I can’t believe it’s been well over a year since I wrote the posts and I have had this third post outlined since I wrote those posts and it’s about time I finished and shared it—especially because there’s a fourth post that needs to reference this one. And that post has a deadline, sort of. To recap the other posts, I talked about the three primary and three secondary archetypes that I see in the architecture profession. I also described my own journey. If you haven’t read them, or read them recently, go read them and then come back. They are some of my best posts.
I want to finally look at how these archetypes and personal journeys fit within a firm structure. As you might remember from the previous post, I talked about how instead of being a point on the graph of archetypes, we are really each a vector. That vector (with its corresponding origin, direction, and magnitude) tells us not only about our interests, but also how we relate to other architects. If you take all the employees in an architecture office and plot them on the same graph, you start to see the overarching personality of the firm and also how well the individuals within the office align—and whether or not they have a shared vision.
Instead of classifying the different types of architecture firms by stylistic preference, firm structure, or by one of the six archetypes of individuals—which certainly all apply and are worthy of discussion—I want to look at how different groups of individuals affect the health and stability of a company. Let’s go from good to bad to difficult.
A firm might be composed of a variety of individuals at different points in their careers, but if they are all heading in the same direction, then their diversity becomes a strength. Each employee and boss agrees on where the firm is heading and what is of value. There might be Pragmatists, Poets, Artists, and Builders. Or whatever combination of archetypes. What matters is the direction of the vectors. All agree that the goal of the firm and the body of work point towards the same shared firm vision.
The opposite, yet equally strong, position of a shared firm vision is a firm with a shared baseline. In a firm like this, the individuals might all have different interests. Each might be pulling in a different direction. But their common origin allows them to communicate with each other. A firm like this might show more diversity than a firm with a shared vision, as this firm is exploring more directions. The danger though is over time the individuals become too disparate. And the result is chaos.