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Message - Collaboration: correction & amplification

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Posted by  Paul Malo on September 16, 2002 at 07:46:28:

In Reply to:  Re: Practicing Architecture in a collaborative environment posted by Paul Malo on September 15, 2002 at 17:46:37:

First of all, to correct a garbled sentence in the previous post, it should read:

"If you want a short answer, I would say NONE of my collaborative experieces have been painless, but large undertakings can't be done without the pain."

The subject of collaboration has been discussed further in a more recent post elswhere. To amplify further, there are obvious problems with "design by committee"--or with any team project. The notion that it can be democratic, attaining happy consensus, ofter proves fatuous. Much energy may be disipated in rivalry over whose will shall prevail (especially if the team is all male--for "winning" is more a "guy thing").

There usually needs to be a leader of the team. One may emerge without formal designation, simply being recognized by evident qualifications. Often, however, personal ambitions are involved and rivalry for recognition can become a motivation stronger than concern for the project issues at stake. Usually some authority has to be assigned to a leader, to avert conflict of wills.

It's best, obviously, if the team leader has genuine respect for his or her capabilities, rather than merely being recognized as having authority. More importantly, to expedite the design process, there should be a compelling vision shared by all, and it's the job of the leader to articulate or envision this objective.

Usually, the leader contributes the vision, but the most effective leader uses the Socratic method to make the team recognize that all have contributed to this vision. This is done not by giving the answer, but asking the right questions, leading to that answer.

Time is always a problem in team projects, as discussion and debate can be interminable (again, because participants tend to be defensive and competitive about personal views). One of the critical tasks of a team leader is to be conclusive: to summarize the discussion and to draw it to a conclusion. To be democratic about this resolution may be counterproductive, an open vote only confirming factional differences in the team. It may be annoying but in the end less debilitating for the team leader simply to conclude that "it's the sense of the group" that . . ."
Dissenters will disagree in thier own minds, but the team as a whole may move on without breaking into clearly defined competing teams.

 
 
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