Collaboration as it Could Be

December 10, 2008

To continue from the last…

For those of us who are not artists, who cannot and should not rely on raw inspiration to achieve success, we need to find a way to work that pulls from the best of those around us and allows for immediate feedback on an idea.

To work together maybe we should really work together. Sit around the same table, around the same drawing, the same screen, the same model and talk through the issues. Work the design as a team. Charette the problems. Come to solutions together. Only then should we work to implement those ideas individually.

The doing of the work, the actual production of the drawings, models and images that represent our understanding of the idea, should be done as quickly as possible so that we can get back to what we’re really all here to do, creatively solve problems.

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Collaboration in Isolation

September 15, 2008

I’ve been thinking about how we work. About collaboration and what makes it work when it works. I think I’m on to something that I’ve been trying to understand for years. Collaboration, as seems to be defined by my colleagues, is a sequence of do in isolation and review in group.

Makes sense I guess. This is, after all, exactly what we did in school during the juries of our projects. Work for weeks in relative isolation and then present/review with a group of our peers. It wasn’t meant to be collaborative. It was about the individual, the classic definition of an Architect as Renaissance Man (or Woman of course). No wonder we carried that with us into the workplace, we had no other model to follow.

“Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people… work together toward an intersection of common goals… by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.” – Wikipedia

If that’s true then how can we call what we do, when we isolate ourselves from others (headphones on, intently focused on our screens), collaboration? It takes two, at a minimum, and yet we only occasionally get together. When we do it’s to discuss what’s been done since the last time we met. We review the work instead of working together.

There are times, certainly, when working independently can be extremely powerful. When it allows us to discover design as it happens. When it allows for “happy accidents”. Some of the best work I’ve seen done is a direct result of this happenstance.

Here’s the catch, if you’re not drop dead talented, a true artist, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to coax these accidents out with any amount of regularity. Still, you can try, you can fake it. Something will eventually get built.

to be continued…