A Renewed Vision
I’m a person that likes having a big vision for things. I have high expectations that I rarely meet. I set goals that seem to stay just out of my grasp. I have milestones along the way where I can look back and see that I’m at least headed in the right direction. At the same time, I’m a person of planning where details are essential. Because of this combination, I’m many times well over my head in any number of categories. I take on too much. I tend to push the conversation instead of letting it play out naturally. I have high expectations on those around me. I’m the three-ring circus juggling act while walking the tight rope without a net kind of person.
I recently had a conversation with a friend where a reference came up about a person’s “bandwidth”. It’s a reference to a person’s capacity to handle or think about more than one thing at the same time. In this conversation, it wasn’t about taking on two or three things but more about handling the tenth thing when you’re already juggling nine other responsibilities at one time. The problem lies in the juggling routine. Juggling six balls instead of three results in the action becoming quicker with a much more complicated pattern. Move to eight or a dozen balls juggling, and you barely see the performer in contact with each object. At this point I’d like to commend those still paying attention to the ramblings of this architect. Your time is valuable, so I’ll get to the point… I’m done juggling.
Time will always be the adversary of wanting to do more. As a person’s or company’s bandwidth grows wider, it has less depth given to any number of points along that line. For years, M R Designs has taken on nearly every project that has come through the door. It’s been a wild ride. The range of projects has been amazing at times… perplexing at others. Our project board currently projects many months of residential developments, medical clinics, churches, headquarters for businesses, roofing projects, a fire station, a convenience store, a coffee shop, and I think there’s still an Applebee’s in Phoenix I’m supposed to be overseeing. We have work from small communities like Junction City, Arkansas to thriving cities like Phoenix, Arizona and Boise, Idaho. Show me any other four-person architecture firm with that bandwidth. But here's the problem… That many projects leaves the action too quick and the attention to each handoff too instinctive instead of purposeful. So, we’re changing the routine…
Moving forward, my full intention is that every project we take on should serve a very distinct purpose. It should be beneficial not only to the client, but to the community it serves. As architects and designers, we should be passionate about it as well. Instead of hurrying it through the process, we should explore the full possibilities of how design excellence could make a difference for the client and user. We’re going to grow our team where each member is striving for a purpose of why they are here. We’ll help people. We’ll grow communities. We’ll hopefully do some good along the way.
The first step was implemented several months ago… I’m traveling less this year. No more pictures of “where next” every two to three weeks. I’m spending more time with my design team and doing more projects in my local community. Some of that has naturally taken place through the different seasons of work, but we’re taking advantage of the change in pace. The second step… I’m drastically cutting the number of single-family residential projects we design at M R Designs. I love designing houses. I’ll still love designing houses. There’s just going to be fewer of them moving forward because most no longer serve the purpose of who our firm is looking to be.
The goal here is to be better at what we do and how we do it. Will it be perfect… no. But it will be better than what we’re doing now. Not that anything we’re doing is wrong… we just want to be better. We chose quality and purpose over the juggling act.