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Sharing my views and research on Organization Design, Architecture and how our profession is developing.

Organization Design for Architecture: Why?

Veronica Baraldi

 by Roger Penwill - all rights reserved

by Roger Penwill - all rights reserved

In the previous post, we had a look at what is Organization Design, and we closed with a question: why can it be useful to architects?

I’ve been working as an architect for 20 years, 10 at an international level. I’ve changed many jobs, worked in diversified offices and environments, and on various kinds of projects. Every office has its own identity and dynamics, but the problems I encountered were the same, and usually led to a waste of time, energy, economic and human resources. I kept on wondering why, why couldn’t it be more efficient, and so kept wondering my colleagues, with whom I shared the frustration, anger, disappointment and sleepless nights.

My experience in NL was very formative for me in a lot of ways and especially taught me how Creativity and Organization can coexist (please read the WHY? Page on my website). Thanks to my experiences I got to learn that the problems I met in my daily professional life were not due to the practices’ size or context, nor to the nature of the creative activity, but to their work culture and their knowledge (or lack of) on work efficiency.

The good news is that a work culture can be changed with proper training, the not so good news is that it’s rather complicated to prove how this change can be beneficial to a practice, because the results are not easily measurable, and often not in the short term.

I find this situation ironic because we, as architects, should know better. We design, we thrive in being given problems to solve, in connecting the dots, but we are not used and educated to apply the same process to our practice. In our education as architects, we rarely have any class about how to organize our work, how to collaborate in a team, how to define a plan of approach for a project, how to track its progress, how to manage the available resources. 

This is why Organization Design can be helpful for Architecture. OD sets the blueprint for the organization to be able to work at its best, defines a system where procedures and tools are designed and customized to facilitate the workflow, and ultimately to reach the goals. Most importantly, for me, it helps building an environment where collaboration and accountability are keys, where people and their skills are valued and valorised for a shared purpose: the practice success and evolution.

In the next post we’ll show practical examples of an architectural practice’s issues, and how OD can help.