07 February 2011

Why does a charrette have to last multiple days?

1. Three Feedback Loops. One of the unique traits of the charrette is the series of feedback loops with all relevant stakeholders. Three loops are the minimum required to facilitate a change in participants’ perceptions and positions. Within these three major feedback loops, designs are created based upon a public vision, and presented within hours for further review, critique, and refinement. Four consecutive days are required to accommodate three feedback loops, scheduled at least a day apart. These feedback cycles foster a holistic understanding of complex problems by all participants and form the basis of a plan that reflects all vital viewpoints. It results in true buy-in by everyone involved, who are thereby inspired to support the plan, allowing it to overcome the inevitable challenges on its path to implementation.

2. The Unexpected. Multiple-day charrettes provide time and space to change and accommodate unexpected events that often occur in volatile projects. Charrettes have a way of stirring up things (which is good- you would rather have difficulties arise so they can be dealt with on the spot) and you need to have time to work through new issues.

3. Feasible Design. NCI charrettes produce detailed, feasible plans that require minimal rework. It takes at least four days for a multi-disciplinary team to develop alternative concepts, merge them into a preferred plan and then to detail and test the plan.