The Architect’s Missing Manual August 28, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, BIM, books, change, identity, IPD, marginalization, survival, technology, the economy, transition.
Tags: AIA, AIA documents, The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice
Do you remember yours?
My first was the twelfth.
That is, the twelfth edition of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice.
That was the last edition to be offered in four separate three ring binders.
White, grey and red.
And crisp, with an off-center AIA logo super graphic emblazoned across the front.
I read the entire contents cover to cover to cover to cover.
Here, I thought, at last was the architect’s missing user’s manual.
After 4 years of undergraduate schooling and 2 years of graduate school, I still didn’t completely understand all that an architect was and could become.
And with the deep blue “backgrounders” ample history of what the architect once was.
For the first time you sensed that you belonged to a long tradition.
One that you were proud to be a part of.
Here, at last, contained in four binders was “the answer.”
There it was, in red ink on the first binder:
“Volume 1: The Tools. The Architect. The Firm.”
It would never again be so simple.
Nor so innocent.
Volume 2 was even simpler.
All it said was: “Volume 2: The Project.”
Could it be laid out any more straightforward?
The last two binders contained facsimiles of the AIA documents.
Here was the be-all-and-end-all D200.
“The checklist” that promised to give you a step-by-step explanation of every move you would make, from initial handshake to final handoff.
That was 1994.
In 2001, the thirteenth edition of the AHPP was issued.
And it was a new world. For the US, and for architects.
The contents were reduced to a single bound book.
With the AIA Documents sequestered to a CD-ROM.
And for the first time, the edition was printed on the binding – henceforth resulting in readers referring to the AHPP by edition.
[The twelfth was known by the three-ring binders.]
If the twelfth edition was for me “Paradise Found,” the thirteenth was “Innocence Lost.”
The table of contents said it all:
“Part 1: CLIENT.”
“Part 2: BUSINESS.”
The first 9 chapters were devoted to markets, marketing, financial operations and HR.
All good. All much-needed.
But the AHPP no longer told us who we were – or who we could become.
Not in our own right, anyway. But instead, we only existed so long as we had clients.
No client, no architect. And while practically we understood this to be true from a business perspective, the architect was clearly no longer front and center.
The off-center logo of the twelfth edition now had been shifted almost completely off the cover, so to speak.
The architect – in the first 250 pages – was almost nowhere to be found.
The center – had there ever truly been one – did not hold.
Each architect had to discover and define who she was for herself.
The fourteenth edition, printed in 2008, returned the architect to their rightful position in the AHPP.
“PART 1: THE PROFESSION.”
“PART 2: THE FIRM.”
And so on. But by the time this last edition was delivered, the world’s economy was in disarray with architect , profession and industry scrambling for survival.
The fourteenth edition, thick as a tombstone, was a memorial to what the architect had been.
What would become of the architect was anyone’s guess.
And while we suspect who the architect is – and will become – will have something to do with BIM, IPD, sustainability and digital fabrication, many architects would sooner be defined by their unique attributes, by their education or experience than by technological or global trends that reside outside themselves.
With the world in flux, the industry and profession in transition, and who or what the architect is or needs to be anyone’s guess,
I do not envy the task the esteemed architects and educators who are undertaking the next – the fifteenth edition – of the AHPP.
There has never been a more important undertaking for our profession than the definition of who the architect is and needs to be in the immediate future.
Here is how you can help bring about the new edition of the AHPP.
What can you do to help?
Help shape its intent and content by taking a short survey.
The deadline is coming up quick (Wednesday, August 31) so take a couple minutes right now to answer a couple questions here.
What is your first memory of the AHPP? Has it been of use to you at any time in your career? If so, how? Please let me know by leaving a comment.
The End of the Architecture Firm? August 27, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, IPD, software architects, survival, technology.
Tags: BIM, building information modeling, information technology consulting, integrated project delivery, IPD
Because that is what my other blog is for.
But this, I felt, is just too important not to mention.
Next week my BIM book finally ships.
What’s important is that In the book is a series of in-depth interviews with some serious VIPs in our industry discussing BIM and the collaborative work processes enabled by the technology.
One of my interviews is with Kristine K. Fallon FAIA of Kristine Fallon Associates, providing information technology consulting and services related to design and construction.
In the interview, I asked her three questions about her current concerns:
- One about her business.
- One about the construction industry.
- And one about the architecture profession.
Her responses to the first two questions were insightful and intelligent.
Her response to the question concerning the architecture profession blew me away.
Completely took me by surprise.
And stopped me cold.
Let’s start with question one:
What would you say is the #1 concern for you and your business right now?
Kristine K. Fallon (KF): To be on the leading edge of the technology curve. We work very hard to be ahead of the rest of the industry. There’s no real roadmap for doing that. I worry about whether we’re identifying good technology directions and quickly galloping up the learning curve and getting good at these technologies before they’re in big demand. I actually have an incredibly vast, international network of contacts. A lot of the leading edge stuff isn’t particularly published – it’s in people’s heads or buried somewhere. Not stuff you can Google. So you have to go to the people. That’s why I am so active in so many organizations. That and staying in touch with people – it’s something I got used to doing very early in my career.
What would you say is the #1 concern for the construction industry as whole?
KF: I see the potential for the agglomeration – for the contractors getting absorbed into a couple big firms. That said – for all my championing of change – I enjoy the industry as it is. I love the fact that you work with different people, personalities and teams. I find that really invigorating.
What would you say is the #1 concern for the architecture profession?
KF: There’s a good chance that the architecture firm will go away. At this point, in England, I hear that the architects mostly work for the contractors. At that point – why have a firm? What is the role of the architecture firm? There’s certain training, skills, capabilities and qualities that architects do bring that engineers and contractors don’t bring. There’s a role for those skills and capabilities. As for being able to rely on the architect’s model for construction documents – if architects drag their feet for much longer about that, people will find a way to do without architecture firms. Because it’s just such a stupid waste of time. People will perceive firms as adding absolutely no value. You want an architect on your team somewhere to come up with creative ideas and solve problems. But why would you need an architecture firm?
[The full interview - it's a great interview - can be found in Chapter 3 of my new book, BIM and Integrated Design.]
Now it is your turn:
Do you agree that there’s a good chance that the architecture firm will go away?
What is the purpose of having an architecture firm today, as opposed to independent architects?
Do you believe that architecture firms continue to provide value? If so, what kind?
And how is this value different from the value an independent architect brings to a team or project?
Please let me know by leaving a comment.
The Architect’s Journey August 13, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, change, marginalization, questions, survival, technology, the economy.
Tags: AIA, architect's journey, carl jung, frank gehry, hero with a thousand faces, hero's journey, joseph campbell, sydney pollack
A few years back, right before the economic downturn, the AIA came out with a promotional piece entitled The Architect’s Journey.
The pamphlet was subtitled “Exploring a Future in Architecture,” with the focus on becoming an architect.
Then came the upheaval.
Whereby merely remaining an architect today is a hero’s journey.
Not ‘hero’ as ‘architect-as-hero’ in how director Sydney Pollack presented Gehry in Sketches of Frank Gehry.
But rather hero-as-in-heroic.
To be an architect today requires bravery, courage, ambition – qualities rarely discussed in these do-all-you-can-to-stay-on-the-boat days.
Architect’s careers once followed archetypes common to what Carl Jung (CJ) or Joseph Campbell (JC) might have called “the hero’s journey.”
Mythic structures that all architecture careers follow.
Something along these lines
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. (Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p.30)
Mythic, that is, but not formulaic.
Recognizing that each individual has their own story of how they arrived at where they are
- The Call to Adventure
- The Road of Trials
- Meeting with the Mentor
And so on.
And yet, with
- the convoluted process of earning one’s architectural stripes, stamp and seal
- the downturn in the economy and the subsequent loss of colleagues and mentors
- the inevitable flattening or organizational hierarchies
- the loss of loyalty on both ends
- the advent of new technologies in the workplace
- work processes redefined
- design itself becoming more collaborative
- risks, responsibilities and rewards shared
Can it still be said that an architect’s career path has a recognizable structure?
In terms of storyline, can it still be said that one’s career has a dramatic arc?
Or – in lieu of former goals to attain one’s license, start a firm, win recognition from one‘s peers – is one’s career closer to an undulating succession of successes – and travails?
Becoming an architect is one thing.
Remaining one is something else.
There are many impediments one faces everyday
- Unwitting clients
- Unappreciative public
- Demanding employers
- Insensitive plan reviewers
- New technologies and work processes to master
So many hurdles, in fact, that to remain an architect today you have to be driven from within.
And possess a fire in the mind.
Only, for perhaps the first time in our storied history as a profession, one has to wonder: is that enough?
Some other questions to consider:
- How important are myths to the architect today?
- Do you believe that a career in architecture can still have an underlying mythic structure?
- Is it still possible to create careers with mythical power?
- With eyes glued to monitors and seats to bouncy balls, could it still be said that architecture – as a calling – can be something more than the daily struggle to honor the bottom line?
Tags: A.R.E. exam, architect's licensing exam, Donald Schön, economic crisis, Elaine Scarry, MIT, The Reflective Practitioner, Thinking in an Emergency, urgency
Some might say it was taking (or retaking) the licensing exam.
For others, it was the late-nighters before a major deadline when nerves were on edge.
For still others, it was biting their tongue while their boss took credit for an idea that only moments earlier they themselves had uttered.
When I think of the hardest thing I’ve had to do as an architect, it is something completely different.
It’s not even something that occurred in the past.
It’s something that is happening right now.
Because, for me, the hardest thing I have ever had to do as an architect is to be an architect.
Merely being an architect today is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Period.
As it turns out, architects are uniquely equipped to deal with our current situation.
In an earlier post I listed the many well-known attributes of the architect.
- are optimists
- balance multiple intelligences
- are wired to care
- do more with less
- are strategists
- think in terms of systems, not just things
There are 101 more.
One I failed to call attention to is the ability to think on their feet.
What MIT professor Donald Schön, in The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, called reflection-in-action.
In the book, Schön examined five professions—engineering, architecture, management, psychotherapy and town planning—to explain how professionals go about solving problems.
The best professionals, Schön maintains, know more than they can put into words.
In other words, tacit (or embodied) knowledge.
Tacit knowledge, in being intuitive and experience-based, is hard to define.
Nonetheless, it is regarded as the most valuable source of knowledge.
And the most likely to lead to creative breakthroughs.
To meet the challenges of their work, professionals such as architects rely less on rules-of-thumb and methodologies learned in school than on improvisation learned in practice.
The improvisation that occurs when we’re giving an extemporaneous presentation and, afterwards, don’t know where our words came from.
This unarticulated, largely unexamined process – the subject of Schön’s book – shows precisely how ”reflection-in-action” works.
And how this vital creativity might be fostered in future professionals.
Detractors of Schön’s notion of “reflection in action” point out that there is seldom time for reflection when a person is engaged in work.
But it is this very absence of time that renders the architect’s ability to think on their feet all the more remarkable.
And necessary today.
Our goal as architects is to move our situation from being dire to one that is manageable.
Urgent, but no longer an out-of-control crisis.
A sense of urgency is important for architects to experience.
Urgency provides momentum and evidence of motivation.
The problem is that we remain in a crisis state and – like the proverbial frog that doesn’t realize it is in gradually boiling water – we no longer realize it.
Because – whether through fear or utter exhaustion – we have lost our perspective on our situation.
This is where one of our most critical attributes comes in: our ability to think in the midst of a crisis.
For practicing architecture presents us with an almost unrelenting state of crisis.
In Elaine Scarry’s new book, Thinking in an Emergency, she draws on the work of philosophers, neuroscientists and artists, to prove decisively that thinking and rapid action are compatible.
In this light, practices that we dismiss as mere habit and protocol instead represent rigorous, effective modes of thought that we must champion in times of crisis.
How is our profession – and individual architects that constitute this profession – acting in this crisis situation?
Why do we seem inclined to abandon rationality, debate and deliberation, allowing others to take the reins of responsibility out of our hands?
Architecture is an institution that relies on engrained training and cooperation to succeed.
Scarry’s argument is that forethought and the inculcation of virtues form the only bulwark against panic when disaster strikes.
And in order to think on our feet, we need all the bulwarks against panic we can get.
Don’t Waste a Good Crisis
So while thinking on one’s feet is a useful ability and talent, use this time for forethought and the inculcation of virtues.
This is the time to prepare your thinking – and those you work with – to prepare for inevitable professional states of emergency.
We all have a great deal we can learn during lean times.
And we may never see a better time than today to do so.
For a good crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
Architect 2Tweets May 22, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, books, career, creativity, employment, optimism, questions, survival, sustainability, the economy.
Tags: AEC, BIM, construction, David Meerman Scott, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, John Maeda, John Thackara, modular, prefab, Roger Martin, RT, Sir Ken Robinson, Thomas Friedman, tweets, twitter
add a comment
Architect- and Architecture-related Tweets that my followers on Twitter have shared with their followers (retweeted or RT in Twitter parlance.)
Take a look. If you are not a Tweeter, by browsing the list of micro-posts you will get a good idea of how I use it.
And if you like what you see, follow me on Twitter @randydeutsch
Finally, some good news for the hard-hit design profession: Firms are hiring again! Architecture Employment on the Rise http://bit.ly/lZ4caM
The Strategic Agenda: Securing the Future. 2 day exec ed seminar 8/01-8/02 Harvard U Graduate School of Design http://bit.ly/e8zljY
Granite countertops cost the same around the world. Just like oil. As wages go up, US will make more of its own stuff. http://nyti.ms/mrka7v
Thinkers who are challenging designers? Bruce Sterling, John Thackara, Sir Ken Robinson, Roger Martin, John Maeda http://bit.ly/jZAEDb
Video of Mansueto Library’s 5-story robotic book retrieval system in operation. Now to get robots to read them! http://bit.ly/ikFcD0
Take your eyes on a scroll. Eye-popping drawings of Lebbius Woods’ UNDERGROUND BERLIN: the film treatment http://bit.ly/qQMNi
So everything’s OK after all? “Office of National Statistics accused of exaggerating construction slump.” http://bit.ly/khMVWX
Dear Architecture Graduates: Be Ready, Relentless, and Lucky http://bit.ly/d2z71P
Despite economy, logic, gravity & common sense, young architectural firm lands major projects, expands staff http://bit.ly/mzzGk8
MORE (and IMHO even better) visual notes from IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference 2011 http://bit.ly/jieG7m
How visual types take notes http://bit.ly/mpSheY
Architects 2Zebras Celebrates 2Years January 2, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, change, creativity, employment, optimism, possibility, survival, the economy, transformation.
Tags: AIA National, anniversary, ARCHITECT magazine, blog, Wordpress
The 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect post immediately went viral, reposted on dozens of sites around the world, including for a time on the AIA National website. To this day several people view this post from as far flung places as Hungary and Japan.
And best of all, you came back again and again despite my not having always delivered on my promise: to uplift while I inform.
Here are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010:
81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect February 2010
107 Reasons Why You, Architect, Matter June 2010
55 Ways to Help You Evolve as an Architect May 2010
A Heartbreaking Book of Staggering Genius: One Architect’s Detour of Duty September 2010
My birthday is July 5, the day after Independence Day, so I get to celebrate an extra day every year. So it is only natural that I would celebrate the birth of this blog the day after another holiday: New Years Day.
WordPress, ‘Zebra’s host, sent out an email this morning identifying some of this blog’s highlights over the past year:
- · In 2010, you wrote 30 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 69 posts.
- · Your busiest day of the year was February 26th.
- · The most popular post that day was 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect.
- · The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, architecture.myninjaplease.com, and architechnophilia.blogspot.com.
- · Some visitors came searching, mostly for “change,” “architect” and “to be optimistic about something.”
What WordPress failed to mention is that I did not always deliver on this last count.
It has been a hard year for many architects. I have been out of work for nearly a year and there are times when the state of the economy gets to me – someone who considers himself an eternal optimist.
My previous post was indicative of this state of mind. While several readers wrote to me – by email, or on LinkedIn – that what I said in that post was largely accurate, the vast majority found it to be depressing.
It is never my intention to add to anyone’s misery – I thought I was just stating it as I see it.
I was wrong.
I can see now, through WordPress’s stats, that no one visits my site after searching for “just the facts,” “reality” or “to be pessimistic about something.”
One of my resolutions for 2011 is to be, as always, honest with you and true to myself, but not at the expense of providing hope, pertinent information and sharing my normally optimistic outlook.
There is a world of good out there – and in each and every one of us.
I’ll do my best in the coming year to share with you resources, insights and knowledge that is growth promoting, nurturing and, whenever possible, inspiring.
That’s my pledge to you.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you here again soon.
Have a happy, healthy, prosperous and creatively fulfilling 2011!
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP
It is the Enviable Architect who gets to Stay on Deck and Burn October 27, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in Ambiguity, architect types, architecture industry, career, change, identity, survival, the economy, transformation.
Tags: change, Elizabeth Bishop, passion, poetry
One that I feel perfectly captures the predicament architects find themselves in today.
But first, a few words about change.
As in What will it take for architects to change?
Let’s start by removing the word “change.”
Changing the word change.
Architects don’t like the word any more than anyone else.
Change itself is stressful and just the word alone has been known to raise one’s blood pressure.
And fight or flight response.
So what will it take for architects to evolve?
In order to transform, the pain of remaining the way we are has to be stronger than the pain of doing things differently.
From what I have seen and heard, architects have reached their pain threshold.
We’re crying Uncle.
Ready for the next step in our ongoing evolution.
Bring on the Next Age.
The next stage in our development.
The term burning platform in business parlance means immediate and radical change due to dire circumstances.
Radical change in architects only comes when survival instincts trump comfort zone instincts.
When making major decisions or solving major problems a sense of urgency is required to achieve one’s goals.
Despite the hardships we face and have faced for the past several years, most of us have felt more of a numbness than any real urgency.
As though our eyes were transfixed on a nearby fire.
When it is we ourselves who are engulfed in flames.
Thinking about architects and our situation today reminded me of a poem I’ve long loved.
A poem by one of the 20th century’s most esteemed poets – a poet’s poet – Elizabeth Bishop.
The poem is entitled Casabianca.
Goes like this:
Love’s the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite `The boy stood on
the burning deck.’ Love’s the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.
Love’s the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love’s the burning boy.
And substitute the boy’s burning love for the architect’s passion.
The poem could be about the architect’s inability to describe, explain and justify their relevance – while crisis ensues all around.
Crisis of identity, of economy, you name it.
Who we are. What we are.
Where we belong. Whether we belong.
The poem would then be structured from the individual, into the world, returning to the architect in the final line.
As with the architect’s creative process, the lens of this poem widens from the architect to everything else and then, finally, back to the architect.
Something we often forget, and don’t give ourselves enough credit for:
Architecture begins and ends with the architect.
I know. There’s no architecture without a willing client.
And someone has to build the darned thing.
But while the building may belong to the world at large, architecture largely remains in our domain.
The poem’s build from the poor boy – and then back to the burning boy – is what makes this poem a whole, complete and memorable work of art.
Something the architect (stammering elocution) knows a little about.
I really miss architecture.
I envy you who despite all give it your all every day.
For it is the enviable architect who gets to stay on deck and burn.
Making a Case for the Value of Architecture October 14, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in books, career, change, employment, optimism, possibility, pragmatism, survival, the economy, transition.
Tags: a case for architecture, Architecture for Humanity, Down Detour Road, Eric J Cesal
I’d like to share with you a personal letter from the author of Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice, featured here in a previous post. Eric Cesal’s words are eloquent, earnest and heartfelt. And his approach to architecture and life inspires and for me represents hope and salvation so many architects today are in search of. Thank you Eric. Eric writes:
Thank you so much for your very kind and generous review. It is a great thrill to know that my small book is resonating with at least a few people. It began as a series of disjointed thoughts on architecture, and through the support and prodding of many, evolved into what it is.
I’m still in Port au Prince, if you’re curious. We have an office of about 15 people and are working hard at school reconstruction, among other things. I’ve been here 8 months now, with only a few days off sputtered here and there. Its been a surreal thing to watch the book come out and gain traction while I’m here entrenched in Haiti’s recovery. The book and its course seem very distant to me now. I haven’t written much about my experiences here, owing to an inability to get appropriate space from the situation. I don’t know how you write without reflection, and I don’t know how you reflect at the heart of a disaster. We’re all here with our whole heart and its tough to imagine stepping away enough to write anything meaningful.
I did want to elaborate on something you mentioned in your review, specifically on your suggestion that my work in Haiti is somehow a detour from a normal course of practice. I’m referring specifically to the line “Architects who are considering doing a tour of duty helping the world in some selfless way while they wait out the Great Wake.” I’m not sure if you were exactly implying that that’s what I am doing, but truthfully I’m not really waiting out anything anymore, because I’m exactly where I need to be.
The title as metaphor, was really meant to suggest that unemployment was a detour – from the normal expected life of architects. That may seem strange, in that many architects have come to expect long bouts of unemployment as a necessary fact of life. But I was also, at some level, trying to argue that we shouldn’t expect such things. That we should treat unemployment, wage suppression, and general professional dissatisfaction as aberrations in what should be the life of an architect. If we really believe in what we’re doing, we should believe in its value and treat it as such.
I view my move to Haiti, and the work that I’m doing here, as the high expression of the ideals espoused in the book. I believe that I am here making a case for the value of architecture and its relevance on the planet as it exists today. I don’t believe that someone would need to move to Haiti to do so, but I had a certain flexibility in my life that the book’s publishing made possible, so I moved forward with the decision. Similarly, my work on the Katrina reconstruction was not a detour or a distraction, but an attempt to find for myself where architecture’s value lies. In no small way, I believe that the work that Architecture for Humanity is doing in Haiti (and everywhere else, for that matter), makes the case for the small practitioner doing residential work in rural middle America. It identifies architects as responsible citizens, adept problem solvers, and true professionals.
In that sense, I’m not waiting out anything. I have already moved past the Great Wake at a personal level. I have a job, a mission and a family of truly wonderful architects that I work with.
My editor and I went back and forth many times about the sub-title. “In Search of Work” “In Search of Meaning” “In Search of a Job” were all considered. Ultimately, “Practice” won out because that was really what I was searching for and that is ultimately what I found in the end. At the story’s close, I hadn’t found a job, the earthquake hadn’t happened, and I was still, in some literal way, sitting around. But I had found something: a way to practice. A way to understand what architecture was and how to do it. Not in some external, universal way, but in a way that worked for me, a way that allowed me to sleep at night and not feel like I had wasted the last ten years of my life.
Barring some unforeseen event (and to be honest, Haiti can give you plenty of those) I don’t plan on coming back to the U.S. anytime soon, or practicing anything within the conventional world of architecture. Even if the architecture job market were to recover tomorrow, I don’t think that I would feel any draw to come back. My architecture is here, among the survivors. Hope that makes sense.
62 Reasons to be Optimistic (and 18 to still be Pessimistic) September 15, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, career, change, creativity, employment, management, optimism, possibility, pragmatism, survival, sustainability, technology, the economy, transition.
Tags: AEC industry, Bondy Studio, Donald Trump, Google, NBC, Olson Kundig Architects, positive psychology, positivity, The Apprentice
Not since my post from last year 32 Things to be Optimistic About Right Now have I tackled this subject head-on.
It’s about time.
That’s not to say I have avoided it altogether. I have addressed the positive side of practice on a number of occasions, not always to positive reception.
I started paying attention to not only what he said but the number of positive things he mentioned, despite the general gloom in the economy right now.
He was positively optimistic – and it was admittedly contagious.
There’s scientific research that backs a 3-to-1 “positivity ratio” as a key tipping point where, essentially, it takes 3 good experiences to block out one bad one.
A 3:1 ratio of positive statements or experiences to negative ones is considered the ideal for staying optimistic.
This ratio answers the question for many of how you can be generally positive and optimistic while maintaining some negative emotions and thoughts.
The following list roughly reflects this ideal ratio.
Agree or not – just by reading the lists here you have done your part today in remaining positive and optimistic.
Here are 62 absolutely fresh, upbeat and practical reasons to be positive (and 18 to still be pessimistic) about our chances of recovering, enduring or otherwise surviving this recession as individuals, organizations, profession and industry.
I would love to hear – optimistic or pessimistic – reasons of your own, by leaving a comment below.
Let’s get the pessimistic out of the way first (a commenter’s brilliant suggestion.)
There are times of course when it is advisable to be pessimistic, and we don’t have to look far to find them. Being pessimistic at times gives you an insight to your problems and situation by allowing you to realistically assess challenges, obstacles and roadblocks you may face which otherwise you might overlook – by being overly-optimistic. After all, you wouldn’t want an overly optimistic commander taking you into the war zone underestimating the enemy or one so paralyzed by indecision they end up doing nothing.
- We are seeing firms close that were once great, however amicably, due to economic pressures
- How can we get reciprocity in other states if we can’t get an NCARB certificate because the firms we once worked for – who can vouch for our tenure – no longer exist?
- Career stage: Being a mid-career professional – at no fault of one’s own
- Salary: Finding oneself too costly, too expensive, for most firms
- Finding one has not kept up with technology – and while that wasn’t a hazard in the past, it is an indictment against you today
- Statistics: Research shows once unemployed over 6 months – the odds are against you finding employment
- Compensation: If you made a good living before – one might rightfully doubt finding employment that would come anywhere close to what you made before
- Flexibility: If you had a great deal of freedom in your previous position – chances are under these circumstances that it is unlikely that sense of freedom would continue
- If well-rounded; firms seem to be looking, when they look at all, for experts, not generalists (thought see anexception below)
- M&A: Large conglomerates are buying-up well-established design firms, firms that helped give the profession variety, diversity and high profile design. In M&A news, according to Archinect, Stantec is on a tear. The mega-A/E company announced recently that it will acquire Burt Hill — just weeks after similar news about acquiring Anshen + Allen. Who will be next?
- Construction: Contractors are hiring graduates right out of school – potentially resulting in, or adding to the likelihood of, a lost generation
- Unemployed architects may never find work in the profession and be forced to leave, not to return
- Knowledge transfer: A great deal of knowledge and experience goes out the door with them
- Phil Read (Phil Read!) leaving HNTB (what is this world coming to?)
- Many architecture firms continue to shed staff and struggle to keep the lights on
- Ownership transition: Aging owners ready to monetize on their business, who in the past passed their practice on to the next generation internally, increasingly result in more acquisition activity because younger architects are not interested or in the position to buy.
- Intuition: This time around just “feels” different than any other downturn – very hard to compare it and therefore manage or act on it
- Being human: Even the best leader cannot maintain optimism in the midst of layoffs, salary reductions, increased workloads, missed payroll or bounced pay-checks.
Note: The following are optimistic without being rah-rah. And no qualifiers are necessary: these are not cautiously-, rationally-, pragmatically-, realistically- or conservatively-optimistic. They’re just:
- Experience: We ourselves are the reason to be optimistic – our training and experience have gotten us to where we are – and will also provided us with the tools and best practices to confront these changes
- Change: It’s all about change – and we’re not immune to it
- Resolve: We will design our way out of this
- We’re creative, resourceful, when it comes to seeking solutions, and this situation is no exception
- Training: We’re trained as problem solvers – we can solve this problem
- We needed a course correction; this situation provided us with the opportunity to change
- Change was imminent – something our industry has been wrestling with for ages
- Determination: This gives a chance to see what we are made of, how strong is our resolve
- An opportunity to look at our convictions – what it is we are really good at, what it is we believe in, what we ought to be putting our energies into, what really matters to us and to others – and to drop what isn’t as important
- Transparency: A chance for firms to share as much information as possible with each other, be transparent and open book – compare notes – not size each other up
- Our industry and profession has changed in the past – and will again
- Provides a chance for firm leaders to leverage the talents of those who work for them that otherwise may never have been tapped
- Design Excellence: The world will always need good design
- Owners will continue to need someone to sign and seal exceptional documents
- There are problems – such as retrofitting suburbs – that really only an architect can tackle
- Rest: This down time allows us to restore our energy and creativity
- Much-needed time to define and refine the current standards of care for our profession
- A chance to give to others – to help others out who may be in need
- The profession is no doubt smaller – but as the constant exchange of information makes the profession feel smaller, more accessible and manageable – we’re more likely to hear from and learn from each other
- Jobs: Everyday there are more and more jobs listed – and not just in NY and California
- Thawing: Word on the street, from developers, is that banks are freeing up loans for development
- Owners: Our clients are more and more cautiously optimistic
- You have to be optimistic to be in this profession
- Funding: Google Invests $86 Million In Low-Income Housing
- Governance: Great leadership opportunities and hope for greater voice and influence: More and more architects, such as Stefano Boeri, Italian architect in Milan and editor-in-chief of Abitare, announce plans to run for public office.
- Green design: Sustainability is no longer a specialty or added service and is on the verge of going mainstream and becoming standard procedure
- Olson Kundig Architects had an ad recently where they were seeking “Generalists Needed” in Seattle, WA
- Technology: There are iPhone apps for our profession and industry – including apps that allow us to read and CAD and Revit models and now “Buildings” – an iPhone app that help you find local architecture
- Marketing: The economic downturn has allowed us to refocus our energies on marketing, determine what it is that distinguishes us, and put it into words and images; to become better marketers of ourselves
- Selling: We’ve learned from the downturn how to make what we sell – which as a service is largely invisible – visible and tangible and therefore more likely to deliver
- Competition: The increase in competition and dearth of new projects has opened us to new markets and project types that otherwise may have remained outside our comfort zone
- The current situation itself, and all it entails, has widened our comfort zone considerably
- The truth is that nobody really knows what will happen next; why side with the negative?
- Correction: The optimistic scenario is that the recession is correcting the excesses of the euphoric bubble years, when the global economy was on an unsustainable path.
- Efficiency: We’re ushering in a new era of doing more with less
- Stabilizing effect: Instability leads inevitably to stability
- Green saplings: Optimists see the recession as a forest fire that clears out dead brush, making room for new growth.
- Progress: A lot of what we’re doing now would have been impossible even five years ago.
- Start-ups: There are a number of new firms and new ventures started because of this downturn, including completely new business models
- Global practice: Things look more optimistic if you adopt an international perspective
- Education and training: Those remaining or returning to school will be more highly educated forces when they return to practice
- Cost of materials: Prices on many materials are down after many years of climbing
- Recessions clean out the excess of past boom periods
- Registration and licensure: A recession results in an increase in individuals applying to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) to better position themselves in the workforce.
- Educators: A recession results in an increase in individuals applying to architecture programs and schools
- Sustainability: More people taking the LEED exam to give them the leg up when things pick up again
- More stabilized workforce: Many architecture firms have seen a leveling-off of the need to shed staff resulting in some stability
- M&A: We’re seeing some interesting mergers brought about by strategy and the need to fill specific niche needs as much as by the economy, such as the combining of OWP/P with Cannon Design.
- Learning: Professionals have had more time to learn and to catch-up on continuing education
- The lull has allowed some professionals to share information with the rest of us in the form of videos, webcasts, white papers and tutorials that we otherwise may never have benefitted from
- Helping-hand: Downsizing provides colleagues with the opportunity to secure another position for these individuals at other firms – the chance to contribute, help out, give and give back. A year later those individuals would often as not tell me ‘it was the best thing that happened to them.’
- Leadership: More leaders avoid mincing words, painting a false picture and putting spin on what is not know, while rising to the opportunity to be truthful, tell the truth, good or bad, be authentic in words and actions, will go a long way to assuaging what otherwise can be a devastatingly difficult time for some
- Doing this provides the right person with an incredible opportunity to lead
- And to (re)build trust
- Access to information: Accurate information about our profession and industry is right at our fingertips 24/7 – this was not always the case.
- Communication: The situation we find ourselves in forces you to communicate more frequently with others, showing you how connected you really are and how much you rely on one another; a valuable lesson lost on those who operate exclusively within their comfort zone
- Higher performance: Most people can sense a change in themselves when around optimistic people, feeling motivated, inspired and energized. That’s almost reason enough to be optimistic and be around optimistic people.
- This time around provided us with the chance to learn from our mistakes and move on.
- Resilience: Treat this as an opportunity to show your resilience.
- Attitude: As difficult as it might be to stomach, realize that “this too shall pass.” Remind yourself that there will be other challenges, that this is one among many and that you never went into your chosen field because it was easy. On some level you understood how difficult it would be. And that you were equal or better than the difficulties it entailed and that would ensue.
- Mindset: Without blame or recrimination, see this as an opportunity to face the situation with acceptance and peace.
- A sign: Recognize that pain of any type is to give us a message. Once you got the message, stop dwelling in the pain. See this situation as a sign that things, as they existed, were not sustainable. Come to realize that situations that present challenges have been brought to you so that you may learn and become more aware of your strength, resilience, ingenuity and ability to overcome.
Bonus item: Donald Trump and Co. are returning for a 10th season of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” In a new twist on the reality competition, this season’s 16 candidates have all been hit hard by the current economic downturn – and there is not one architect in the bunch. A sign of the times? You decide.
BTW 62 – the number of reasons to be optimistic – is the same number Edward De Bono used in his book entitled, Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas, a book that encourages you to make connections, think beyond your peers, recognize possibilities and create opportunities.
Not a bad place to start in keeping your 3-to-1 ratio intact.
Out-of-Work Architect Speaks September 10, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, books, career, collaboration, employment, optimism, questions, survival, technology, the economy.
Tags: best firms, conferences, conventions, employee engagement, public speaking, Pugh + Scarpa, scott berkun, Snøhetta, toastmasters
What’s so interesting about an unemployed architect saying something?
So interesting that you just have to read about it?
Or hear it for yourself?
Is it because up until now the out-of-work architect has been silent?
And suddenly – like an oracle – has something to say?
In the time I have been out of work – since earlier this year – I have been busy completing the writing of a book (my publisher expects to see the manuscript in 6 weeks,) creating content for two blogs,
And doing some public speaking.
So much so that my wife doesn’t consider me unemployed.
In fact, when she hears me refer to myself in public using the “u” word she’s momentarily taken aback.
Until she remembers that’s why she so often sees me voluntarily do the dishes and it all comes back to her.
Yes, I’m also learning new software and technology, applying for an MBA, interviewing at exceptional architecture firms, attending networking meet-ups and awaiting call-backs on some building design RFQs and RFPs – as well as making the kids lunches, helping with homework and walking the dog.
But in the meantime, this out-of-work architect speaks.
What have I gotten myself into?
Isn’t public speaking the thing where they say more people at a funeral would rather be the person in the coffin than the person up on stage giving the eulogy?
In all fairness, I have been a lecturer in graduate level building science/building technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a number of years.
Where I would present – no doubt to the chagrin of my students – upwards of two hours at a stretch without so much as a bathroom break.
And I was a playwright in an earlier life (though, according to one director, couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag.)
So I have some comfort in front of crowds.
Though you wouldn’t know it from recent attempts.
Speaking before peers on topics of interest – all of whom are experts in their domains – is something altogether different.
Earlier this year I gave the public speaking thing a try.
At KA Connect in Chicago – with mixed results.
KA Connect itself is an amazing, stimulating and entertaining conference with the next one – KA Connect 2011 – being held at the Fort Mason Center, San Francisco in April.
I can’t wait.
When they posted the thing on iTunes (for my kids and their friends to play and lambast me in public ridicule and merriment from the backseat of my car when I drive them to the movies) I was reminded of three rules that I would take to heart if I ever ventured into public speaking again:
Rule #1: Practice.
Rule #2: Practice.
Rule #3: Practice.
I can’t think of a better use of my time right now while I await my next big challenge than to travel all across the country, speak in front of large audiences of peers – often at other’s expense with modest honorariums – about the things that matter most to me.
I get to learn a great deal about myself – and even more about these topics – as I conduct research in preparation for the talks.
Stating your opinion in a blog post is one thing.
Being able to talk intelligently, entertainingly, on your feet representing all sides of the subject is something else altogether.
Yourself, in 100 words or less
One of the first, most challenging things you need to do when you speak is supply the conference organizers with a short written summary describing, well, you.
It’s an exercise everyone ought to go through – condensing yourself down to what’s absolutely essential – for someone else to know.
Here’s what I came up with my need-to-know blurb:
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP is a lead design architect focusing on and dedicated to large, complex sustainable projects. A university instructor leading graduate-level building science, design studio and professional practice courses, he served on Chicago Architectural Club’s Board of Directors and as AIA Chicago Board as Vice President. Randy is a frequent blogger – with www.architects2zebras.com and www.bimandintegrateddesign.com both recently featured in ARCHITECT magazine – and the author of BIM and Integrated Design (Wiley, 2011,) a professional thought and practice leader, an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) facilitator, speaker, mentor and recipient of the AIA Young Architect Award.
Here are brief summaries of the four talks I am giving in the next 8 weeks.
I’ll be giving the opening keynote talk in the Training & Development theme of Engaging and Cultivating Top Performers, entitled:
Keeping Employees Engaged in an Age of Disruption
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP, Architect, Author and Consultant, Deutsch Insights
What motivates employees to stay engaged and eager to contribute?
As the advent of new digital technologies enables collaborative work processes (that I discuss at length in my other blog,) what are the social impacts of these disruptive tools and process changes to firm culture and morale?
What motivates employees to share, collaborate and act transparently when working on integrated teams?
Learn how the new team workflows affect how employees engage with project work, each other and with the firm.
This session will illustrate how firms are turning to employees themselves to determine how best to stay engaged and motivated when the focus is set on the bottom line.
Well, that at least is the bar I have set for myself.
Everyone – especially those in HR – knows what it takes to keep employees engaged in normal times.
But how about keeping employees motivated and engaged in the new normal?
That’s something few have written or spoken about.
At the summit, among other notables, Markku Allison will be speaking on collaboration, John Soter and Pam Britton on leadership and training, and Knowledge Architecture founder and KA Connect creator Chris Parsons will be speaking on Leveraging Social Media Tools and again with the mercurial Marjanne Pearson and Christine Brack on talent management and benchmarking.
I have to get from Vegas to Toledo with, wouldn’t you know, no direct flights.
Another opening keynote talk (I’m noticing a theme. Did word get out that I’m a morning person?)
The Well-Informed Architect: Reasons to be Optimistic Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP, Architect, Author and Consultant, Architects2Zebras
This is how I describe my session in the brochure:
Architects are trained to be on the lookout for problems. We wear our skepticism as a badge of pride. Our dissatisfaction with the way things are keeps us focused, energized and motivated, while being optimistic is a sign of weakness. This session will focus on informed optimism as a critical attribute of all leaders and explain how to develop this attribute to attract clients, do our best work, collaborate with others, attract and retain employees and enjoy the work we do. This program promises to teach the steps to take to achieve informed optimism in your own work and practice.
You might be wondering about now, How did I get myself into this?
You might recall that about 6 months ago I wrote a somewhat controversial blog post entitled 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect.
Organizers of the conference who wanted to see the author of this post tarred and feathered in a public venue generously offered to have me speak.
And I inexplicably complied.
The 2010 AIA Ohio Convention website, built around the theme: A Shared Vision from Different Perspectives, contains this sentence:
Keynote speakers include Craig Dykers of Snøhetta, Angela Brooks from Pugh + Scarpa, and Randy Deutsch.
Snøhetta… Pugh + Scarpa…Deutsch?!
Let’s just say when I first saw what esteemed company I was in I had a Zelig moment.
60 minutes of uninterupted optimism is what I promised to deliver.
60 minutes of uninterupted optimism is what they’ll get.
Questions? Complaints? Contact AIA Ohio
Beyond Convention is the theme for this year’s convention.
The convention planning committee invited speakers to share their knowledge and expertise with fellow practitioners and allied professionals as part of a special convention to address the changes occurring within the architectural profession and the implications on the future of practice.
They encouraged industry leaders and forward-thinking professionals who are on the cutting edge of practice, management, technology, collaboration, research, training, and mentoring to submit proposals to discuss trends that are changing the way architects practice.
I have Christopher Parsons, of Knowledge Architecture and KA Connect fame, to once again thank for this one.
Chris, the incomparable Laurie Dreyer and I will be speaking on the PMKC topic of
(Re)Learning to Collaborate Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP, Architect, Author and Consultant, Deutsch Insights
In 50 words or less,
Collaboration used to be simple. We knew how to do it as children. We have made it harder than it needs to be. Join Randy Deutsch, Laurie Dryer, and Christopher Parsons for an informative, entertaining, and contrarian tour through social media, knowledge management, IPD, and collaboration.
Followers of my blogs know that I ask lots of questions. In my portion of this session I’ll walk attendees through what I’ve learned along the way about:
- Why collaborate?
- How do we as professionals learn to collaborate?
- Is it something we need to learn?
- Or is it something we are born with and forget/just know?
- What distinguishes collaboration from working on teams?
- Is collaborating always desirable? How do we know?
I love, absolutely love, the AIA TAP conferences.
Can’t get enough of what they have to offer.
What’s different about this NTAP from previous TAP conferences, this one will be held in multiple venues and also virtually.
I have probably learned as much from them as from anything else I’ve encountered.
And so it is a thrill to be able to participate in this event.
This time, I won’t be getting up alone in front of a large crowd of peers.
I’m going to be moderating a panel of the world’s – and industry’s – most esteemed colleagues.
The session’s entitled:
Crossing the IPD Chasm with BIM Moderated by Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP, Architect, Author and Consultant, Deutsch Insights
The short of it is:
Early adopters of IPD have been well-documented. What role will BIM play in IPD going mainstream? What will it take to bridge the gap? Join industry leaders Phil Bernstein FAIA, Jonathan Cohen FAIA and Howard Ashcraft for a provocative discussion addressing what roles BIM plays in where IPD is headed.
Phil Bernstein FAIA. Jonathan Cohen FAIA. Howard Ashcraft.
And I get to ask them questions.
Should be a great, memorable panel and Q & A.
The proposed panel will be a moderated dialogue and interactive discussion among three notable panelists representing different expert perspectives from the AECOO community exploring how BIM can help bridge over the collaborative work processes and delivery method gap – brought about by concerns about interoperability, risk and responsibility, and the building lifecycle.
- What’s next on the horizon for IPD? Will this stall? Will it take off? What’s stopping owners and firms from adopting and implementing IPD? What’s with the workarounds – IPD as a philosophy but not a delivery method; IPD-ish projects; IPD-lite approaches and minor trust-based adjustments of existing team collaborations – and are they as effective and truly IPD?
- How does use of BIM encourage or discourage the widespread acceptance of IPD as a delivery method? Do architects need to return to startup mentality, by conducting the search for a new scalable, repeatable business model?
Again, lots of questions that I am eager to hear answered.
This panel discussion will focus on BIM tools and work processes that are going to be required for the industry to move toward a more collaborative project delivery methodology.
Participating venues include Washington D.C., Albuquerque, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco.
Let me know by leaving a comment here if there are other participating venues you know of that you don’t see here.
While nothing compares with the experience and tips you get from joining a Toastmasters club in your area, I have read dozens of books on public speaking and have to say Scott Berkun’s book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, is my overall favorite. I love all of his books, but this one covers the topic in such a realistic way anyone who reads it will benefit immediately from his wisdom, experience and the tales he shares of others. Great read. Read it free here or here, borrow it from the library or get the 5 star rated book here. Better yet, watch this experience public presenter speak.
If you have done some public speaking, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org