“Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "belongingness" and "love", "esteem", "self-actualization" and "self-transcendence" to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.”, - Wikipedia.
What do you want? This is one “bloody” honest question one must answer. Maslow said if you are damn poor, you only one to be fed but when you are damn successful, you want to be “self-actualization”. Meaning, your wants change according to time. You must have a reasonable want that you may think you can achieve within your means. You cannot possible have wants that is beyond your means. List out this wants in a list.
What do you don’t want? If you cannot list your wants, at least list what you do not want. It is much simpler and it is the boundary that you do not wish to cross. By completing this task, you will be able to know for sure of what you want…
I don’t know what I don’t want? This is drastic. If you don’t know what you don’t want or by the same token don’t know what you want, just stay put with what you are doing right now, currently and vow to do it better. That is the minimum consciousness you need to have.
These wants when it is structured, organized and listed or itemized form the basis of needs. The architect calls it as the Client’s Brief. It is therefore the very intention of any model of production. It is a component of the trilogy of Intention – Action – Production.
The unfortunate event of MAS Airline Company with the missing MH307 and the mishap of MH17 has made the company broken beyond repair. It is already making huge losses prior to these 2 unfortunate events. Like most of the GLC companies, unlike our neighboring SIA and our homegrown AirAsia are reaping huge profits, such heavy losses occurred under the purview of the largest shareholder – the sovereign fund of Khazanah. The question is what make 100% ownership by Khazanah would make any different? Well, they may probably rope in a new CEO and this is what he may do taking reference to what a situation may have been in private entity.
The Observation phase (the 1st Four months) – He will give a throughout analysis of the situation and establish himself as the knight on silver armor. Salvage whatever salvageable. Identifying what are the assets and liabilities. Rock the establishment to the core shaking up status quo, placing the previous management on the chopping block under CBT. He will suddenly stop payment to all non-productive supplies that the earlier management has entered upon. Renovate his new office and bought himself a new car under company expanses. Recruit his panel of Yes-man and he will continue to strive the value of its share further downward so that it reaches the ocean floor. On top of such, he will buy these shares in an under value state with bank facilities and he sits in his make-shift office, usually a 5 stars hotel lobby and start dishing out statements of how he is going to make a comeback to the media. Follow-up by luncheons and dinners with bankers, lobbyist, political agents and proxies, striking deals after deals to strategize short and midterms plan to dissect the valuable leftovers, pawn the liabilities, camouflage its commitments and so forth. The immediate goal is to make the company off from the red.
The Execution phase (the 2nd Four months) – He will disposes some and if not all the valuable assets the company has to 3rd party (could also be his benefactors) and reported to the shareholders as debt management. He will also enter into rearrangement with bankers with these potential sales for more bridging facilities that can bring him through over his tenure as the CEO. Such deal makings may and may not materialize in kick-backs and so forth. He may also renegotiate terms with the existing suppliers, who are by such time may have to resort to legal recourse, with a win-win situation including bringing in his preferred suppliers, swapping contracts. He will undoubtedly recruit new talents, motivate existing work force, draw up a new plans that cover every aspect of the company as his mission and vision statement. Continue to be the media darlings so that his effort not only being implemented but seen to be implemented with new ventures steam rolling out from the company. Such selling of assets is rated the most effective means to bring the company back to the blue and the question is how many assets can one disposed?
The Evaluation phase (the 3rd Four months) – It is time to reap his benefits. As the value of shares rose up from the abyss, he is in the position to demand more and he will pocket a chunk of huge bonuses from the shareholders. He and his merry men are ready to “rape” the company so that by the time he is no longer needed, everything will fall back to where he begins with. He will release his shares at market price progressively. All the sudden deals are cut short or rather didn’t materialize, assets are bought back at exorbitant price and the outflows such as debt repayment start to escalate. That is a good portrayal of what is happening in most distress companies run by professional CEOs.
The same can be applied anywhere else from running an architectural practice to running a country (with a longer period of 5 years). Such paradigm is not new and it is reflected in Chinese Metaphysics for century, a topic I shall discuss some other times.
What is IDEATION? Wiki defines Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract. Ideation comprises all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization. As such, it is an essential part of the design process, both in education and practice.
In short IDEATION is a model of production, where production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs (plans, know-how) in order to make something for consumption (the output).
When we look at IDEATION as a MODEL, It has to make up of 3 entities, resembles of an act would be the Actor, the Play and the Stage.
The Actor would probably be a living person. He must have some intention either to create or to produce. To do so, he must learn the art and the law of creation or production. This is known as the “know how” or the PLAY. He must also find a platform to do so such is called a STAGE. Like a builder must find an Architect for his IDEA to build and a SITE for the building to sit on. Like an artist, he must have a canvas to draw.
The product of an act by the actor is call the PRODUCT. It can be a built form or just as an idea. Such product will again be a subject for another ideation. This is summarized as intention – implementation – product, the 3 aspects of IDEATION.
Now we investigate a little deeper – the Actor. We are all the actor. The self is the actor. Jung described the self as Noia, Para Noia and End Noia. Noia is defined as the self with an undifferentiated ego. Enlightenment is the best way to prescribed Noia. Paranoia or paranoid is a state where there is a differentiation between the self and its ego. The normal person would like to project himself as someone with an identity such as male/female, race, religions, rich/poor, weak/strong and so forth. These are paranoid mentalities. End noia is a total displacement of the self and the ego. Crazy may be a better choice of word. To understand the actor we must know who we are and what are the product we create for? This is the first principle as a designer or an actor.
For a paranoid self, we are GOD fearful. We are afraid to commit SIN. This draw a form of self-censorship we call conscience. We acknowledge there are ALMIGHTY living somewhere in Heaven above. His law is our code of morality inscribed in our conscience that defines our intention which ultimately translate into our action. It is very subjective no doubt, but such action required it to be executed none other than on a specific place, called the stage. As above, so below and Heaven bestowed upon us Earth as out stage. Classical man called this Heaven Man Earth – Trinity. Modern man call this Opportunity – Timing and Action.
All things are but a product of IDEATION.
I stand dwarf among the Giants of Practicing Architects liked Lilian Tay, Suzanne, Sonny Chan and the rest but I find the similarity of concerns that the programmes are too generic and not much gravity was given to addressing issues and how one use Architecture as a mean to address such issues. There are plenty of efforts on technical skills but as compared to other institutions, credit is given to the use of model, computer rendering and sketches as tools for design.
What is in a Business of Architecture? What makes a FIRM ticking? It is again the model of production – A Stage, A Script and The Crews.
A Stage – Is defined as a Hardware. Its address speaks a thousand words. A Firm in CBD is different from a Firm in the Suburb. The Location, Imagery and its Organization gives meaning to a BRAND. Your office represents what and who you are!
The Crews – Is defined by its ORGANIZATION. Organization is who’s who within the confine of an Office (Stage). There is a “BOSS”, called it by whatever name – CEO, MD, Managing Partner, Principal, he is the “Fountain Head”. He alone makes the ultimatum. If you have 2, the organization is going to doom. Subsequently, it is ROLE PLAYING. The head is supported by his team, all in it is called the ADMINISTRATION. Different components or ROLES are classified as PRODUCTION, MARKETING, IT and so on so forth, each potentially becomes a full-fledged company in itself. Crossing this line, it is an amalgamation of Holding Company with its Subsidiaries. This ORGANIZATION defines its POLITIC.
THE SCRIPT – Each Crew liked an ACTOR has different SCRIPT such as LEADERSHIP, STAFFING, DIRECTING and CONTROLING.
Leadership is best done by example. There are basically 2 types of leadership – the BOSS and the LEADER. You choose…
Staffing is what you want your staff to be 5 years down the road. There is a different between a Career and a Job. Every employee should have a Career path, not just a Job scope!
Directing is another word for Communication. Right communication is essential. If the instruction is clear, the execution erred – it is the executives’ mistake. If the instruction is unclear, the execution erred – it is the superior’s mistake. Communication is to put a decision into action and worse of all is no decision and not wrong decision. It is judgement call. Everyone should have it. For standardization is good practice to lay them down as SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and DL (Discretionary Limits).
Controlling is the flow of authority. If it originates from the top, it is called top down control and there are various sort of controls. What is your preference?
When you gel all these together, you get yourself a FIRM.
Many years ago, the Board had in placed the Noblest Scale of Fee called the Scale of Minimum Fee Rule (SMFR) and one Towering Figure of that Time, almost sharing the same stature of “Lord of the Rings - Gandalf”, our grandfather Architect nick-named “The King of the Loo” has risen to awake newbies architect that “Thou Shall Not Undercut Your Professional Fee” or “You shall Face the Full Force of the Board!”. Such “commandments” shiver through the spines of every newbies architects to the extent that one committed suicides because of such!
In reality, with the exception of Government Jobs, no private practice actually go by it or rather openly admitted to have not complying to SMFR, a staggering FACT shown by the polls conducted by both the Board and the Institute. Yet, the noble of noblest Board happily admitted that fact and the irony is these practices agree that such Rule shall be continued for perpetuity as it safeguard the interest of the practitioners. Now you know why Newbies are forced to take jobs at ridiculously low price as nobody has faith in this archaic rule.
For the benefits of Newbies so that they are not caught red-handed of committing such heinous “crime”, this is how the BIG BOYS did it. Assuming Construction Cost = RM100,000,000.00, “market Fee” (1.2%) = RM 1,200,000.00. What is in their appointment letter reflects, Construction Cost = RM30,000,000.00 and the Scale of Fee Rule (4%) = RM 1,200,000.00. Even with the compliance of the SMFR, one is able to manipulate the figures and that is how BIG FIRMS are doing to protect the interest of their shareholders. You are technically in compliance to the Rule.
SMFR is again going to be the same stale subject in the Professional Qualifying Examination but as a matter of surviving the Red Ocean to the Newbies, pledging your alliance to such will only make you death by hunger unless one is born with a silver spoon.
Let’s look at what is in a BRAND. There are 4 quadrants to where your products are graded: -
The first quadrant is where your product is too generic and has no exposure WHATSOEVER to the market thus being irrelevant. In simple word, what is your Architecture? If you are doing the sort of Architecture as just another production oriented firm, you are in the stage of HOPELESS. This is where most startups are.
The second quadrant will see your product move vertical upward. You need your product to be relevant! So, technically you sell your stuff to Design and Built contractors and Developers who can immediately tap into your resources either on pro-bono, below market price or delay gratification basis. At this stage you move from being technically competent to technically intimate with relationship builds after time. You will be known among the circles of people who employed you and to a certain degree take advantages of you. Such your product or Architecture is still very generic in nature. This is what is probably known as COMMERCIAL ARCHITECT. You are just ONE of MANY!
The third quadrant is a horizontal approach. You tend to be Artistic and Passionate about what you are designing. You may have a grand scheme that nobody wants. Who cares? It fills your ego but it may not fill your hunger. You are born rich and you have no family to feed. It is OKAY! This is the sort of Stararchitect in the making. The Primadonna that NOT anyone can be. Your product is so distinctively individual that it is waiting for the right Audience to appear and to accept. The fact is you remain IRRELAVANT.
The fourth quadrant is a GRAND BRAND. It is highly relevant meaning acceptance by the Public and absolutely distinctive. This is where most of the successful practices are. What has it in common?
Your product must be CREDIBLE. Being credible means there must be a degree of trusts put upon your product either in production, services or design. Credibility can only be built upon years but you can destroy within second. That is why BRAND promises, INDIVDUAL don’t.
Your product must be UNIQUE but not necessary functional. There must be some kind of architectural concoction that only you can produce and everybody can remember it. That is your kind of Architecture.
Your product must be RELEVANT. In other words it must be CONTEXTUAL, FINANCIALLY and TECHNOLOGICALLY VIABLE and SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE to a certain degree of POLITICALLY CORRECT. There must be the audience or consumer that constantly consume your product and perpetually financing you.
Your product must be MOTIVATING. It must create a following, a campaign or a movement so that the masses are your believers. This is where you make your product like a cult, religion or the “Opium”. You subconsciously imprint your Brand into people’s thought. You manipulating their desires and selections without giving people choice for selection.
In summary, reaching the Grand Brand is not too far off. It is a diagonal movement along the 4 quadrants. You make a balance between “one of many” and “waiting to happen”. Ultimately translating into creating your very own BLUE OCEAN.