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.
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
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