At HCM, we believe that a successful project begins with early stakeholder engagement. Our design process is fueled by collaborative, directed thinking. We strive to create inspiring design solutions that produce excitement and buy-in from our clients. Through our process-improvement methodologies, we help stakeholders define their goals, identify opportunities and challenges, and streamline communication. One tool we use to improve the process is SPARC3.



What is SPARC3?

SPARC3 (Strategic Possibilities Acquired through Research, Creativity, and Conscientious Change) is a technique that is used to support a group of stakeholders in developing a shared vision of the future. It is a collaborative, charette-based system for strategic planning and conceptual design. SPARC3 streamlines decision-making and creates buy-in and support. The experience helps organizations meet their goals while taking into account unique programmatic needs, physical design issues, and jurisdictional requirements.

SPARC3 consists of six steps, which can be tailored to each client’s needs and situation.

STEP 1 – Aspire
The first step is an initial goal-setting and visioning exercise to understand the primary drivers of the planning process, identify the project’s overarching vision and gain consensus on desired outcomes. This includes defining the specific requirements for the local jurisdiction.

STEP 2 – Gather
Next, our team gathers as much information about the project as possible, focusing on three key areas – Programmatic Needs, Physical Plant and Organization Culture.

STEP 3 – Analyze
Development of various analysis tools helps us understand the impact that each of the areas of input will have on the project. This includes space program development, site analysis studies, and review of potential impact of jurisdictional factors.

STEP 4 – Explore
This step typically utilizes a charrette-based approach. Our team hosts creative design workshops with stakeholders to explore preferences and desires for the space and to collaboratively examine solutions for identified concerns. It involves hands-on workshops to explore ideas and reach agreement on the metrics for evaluation.

STEP 5 – Test
Next, the design team examines the results gleaned from the preceding steps, and further explores and refines the conceptual design. We evaluate the pros and cons of each idea, eventually arriving at the preferred conceptual design approach. The final plan also includes financial implications and other strategies.

STEP 6 – Present
The final step is the creation of a full presentation package for the target audience. This package is tailored to the project and provides a record of the process and final recommendations to be used for implementation. This package is presented to stakeholders, as well as to a wider invested audience, when appropriate.

How does this process add value to our clients?

HCM’s SPARC3 process provides leaders of institutions with a coordinated and efficient way to incorporate diverse groups of stakeholders and end users into a cohesive working group that can reach consensus on project vision and goals. This process also serves to educate stakeholders on current trends and help them to develop goals for their project. Perhaps the clearest benefit of SPARC3 is that it presents the decision-makers with diverse options to move forward, each of which considers financial and available market considerations. By providing our clients with education and a clear path forward, they can make informed, productive decisions, which leads to successful projects that stay within budget and on schedule.

What is the most important key to a successful SPARC3 process?

A productive and successful SPARC3 process begins with the stakeholders; we encourage them to come with minds open to new ideas and a willingness to share the realities of the project, even those that can seem harsh. The exercise requires willingness from the participants to get out of their comfort zone, to be creative, and to share their thoughts openly.

From the perspective of the design team, the sign of a fruitful SPARC3 experience is a comprehensive and clear deliverable. The end product should incorporate in-depth market studies and financial drivers in addition to robust stakeholder feedback. This allows the team to produce design options meeting the project requirements, beyond physical space needs, in a very short and compressed timeframe.


SPARC3 is a proprietary tool that has led to great success in many project types and market sectors. It was developed as a facilitated process to guide clients through complex organization growth or redevelopment by engaging diverse stakeholders and accurately evaluating the physical constraints, financial challenges, and specific market needs. This process helps stakeholders to envision a successful future and assists decision-makers in implementing their goals.