Design Thinking – Cleantech Construction!

June 14, 2009

I remember as though it was yesterday.

The day I met the Luu brothers – Neil and Nathan. Two young Aussie/Vietnamese Design Thinking Mavericks!

Pegasus: Concrete Innovation - New Urban Living!

Pegasus: Concrete Innovation - New Urban Living!

I was following a hunch, desperate to see some real innovation in housing design as the words from a 1959 Newspaper Interview with Dick Dusseldorp (founder of Lend Lease) kept me awake at night – it was driving me nuts!

“When I was a boy a family motor car cost three times the value of an ordinary suburban home, now a suburban home costs three times as much as a motor car. Now that shows the progress that industrialisation has brought to the production of motor vehicles. In the building trade, on the other hand, there has been very little progress…since Noah built the ark!”

Ok so lets fast forward almost 50 years. Call it serendipity but I had just driven past one of Qld’s first designed precast concrete homes and after considerable effort had finally tracked  down its creators.

We met over a coffee. (In typical Innovation Cafe style) Both ex QUT. Nathan (marketing) the talker, Neil (construction/design/engineer) the thinker. We hit it off immediately as I sat listening to their story.

A story about a family fleeing an oppressive regime. A story about starting over again and building an exciting future in a new land. A story of hard work, hope, success, achievement. And a story of innovation.

The brothers Luu – innovation journey began because of there love of flashy cars and despite being told they couldn’t, just went out an created a one-stop shop customising, styling, shaping fiberglass moldings and spray painting vehicle creations that were designed to turn heads! It didn’t matter that neither had formal skills they just adapted and learnt by experimenting, trial and error to create an award winning business.

Next came a bigger challenge. Concrete housing. Modular grid construction to be precise. Faster, More affordable, Better! Yet again they battled an oppressive regulatory regime – relentless in trying to stop them from doing something different!. But that didn’t deter the boys!. They’ve created Pegasus and now three years later since our first coffee together – amazing things are happening.

In tough times Innovation flourishes. People are beginning to listen. To unlearn learned beliefs. Think: the DTP (Desktop Publishing) revolution, the brothers Luu (in stealth mode) together with other industry zealots are hard at work developing a radical online modular Desktop Construction (DTC) business that will change the housing construction nightmare forever! A new ‘killer app‘ that will annihilate the outdated and existing dysfunctional residential construction industry.

Viva la Web 2.0 Revolution!

Just imagine – you go online,  thanks to Google earth and maps, view and find land for sale, zoom in on the lot, place your 3D rendered model on it. You can even look out the windows or sit on the balcony admiring your virtual reality views. Then when you’re done and happy – just press PRINT. Automated purchase, plans approved, and out pops your home like some giant modular lego construction. Complete turnkey construction but without the allen key

Neil and Nathan aren’t just Design Thinkers in the words of Bernd H Schmitt, they’re  Big Thinky Heads!

Footnote: Cleantech Construction:  Built to last – bushfire and termite resilient, Recycled concrete, titanium dioxide (smog eating cement), PV Cells, Energy Water & Waste innovation, even a Green Roof garden!


Coffee Anyone?

May 4, 2009
Topics soon to be discussed

The Innovation Cafe Launch

The Innovation Cafe menu is now available to anyone who’s interested.

If you live in S/E Queensland then perhaps you’ll get the chance to come along but for now let’s examine the first one – ‘Changing the Culture’ (of management) that is.

I have worked for, or managed both public and private businesses all over the world. From Melbourne, to New York, to Bangalore and Manila. But sadly the story is always the same; executive management at the top seem lost in a time warp. Caught up in the bullshit regime of corporate silo’s, bureaucracy and rear vision thinking!

Take my last employer  (a business I happen to love) – the mighty global property giant Lend Lease – a company founded on ethical and sustainable business principles by one of Australia’s greatest corporate business mavericks – Dick Dusseldorp in 1958. Since his passing in 2000 the business continues to thrash around having lost its way. Worse it lacks real leadership and a heart and soul. Don’t get me wrong there are thousands of talented – moreover exceptional loyal and devoted employees who are trying to make a difference. However unless there is a coup or a decapitation of the culture at the top, I fear nothing much will change.

No I am not all bitter and twisted… just sad because despite my numerous efforts to help no one above wanted to listen!

But more on that story another time….Australia’s corporate leaders (and the worlds for that matter) should take a page out of the Dick Dusseldorp story as it stands in stark contrast to those greed obsessed, myopic and uncaring so called business leaders (CEO’s) of today.

Leadership (or the lack of it) is to me the number one problem confronting Australian business today. Words like Love, Compassion, Collaboration, and Innovation are to the great majority of leaders – just words, as not much of that is being practiced in the board rooms within the corporations that I know.

So just where’s the problem? What can we do about it? Besides who gives a rats?

Well I do, so look for my two bobs worth later this week…