In Part 3 of the series on Regenerative Housing, industry consultant, Adam Sgrenci, offers a glimpse into Regenerative Workshops. TLDR: Don’t get lost in the theory, recognize your critical role as a piece of the whole, and acknowledge that the time for strategy is now.
A Reminder About Regeneration
At its core conceptual level, Regeneration is actually rather intuitive. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, it’s been around for a long time. Some might argue that the era of industrialization actually knocked us off track for a bit with all that focus on specialization and mass-production. However, it’s only been within the last 5 or 6 years that systems thinkers have begun to re-narrate the regeneration story within the context of today’s post-modern world.
A simple internet search on “regenerative modeling” will produce diagrams, charts, matrices and continuums tracking society’s new learning curve with Extractive (ie. outdated and harmful) systems on one side advancing through Sustainable, and ultimately, Regenerative systems on the other. These models can be applied to everything from organizational transformation to individual people empowerment - the idea is to look at the whole of everything.
For the ambitious, the interested, or even just the curious, we can learn and engage with these ideas by participating in a Regenerative Workshop.
Why Regenerative Housing? Why Now?
For those of us in the building space, Regenerative Housing Workshops offer a highly relevant place of engagement. Recall that Regenerative Housing is achieved when a housing project produces Positive Impact on the local 1) economy, 2) environment, and 3) society. This is how many of the major players in our ecosystem are beginning to think:
LEED, Well and Green Certification Organizations
Affordable Housing and Workforce Development Advocates
ConTech, PropTech, Real Estate Brokers and Developers
Conventional Builders, Trades and Home Service Providers
Social Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility
Family Offices With An Investment Focus on Equitable Housing, Climate Restoration or Carbon Sequestration
With the construction industry undergoing a technological disruption focused on addressing low productivity growth, the skilled labor shortage and a global housing crisis, many of us are taking a step back to strategize better ways forward. If those reasons weren’t enough, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to think more about “vulnerability.”
The hustlers and solution-seekers are either Crossing Over To ConTech or Bridging The Knowledge Gap To Traditional Trades. Whatever your profile or position, it’s the right time to dive deeper into your systems and models in order to cultivate new opportunities in the housing ecosystem.
You can certainly contact any number of regenerative systems designers to lead a session for you and your team.
But you can also design and lead your own.
How Deliver Your Own Regenerative Housing Workshop
First and foremost, is to understand that a “workshop” is interactive, as it presents the participants with questions that forces them to engage and reflect on how they work in the greater context of “Good.”
What does “Good” look like?
We don’t, typically, ask ourselves this question enough. We aim for excellence, of course, but we do so within the context that “construction is chaos” and we are just trying to “do the best we can” given the circumstances. Challenge yourself to step outside of that context for your business and your clients.
Frameworks are useful for mindshifting. Regeneration Theory offers numerous models. Their purpose is to parse out the housing ecosystem in a way that is inclusive of all existing and potential players. For example:
Capital, Tech, Users and Partners
Education, Society, Nature, Production, Finance
From —> To
Conventional, Green, Sustainable, Restorative, Regenerative
Do a little research on regenerative design and select a framework that you think is a good match for your organization or team. If it doesn’t work, adapt it or look for another.
Your Organization’s Role
Regenerative theorists tend to be pretty sharp, though at times, opposed to “grounding” these concepts for participants. If you are participating in or leading a workshop and feel that the ideas are becoming too abstract, ground the ideas by using the example of an actual housing project you’ve worked on in the past. These ideas don’t belong in an Ivory Tower. They belong in everyday life.
The key to understanding all regenerative models is that they are interdependent. Recall that the future of markets is not, so much, competitive as it is collaborative. To succeed in today’s market you must be able to identify your value proposition and the way you deliver it within the ecosystem.
Are you a:
Convener: bringing people together, or creating standards for us to follow?
Public Office: serving your constituents?
Builder or Service Provider: installing or maintaining the best materials and technologies for our planet and society?
Designer: producing ideas, technologies or solutions to infrastructural challenges?
Advocate: empowering people with healthy ideas or access to resources?
Do you not fit in one of the above categories? Don’t fret. Maybe you can create new opportunities or roles in this ecosystem. [In fact, that’s preferred]
Your Vision and Operations
How does your organization’s vision fit into your own personal worldview?
It’s a match? How did you arrive at this point, to align your organization’s vision with your own world view?
Are you a business owner or co-founder? What challenges come along with this?
How are you passing this knowledge on to others?
Is the structure of your organization as innovative as the products it creates?
What does operational excellence look like for you and how does it compare to the GOOD you described earlier?
It’s not a match? Can you create a roadmap to bring your organization’s goals closer to your personal goals for a better world?
What improvement opportunities exist?
How interdependent are the departments of your organization and how can you make them more interdependent.
The specialization era has expired. Nothing operates well forever in a silo. Especially for us in the building industry, we know that the fragmentation in our supply chain has been the greatest blocker to our productivity growth. For more on this, have a look at our series on the trades.
Walking away from the training, whether a 1 Day Boot Camp or longer Transformation Engagement, you and your organization should be feeling clearer on next steps, not overwhelmed with how you are going to integrate what you learned into your “real” workday.
As you continue to learn more about Regeneration and your place in our collective Regenerative future, ask questions, don’t let the theory create a false distance between your daily challenges and their solutions. Be the challenging voice that grounds these awesome ideas and creates valuable growth for our economy, environment and society.
TLDR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Regenerative Housing Workshops are a great way for those of us in the building space to contribute our knowledge to the future of housing.
Do your research on regeneration
Don’t get lost in the theory, recognize your critical role as a piece of the whole, and acknowledge that the time for strategy is now.