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Overcoming Structural Roadblocks

On March 31st, I joined my fellow AIA National Board Candidates for a discussion with Component Leadership in the Gulf States, Illinois, New England, Pennsylvania, Texas, Western Mountain, and International regions. A video of my live Q/A is below


Some of the questions asked were

  • How will technology help in resolving future and current issues at the AIA?

  • Can you share some specific examples of how AIA may elevate its efforts in fostering innovation nationally and at the local level?

  • What do you see as the future role of the Strategic Council, and do you feel the role of the Council will be evolving or staying the same?

  • If elected how will you ensure and or push the AIA to enact large-scale change as it relates to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the profession and other allied professions?



Feel free to share with me your thoughts on the discussion in the comment section below or email me at ricardo@bytesandmortar.com


AIA's Engaging with Component Leadership Candidate Webinar


Video Transcript:


Ricardo: Hello Bill.


William: Yeah, thanks for being here.


Ricardo: Thank you!


William: uh Ricardo Rodríguez De Santiago is candidate for AIA At-Large Director. Again thank you for being here. We'll jump right in; How will technology help in resolving future and current issues at the AIA.


Ricardo: I think one of the things we have to remember about technology it's not something that we... it's not about buzzwords, it's not a switch that we flip and all of a sudden functionalities are available to us. It involves a shift in mindset and I think that's usually what we're missing. But, we're no strangers to this shift in mindset, when we're in architectural school, as frustrating as it could be, there's a portion there at the beginning that we don't really know what we're doing, and at some point, something "clicks". We're taught to think as designers, we're taught to think in "systems", and use those skills to problem-solve things that have to do with [the] very complex interaction of networks, between communities, complex program requirements. So very much like that, where the paradigm shift occurred, we need to apply that now to ourselves, shift that mindset towards technology, but in terms of how the World is working now. I think that there is a little bit of a misnomer that this is a discussion that is had with emerging professionals. They certainly have a better skill set for that because the younger they are, their minds are trained in how to operate in the digital-first world. For some of us, we remember when the thought of getting into a car with a stranger and paying them for the ride with money was something totally insane, but now with Uber and Lyft, that's a second kind of guess to us, right? We don't even think about it twice anymore. That's happening within our industry but, a lot of the possibility to engage with that really occurs with our folks at the mid and senior levels engaging in that discussion. In realizing that young people are not going to resolve this for you. This is related to your business and the more that we can open and be transparent in that discussion, in education, and evolving the innovation programs, as a means of getting our businesses ahead, the better we'll be in the long run. We'll be more relevant, we'll be more prosperous, and we'll have a better exchange with the customers we're trying to serve.


Ricardo: Bill, I think you're on mute.


Wiliam: Thank you. Can you share some specific examples of how AIA may elevate its efforts in fostering innovation nationally and at the local level?


Ricardo: Sure, so I'm a product, in a great sense, of the Practice Innovation Lab. When the YAF (Young Architects Forum), and Evelyn, and some current board members and colleagues, had put together the Practice Innovation Lab a few years ago. It brought together all these different minds, of people very much like myself, that didn't... that maybe had a very keen interest in innovation and technology and new ways of operating our businesses. For me, it opened up a whole world of possibilities that there are other people that think like me, there are people that are interested in things that I'm interested in, and it landed in my current role leading and spearheading a digital innovation program globally. So it's repeating programs like this, institutionalizing them, formalizing them. The YAF did a good job in creating toolkits so that local components could use these and do more of [them]. But, I think a lot of this also has to do with us figuring out what's the framework for embedding our members into these discussions beyond our borders. In all these different types of organizations and different types of professionals that deal with innovation and technology, and businesses at that. So it's a two-pronged approach and I think we could do a lot more on it right by being more open.


Ricardo: Thank you. That's a great question.


William: Good, thank you! uh, what do you see as the future role of the Strategic Council, and do you feel the role of the Council will be evolving or staying the same?


Ricardo: Yes, I think I got a similar question in a previous webinar! I think the Strategic Council's role will definitely change. I think there's a misnomer of calling the Strategic Council a "think-tank". There are expectations that are raised when using that word and I think it's mostly a kind of horizon-scanning body, right. That informs the Board on what's happening ahead. We've seen that there are very, I would say, steep challenges in how do we communicate the content that's generated at the Council back to components, which are ultimately the folks that could put into action a lot of these contents and learnings. So it is I would say our fiduciary responsibility to figure out ways that we can get that content those communications out to local components. But, also make sure that the work that's being done responds to some type of rigorous methodology that informs the board as well and provides them with a means of being able to lay out a road map for it. Not just at times save it into a PDF. That's not the way we share knowledge in this day and age.


William: Great, uh if elected how will you ensure and or push the AIA to enact large-scale change as it relates to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the profession and other allied professions.


Ricardo: Yeah, I've responded to this and discussed it a bit in the past. I think it has to do with us acknowledging that there is an internal look that we need to perform. I would say the talking about these things and having these lofty goals, is certainly very commendable, as is issuing public statements on it. But we need to do a hard look at what are the internal barriers that at times exclude and inhibit this kind of openness to accept new people from diverse backgrounds and diverse frames of thought. A lot of that has to do with technology, but it has to do with figuring out what is it that we need to dismantle. There are some natural, I would say, structural barriers to this, and that is on us to take down.


Ricardo: Thank you, Bill. I think you're on mute.


William: Yeah. Ricardo thanks for being here man!


Ricardo: Appreciate it. Thank you!

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