Why the Cost, Quality, Time Triangle Might be All Wrong


Full disclosure: I love solving difficult problems and what’s “matter of fact” for some people is, for me, something to upturn–an intellectual challenge. Take, for example, the oft-repeated adage that we, as architects, have forever relayed to our clients: You can choose two of the following three things to prioritize, but never all three: Cost, Quality, or Time. Saving cost and time sacrifices quality. Saving time and maximizing quality sacrifices cost, and so on.

In my fairly lengthy career working on fast-track Los Angeles mega-developments, the adage unfailingly was proven-out with the real world results. I won’t mention the project names but, ulitmately with my clients’ begrudging concurrence, one of the proverbial babies had to get tossed out with the bathwater in the pursuit of timesavings. It hurts, especially us architects, when, even in small ways, the baby was design quality. It really frustrates the owner-developer when the beautiful baby was cost.

So, loving a challenge, what else could I do but churn this problem over and over in my spare moments walking, driving, or in the shower. It turns out the most helpful clue arrived some time after I took up Transcendental Meditation, starting a couple of years ago. What can I say? I’m a Californian. The clue lay in how we normally look at time versus what time “really” is. Sound intriguing? Read on…

For thousands of years, mystics and, in recent times, quantum physicists, have posited that time, as we know it, is an illusion. The way matter and energy interchange and interconnect at a subatomic level implies that reality is not simply the three dimensions of space and one of time we know that constitute the “real” world. If viewed from a higher dimensional perspective, everything that happens past, present, and future in our linear, cause and effect reality, might really be happening all at once. This while somehow preserving the ability to exercise free will.

So the clue was to look at the cost, quality, time triangle with the “true” nature of time factored in. Imagine a wireframe triangle representing cost, quality, and time. Imagine tilting it so that, from your vantage point, the time leg appears shorter than the other two. Keep tilting, and the length of the time leg, or vector, approaches, then becomes zero.  At this point, you probably are asking yourself: “Great, how does this translate to bricks and mortar construction?” It translates into tilting a project’s time vector such that the required expenditure of effort to produce work of highest design quality, production quality, and maximal cost efficiency is still done with all due diligence and creativity, but “off the board” in two-dimensional terms. The time vector thus needs to initiate months before the project even starts or even before the project is a gleam in the owner-developer’s eye.  This is the thought behind the formation of Synchronis. And, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus–or at least there will be by Christmas 2017.

By |2017-12-08T14:51:49+00:00September 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments