Beyond Productivity

Photograph: Jaime Erice Torán

On 13 June 2019, at the Roca Gallery Madrid, we were fortunate enough to be able to take part in the presentation of Eficiencia y productividad en arquitectura” (“Efficiency and Productivity in Architecture”), the new book by Stepienybarno (Agnieszka Stepien and Lorenzo Barnó), published jointly by Fundación Arquia and Catarata. Eva Chacón joined in a debate with Gerardo García-Ventosa and Pacho Camino, and one of the questions raised was about the main principles on which our day to day activity is based in order to be more productive. Eva’s answer is summarised below.

The first thing, undoubtedly, is to have learned to know ourselves. Over and above the classic SWOT, the really good thing is to know what interests you in life. To find that leitmotif in your personal history underlying every decision that’s brought you to where you are, the values that make you who you are, the purpose that can direct your every action, like a magnet.

Deciphering your personal identity also helps you gravitate, either naturally or by design, towards other people and professionals who share your values and interests. It’s a decisive step for being able to create work teams where each member of the team occupies the place that best corresponds to their talent, where each one is the best at what they do and is engaged in what interests them the most.

For us, an architecture studio or workshop is, like any other business, a means of transport for taking us on a journey: the journey of life. The second principle is therefore the construction of a shared vision.

If the objectives of a strategic plan haven’t been shared, enriched and periodically reviewed by a company management equipped with instruments for collaborative work, if they haven’t been subjected to analysis by that collective intelligence, they’ll be difficult to achieve. What kind of world do you want to help create? What’s your role in that change? Shared vision brings together all lines of thought, values, feelings and actions and points them in the same direction, covering everything from the biggest objectives right down to the tiniest, most mundane tasks.

The third thing we base any productivity strategy on is training our ability to concentrate. Wherever you place your attention, you also place your energy. It’s not just a question of doing, but of doing with intent: of being very proactive when deciding what to prioritise, what to do and what not to do. For example, learning to say no to clients or jobs that don’t concur with your purpose and values, or knowing how to differentiate the tasks you should do personally from those you should delegate to the appropriate member of the team.

Acquiring that mental clarity takes practice. And training for it is a lifelong commitment. It’s not a skill you learn and can then forget about. As happens with creativity, to a large extent staying concentrated requires you to cultivate good habits of self-care, exercise and contact with Nature: activities that allow you to disconnect from your daily professional obligations. Because Architecture won’t be everything in your life. Or will it?

Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
- Luis Llopis i Eva Chacón - @luisbonsai, arquitecto ETSAM 1992: Tengo varios másteres y bla, bla. Me apasiona la arquitectura de Fallingwater, viajar tomando apuntes en mi cuaderno de dibujo, y desconectar sumergiéndome en el mundo submarino. @evabonsai, arquitecta ETSAG, 2006: Yo también tengo másteres, doctorado, etc. Soy curiosa por naturaleza, amante de la 'cocina' arquitectónica y la buena música. Si no me encuentras, búscame subida a alguna cubierta, árbol o montaña con buenas vistas. Nos vemos en las redes y en

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