Blue Ridge Architects

Architects in Harrisonburg Virginia

Collaboration vs. Compromise

Collaboration vs. Compromise

by Welby Lehman, Associate AIA, LEED Green Associate

I hear about collaboration and compromise a lot these days. Universities are seeking collaborative learning environments. Many wonder if our politicians will compromise.  Both collaboration and compromise imply that separate entities have come together accomplish something or find unity.

With compromise, each side has staked its position and the outcome is known: somewhere in the middle. The objective is personal and often filled with selfishness and antagonism–how much of “my way” can I get and how can I make sure I still look good when this is all over. With compromise, neither entity is truly happy with the outcome.

With collaboration, each entity brings its knowledge, experience, and open mind rather than a set position. The outcome will be formed, expanded, refined, and discovered through the collaborative process. The objective is communal–what is the best we can achieve. With collaboration, the result often meets or exceeds high expectations.

The distinction between these verbs is the difference between a painstaking process with mediocre results and an enjoyable process with positive results.

In my first year of architecture school at Virginia Tech, my classmates and I were given a group assignment. We were to design a display of our first semester work in the lobby of our building. There was some compromise in getting 15 design students to do a single thing. There were times when expletives flew, but the prevailing attitude was one of collaboration. The best ideas where used, consensus was reached, efforts were shared. The result was unpredictable and even continued to transform each night of the show. Each student knew we had created something better than the individual work that was intended to be displayed. We abandoned the original idea to allow our collaboration to stand on its own. In the end, our faculty said our project was the best they seen in years.

At Blue Ridge Architects, we strive to be a collaborative partner for your project. We will bring our knowledge and experience to the drawing board with the goal of exceeding your expectations.