Designing for the Increasingly Complex Organization, Part III

In previous blogs, I have discussed the transformation of the modern workplace caused by technology and generational diversity and their potential impact on office design. As important and dramatic as these two factors are, perhaps the single most important emerging factor impacting organizations today is sustainability. Sustainability is a very broad term. Today’s current economic downturn has us all thinking about our own “economic” sustainability. The “State of the World 2008” recently published by Worldwatch Institute states: “The assumed independence of economic activity from nature, always illusory, is simply no longer credible. These changing circumstances demand the upending of some fundamental economic notions.” Translation; we can no longer view economic growth without considering the environmental impact of that growth. In the same report it was noted: “a second outdated tenet is that growth ought to be the primary goal of an economy. This remains the central operating assumption in finance ministries, stock markets, and shopping malls worldwide despite the clear threat to natural capital, because rapidly growing populations and the creation of consumer-driven economies have made growth seem indispensable. But growth (making an economy bigger) is not always consistent with development (making it better).” Can it be that simple? Sustainable design, sustainable environments, sustainable businesses, sustainable communities, sustainable economies; is it really just making things better and not necessarily bigger? Sustainability as it relates to the building industry can make the built environments we design and plan better places to live and work. Sustainable environments minimize their impact on the environment and they enhance the well-being of all who inhabit them. With that said, we all know it is just not that simple. Issues of sustainability have yielded a new application recently, especially here in Indiana. It is very encouraging to note that there are currently 20 or more bills being introduced in our 2009 State legislative session dealing with environmental or sustainable building issues. We also have a newly established Office of Sustainability within our local city government here in Indianapolis called “SustainIndy”. SustainIndy is aimed at delivering long term cost savings to tax payers and improving our local environment. SustainIndy is also focused on improving the quality of life for citizens while building our local economy. Its efforts are designed to aggressively move Indianapolis forward to make it one of the most sustainable cities in the Midwest. SustainIndy is driven by the City’s Office of Sustainability and takes a public-private partnership approach to making Indianapolis a great place to live for generations to come. You may want to check out their new website at http.// We have explored just a few of the factors that are changing the way people work. There are more that are worthy of attention and likely still others to be discovered. Change of any sort can create internal and external conflicts for an organization. As we strive to resolve these conflicts for ourselves and our clients, we are committed to finding creative solutions that align our businesses with changing demands of the workplace, our community and our environment. It is clear there is a need for new kinds of organizations that are willing to adopt new methods of work, creatively manage economic pressure, and minimize their impact on the environment. Shall we lead the way in their creation? Please let us hear your ideas. From your view, what are the biggest challenges in your organization? What kind of changes would help you make things better for your organization? What do you think is needed to meet the challenge and make the necessary changes? My best; Jill mendoza

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