Minority Report: What Drives Success in Architects? January 31, 2014Posted by randydeutsch in books, career, education, employment, survival, the economy.
Tags: AEC industry, AIA, Amy Chua, architect, architecture, construction, contractors, Daniel Pink, Drive, engineers, intrinsic rewards, motivation, NCARB, New York Times, Tiger mom, Triple package, What Drives Success, work-life balance
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There’s education, training, taking the exam.
Retaking the exam and licensure.
Then, once you’ve become an architect, it’s hard to remain one.
And there are so many forces that seem to work against you.
The economy. Fickle clients. Work/life imbalance. The hours. Competition…
I don’t need to spell them all out (because you know them all too well, and Roger K. Lewis has done so here.)
So what does it take to succeed at architecture?
To become and be an architect?
In the airport returning from the AIA 2014 Emerging Professional Summit in Albuquerque, I came across an article in The New York Times, What Drives Success?
The article was written by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, husband/wife professors at Yale Law School and authors of the forthcoming book “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.”
I want to focus on one point: What the author’s call the Triple Package.
About a third of the way through the article they write:
It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success.
The authors then go on to describe each of the three traits:
The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.
The article – and the book it is based on – talks about cultural groups – not professions – but hear me out.
Let’s break out these three traits:
- superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality
- insecurity — a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough
- impulse control — the ability to resist temptation
Wouldn’t you know, these traits not only – as the authors state – describe successful ethnic, religious and national-origin groups, but they also accurately describe architects.
Let’s look at the traits one at a time.
Architects have a superiority complex. They’ve survived the tribunal of education, studio culture, and finding, negotiating and doing projects. They have design thinking and other transferable skills that everyone’s clamoring for on their side. They represent both paying clients and a non-paying one: society-at-large. They’ve put in the time and paid their dues. You would think architects have a right to think highly of themselves.
Architects are insecure. As a profession, architects justifiably feel insecure when compared with other professional groups such as doctors and lawyers, who appreciatively are paid a great deal more for the time they put in and the work they do. Architects are beholden to owners who – on a dime – can stop projects that are progressing in their tracks for reasons having to do with actuaries and their pro forma – things architects know little about. Architects are engaged at the whim of an economy that they can’t influence and have little chance of predicting.
But how can architects be simultaneously superior and insecure?
Let’s look at the first two traits:
superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality
insecurity — a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough
As the article acknowledges:
It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself.
Many people who work and/or live with architects will recognize them in that description.
So how does impulse control fit into the mix? Again, the article:
Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.
The only architects I know who suffer from impulsiveness are those who are impulsively driven to work harder and longer to achieve more.
Looking at impulsivity in another way: Knowing that it can take years before they see their designs built, architects have no trouble passing the Marshmallow Test.
The article’s authors go on to admit a truism that could not apply to architects more:
We know that group superiority claims are specious and dangerous, yet every one of America’s most successful groups tells itself that it’s exceptional in a deep sense.
Architects, deep down, know they are exceptional.
In fact, I recently posted this in another blog acknowledging as much:
Recognizing that nothing incites a non-architect’s derision, ridicule and ire swifter than to start a sentence “The architect is uniquely qualified to…” here are six qualities that make architects ideally suited to lead collaborative, integrated teams.
That’s Architectural Exceptionalism: which states that architects are unusual (check) and extraordinary (check) in some way and thus do not need to conform to normal rules or general principles.
Others are taken-aback when you point out that any group is exceptional in any way, as I learned myself, when several readers contacted me about the post above suggesting I substitute the word facilitator for the word leader.
One advised me: “No one wants to hear that the architect is the leader.”
Are architects a minority group?
We’re in agreement that architects are in the minority.
Architects, of course, make up a tiny fraction of the AEC industry.
There are 1.5 million employed engineers in the US.
The number of architects licensed in the United States?
Three quarters of these (74%) practice in architecture firms.
In fact, there are as many construction companies in Texas and California as there are architects in the US.
And there are 7,316,240 construction company employees in the US.
So, architects are in the minority.
But are architects being in the minority the same thing as being a minority?
Can architects explain their success in terms of their minority status?
These success traits very well may have implications for a more diverse profession.
But the question remains:
Is it possible that part of what makes architects successful is that they see themselves as a minority?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.
A Handy Toolkit for A Great New Integrated World January 14, 2014Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, books, change, collaboration, education, IPD, technology.
Tags: AEC industry, Andrew Pressman, architects, architecture, BIM, CAD, collaboration, designing relationships, IPD, profession, renee cheng, routledge, team failures
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Collaboration is a must-have.
In an industry not known for it’s warm relations, AEC practitioners need to build their relationship muscles as they enter this great new integrated world.
The AEC industry has a productivity problem – one that has grown worse in the past half century.
It was hoped that technology – first CAD, then BIM – would add value and reduce waste for building owners – our clients – but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as indicated by Paul Teicholz, Professor (Research) Emeritus, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Stanford University, in Labor-Productivity Declines in the Construction Industry: Causes and Remedies (Another Look.)
In other words, if BIM cannot save us, what will?
The answer is collaboration. Working together, strategically, earlier in the design process and ever more effectively – together with technologies such as BIM – will assuredly increase productivity in our profession and industry for the first time in over fifty years.
So, how best do we go about collaborating?
I have written about Andrew Pressman and his enormously prolific and influential writings for architects before.
Here, I would like to introduce you to perhaps his best, and most important, book.
A review of Andrew Pressman’s new book, Designing Relationships: The Art of Collaboration in Architecture
You know it is going to be a great book when the formidable Professor and Head of the School of Architecture at University of Minnesota, Renee Cheng, pens the Foreword.
First, a quick overview: In Chapter 1, Pressman explains,
This is more than a simple guidebook; it challenges the status quo—and the reader—to think critically about collaboration, and to change the design process from project inception to completion.
Anticipating that some readers may ask why collaborate?, the book opens with a rationale for collaborating.
The author also explores Why have architects been inherently non-collaborative and provides many relevant reasons.
In Chapter 2, alternative collaboration models for architecture are introduced, including managed collaboration and an integrated approach.
Chapter 3 provides examples of and precedents for traditional collaboration in practice, and touches on the art of being a good team member.
The next chapter importantly discusses the role of collaboration in technology. It is to Pressman’s credit that he doesn’t shy away from the subjects of building information modeling (BIM,) and integrated project delivery (IPD,) both enablers of collaboration in the profession and industry.
The book, short in length but long on useful information, closes with case studies, including the best (and worst) practices, team failures, strategies for design excellence on large projects, and views from a crossover career: architecture to construction.
You can see more of the book’s contents here.
Designing Relationships is the type of book that cites a multitude of relevant sources in support of its theme, even if some of the sources are surprising for an architecture book. Take this quote by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, who – as Pressman explains –
captured the essence of a collaborative process in the following vignette.
The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not very good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting.
Some of my favorite quotes include:
It takes a team to realize projects of scale or complexity. There may be a prominent and aggressive project leader, but it does indeed “take a village.”
“Collaboration does not curtail the architect’s overarching vision. Collaboration becomes a medium that makes the vision possible.” – Michael Schrage
Think like an architect. The conventional wisdom about integrated project delivery is to stop thinking like an architect, i.e., do not emulate the cliché Howard Roark control freak. No, no, no! Rather, keep thinking like an architect—design and maintain control of the process.
This is the sort of book that can be read again and again, each reading eliciting different responses. My second reading of the book provoked a number of thoughts on my part. Here are just a few observations that arose from having read the book:
- One ought to be wary of definitions that include everything as collaboration
- The team leader needs to be a seasoned facilitator, equal parts intuition and intelligence
- Is managed collaboration like a managed care: HMO vs. IPD as a PPO for design?
To this second bullet, Pressman writes:
The leader can be the facilitator for the session but also the designer of it, ensuring appropriate engagement and accomplishment in accordance with the distinctive role of each collaborator, and of course, the agenda.
A typically excellent insight – the book will challenge many of your preconceived ideas and thoughts about how architects ought to practice.
The book – which reads more like an engaging conversation than a non-fiction book – will have you writing in the margins and asking questions of yourself, your colleagues or classmates – and the profession – throughout.
Andrew Pressman FAIA in his new book Designing Relationships offers general axioms that support traditional collaborative dynamics, or in other words, eleven counterintuitive and provocative statements promoting collaboration in architecture, and a great deal more.
What the book boils down to is a penetrating and immensely valuable toolkit for design professionals who are weary of – or wary from – working on teams.
This is a book that every emerging professional needs to read. I will definitely make it required reading for my university students.
Pre-order your copy here.
About Andrew Pressman FAIA
Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico, and Lecturer at the University of Maryland, leads his own architectural firm in Washington, DC. He has written numerous critically acclaimed books and articles, and holds a Master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Andrew Pressman FAIA has authored several books, all classics:
Designing Architecture: The Elements of Process.
Professional Practice 101: Business Strategies and Case Studies in Architecture
The Fountainheadache: The Politics of Architect-Client Relations
Architecture 101: A Guide to the Design Studio
Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition
And, as Andy Pressman, he co-authored what was, prior to Designing Relationships, my favorite of his books (I wore through two copies):
Architectural Design Portable Handbook
Portions of Designing Relationships are based on previously published articles by the author. Pressman has also recently authored several important, extremely well-written articles, all published in Architectural Record
Integrated practice in perspective: A new model for the architectural profession
Good leadership helps practice, the profession, and society
Creating a firm culture that supports innovative design
It’s a very good time to develop your firm’s collaboration skills
Architects 2Zebras Top 10 Posts for 2011 December 31, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, BIM, books, career, change, education.
Tags: AIA, architect, architects, architecture, influence, knowledge, Michael Graves, Myers-Briggs, Richard Foqué
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Architects 2Zebras ended 2010 on a down note and readers let me know it, many of whom came to Zebras expecting positive, uplifting posts.
Not walks down reality lane.
You made it clear: there are plenty of reminders of how hard it is out there for architects and no one needed reminding.
You needed encouragement, resources and guidance.
I heard you and responded with a year’s worth of what I hoped would be more helpful posts.
Here are the ones you responded most positively to.
Thank you for sticking around, engaging and helping to make this another great year at Architects 2Zebras!
A response to an article entitled “A Difficult Character” about how, when a leadership consultant reviewed the Myers-Briggs tests of 100 architects, he discovered there really is an “architect type” — and maybe a difficult one.
In Princeton in the ‘80s, I twice lived in – or next to – Michael Graves home and office. Here’s what it was like.
This post received a very strong response, in part because – despite the title – its message was ultimately positive and empowering for architects.
Ask not what our profession (and AIA) can do for us. Ask: What can we do for our profession?
Re-titling it turns out is no longer just for cars. Architects, in an effort to distinguish themselves in a competitive market and work environment, have started to call themselves different things.
Architecture’s Two Cultures (AND a Crucial Third)
In-depth review of Building Knowledge in Architecture is a new book and lifesaver by architect, educator, researcher, scholar and poet, Richard Foqué.
The Heights Report November 16, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in books, infrastructure, technology.
Tags: BIM and Integrated Design, David Macaulay, Kate Ascher, The Way Things Work, The Works: Anatomy of a City
Here are 17 very good reasons to read Kate Ascher’s new book, The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper.
1. You might recall Ascher is the author of The Works: Anatomy of a City, the book that made city infrastructure alluring, visually appealing and fascinating.
2. You can find the book, The Heights, 39% off here
3. As with her previous book, The Works, the chapters are divided into sections but are presented in a building “directory.” Here, the sections are represented by elevator buttons, in reverse order, with the later chapters at the top and the intro at the bottom of the page; the section titles (“dreaming it,” “building it”) are helpful and especially, clever.
4. The pages have lots of white space – not cramped with info the way some reference books are (that understandably remain on the shelf.) Here the white space allows you to make connections, between the words and images, and between the images. It also frees your mind up, allowing it to dream up ideas of your own.
5. At first blush, the graphics in particular may remind you of those reference books in the 00’s section of the Dewey decimal system in the library. Ignore this association: it is false. The book opens with an acknowledgment of the current economy, placing the subject firmly in the present without dating it. And that perhaps is the strength not only of the text, but the nearly-realistic images: they serve to make the contents of the book feel both timely and timeless. Hard to do – this book pulls it off.
6. The range of skyscrapers that are studied and analyzed is mindboggling. Sure, there are the usual subjects – but the most contemporary examples of this building type are also represented.
7. People who follow my blogs know that I love to ask questions. This book is chockfull of them. And best of all, Ascher does a remarkable job of responding to them:
- How are these services-considered essential, but largely taken for granted- possible in such a complex structure?
- What does it really take to sustain human life at such enormous heights?
- How do skyscrapers sway in the wind, and why exactly is that a good idea?
- How can a modern elevator be as fast as an airplane? Are skyscrapers in Asia safer than those in the United States, and if so, why?
- Have new safeguards been designed to protect skyscrapers from terrorism?
- What happens when the power goes out in a building so tall?
- Why are all modern skyscrapers seemingly made of glass, and how can that be safe?
- How do skyscrapers age, and how can they be maintained over decades of habitation?
8. According to an interview, Ascher says that The Works: Anatomy of a City was inspired by David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work. You can see how the Heights might have been inspired by another David Macaulay masterpiece, the 1987 book, Unbuilding.
9. Compare The Heights with another work on a similar subject: Skyscraper: The Making of a Building by Karl Sabbagh which worked primarily because it told the story of a single skyscraper, at a particular time and place, and was the subject of a PBS series. The Height’s strength is that it provides both a more general overview while at the same time delving more deeply into specific topics related to the building type.
10. I was a skyscraper designer for many years and taught the subject in an architecture masters university program. The bottom line: Ascher knows her stuff.
11. Readers of my other blog BIM and Integrated Design – and book by the same name – know that I can go on and on about all things integrated, especially integrated building systems. Heck I even taught and integrated building science and design studio for many years to masters students. I mention t his because Ascher’s book explores the integrated and interconnected systems “that make life livable in the sky.”
12. Reading the book about high-rises is a lot less risky than trying to design or build one. Especially when you can read an excerpt of the book here.
13. The author will be giving a book talk in NYC on Dec 1 and its always better to have read the book (plus you can have her sign your copy)
14. Check out this Kate Ascher Book talk featuring The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper at the Skyscraper Museum in NYC or, if in California, you can see her here a few days later (and get a sneak peek of the super-tall author)
15. The author, Kate Ascher, is an urban planning and development expert – not a structural engineer OR a journalist. Ascher has a Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in political science from Brown University. You are benefitting from a big-picture view of the skyscraper that helps the reader see how every part of the building is interrelated.
16. In The Heights Ascher talks about the many issues that engineers must take into account when delivering a tall building. Had skyscraper engineer, William J. LeMessurier, the engineer at the center of the fascinating case study (“What’s an engineer’s worst nightmare?”) The_59_Story_Crisis, had a copy of The Heights – maybe the Citicorp near-fiasco never happened?
17. Curious about what prevents you from falling to your death in an elevator? There’s a fascinating chapter on elevator safety.
Even if you suffer from vertigo or have a fear of heights, read Kate Ascher’s new book, The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper. It’s a whole lot safer than building one and a lot more informative and fun.
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.
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 – The Week in Tweets May 28, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, architecture industry, books, career, collaboration, creativity, employment, identity, management, sustainability, technology, the economy, transformation, transition.
Tags: architect Barbie, architects, architecture, CONSTRUCT, construction, retweets, tweets, twitter
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Take a look. Click on the links to find articles, websites and other resources.
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
Online Attendee Registration Opens Early June for @CONSTRUCTshow Free Exhibit Hall Admission & Discounted Education Packages thru Aug 11
The Architect of Flowers http://amzn.to/jrXJCh ‘Dreamlike and ethereal’ stories
Insurer: Payment delays, fragile construction industry conditions mean more building subcontractors go out of business http://bit.ly/lPLWWQ
The first warning sign that a project is in trouble. Sometimes it even begins before the project does http://bit.ly/aRY7fp
Model of San Francisco, made with 100,000 Toothpicks, began in 1976 – 3000 hours later http://bit.ly/juD4iK
Renter Nation: Since housing meltdown, nearly 3 million households have become renters. 3 million more expected by 2015 http://bit.ly/kUt51j
“There’s nothing off-putting about sustainability. Find someone who is in favor of purposely ruining the future” http://bit.ly/lV2GcG
THE construction industry, regarded as a barometer for economic activity, is now a volatile, unpredictable barometer http://bit.ly/jCwYcp
Why crumbling of America’s transportation infrastructure is a good thing, according to developers http://bit.ly/f6l6Cp
In a modern day Dark Ages with the potential for another great Renaissance? The 21st Century Renaissance http://bit.ly/a2wPeb
Polymath, Renaissance person, Multidisciplinarian (!) – Why we all must become one http://zd.net/kRoKem
To compete in a knowledge-based economy business leaders need to reinvent themselves as innovators in services http://bit.ly/ixxU24
Connections, James Burke’s iconic BBC series on the history of innovation, free to watch online http://j.mp/fcppDy
The Collaborative Designer May 23, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in Ambiguity, architect types, books, change, collaboration, problem solving, questions.
Tags: co-creation, collaboration, Conceptual Age, Conceptual Economy, David Holston, Design Economy, empathic design, HOW books, HOW design, participatory design, Shawn M McKinney, The Strategic Designer
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Summary: You don’t need to be a designer to benefit from the best practices espoused in this magnificent new book. A must-have for designers, but also for those in project management and anyone who works with designers.
Based on over 100 interviews with designers, researchers and educators, The_Strategic_Designer by David Holston provides an overview of the design process and best practices.
The Strategic Designer: Tools and techniques for managing the design process, published by F+W Media and HOW Design, is billed as a Strategic Graphic Design Thinking book.
Despite this categorization, the subject matter transcends graphic design and can be universally applied to any of the design trades and professions including product and environmental design.
The book description will sound familiar to anyone working in architecture and related design professions:
As designers look for ways to stay competitive in the conceptual economy and address the increasing complexity of design problems, they are seeing that they must not only be experts in form, but must also have the ability to collaborate, to design in context and be accountable through measurement.
By adopting a process that considers collaboration, context and accountability, designers move from makers of things to strategists.
The book focuses on the designer’s workflow, ideation techniques, client relationships and methods for measuring the success of their projects.
An excellent foreward by Shawn M McKinney gets things off to a fast start – which, alone, is worth the investment in the book.
Each chapter covers a specific design phase emphasis, providing a practical step-by-step approach, complete with tools and techniques.
Overview of the Design Process – a process rife with opportunities for misinformation, dead ends, and divergent tracks, as well as amazing outcomes
The Value of Process – the benefits of having a well-defined design process
The Collaborative Designer – emphasizing co-creation, communication, mutual benefit, respect and trust in a strong client-designer relationship. This is a particularly rich chapter, addressing and answering such questions as: What makes a Good designer? What Makes a Good Client? and Clients to Avoid. There’s a wonderful sidebar on: Seven Principles for Managing Creative Tension.
Empathic Design – explaining how research provides a path and imperative for moving forward
Understanding the Business – includes a breakdown of basic strategy techniques and an explanation of the purpose of business analysis as understanding and defining goals of the client
Designing with the End User in Mind – with an emphasis on facilitating and moderating participatory and collaborative work sessions. The Designing for People chapter focuses on research as a valuable tool for gaining insight into the organizational needs of clients and their prospective audiences.
Managing Ideas – especially when ideating with others in a participatory or collaborative setting, relying heavily on the experiences and knowledge of people involved.
Making Strategy Visible – how the designer takes an empathic approach to design that connects business goals with user needs.
Design Accountability – asking: Why is design hard to measure? And answering by sharing significant research findings and metrics. Salient quote: “The price for a seat at the decision-making table is accountability.”
Planning in a Turbulent Environment – the days of using a linear design process are over. Strategic designers face increasingly wicked problems. A helpful framework offered by project management.
Refining Your Process – so it can provide a common understanding for “how things get done” mitigating wasted efforts while creating value for the client and user alike.
The author places the book and subject squarely in Dan Pink’s Conceptual Economy, a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context.
Later in The Strategic Designer, Rotman School of Management dean Roger Martin says that the world is moving from the Information Economy to a Design Economy. A small distinction, but one that unnecessarily complicates matters. I would look to a book such as this to clarify the playing field, at the very least to acknowledge that the labeling of epochs and phraseology are still a work-in-progress.
The book’s strength is not in creating new knowledge – but in repackaging what is largely already known, experientially by every designer – in an easy to carry tome.
Readers, for example, who have perused Wikipedia articles on various topics related to design strategy will recognize the source of several of the author’s summaries.
In this sense, the book is not a product of the Conceptual Age, but instead is a well-designed, convenient and accessible agglomeration, aggregating both explicit and, perhaps the greater achievement here, tacit knowledge on the subject. The book is no less of an achievement for doing so.
The design world is a much better place for having this book at its disposal.
Conclusion: The Strategic Designer is a must-have book for designers, those who manage design projects and those who work with designers in a collaborative setting.
Addenda: How can this book not have a single review?
HOW books makes books on high quality paper, books that feel good in the hand, and themselves serve as exemplary reminders that ebooks should not be our only option. The Strategic Designer is no exception.
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
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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
The Architect’s New Titles: to Use or Abuse May 14, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect types, BIM, books, career, change, employment, management, software architects, the economy.
Tags: architect positions, architect titles, bimworker, change management, design anthropologist, design consultant, design ninja, design strategist, design thinker, design thinking, freelancer, intrepreneur, job titles, service designer, thought leader
Not that they’re going to give up the title architect anytime soon.
They’re in search of a title that more accurately qualifies – and clarifies – what they do as an architect.
With the advent of social media, what we call ourselves in our profiles goes a long way toward how others treat and work with us.
Re-titling it turns out is no longer just for cars
Sometimes we find ourselves using titles that we ourselves aren’t certain what they mean.
And good thing. Because we often use them as much to obfuscate as to communicate.
Many of the newest titles are conjunctions, conflations or co-joining of two or more existing titles – such as business and design – that are meaningful when used independently but when combined leave us ashamed and others feeling abused.
In fact, if you hear someone say “I’m at the intersection of design and business” don’t meet them there – they’re probably lost.
We’ll skip trendy titles such as “Director of Chaos” because architects are more likely to be a “Director of Form.”
And “Director of First Impressions”? A euphemism for Receptionist. (We’ll spare you the Dilbertisms)
Here’s a field guide to some of the ways we are referring to ourselves – and to each other – in this make-it-up-as-you-go world we find ourselves living and working in.
One definition is offered to confuse or Abuse.
The other you’d be better off to Use.
Abuse: A designer
- is someone who sees everything as an opportunity for improvement.
- is someone who has to sell themselves and their talents every time they walk into a room.
- primarily concerns themselves with how to create a successful communication, product, or experience.
- is an agent who specifies the structural properties of a design object.
- is anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects
In other words, there are as many definitions as there are designers.
Use: Architect. Use Designer if you’d to be retained by an owner. See An Architect With Low Self-esteem
A Design Consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, designs a new one for you, sends you a bill for it and puts a lien on it when you don’t pay in 120 days.
Abuse: Specialists in human factors, psychology, business, design, engineering and manufacturing who provide full service consulting for building and product innovation and design.
Use: Freelancer. An architect who can’t find full-time employment.
Abuse: Uses project management, design, strategy and supply chain techniques to control a creative process, supports a culture of creativity and build a structure and organization for design.
Use: A manager of design projects.
See: This is a comprehensive reference book for anyone seeking an introduction to the basic concepts and principles that inform the management of design projects, teams and processes within the creative industries; and her earlier work, here.
Abuse: Belonging to an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand the role of design artifacts and processes in defining what it means to be human. See also: Design Sociologist
Use: Someone with an undergraduate anthropology diploma and a 3 year degree in architecture.
Abuse: An unorthodox or unconventional designer. Used more often in web and graphic design.
Use: Design Mercenary (忍者)
Pure unadulterated business jargon. An entity that is recognized for having innovative ideas or business ideas that merited attention. ‘Go to’ subject-matter experts in your industry. Period. Here’s how to package your ideas to share with others.
Abuse: Calling yourself one.
Use: Only when others call you this. And even then, don’t ever use it to describe yourself.
Abuse: Someone who writes his/her thoughts and feelings online.
Use: Anyone who contributes to a blog or online journal. And I mean anyone.
See: Arbiter of Knowledge and Wisdom
Abuse: Someone who knows what it means to manage the people side of the change equation.
Use: Someone adept at soothing the staff when management changes their mind. See Change Management
Abuse: Business people trained in design methods.
Use: Design people trained in business methods.
Abuse: Design Principals and Senior Designers used to hand off their building designs – and Project Managers and Architects their redlines – to CAD operators. With BIM, it no longer works this way. Like Artworkers in graphic design, BIMworkers initiate, commence, pursue, resolve self-edit and complete the work. If they had money, they would also own it.
Use: BIM Modelers. BIM Managers, BIM Coordinators and BIM Operators will thank you for it.
Abuse: Someone who uses the word “wayfinding” in casual conversation.
Use: An architect knows that if you have to use signage, you’ve failed. Architecture is its own wayfinding.
Abuse: Someone who provides innovative insights on using design as a strategic resource. Someone who hangs with CEOs of major brand management firms, business school deans, IDEO alum, engineers and professors of design
Use: Someone who uses design to achieve key business objectives. See Design Thinker and Design Guru.
See: To be a design strategist, you either have to be an IDEO veteran, Stanford University lecturer on design, the founder of a customer experience design company – or know someone who is one. Here are the eleven skills sets for what it takes and here and here.
Abuse: Someone who organizes people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality, the interaction between service provider and customers and the customer’s experience. A cross-disciplinary practitioner who combines skills in design, management and process engineering.
Use: Someone who provides numerous benefits to the end user experience when applied to project types such as retail, banking, transportation, & healthcare. See Social Entrepreneur
Abuse: See Form giver. Someone who gives shape to products, objects and buildings.
Use: Someone who really gets design, puts it to good use and will lead others into the twenty-first century with creative strategies.
See this, probably the best new book on the topic.
Chief X Officer
Where X can be Culture, Interpretation, Learning, Systems, Collaboration, Co-Creation, Creativity, Innovation, Mischief, Imagination, Technology, Information, Fun. As in Chief Storytelling Officer. Someone who has traded real work for knowledge work. A begrudging strategist.
Abuse: A corporate title indicating hierarchy, authority and power. A high ranking officer who gets an office with a window.
Use: Leader. A high ranking officer who gets a windowless office.
Abuse: Entrepreneurs who operate by creating business opportunities and practices inside their organization. Employees who – in addition to their workload – develop client relationships and bring in work.
Use: An employee today runs their own company within their company. Any employee who sells wrapping paper or cookies to captured employees on behalf of their kids. See Social Intrepreneur
Use: Someone with a short attention span who can’t make their mind up. Someone who comes up with an idea then abandons it, usually for another equally compelling idea. See Serial Intrepreneur
Design Director (especially when conflated with Founder, Owner, CEO, President and Managing Partner)
Abuse: Principal responsible for client, project, financial, design management and coffee making.
Use: Freelancer. Sole proprietor.
Founding Principal and Owner
Use: You. Your name.
Abuse: Whether Sustainability Advocate or IPD Advocate, they’re a person who publicly supports and recommends a particular cause or policy.
Use: Someone who facilitates the process for others but won’t be seen doing it themselves. See X Evangelist
Director of Product Strategy and Innovation
Use: Cell phone sales. See Verizon Salesperson
Abuse: Passionate arbiter of knowledge who enjoys learning while teaching.
Use: Job seeking.
See: Speaker, Author, Educator, Mentor
Abuse: Someone who wastes other people’s time and resources by laboriously advocating the use of such systems as Six Sigma, TQM, Lean and other business management methodologies.
Use: Someone who creates value for others by eliminating waste. See IPD Advocate
Abuse: Someone who works at any of the tasks of planning, acquiring, searching, analyzing, organizing, storing, programming, distributing, marketing, or otherwise contributing to the transformation and commerce of information and those (often the same people) who work at using the knowledge so produced.
Use: Employee. Anyone who works for a living – using something other than their hands – at the tasks of developing or using knowledge. Anyone who develops, works with or uses information in the workplace. See Anyone who works for a living
Abuse: Someone who uses industry techniques such as gathering intelligence on competitors, generating leads and prospects, managing presentations and designing and generating successful business models, aimed at attracting new clients and penetrating existing markets.
Use: Client-building, client relations and marketing. See Rainmaker
Abuse: Someone who engages clients by focusing attention on the issues and individuals at hand, listening both to what they say and what they leave unsaid, framing the immediate problem from their perspective, envisioning with them how a solution might appear and committing jointly to the actions and resources that will bring it about, all to gain the confidence and earn the trust of their clients.
Speaker, Author, Educator, Mentor
Use: Retired. See Scattershot Approach to Capturing Attention on LinkedIn
Now it’s your turn. Are there any titles you are aware of that you don’t see here?