Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Extreme prototyping

Talk about extreme prototyping! If you were trying to figure out earthquake threats on your next construction project, what would you do? Well, this one made the national news: a full scale building with a hospital theme, complete with a doctor's examination room on the top floor, was shaken on a big(!) shake table.

Talk about the Spiral method: I'm not sure this is what Barry Boehm had in mind! A 6.7 magnitude quake for 60 seconds, and no broken glass... Now, that's a test.

But Boehm had the right idea in mind: when it comes to feasibility risk, you've got to set the right direction early or else you'll be doing a lot of backtracking (if you're still around to do the backtracking). The greatest hazard is often not the risky outcomes, but it's making the wrong decision about how to proceed: left, right, or straight ahead.

And, in the construction industry itself, when you get it wrong, it's often right out there in the public space where someone is going to be embarassed big time. And, that's where the political trouble starts.This is Bent Flyvbjerg's favorite topic, as depicted in one of his articles, "Design by Deception: the politics of megaproject approval"