My summer experience at Disney World has been great.  I have learned much about project management and leadership during my quick three months here.  First, lets talk about leadership.  From Alec, I learned that organizational leadership involves leveraging professional skills, speaking the language, and investing in your team.  Leveraging professional skills involves combining the skills of a project manager with those of a professional, such as an architect or engineer.  I believe that this is forward thinking;  many project managers seem to have worked their way into the position.  Rightfully so, they deserve credit for their ascent.  However, these project managers sometime lack the technical skills to solve the problems in the field.  Brad was an excellent example of how a project manager can step out of the project management role and be an active member of solving design problems by leveraging his Professional Engineer license.  Second, speaking the language is important.  Alec consistently referenced terms that are widely used or systems that have been developed; this helps us communicate across organizations, as well as extends our credibility.  Third, Alec makes a point about investing in the team.  More than any manager I have seen, he meets with his staff and gets into their projects.  He is actively helping them all succeed.   He also nurtures talent by meeting with even interns one on one.  Leadership and promotion are things actively and strategically thought about; they do not simply happen because you do a great job, although that always helps.

What made our conversations interesting was that they were focused on “high level” talks.  What I found particularly interesting was the idea that executives are always asking the next question.  It seems simple, but indeed it is true.  The boss always knows what question to ask next.  So workers below the boss always must be thinking ahead if they ever want to move up.   

There was another remarkable moment about my internship, in which I realized, I can wait for the rest of my life for everyone to tell me how an HVAC system works, smoke detection, or sprinklers, etc; or I can simply start paying more attention.  Some of the best thinkers in the world have been the most curious.  What is excellent about the field of architecture or construction is that through observance and curiosity you can learn very much.  This new eye sight of mine, logically, I feel comes at an opportune time.  Most of my design career, I have been able to see the big picture, such as arranging spaces, entries, exits, etc.  Now, however, I realize it is the pieces; the door, the jamb, the strike, the latch paddle, the closer, that make a building work.  It is the very pieces and how they come together.  When thought in this light, an architect’s role is not only designing, but calling out, labeling, illustrating.  Often this involves pre-made components, which make one’s job even easier with a quick search on the internet.  A few interesting details I have noticed:  Any thought on how a handle is attached to a cabinet?  How does the hinge work?   Where exactly does your air conditioning run in the house?  Where is your breaker and what circuits control which parts of the house?  Curiosity is what it takes to move an intern architect to a professional architect.