With a grin from clients, I am often asked if I offer marriage counseling when working on designs for their home. I am not a trained counselor, but the process of bettering or creating a home certainly dips into the emotional arena. I have developed a fairly simple protocol that optimizes the opportunity and works well both in this setting and projects of much larger commercial nature as well.
I call it the “Common Solutions” approach. There is an assumption often from those I am working with that they have to do a lot of homework and distill things so that I can be presented with an organized packet of information from which to work from so as to save time for me. Along with this there is often an assumption that it is better to have one point person to gather all of the “needs, wants, and constraints” from the different users. Both of these are actually things that often cause more time to be taken.
It is far better for me to get to as many users as practical and gain source raw data. The more input the better. It helps us get to where we are going with a design solution more quickly. It is better to let me do the organizing and distilling. When that is handled by the client, I often do not get apprised of all of the needs, wants, and constraints that I need to know about so as to come forward with a “common solution” that keeps everyone cared for.
I furthermore with a couple instruct them to only speak to me about their needs, wants, and constraints. I ask them not to tell me about theirs spouses list of these items.
The problems often arise when people develop their own partial, preliminary, or “half baked” solutions prior to my participation and they get into a tug of war over these competing solutions that only satisfy the needs of some of the users. One we are able to reach by these preliminary designs, and the efforts at trying to summarize the needs, wants, and constraints by the clients to get to the raw data, I can usually come forward with something that they are all happy with. It is always fun to watch the deflation of tensions, calm, and smiles that come out at that point.
And of course Praise to God. Definitely feel the partnership with the Creator when participating in the Creative process of design.