We know what we want, we just need someone to draw it up.
A phrase occasionally asked by potential clients inquiring about services includes the question “can you draw this up?” I know people have good intentions and I’m not here to be nasty or mean but it’s time to clear the air because when things aren’t said, people don’t learn anything new. Many of my friends are laughing now as they read this today because we joked (or cried) about this recently.
At this point in the discussion I suppose the higher road would be to “bullet point” a few reasons why one would not want their architect to merely “draw something up” and explain why it is not in their best interest to limit the services of the architect to the least, the lowest, or cheapest. We could expound upon how it might harm them financially, qualitatively or in the least break it to them how they’ll be disappointed with the result. Well, that’s not going to happen today. It is true that limiting services or reducing services by going a cheaper route may have a negative effect. It seems self-evident.
Let me elucidate the reaction to that phrase so that one might be able to decipher the strange look on the architect’s face or the sudden quietness on the phone when one utters those words. Perhaps this is a rant, perhaps a soapbox, but after all these years, I’ve concluded that unless someone shares their feelings or thoughts, nothing changes.
My first reaction to this question is realizing this is going to be a project where I am not appreciated for my talent, expertise, or education. In an effort to be thrifty, the caller has inadvertently insulted the professional and immediately diminished the motivation to work with them. I understand this is service profession, but motivation is a key factor. Face it, some projects are more motivating than others. What? I’m just being honest.
Second, one has shown their cards. In the spirit of being frugal, they’ve demonstrated an unwillingness to invest in architectural services, which likely means they are unwilling to invest in architecture. We interpret your phrase as a desire to have more shelter for your stuff…that’s all. It questions whether one truly understands what an architect does or whether one has done anything to prepare themselves – in a world where the answer is at our fingertips. An educated client is the best client. We prefer clients who not only know what we do but will be engaged in what we do, challenge us to our best and will be seeking the best result within the limitations of their resources. That does not come through when one asks us to just “draw it up.”
Whatever your skills or expertise is I can almost guarantee that a part of you will react negatively when one undervalues those skills. Would we go to our doctor and ask him to skip the evaluation and simply write out a prescription for whatever we believe our ailment is? We certainly wouldn’t ask our attorney to do something to shortcut her process. Would we ask our auto technician if critical procedures or the recommendation of replacement of key parts are necessary? Why would someone do that to an architect?
We live in a hyper-sensitive culture that is hyper-sensitive to words and phrases and misunderstood intentions behind things that we say. This causes many things to go unsaid for fear of being misinterpreted or reprimanded with a scathing Facebook post. I don’t intend to come across as insensitive and add to the noise of social media. Nevertheless, if you happen to be seeking the services of an architect show respect, don’t presume the result, but explain your needs, describe your goals, state your budget, explain your concerns with the architect. I bet the discussion will go a lot further than if you merely ask them to “draw something up.”
Give it a try. Think this way in all aspects of your life. It will make a big difference.