How to Avoid Making the Same Mistake Twice in your Architectural Practice

Making mistakes is a natural part of learning. Making similar or the same mistakes multiple times means your not actually learning from those experiences. What can we do better to learn from our mistakes?

-Identify where the cause of mistakes is coming from and repair those specific parts of your system.

-Create a list (or model) for what not to do when you come across that situation again in practice.

-Repair holes in your process that might have lead to this mistake happening in the first place.

By taking a hard look at errors, we can identify weaknesses in our methods or systems that lead to them and then work on ways to avoid repeating them. By creating models of what NOT TO DO next time around, it becomes easier for us as designers to take advantage of past lessons learned. However, if we want these new changes implemented into our practices so they become habits instead of just another lesson learned, we need to implement processes to avoid them.

For example, did the client request something you didn’t think of? Was it unclear which decision was final and binding? Did someone’s lack of clarity or communication lead to an error being made by someone else on your team? If so, then these are all things that need attention before another mistake is made. Think about where something broke down in your process. What could have been done to prevent this mistake?

These are all issues that can be addressed by implementing processes. The best way to ensure everything will go smoothly during future projects is not only learning about past mistakes but also taking steps towards preventing new ones. If you have a process but it’s not written down then it’s not really a process. You have to write it down. I use Asana to plan my projects. Each step leads to the next. You can use something as simple as a word document.

Once you have a process in place, then it’s important to stick with it. It shouldn’t change from project-to-project or week-to-week, but it should be updated consistently. Make sure the people who are involved in your processes know what they’re supposed to be doing and when they need to do it by writing down deadlines for everyone so that no one is left guessing about their responsibilities.

Learn from your mistakes. Understand that mistakes are human. They don’t mean your a bad designer or person. They are only learning experiences and needed to be treated as such. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow from your experience and tighten up your process.

I’m an Architect. My favorite thing to do is create stories through architectural design. Founder of Whitewash Studio architecture firm in Atlanta, GA.