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Whose scope is it?

In any family matrix, who takes the servile role of cooking in the kitchen & doing laundry for the home? Who is responsible for buying groceries & vegetables? Which family member is responsible to lead the household repair works? Were these roles assigned to each family member or has each one voluntarily developed a sense of responsibility towards a particular role of their expertise? It’s only when the daily routine gets disturbed – could be due to financial crisis or a family member being unwell or when the maid takes a day off or when any unforeseen task arises in addition to one’s assigned task , it’s about time each family member is reminded about their scope of work. I have been highly intrigued to understand does this family matrix works in such situations? Is each member entitled to adapt & adjust with time and situation? Does that mean a temporary or permanent shift of roles? We need that kind of flexibility, right!

Quite parallel in our field, we make a family of clients, architects, consultants (engineers) & contractors with pre-defined roles for each member working towards a common goal – The Project (Our Child, Our Baby). And as we all know, in this matrix each family member has it’s own strength basis which the roles have been assigned. Said that, through my experience I have come to realize that some members of the family haven’t been fulfilling their roles which has forced us (Architects) to take up additional responsibilities. This has now put me in a spot to question this very fact, are we all contributing equally towards making a healthy family – a successful project? To elaborate further, I’ll be sharing some relevant experiences from one of the projects I have been working on since the past 2 years, which made me realize that our roles are in a messy situation. As it appears (all phases of the hospital design to be captured through these photos – to be added), this sweet 120 beds Hospital Project, Oops! Sorry, 100 beds Hospital Project, sorry again, 90 beds Hospital project, finally (hopefully) 71 beds Hospital Project has already been through 200 meetings, 5000 phone calls, endless patience and a bit of myself and the team to reach where it is today. It’s very important for each consultant to support the other during such times. Consultants often tend to give up on the project as it starts consuming more manpower and effort than expected, pushing back the whole team to square one. May be for them there is a possibility that another project in the office seems more exciting than this one. Instead of moving further in synergy it becomes more like one player dragging everyone towards the goal. There are consequences to this, as one sees a change in attitude towards the project.

We tend to move away from a problem solving attitude to a conservative approach by raising the question “Whose scope is it?” every time one encounters a problem. One would agree to the fact that in reality Architects have never played as sole designers but also project strategists, binding all consultants involved. I have been in situations where I have felt “Are we the only one who really care about the project?” Everyone around seems least bothered. There are times when the client’s change their program requirements which leads to major design changes. This makes me wonder maybe everyone around is smarter than me. Maybe we all are sick. This illness creates a sense of dependency. We try to be in the forefront to ensure things keep moving on the project, but we eventually get stuck at the boundaries of decision making. Because it’s not our expertise and hence not a part of our scope. It’s almost like knowing the answer for a question worth 2 crore at KBC and all you have is a one lifeline – phone a friend (expert/consultant). You know it, but still can’t take the risk. One such project meeting wherein all consultants were a part of, served as an eye opener to me. In the middle of conversations about who does what and who’s responsible, Shimul (Our Principal Architect) drew a quick team matrix sketch (Diagram 1) on the lower half of the white board in the conference room. The sketch was similar to the one shown below. No one could deny but accept it, instantly feeling exposed.



I think everyone except the Architect feels safe and less responsible in case of the Team Matrix Diagram 2. Strangely, there are leaders who want to be led.

We are trying hard to make everyone believe in the first case, but the reality is that the team matrix shown in the first sketch is still expanding. This intrigued me to think “Didn’t all of us have the clarity of each one’s scope on the first day? Aren’t we supposed to know and acknowledge our roles & responsibilities? Or are we meant to support others by taking additional responsibilities? Or do we mind doing that? As Architects we are always willing to do that, but up to a point where other members of the family don’t take advantage of it. Will the consultants ever acknowledge that? May be not. May be it’s quite human, if someone is willing to take up your responsibility, one could just choose to spectate.



It may seem weird, but knowing how my brains works, this whole process reminded me of this one scene from the movie "Chupke Chupke(1975)" where the driver ( James) keeps complaining to his Owner about the car not working properly repeating these lines confidently “ Iske differential main lafda hai. ”





Seems like he has identified the problem. PyareMohan (Dharmendra) who happens to be the newly appointed Driver, examines the car and immediately opens it up and fixes the issue. Now this makes us realize that James didn’t care much to fix the car thinking it’s not under his scope to repair the car. He thought his scope was only to drive, whereas Pyaremohan on the other hand didn't care about his scope, not even for a moment. All he knew that there was a problem, he took the effort to examine it and quickly fixed it. This serves as a big sigh of relief for the owner as he realises that Pyaremohan’s effort not only saved his time but it also saved the repair expense. Sometimes one just needs a difference in approach. The project is the car, owner is the client. In the current situation we thrive in, we are nothing but a team of James & Pyaremohans and that’s something we did by choice. May be we are the Pyaremohans for all consultants, but at the same time knowingly or unknowingly, we are being James to the Client (Project Owner). Or may be it’s too impractical to expect everyone to be Pyaremohan. I guess it’s important to choose what role to play at what time instead of going around in circles identifying and limiting ourselves with the scopes. Coming to this point, it could draw a parallel from this one scene from the movie “ Bawarchi (1972)” wherein Rajesh Khanna – The Bawarchi , the newly appointed cook who was more than willing to take up anything that he felt was half-done or left unattended in the house. Be it cleaning the all time slippery floor (where many have slipped and fallen), to washing utensils, from teaching maths to kids to composing songs for the in-house music director, he did it all. While doing so he was always reminded by the family members that he need not get into that, it’s not his scope of work. To which he would politely reply “ Apna Kaam toh sab karte hai, par dusro ka kaam karke jo sukh milta hai, woh aap nahi jante. Mere kaam ki toh tankha mujhe mil jayegi, jahan kaam kiya wahan tankha mil gayi, hisab barabar. Par punye ki kamayi woh hai jo dusro ko sukh deke mile, uska koi mole nahi. Agar aap mujhe double salary bhi denge toh main who punya bechne wala nahi hoon”. Isn’t it a perfect example of a responsible family member? It could be a cook. It could be an architect too.






So moral of the story is Forget the scope, do what’s the need of the hour to keep things going. You may not get rewarded monetarily for extending your scope/support, but eventually the project rewards you, it rewards you by filling your mind with lots of knowledge and endless satisfaction. It’s finally just a step towards creating one big happy and healthy family. It’s happiness.


(I think this state of lockdown has turned all of us into Pyare mohans & bawarchis, forgetting the word scope and doing what’s the need of the hour. Doesn’t matter who does the job, the idea is to support each other)


By Bhavin Patel

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© SJK Architects | 2019