The Business Proposition of Lean in Design: Insights from Stan Chiu, Director of Healthcare, Gensler

The Business Proposition of Lean in Design: Insights from Stan Chiu, Director of Healthcare, Gensler

In a recent interview with LCI, Stan Chiu, Director of Healthcare, Gensler, shared his insights on how Lean in Design makes business sense.

On the Design side, our process evolved in Beaux-Arts.  It was very appropriate for its time. The opportunity at Design Forum is to reconsider better, higher quality design that serves its constituents more effectively for less time and less money. The design community endeavors to make it a healthier endeavor.

An interesting model that we approach at LCI Design Forum, is to consider how other industries approach the design process. None of the other industries have a design process that looks like ours.  Some are experience based. Understand the experiential needs of a human and how that might be provided for in design. Gensler has put a lot of energy into this. Lean supports identifying the need first and then creating the design that supports the need, as opposed to the Beaux-Arts process where you create a design and use the design to figure out the need.

We are using Design Forum as an opportunity to address the real problems we are encountering in the Design Community. Of these things that we are learning what might we use to create better outcomes? We strive to produce better design work that will serve more people for less money and less time. Last year, John Moebes, Sr. Director of Construction, Crate & Barrel spoke to an experiential consistency based on a certain aesthetic in all Crate & Barrel stores. Given that, he incrementally improved: he broke off a piece of the project and improved that piece, for example in lighting. As a result, lighting in each of the Crate & Barrel stores is installed more quickly and for less cost.

By sending people to Design Forum, they would come back from Design Forum with some ideas to improve their business. There is a very strong business strategy to designing to optimize needs. Several examples:

  • Nike: they really work hard to understand the needs first and design to optimize the needs.
  • Do good by doing right – the Patagonia model. Doing better for the world is good business.
  • Alcoa Aluminum ‘s CEO Paul O’Neill (LCI Congress 2015 keynote speaker) adopted Lean to improve safety.
  • Mike Rona – Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle – took on Lean after a tragic error at the hospital. The old model was “heroes and villains” and in this case the hospital would fire the nurse. Instead, the hospital took on the systems approach and took responsibility for the error and decided to take on Lean to error proof things.

If you found this blog post insightful, don’t miss the chance to hear Stan Chiu and others speak on this topic at the upcoming LCI Lean in Design Forum on June 21 in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to learn about the forum!