The challenge of informed consent
things happen naturally in organizations;
friction, confusion and under
performance. Everything else requires
Communication, Stakeholder engagement, Complexity.
Design - The challenge of informed consent [P186]
much of a design do engineering clients really understand? A simple
design document for one group of design professionals can be virtually
impenetrable to other professionals, and more importantly their clients.
The need to communicate effectively is vital when an engineer wants to
lead a group of ‘others’ in developing a design
You cannot lead people if they don’t understand you;
trust’ may work if the solution is straightforward. When
arise, uninformed trust evaporates; informed consent from committed
followers is more enduring, and people are likely to support any
efforts to work through to a solution to the problem.
This paper will use the evolution of the design of the Sydney Opera
House roof as a case study to highlight the different perspectives on
design information, starting with the free-form curves envisaged by
Jørn Utzon to the mathematical (and buildable) curves
by Ove Arup as segments of a sphere (such as an orange). The metaphor
of the segments of ‘orange peel’ that helped make
curves possible was also used to explain the concept of the sails to
the public and politicians.
With the advent of integrated design and Building Information Modelling
(BIM) on one side, and the emergence of social networking and
‘instant protest movements’ on the other, the
communicating complex design information to the clients and wider
public will become an increasingly important component of a successful
engineering project. This paper suggests that the effective use of
similes and metaphors to help people understand what is really involved
in a project can convert uninformed protesters (frightened by what they
don’t understand) into informed supporters. This applies to
‘client committees’ as well as to the wider public.
the Schedule - The Challenge of Informed Consent
Construction CPM conference, New Orleans, 2016.
This presentation adapts the main paper to look at the communication
challenges associated with communicating controls information in a way
that is understood and appreciated by stakeholders (particularly senior
managers) so they can use the information to make informed decisions.
Far too many controls professionals make the mistake of assuming
everyone has the same appreciation of ‘simple’
reports generated from various controls tools. The problem with this
assumption is the simple fact you have no idea what is actually being
understood by the stakeholder unless you take the trouble to test the
As George Bernard Shaw once said “The
biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken
professionals routinely complain about the slow pace of decision making
and/or the lack of sensible decisions from management and clients -
this is entirely understandable if the decision maker feels they are
being denied information needed to make a decision because they do not
fully appreciate or understand the information in the format provided.
Effective communication gets the right information to the right person,
in a format they can understand so they can use it to make effective