In the architecture and design field one can say that Architects and Designers, in a traditional sense, evolve the way space is shaped. The attitudes of design thinking influence the evolution of what space becomes. As designers we have a responsibility to meet the needs of our clients with viable functional solutions and in order to do so we need to gather expertise across a wide spectrum of skill sets. This function, the gathering of expertise, is widely known as collaboration and is necessary for the successful outcome of any project.
But how do we ensure the goals of a project are effectively communicated without prejudice or influence from our personal needs or agendas?
Ego and personal agendas play into solutions every day and many “starchitects” are lauded for their unique vision and flavour that they bring to a project. In fact, we all know some are hired specifically because of their singular vision. It is indeed impressive however do you ever wonder what may be sacrificed in order to create that vision? I think you will agree that the personality of leadership needs to be very strong and the ability to convince the client, committee or consortium needs to be without an ounce of self-doubt. But is a singular vision with a crew of drones assembling the component parts the right formula?
More often than not it works that way.
Influence is a driving factor in this industry (likely any industry) and is why the responsibility of the designer to understand and assimilate a program of requirements is so critical to the outcome of a project. When a program is influenced by anything other than the experience and skills for the type of work required the result can become less than optimal. If it is only one individual, alone, it is then up to that individual’s impartiality to ensure the needs of their client is met.
An awesome responsibility, for sure.
I am reading a book called FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi which talks, in layman terms, about how to gain the optimal experience, in other words, the ability to be “in the zone.” In order to understand how flow is learned the book starts out by explaining some simple psychology on experiences. We all know this but it’s good to remember that our actions are a direct reflection on how we process information. Our responses to stimuli are influenced by the way we learned to be who we are. In other words our solutions to problems are as unique as fingerprints and because of that what we propose as a solution is directly affected by who we are.
We are individuals with unique approaches.
Is it possible to remain entirely impartial then? If you are a computer (or PC ala Max Headroom) maybe but not as a human. Is it even necessary? Consider the following; one person’s solution will be heavily influenced by their education, culture, class, race and so on down the line. Similarities aside one answer to a problem is just that; an option. A cross section of ideas from different skill sets can offer so much more in terms of potential for an optimal solution.
Do you agree?
In many ways we are learning that the top down management style is no longer the most effective tool to gain top performance from a team in a similar way that a singular vision is no longer the best way to ensure the execution of the design problem becomes the most effective solution.
So, how can we change that? Or do we even want to?
Would it make sense to share ideas among the expertise at your disposal? Call it sharing, integrated design, collaboration or something of the like. It’s literally not about personality at that point and more about a cross section of personal expertise.
As an example, Ontario Family Health Teams, have practitioners who share knowledge when assessing patients who require treatment to ensure the patient receives a holistic view of their potential diagnosis. A patient’s care is addressed by a variety of health care professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers and dieticians who bring their expertise together to evaluate and offer different viewpoints on treatment.
This is not a new concept.
Take a look at some of the firms who use this philosophy; from the design side you have firms like IDEO and NBBJ and from the management side there are firms such as McKinsey and BCG. There are certainly others which you can tell me about. Maybe even a few in other industries who use their resources in a different or unique way.
Why not involve accountants, urban planners, designers, administrators, look at people’s hobbies, pastimes or solicit your team to do some research from their unique perspective. Engage them but be careful to offer direction in order to maintain productivity without stifling their creativity.
Crowdsourcing is an example that, at its scale, has produced viable results. The idea is that two heads are better than one, four is better than two and at the scale of thousands many, many heads working together or in alignment toward a common goal can produce incredible results.
But how do you manage that?
Sure. In order to keep the train moving in a forward direction management becomes an acute concern especially with a concept like crowdsourcing but also at the level of simple multi-disciplinary collaboration. Risks such a resource and financial depletion and productivity are real but not without solutions. Intelligent planning can help disseminate those risks. You have to admit that reward could certainly outweigh the risk but if you are that risk averse then maybe the one trick pony is your bag of tricks.
We are simply looking at ways to break down some of that “siloed” thinking. Collaborate, get the greater team involved, use the skills and better yet seek out those like-minded diverse skill sets that will help you see the possibilities.
This is just my point of view form my personal perspective but I am hoping you will collaborate with me on this idea.
I guess that’s why we call it theviewfromhere.