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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leadership and Design

Leadership begins with a creative question that is often prompted by intuition, organized by logic, served by information, answered by imagination, and memorized by those seeking to filter knowledge from talent. The difference between strategic and tactical leadership is scale. Strategy seeks to achieve a goal and tactics seek to achieve an objective.

At the present time, architectural design is a tactical effort -- in my opinion. At the tactical level the objective is limited to a single project. At the strategic level I have suggested that the goal is shelter for the activities of growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their source of life from sprawling consumption and their quality of life from excessive intensity. I for one believe that architectural contributions are needed in the campaign for a symbiotic future, but architecture is unprepared for this responsibility at the present time. It has been using the leadership thought process for centuries but has yet to become a strategic force with the tactical tools and information available.

Leadership involves many functions. As an example, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were leaders who mobilized sentiment to support decisions in WWII. George Marshall was an advisor. Dwight Eisenhower was a planner. George Patton was a manager. “Wild Bill” Donovan and Bletchley Park gathered intelligence. Intelligence was understood as a priority by all at both the strategic and tactical levels of leadership. In the civilian world “intelligence” is called knowledge. Creativity may stimulate the formation of knowledge but it dies with talent. The knowledge that remains is a contribution to increasing awareness.

I have argued that our goal is to provide shelter for growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life. A strategy is missing because the goal has not been adopted as policy. This has left us with tactical efforts consuming our source of life with “sprawl”. The goal, however, simply represents an expanded awareness of the symbiotic message Louis Sullivan included in poetry and Frank Lloyd Wright implied with the term “organic”.

The leadership process should sound familiar since architectural design is leadership practiced at the tactical level—again, in my opinion. Construction is mobilization, maneuver, and adjustment organized to achieve the objective with leadership. The result is a unique invention that has had no full size mock-up and testing at a remote location. The same is true for every military plan in my analogy. (This analogy is quite different from an automobile industry that spends millions/billions on research and testing before a single car rolls off the assembly line.)

The anatomy of the design process is not revealed by the appearance of success, but when the process is applied to a strategic goal we will be using the mind we have been given to contribute to symbiotic survival in a battle with ourselves.

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