Changing the Inertia of Architectural Practice

It can be really challenging to make change happen within architectural practice. This is inertia. What might we do to change things up?

When the apple boinked off Newton’s head, this was inertia (and the effect of gravity on the apple). In physics, inertia is the resistance of an object to change its velocity. In life, inertia is the tendency to do nothing or resist change.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

I’m curious what architects are doing to challenge the inertia of architectural practice.

The tendency in the profession is often to do nothing and resist change. When faced with change, the desire is sometimes to change it back and to keep things the same.

Sometimes the problem is knowing where to start to change.

Here’s a way to think differently and overcome inertia.

What experiments might I try?

Try doing something differently in your practice. It doesn’t have to be a big experiment. Start small, but if it feels safe you’re probably not going quite big enough and you might not learn anything.

Change an office process. Change the way you talk about your practice. Change your hourly rate. Change when you take phone calls. Change how you interact with social media. Change the projects you say ‘yes’ to. There’s an infinite number of ways to experiment with change.

It doesn’t stop there…

Gather data.

So let’s assume you had a general understanding of what was happening prior to the experiment. Keeping in mind this data may be a little more abstract than numerical data. The data should be along the lines of what you recognised changed when you conducted the experiment. (This is not being published in a peer reviewed journal, we don’t need to be overly concerned with our scientific methodology)

Analyse the data.

You can do this by asking some questions. What worked? What didn’t work? What could be done better? What was the general vibe of the experiment? Is it worth continuing? What might be worth trying next? Basically, what did you learn?

What’s the worst that can happen?

Usually the things we fear are worse in our mind than reality. If it really does go pear shaped you can always stop. It’s more likely the worst thing that will happen you will learn something (which may be not do do it again.) If it works, change it permanently.

Repeat. Do a new experiment.

Now you’ve overcome the inertia…

Keep going…

Image by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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