“It’s a group project.”

Never have so few words inspired such gut wrenching than those four, when said in the context of a design school.

There’s a reason for that.

Even though I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people on “group” projects, I’ve worked with just as many that I’d like to slam into the corner of a desk until they stop twitching. It’s a mixed bag. That being said, there’s something that needs to be understood about this:


At least it is, if you’re smart. It is, if you can put your own ego away for a minute and critically examine your own skill set. No one is equally good at all things. No one likes to do all the same things. And there’s only 24 hours in a day, even if you’re awake for all of them. Because of these immutable laws of the universe, if you want to do great work, you need more than one person.

That doesn’t mean you have to be all into the whole “team” dynamic. I don’t own a set of pompoms and I don’t plan on buying one. I don’t go in for the kind of thing where they force you to go out with everyone you work with for “mandatory fun and group trust building”. I don’t think I could stop laughing long enough to even breathe were someone to present the concept to me. But I *am* for finding and working with smart people. I said it in my very first post. I know smart people. It’s true. And they can do all kinds of amazing things that I can’t do. They know things I don’t know. They have had experiences I haven’t. And all of that is VALUABLE.

So here is my short paragraph on “things to do”.

Ask. Ask questions. Ask for help(ffs, designers, LEARN THAT. It’s not the end of the world if you ask for help.). Thank them. Give them credit. Reciprocate when the situation is reversed. Build a network of people that you can call on, and can call on you for their insights and skill sets.

When you’re on the other end:

Critique with a sharp eye, but a gentle tone. Pay attention when you’re on design jury. Take notes. Remember that you’re there for just one day, while the person presenting has invested weeks/months of their lives into *this moment*. Have some respect, even if you don’t like the project. Remember that no one has had any sleep. Be sympathetic.

EVERYONE is part of “the group project”. Even when there’s only one designer or architect’s name on the final product.


1 Comment

  1. and something i’d like to brand into my staff’s eyeballs — as soon as you have a client and/or an audience, you have a group.

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