One More Blog About Form vs. Function

November 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm 5 comments


Babette Burdick
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
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Stop salivating. I’m not going to be discussing the eternal dialectic between architects and engineers. I know the engineers take what architects design and somehow make it function. I know architects take what engineers design and make it aesthetically pleasing.

I’m talking about what form you take to make yourself functional. In any context.

How would you characterize your form? Are you a shape shifter? Do you constantly morph? Are you the same form regardless of situation? Does anyone know what – or whom – to expect when you interface with them? Do you take your form on and off like a suit of clothes? Are you play-acting? Are you authentic…Ever?

How does the form you take impact your function – and your value – to your organization? Are you the loose cannon no one wants to deal with because they never get the same “you” twice? Do you hide behind your engineering degree and your technical jargon so that you are impenetrable except to your peers – and therefore difficult to communicate with? Are you constantly striving to earn style points (literally) by putting yourself on an artistic pedestal and making your clients feel uncomfortable – even though they are the ones writing the checks for your services? Are you confused about what folks are expecting of you, and therefore inconsistent in actions and, consequently, performance?

We are at the time of the year – and this year particularly – when we need to take stock of ourselves. This is a thought process we should always be engaging in an ongoing basis. You know, continuous self improvement? Why just confine it to your architectural, engineering and planning projects?

If you are so many different things to so many different people based on what you think they want, how do you keep all this functional role-playing straight? Why on earth do you feel that you wouldn’t meet yourself coming and going, eventually?

It’s easier to shape shift than taking some personal inventory and aligning yourself so your form and function are fluid, continuous and authentic time after time. No surprises for anyone anymore. Although this new “you” may surprise you, yourself. Have you ever thought how it would be to effortlessly answer a question from a unified form-function position without thinking out a scripted response aligned with whatever politics you feel you need to support at that time?

So you guys think you don’t have time for this stuff. Too busy hustling new business or completing projects by year end? Compartmentalizing your professional form with function again?

Guess again. There’s no better time than now to figure out how to create steady-state dynamics between your form and function. Unfortunately they didn’t teach you – or any of us – about this in engineering school. The real world throws continuous curve balls at us. Most of us spend our lives dodging them or avoiding them rather than anticipating them and incorporating them. The big secret is that compartmentalization of the personal from the professional side of things doesn’t work.

Look around you and figure out how many shape-shifters are in your workplace. Is shape shifting encouraged? Does it result from a management style that leaves everyone in the dark…. Perhaps on purpose? Is this type of atmosphere toxic to your career and personal development? Are you ignoring this situation and hoping things resolve? How functional is all this shape shifting?

OK. I’ve made my point. I also encourage you to follow a similar discussion titled: “Are You Impeccable With Your Word?” on my blog at Sales Aerobics for Engineers. You see, I couldn’t compartmentalize this week, writing one distinct blog for my readers and another for the Civil Engineering Central audience. The two blogs are both parts of a whole. They invite dialogue.

Your thoughts?

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Entry filed under: Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Project Management, Uncategorized.

Happy Thanksgiving Civil Engineers Giving Back To The Community

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Babette Burdick  |  January 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing your personal revelation. It’s our realization that we must take the road less traveled that eventually leads us to consistency, confidence and peace in who we are.

    Reply
  • 2. huro  |  January 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Very insightful post.

    I am a recovering shape-shifter. I did it at school, with my relatives, certain groups of peers and at work. Who I truly was became unclear.

    Then, my Wife became the constant in my life and snapped me out of it.

    Reply
  • 3. Babette Burdick  |  January 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Good observation, Brandon. I’d also like to see a business class or two thrown into the engineering school mix. Sometimes the architects and the engineers get caught up in the technical / aesthetic aspects of their solutions and lose the client’s perspective. Clients will focus on successful end usage of the space, including revenue generated from the completed space for example. Sp having a business perspective is nice cross-training as well.

    Reply
  • 4. Brandon Lee  |  January 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I wish engineering school had some related industry classes thrown in to understand how much form and how much function there should be. I am considering taking architecture classes for this very reason. It’s sometimes hard to see what an architect intends on his plans. And of course making the engineering work, to the architect’s and client’s vision is the whole point of our jobs.

    On a smaller scale this idea of function/form can definitely clash in a workplace environment.

    Reply
  • 5. aepcentral  |  November 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Babette – great blog…as always!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Matt

    Reply

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