You may recall Build Pittsburgh 2013’s keynote speaker, Barry Svigals, FAIA? Energetic and optimistic, he spoke of the importance of collaboration, of the ever-increasing need it is playing in the AEC industry, and of how we can open ourselves up to be more collaborative throughout our daily and professional lives. He spoke on this topic not just as an architect, but also as someone who believes so strongly in its message that he has researched and penned a book on it, titled simply Collaboration.
A modest publication, Collaboration is part tool, part sketchbook, with drawings and illustrations present on nearly every page. The tone is that of a gentle reminder – not heavy-handed by any means – pointing out basic needs and steps to help towards successful collaboration while giving some background and leveling the playing field. “Trust is the foundation for everything collaborative…. We all bring so much baggage into the room. That is why concern, suspicion and unspoken criticism must be articulated and resolved at the outset.”
While an architect by trade, Svigals does not narrow the scope of collaboration that he writes about. He speaks of the idea in broad terms, as it could apply to anybody, to any situation, acknowledging that the opportunities for such teamwork occur all of the time, if we are able to embrace them and be open to the experience. The first half of the book is dedicated to “The DNA of Collaboration”, in which qualities are highlighted and defined as necessary components. Beyond trust, mentioned above, there is candor, humor, inclusion, and participation, among others. The second half of the book is broken down into “Obstacles”, “Pathways to Success”, and “Incentives”, addressing how to successfully move forward once a collaboration has begun as well as giving real life examples of both successes and failures .
Early on, the book defines itself as a text that “tries to uncover the fundamentals of simply working together effectively and discusses the essential nature of successful, collaborative relationships.,” and it succeeds. It is short enough to be a quick read, and small enough to be kept close at hand, be it on a coffee table or office bookshelf, to be pulled out and referred to as needed. The one down-side this reviewer found was the cost – while one cannot always put a price on ideas, the $29.95 price tag felt a bit steep for the 80 page book. But maybe having a resource on collaboration and (for all intents and purposes) written pep talk at your fingertips is considered a steal, especially if it led to more beneficial collaborations.