Updated: Jan 7, 2020
In a world of competing and overlapping compliance demands, siloed departments, and numerous stakeholders the role of an architect is needed more than ever.
Whether you are building compliance programs, management systems, or actual buildings; lessons learned from architecture can provide helpful insights and approaches to address today's compliance challenges.
An important role of an architect is to take multiple stakeholder concerns and achieve as much of the intended outcome as possible.
"An architect is a generalist, not a specialist — the conductor of a symphony, not a virtuoso who plays every instrument perfectly. As a practitioner, an architect coordinates a team of professionals that include structural and mechanical engineers, interior designers, building-code consultants, landscape architects, specifications, writers, contractors and specialists from other disciplines.
Typically, the interest of some team members will compete with the interest of others. An architect must know enough about each discipline to negotiate and synthesize competing demands while honoring the needs of the client and the integrity of the entire project."
— 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School (Matthew Frederick)
Architects find limitations and constraints as creative challenges. When building compliance platforms some of the creative tensions that arise include:
prescriptive versus descriptive
process versus content
behavior versus systems
do it now versus do it later
top down versus bottom up
audit-fix versus continuous improvement
ease of use versus utility
user experience versus functionality
safety versus productivity
quality versus performance
one process versus multiple processes
simple versus comprehensive
immediate versus long term
tactical versus strategic
schedule versus cost
And so on
Architecture provides techniques and tools that are helpful to balance these kind of concerns. One powerful technique is to focus on the process and not on the end goal which seems counter-intuitive.
Being process oriented means (from 101 Things I learned in Architecture School):
seeking to understand a problem before chasing solutions
not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems
removing yourself from prideful investment in your projects and being slow to fall in love with your ideas
making design investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a design problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next)
making design decisions conditionally — that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution
knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions
accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do
working fluidly between concept-scale and detail-scale to see how each informs the other
always asking "What if ...?" regardless of how satisfied you are with your solution
Many of these ideas ares similar to those found in LEAN and Design Thinking to help solve problems and find solutions to the most difficult challenges that companies are now facing.
Fixing compliance problems with short term tactical solutions is not enough. What is needed are more holistic approaches that deliver more value to all stakeholders and this is what architects do best.
To find learn more on how Lean Compliance can help architect your compliance programs or management systems visit our website at www.leancompliance.ca