I was watching a programme recently similar to the MasterChef format only this one was with ten talented would-be interior designers. The designers all came from a variety of different backgrounds, all hoping for a change of career and to become the winner who would go on to design a room in a London hotel.
The Project Brief
For their first project, the group were split into two with each group allocated a new showhouse to design. Each designer had previously been allocated a room in the house and were asked to bring their design along to share with their new team members. It was at this point, the project lead addressed both groups and reminded them about how important it was that the house design had an overall cohesiveness, and it would require them to work together as a team.
The Completed Project
What was interesting was how quickly egos emerged and “I’m not changing my design” heard more than a few times. Instead of collaborating, we saw designers choose to forge ahead flying solo with their original designs.
So how did they all get on? Many of us are familiar with the show’s format, it’s to eliminate each week, one designer until they find their winner. After completing the showhouses, three designers fell into the at-risk-to-go group and as it happened, all were from the same group.
What was their showhouse like I hear you ask. Well, the living room was finished in vivid pink with cerise pink panels, the master bedroom painted black, and a child’s bedroom an overall sugary pink and gold.
On viewing the completed showhouse, what was obvious was the total lack of cohesiveness in the overall house design plus zero thought had been given to the initial brief – to design a showhouse that would appeal to a number of different tastes.
The pink living room was deemed not a place to relax, the black bedroom, described by the designer as “romantic,” unlikely to appeal, and the sugary pink child’s room devoid of any design talent whatsoever.
More than a little surprised the three at-risk-to-go designers expressed their surprise at the final judgement and went on to defend their designs. In the end, the first to get booted out was the designer who had created the pink living room.
And that’s how ego can lose you business.
Dropping the Ego
When you get a new project, it can be so exciting as it’s a way of showing off what you can do. But if you plough ahead with what you think the client needs and not what they want, it’s a fast route to losing the confidence of the client or worse the contract.
When you take on a new project, it’s a collaborative process – between you, the client, and anyone else there to support the completion of that project. And it’s here that you need to drop the ego and listen to the client and the brief outlined. If the client is way off about what’s needed to achieve their vision, you’re there to offer suggestions and solutions.
The Client’s Vision
Remember, the client had to have hired you because of your previous work, expertise, or a referral. They are expecting you to bring your expertise to the table and offer ideas and suggestions as to how to bring their vison to fruition. That’s what they’re paying you for. However, to complete the project could mean you are working with a vision that is totally unlike your own. And if you’re going to struggle with that, you’ll need a backup plan like a trust fund in place – because you’re going to need it.