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Building sand tables

August 17, 2020

When you plan a military operation you really need to get things right. Ambiguity, misunderstandings and delays really are life and death.

It is also multidisciplinary: there are drivers, artillery, pilots, medics and more. Each with their own lens and priorities.

It is interesting that when clarity really matters people communicate over a a 3D model called a sand table (and not via email.)

Each time the vision, concept, plan or idea is communicated - risk is introduced. The idea is subject to being interpreted by that persons frame of reference. In property - (the least digitised industry other than hunting according to McKinsey) - we see this happen time and time again.

More often than not these errors occur at the start - and snowball their way through a projects life cycle - finally rearing their ugly head at the worst possible moment. One customer recently told us 'We often lose track of what the feasibility actually refers to!'

source: wikipedia

The answer is a sand table. Gather the data you need, rough out your scheme as a 3D digital twin, then get your team and look at it together. It is a time tested way of removing ambiguity and communicating the most in the least possible time.

Why is this not done as a matter of course? Card models used to be made, but are quite expensive. They also don't scale. BIM models are well and good, but the only people who can look at them are trained technicians on specialist computers.

That's why we've made it very quick to create a simple model, viewable on any device, without training. Give it a go!

The best part, once your team has finished working on it, the same digital sand table can be used to explain what you are doing to the world with no additional work:

A digital sand table in Sydney's flagship newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald

And of course, there is always email, powerpoint and pdf to fall back on :)