If you want to know the truth, ask Why five times

The key best practice issue: If the program is wrong you’ve built the wrong building.


  • Tim Lerdahl
  • Gary Miciunas
  • Steve Raasch
  • Susan Dineen
  • Derrick Van Mell

Topic question: How do you “future proof” a program?

Discussion questions

  • How can you program when the Owner doesn’t have a plan or projections?
  • How do you showan Owner the problem of short-term thinking?
  • How do help the FM and CFO justify a “flexibility premium” for the building and site?

Top 3 Ideas

  1. Don’t start the project until there’s a rich, clear and deep understanding of purpose
  2. Very long-term decisions can only be made by the very top managers
  3. Face the risks squarely—and deal with them


Probing for purpose

  • Look backwards: graph the trends of business and staff growth
  • Look forward: consider how buildings are in and support the circular economy
  • Visualize the outcome: not for design solutions, but for management implications
  • Tour with the CEOs: see how others have reshaped their businesses
  • Ask Why five times: to get at the root causes (and the truths) behind needs
  • Emphasize the building is a catalyst, not a reaction
  • Feed back programming insights as management insights
  • Models: link the design and the financial models. Illustrate a very large ROI
  • It’s all about the questions

I keep six honest working men

They taught me all I knew:
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who
. – Kipling

Who’s included

  • Use very small groups: for highest-level projections and decisions
  • Use very large groups: for input and engagement

A leadership opportunity

  • Looking at risk is looking at return: reputation, performance, employee engagement
  • Take an “engineering mindset:” know where it’s going to break and prepare
  • Mitigate risks with flexibility concepts
  • Keep sharing stories of managerial success
  • Create peer connections
  • Face it: it’s a big decision that requires the same faith as other big decisions

Relevant Terms

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