Contract - July 2009 - (Page 18)

guest editorial Tom Polucci, Sabine Bartzke, Leigh Stringer, Rick Focke, Clay Pendergrast collaborate ’til it hurts By HOK design team: Sabine Bartzke, senior principal, corporate accounts, New York; Rick Focke, senior principal, director of interior design, New York; Clay Pendergrast, senior vice president, director of interior design, Los Angeles; Tom Polucci, group vice president, director of interior design, Chicago; Leigh Stringer, vice president, advanced strategies, Washington, D.C. How many times have you read a feel-good story in a magazine in which you learn how collaboration was the key to the team’s remarkable success? The project images are gorgeous, and maybe there’s even a slick quote about “two heads being better than one,” “the difficulty of herding cats,” or the “wisdom of crowds.” Collaboration sounds like a magic elixir that goes down smoothly and just tastes great. Inevitably, the reader is left with a mental image of the gleeful project team celebrating its success by holding hands around a campfire and singing “Kumbaya.” Then you toss the magazine down onto the coffee table and wonder, “OK, what was the real story?” We’ll admit to drinking our share of the HOKflavored collaborative Kool-Aid. We’re proud that collaboration is part of our DNA. In this issue you’ll learn about the KAUST project, which required a staggering level of collaboration among 300 people in 10 of our offices and thousands of other team members worldwide. The experience left us slightly battered but more enthusiastic than ever about the amazing possibilities that come with true collaboration. You’ll also read about collaboration in performance art as part of a story on Cirque du Soleil. Here is a creative organization in which the people are so dependent on one another that a breakdown in collaboration actually can be life-threatening. When it comes to collaboration, there’s nearly always a story behind the story—one that’s much more captivating but considerably less glamorous. You can bet your Aeron nobody will give up that dirt in the pages of a design magazine. There will be no mention of the uneasy partnerships, heated postmidnight emails and voice messages, contentious meetings, or wounded feelings. You’ll never be privy to the tears and team members shed along the way. The truth is that collaboration is often bloody. There will be casualties. Yet when we’re battling alongside fellow team members for a higher purpose—to create the best solution for our client—the pain and heartache become worthwhile (read the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin). Out of that creative tension come the sparks that ignite innovation. One danger with any highly collaborative effort is that, because everyone’s ideas are incorporated, there will be no cohesiveness or unity. Another risk is that the design becomes so watered down that ideas are compromised, and the result is worse than failure—it’s mediocre. The good news is that the process nearly always reveals a road map to the answer. The challenge for the alchemist-designer is to absorb everything that’s expressed and to turn all the chaos into gold by taking charge, filtering the best ideas, and creating an exceptional environment that both suits and elevates the client. We offer a heartfelt thanks to the wonderful people at Contract for inviting us to collaborate on this issue. And we look forward to collaborating with you all soon. Consider yourselves warned. HOK would like to give special thanks to the following individuals who provided invaluable help in supporting the guest editors’ efforts: Harry Lassiter, John Gilmore, Mike Plotnick, Rachel Peine, Claire Whitehill, Fernando Cordero (group editorial shot photographer and cartoons drawings), Alexander Robb (cartoon drawings), and Sharon Paculor. 18 contract july 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - July 2009

Contract - July 2009
Guest Editorial
Resources: Alpha Workshops
Green Building Goes Global
The Collaborative Workplace
All For Fun
Group Practice
Caring Collaborator
Life is a Circus
Cohesive Spaces in Public Places
On the Landscape
Castles in the Sand
Face to Face
Heart and Soul
Project Management
Dream Team
Ad Index

Contract - July 2009