The building industry is known for innovation. The number of products that have been created to help make buildings, stronger, safer, and more efficient is innumerable. What hasn’t changed much though is our processes. Particularly when it comes to design. We seem to be well committed to working by the same set of rules and expectations regardless of the skill set and experience of the project team involved.

I once worked for someone who was struggling to understand why his employees with great skill sets, attitudes and experience were struggling to meet key performance objectives. One day, he finally said to me, “you know, I think our problem is we don’t have people working in their stroke.” Now, I’m not a golf guy so I didn’t immediately understand what he meant. So, he explained, “we have a lot of great people. But, they each have a different set of skills and strengths that make them unique. What I need to do is figure out what they are best at, and just have them focus on that. Put them to task with the things they will be most successful at, and leave the other things for somebody else to do!”

It worked. Having the team members focus their time, energy and efforts solely on tasks that suited their key strengths and personality type, made for not only a more productive team but a happier and more fulfilled team as well. No longer were team members bogged down with tasks that they dreaded or found mundane. Just as “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” so is, One man’s mundane another man’s fulfillment.

Granted, this example doesn’t exactly transfer over to the project team scenario as this was more of a full time employee team member situation but the take away from it is the same. Find out what people are good at, regardless of job title, and make use of it! At some point, I’d like to see the building design process work in a similar fashion. Instead of the standard set of rules and expectations for each consultant, let’s analyze our project team as a whole and find out their areas of strength. Make use of the full power of a project team! Of course we are all going to have our core competencies whether that be structural as is in our case, or mechanical, interior design or something else. But, your structural engineer might just be your greatest resource for windows and doors. Or, your architect may have a unique background in plumbing. Don’t let someone’s title define their value. Get to know your project team and get them “working in their stroke!”

I think we could see a much more consistently successful finished product if more project teams approached design in this manner.

Landon Boucher | Innovative Structural Engineering | www.ISEengineers.com

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