Conditions of Satisfaction: What do you need to be successful?

According to famous architect Buckminster Fuller, “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

Like Bucky, we believe design and construction are not just about the building; it’s about what the building enables our clients to do.

That’s why each of our projects begins by establishing and documenting the client’s Conditions of Satisfaction (COS), which serve as the guiding principles for the remainder of the project. COS are based on the Six Sigma principle that the client, not the architect or project manager, defines value. With clearly defined value, it is much easier to make grounded decisions and evaluate the actual success of a facility improvement or new facility.

COS is a tool developed by The Neenan Company to help our designers, preconstruction, and construction experts to see the world through our client’s eyes. We work to understand their business, their clients, and the future of their business. Once we are empowered with their issues, successes, and dreams, we can truly be their partner and create facility solutions to serve them beyond their expectations.

Listening and inquiry are the most important tools we use with clients to learn their COS, along with basic tools like markers and paper to document the ideas. In this free-form worksession, ideas are brainstormed without caution; this is the time to dream big!

Some of the questions we ask include:

  • What is your vision for the project?
  • When the building is completed, how will you know it is a success?
  • How will the new facility enable you to succeed?
  • How important is sustainable design?
  • What works in your current facility?
  • What does not work in your current facility?

Next, the ideas are discussed and prioritized as a group to be used as a starting point for the Neenan team. The COS are reviewed regularly for the remainder of the project to stay on course.

Ultimately, fulfilling a client’s Conditions of Satisfaction means more than just keeping our promises. It’s a tool for achieving more meaningful goals, like improving student test scores and patient healthcare. It’s the satisfaction of making human life better.

{Thanks to luisvilla and rollanb for the images.}

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