The Possibility of Transformation

In the last three weeks of this novena, we will move beyond our exploration of the limitations that are placed on us by others as well as ourselves.  The focus of these last posts will be on transformation and leveraging of strengths. 

As architects we have to believe in the ability of things to be transformed. An empty parcel of land becomes a building, an old building gets a new lease on life, an interior space is remodeled for a whole new use.  What we do is centered around seeing possibilities in existing circumstances and bringing about a change that goes beyond what our clients can imagine.  Tell us something is impossible, and we view it as a challenge to find a solution.  This is an amazing talent.  Too bad we don’t see it that way.  It’s time to start designing your career and bringing to bear all of the same creative skills you would to a creaky old building on a difficult site.  Be your own next project.

The pre-design analysis
Before you begin design, you collect information, determining all of the parameters and possibilities, schedules, budgets, delivery methods.  Take that same analytical view of yourself (see week five post Be your Own Stage Mom, if you don’t know how to get started).  Do your own mini-report that includes:
1. An assessment of your existing conditions, including strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t editorialize, just state the facts. Include a list of opportunities available and required improvements.
2. Benchmark the careers of others you admire in order to collect baseline performance measures
3. A definition of the problem, including goals and objectives.  Note: this is not a proposed solution- just a definition of what you want out of the finished project (your career).  Make your own career space program and schedule so you can begin to understand the magnitude of the task at hand and what things are the main vs. ancillary “spaces”.  Don’t be afraid of making big bold moves or determining that some existing career element just doesn’t work in your new plan and needs to be “demolished.”
4. Make a bubble diagram of your problem so you can start to identify relationships and critical adjacencies related to your program elements.
5. Code check: are there credentials you should be pursuing?
6. A test fit of how your problem, as defined can be addressed. Design options help clients see opportunities and doing the same for your career path helps you see what’s possible as well.

Design build phase
Now that you have your big idea and goals in place as well as a good handle on the parameters in which you will be operating, it’s time to get to work. 
1. Plan. Using all of the elements you identified, create a blueprint of how things will work.  Just as with a building, you will discover ways to combine program elements, circulation routes and guideposts will emerge and you will likely find that you need to add program elements.
2. Visualize in three dimensions. A building shouldn’t be the result of an extruded plan.  Neither should your career.  Allow the particular choices you have made about implementing your goals to add to the richness of your career design, informing you about further opportunities and really giving you the opportunity to create the form that follows the function.
3. Detail.  Embellish your career design with details that support and reinforce it.
4. Monitor implementation. You can get too caught up in the process of implementing your career design and lose sight of the purpose.  Revisit your goals often to make sure that your efforts stay on track.

Post occupancy
Your career is a work in progress.  You will never stop needing upgrades and remodels, even some radical demolition from time to time.
1. Conduct a post-occupancy evaluation.  What’s working and what isn’t?  Survey others to see if they can see your vision.  The best strategies are the ones that are easy to explain and that other people can understand.  Note: this doesn’t mean that you should avoid the unconventional or stop taking risks, just that your strategy is clear and trackable.
2. Measure your performance results every year.  Assess how well you are doing at meeting six month, one year, and five year goals as well as whether you want to add, remove, or change goals.

You can have the career YOU want, you just need to envision, design and implement it.  Thanks to your wicked skillz as an architect, you already know how.  Nothing is impossible.