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Get Rid of the Weak Links in Your Design Process

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Ardonik | Flickr

Different architects and architectural teams work in different ways. Their design processes vary not only within their own artistic styles but also with each project type that they embark upon.

So how you do you decide which design process is the best one for you? Are you wasting valuable time and money by working with the wrong or not quite right architectural design process? Should a design process be specified by each designer or be carried throughout your entire firm? Or should it be based on your building-type? Your client preferences? Or some other parameter?

Whatever the case you should always design consciously, being well-aware of what your design process is, and how its limitations and capabilities can constrain or empower your design abilities. For starters, here is a simple run-through and illustration of common design process styles. Take a look at this slideshow, just to get you thinking:

5 Type Of Architecture Design Process by wan muhammad

Fix What Doesn’t Work, So You Can Amplify on What Does

When you experience a problem in your design process, your business will subsequently experience some negative symptoms. Yes, that is bad news because these symptoms compound and ripple through all aspects of your work. However, these same symptoms can be good because when you pinpoint them, they serve as major clues leading you to the biggest constraints (or problems) in your architectural design process and/or business.

Did you know that your biggest strengths are tied to your biggest weaknesses? And when you fix your biggest weakness, your biggest strengths can improve? Essentially, by eliminating your “weakest link”, you will gain more time, energy and money to amplify what is working. This is a key way to get leverage while you design, in order to optimize your final building solution.

Here is a quick exercise (simple, but effective) to get to the bottom of some of your biggest design process constraints:

1. Write down your biggest design process symptom (or problem)

2. Now, ask “Why is this happening?”.

3. Write down your answer

4. Repeat steps 2-3, four more times.

5. At around the fifth time you ask “why”, the root cause of your original problem (or symptom) should become apparent. This is your “biggest constraint”.

6. Now, by eliminating this “biggest constraint”, your original symptom (or problem) should be fixed.

— Please note that this is a systems optimization approach which I first read about from leading business guru Rich Schefren. You can visit his site here.

Here is a quick (and hypothetical) example showing how the exercise above can work:

1. Symptom: I am not landing clients.

2. Why is this happening? — I am not landing clients because, my designs are not what they need.

3. Why is this happening? — My designs are not what they need, because I don’t present enough options.

4. Why is this happening? — I don’t present enough options, because my design process is too slow.

5. Why is this happening? — My design process is too slow, because I don’t have AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max.Why is this happening? — I don’t have AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max, because I haven’t made time in my schedule to buy and learn them.

6. Biggest Constraint: Needing to invest some time and money into buying and learning AutoCAD and 3DStudio Max.

So, there you have it. This architect’s biggest problem of not landing enough clients can be substantially fixed by investing some time and money into AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max.

Get rid of what is holding you down, so you will have more time to work on what makes you stay ahead.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

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McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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