Creating a Culture of Predictable Outcomes: CAPLA Associate Dean Barbara Bryson Publishes New Book on Leading in Architecture and Construction Industry

Feb. 2, 2021

“I believe we can predict outcomes on design and construction projects with reasonable certainty, barring natural disasters, pandemics or war, but controlling those outcomes takes effort and thoughtfulness,” writes Barbara Bryson, associate dean for research and director of the Drachman Institute in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona.

The effort and thoughtfulness required to control project outcomes is at the root of Bryson’s work as an architect and leader in higher education, and also at the heart of her new book, Creating a Culture of Predictable Outcomes: How Leadership, Collaboration and Decision-Making Drive Architecture and Construction, published by Routledge on December 31, 2020.

Managing built environment projects in an uncertain world is no small matter, Bryson knows: “Change is coming. That is inevitable.” But while “technology and the economy present many opportunities for disruption,” she writes, “it is not clear that the traditional professionals of the industry will ever leverage these opportunities.”

If change is a constant, a typical project manager might conclude that process needs adjusting—that it should be more structured or, perhaps just the opposite, much more agile. In Creating a Culture of Predictable Outcomes, however, Bryson demonstrates that achieving project-related predictable outcomes is more likely when focusing on culture rather than process. For example, by selecting the right team members and “hiring and firing bravely,” valuing psychological safety, leading with values, practicing respect and transparency, and fostering empowerment to make decisions at the right level and the right time, among others, culture drives success.

“I wrote this book because ‘time has value to me,’ and in the time I have left to make an impact, I hope that we can, together, shake things up and forge a new path,” writes Bryson, thinking of both those in architecture and construction leadership positions now and those who will move into them. The book is her challenge to those leaders and leaders-to-be to “disrupt these industries from the inside” because otherwise “disruption will arrive uninvited.”

Bryson was the University of Arizona vice president of strategic planning and analysis before joining CAPLA in 2016. Her research interests include the future of the architecture profession as well as integrated planning and master planning for university campuses. After practicing architecture within major firms for nearly two decades, she turned to higher education in 1996, with stints as university architect at the University of Miami and associate vice president for facilities, engineering and planning at Rice University. The co-author of The Owner’s Dilemma: Driving Success and Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry, she holds a doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania, MBA from the University of Miami and BS in Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Learn more about Creating a Culture of Predictable Outcomes on the publisher website, or for new insight by Bryson on why we desperately need to create cultures where innovation is possible, listen to the This is DesignIntelligence podcast: “The Future is Now.”


Barbara Bryson, Associate Dean for Research and Director, The Drachman Institute


New Book: Creating a Culture of Predictable Outcomes: How Leadership, Collaboration and Decision-Making Drive Architecture and Construction


Published December 31, 2020