.

What I have found over the years is that there are things that can improve that process. Focus on the real issues and eliminate distractions. What’s the objective? If that can be clearly stated, the solution will appear sooner. Get people involved. Don’t exclude possibilities; merely rate them on how well they address the objectives. Sometimes the seemingly impossible, with a little tweaking, suddenly becomes possible. My favorite moments are when we arrive at an elegant solution – a perfect balance of form, function, cost, and time – so obvious that we all wonder why it took so long to appear.