In my previous article (OD for Architecture: Why) I referred to how ironical it is for me that we as designers can’t seem to be able to apply the same design principles we use in our work to our main project: our working environment.
We encounter various issues in our day to day activity, and I’ll start with listing a few first-hand experiences I had in my career as an architect, I’m sure you’ll recognise yourself in these situations as well.
:: Arriving in a new office and having to learn a new working system, but having no clue where to start from. I’m not sure how to set up a dwg, which layers to use, how to save and archive material, how a project folder works if there is one. And then I’m gone and a new architect arrives and finds him/herself in the same situation;
:: Not being able to communicate properly within the team and with the project leaders, due to lack of time and opportunities, with consequent loss of information and time;
:: Not finding material of a project a few years old and being unable to have a meeting with the client, who gets very upset;
:: Working with advisors and other professionals and having issues in bringing all the material together due to different ways of working and not having a clear scope for everyone;
:: Having a hard time working on material produced by someone else in the office, and investing too much time in trying understanding whether it’s better to learn his way or re-do everything from scratch;
:: Being unable to trace back important passages of the project, decisions made in meetings and reviews, and generally overviewing its development. So we go back and forth with the design, never really sure about why a certain direction was taken or abandoned.
And the list could go on. The immediate result of these issues is a general waste of time, which is somehow measurable, and loss of energy and enthusiasm in what we do, less measurable but very important if a practice wants to have a team that gives its best.
I guess most of you would think that this is the inevitable destiny of our profession, but I beg to differ. Yes, the creative process has a pace of its own, it can not be streamlined in a 9 to 5 frame, but not all of it. I would bring down most part of the above-mentioned issues to 3 main elements:
:: decision making process;
:: planning process;
:: information management.
Organisation Design is ultimately a design process, it addresses the 3 above mentioned points and this is HOW it can support our main project and help us design the way we work to get the best results.
In my next blog post I’ll be showing how every point of the list can be streamlined to a series of tools and procedures customised for every architect or team. It’s not just a group of sterile forms or protocols to apply, it’s learning a new working system that requires a mindset change, WHAT can be done.
But first let me ask you about your issues, what would you add to the list?