A question of practice

In practice it’s easier to continue without questioning. Questions create friction. Yet friction is essential to gaining better traction.

This is a post with more questions than answers…

Asking questions helps us organise our thinking and understanding of what we don’t know. A question well asked will stimulate examination, consideration and critical thinking. Good questions provoke more questions, distilling thinking, driving and informing change. Positive change is the objective in all this. Of course, questioning might also end up re-affirming a current position or state. Such confirmation isn’t possible, however, without starting the process of questioning.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted.”

Bertrand Russell – philosopher

I’m curious about what architects might be taking for granted in practice? What assumptions are they holding on to that no longer serve practice? Such questions beget other questions crucial for architects to consider,

Why do we do it this way
The “it” in this case might be many things, the way they practice, the type of work, the methodology, processes or structure. It will be different for different practices and will almost certainly lead to further questions. The corollary…

What other ways might we do it?
A question to instigate a complete rethinking of the profession, a practice, a process, a position, or something else entirely.

The point of this type of questioning is to make both practice better and to identify areas of practice to be leveraged and capitalised on. If an area of potential practice can be identified, questioned in order to generate new answers, it’s possible to create new work or a new way of practicing. An area of work you might have all to yourself.

“Ask yourself an interesting enough question and your attempt to find a tailor-made solution to that question will push you to a place where, pretty soon, you’ll find yourself all by your lonesome — which I think is a more interesting place to be.”

Chuck Close – painter

It can be an uncomfortable and scary place to be, which is why many resist, to the advantage of those that choose to push through the discomfort. They’re able to generate opportunities or improvements that they have to themselves.

The question is…

What are the questions you need to ask of practice?


I facilitate a monthly session perhaps unsurprisingly is called A Question of Practice (formally known as Talking Crap). The objective of these sessions is to foster conversations around constructive change in the practice and culture of architecture. If this is of interest, you can sign up to email updates with session times and Zoom links HERE.

Note: Depending upon when you’re reading this, you might see all the old Talking Crap livery as a I slowly get around to updating the details on the website. Rest assured, you’re still in to the right spot. Please come and join in the questioning conversation (and a little talking crap!)


Picture by Dimitris.s12 on Pexels [cropped & edited]

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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