I was intrigued. The invite said that during the meeting we ‘will capture these (Mission Statement, objectives and priorities) in a “Value Tree” which is a graphical way of presenting the key objectives that requires them to be ranked in order of importance. The Value Tree can then be used at future “Gateways” to check that the emerging schemes meet all the initial objectives set for the project.’
It was a meeting around the strategic employment site that we are working on. The invite didn’t help me but it all became clear once we got underway.
The value management tree is a graphical way of capturing aims and objectives. It is a decision making tool for use when developing projects, agreeing strategies and allocating resources. Apparently the University of Sunderland use it on all its projects.
You start by defining your mission statement and identify from this your primary and secondary objectives. They are then ranked in order of importance from high to low.
It has nothing to do with trees. It does, however, have a lot to do with value.
It was an interesting approach, allowing us to flush out those things that are most important to the project. At times it felt like we were designing a camel but the skilled facilitator soon pulled it into a thoroughbred.
It got me thinking though. Here we were looking at the creation of a business park for the future when I asked myself what future business needs would look like. Over the last decade or so we have seen huge changes in the way that business is delivered, especially in its physical sense. The rise of the internet has been transformational. Many factories have gone. Many high street shops lie empty. Out of town mega-stores seem to have had their day. Churches have become indoor playgrounds and pubs have become convenience stores. Who knows what else is coming round the corner?
Could it be that businesses in the future won’t operate in the way that we traditionally think? Today we imagine modern businesses as those like the big technical firms, with comfy sofas, colourful walls and slides to get you from one floor to another. They are organisations with an anarchic streak and youthful whacky employees that seem to bend the confines of the building in which they find themselves. Yet they still reside within buildings. People still commute to work and occupy shared spaces.
What if the future of business is to be without walls? I’m thinking especially of those knowledge based businesses were the limits of the mind are more important than the limits of the concrete, steel and glass. Perhaps the future for these businesses will require large open work spaces where multiple businesses can be together at the same time, sharing ideas and sparking creative ideas. Perhaps going to work will be as outmoded as the quill and what will be required is range of provocative activities to give birth to innovation. Even manufacturing may not be immune. 3D printing may mean that manufacture on demand will become the norm.
What will the business park of the future look like then?