Five ways to
make a difference
“Be fanatical about making things happen. Make sure no report is ever written to just sit on a shelf. Draw up ambitious plans that are alert right from the start to the likely messy realities of delivery. Design in solutions to overcome old world barriers. Don’t take no for an answer.”
Frazer Osment, Chair, LDA Design
It’s easy to see your shadow and not what you’ve become. LDA Design Chair, Frazer Osment, sets out why the new year brings fresh hope and offers up five ways changemakers can make a difference. Ultimately, it’s a people thing.
A new year can crackle or be a slow burn. For Frazer Osment, LDA Design Chair, 2022 began with the realisation that something was missing. That something was people. “Work is where my personal goals and my professional goals intersect, where I feel a sense of purpose, and I’ve become acutely aware of the importance of the camaraderie we took for granted in pre-Covid days.”
It’s possible, of course, to achieve great things working remotely. But in the end, work is more than completing a task or project. It is about being part of something bigger, united by common goals. Video-conferencing platforms, even ‘huddling’ on Slack, can’t replace the rich sense of belonging that comes from the everyday. Casual conversations, chance encounters, sympathy expressed for a tough day, opinions ventured. Cake. For Frazer, it means starting the year with an appetite for rail journeys, for getting around and seeing people once times allow.
On a beautiful planet which needs our care, 2021 was a year when many more people expressed an ambition for complete renewal. This struck Frazer during his visit to COP26. “Despite the questionable commitments of Governments – amongst attendees there was a palpable sense of values aligning. This kind of shift can change culture: what would the world look like if we all started to live our values, finding the way to translate potential into a new reality?”
“Our industry needs to look carefully at what it does and how it does it, to address the planning, development and design challenges from climate change. Last year, LDA researched solutions to the decarbonisation of transport through spatial planning, for the RTPI. We’ll be taking this further this year with more research for them, showing how to develop model design codes for net zero and nature recovery. And we will be finding new ways to support our team so that each one of us is equipped to meet the challenges of the day, spiritedly and creatively, and live up to our new employee-ownership Charter.”
If change can sometimes feel glacial, remember it’s easy to see your shadow and not what you’ve become. Increasingly clients are asking LDA to join them in accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy. Frazer explains further: “There has been a shift in the tone and tenor of what we do. Recognition of the importance of green spaces brought into focus by Covid-19 appears to have been sustained. We have been reappraising the role of streets, with Broad Street in Oxford becoming Broad Meadow, pedestrians staking their claim in Strand Aldwych, and Newcastle City Centre re-imagined as a green and people-focussed place.”
It is true that as the world pivots towards net zero and nature recovery, greenwashing rhetoric is likely to balloon – but it will also be quickly punctured. Here are Frazer’s five ways in which changemakers can make a difference in 2022:
- It’s a people thing; foster human connection and relationships and enjoy life. People that relish working together and are united with a common purpose can achieve remarkable things.
- Create an environment in which ideas prosper. Recognise that you have biases and preconceived ideas. Challenge these and approach every project with an open and empathetic mindset.
- Collaborate with the widest possible group of people. We need new ideas and new perspectives. It is doing what we’ve always done that has got us to this point. We need to disrupt, to open up new possibilities.
- Be fanatical about making things happen. Make sure no report is ever written to just sit on a shelf. Draw up ambitious plans that are alert right from the start to the likely messy realities of delivery. Design in solutions to overcome old world barriers. Don’t take no for an answer.
- Be open to every opportunity to learn. Be brutally honest about what has had an impact and what has not and respond accordingly.