21st April 2020

Don’t read other people’s design comments.

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Initially, at least.

I make quite frequent changes to my own working practices, both to keep it fresh but also in search of a magical productivity improvement. Many of them I’ve kept; such as following Uncle Elon’s purge of acronyms and dabbling with the Pomodoro technique for particularly focused sections of work.

But lately I’m working to eradicate the pitfalls of groupthink and trying not to constrain myself with the thinking of other people.

Peer review is a critical pillar of an effective Architecture Practice and it’s an area of Architecture I genuinely enjoy. The sense of putting your name on the line and being judged by your peers encourages high quality work. On particularly contentious issues I feel more motivated to check my thinking, reference the facts and generally put more effort in to my designs.

Recently I’ve come to notice that during peer reviews the first person to review tends to set the focus for subsequent reviews. Comments naturally group and it isn’t unusual for mistakes within a design to be entirely missed because it’s more tempting to build on the comments of another than offer a fresh perspective.

This is especially prevalent when collaboration takes place on a centrally stored document; and when it does I aim to revert to original markup and add my comments without the prompt of others. I’ve learned a lot from this approach and seeing where my comments support or oppose others makes for interesting debate.