Date: October 12, 2018
Location: Knoll Showroom 1050 K Street NW, Washington, DC
Led by: Ryan Petyak and Katie Selis
Session Sponsors: One Source Associates, Inc.
Location Sponsors: Knoll
Refreshment Sponsors: The Smith
Ryan Petyak and Katie Selis organized the first session titled “Working Together,” which was held at the Knoll Showroom in Washington DC. Throughout the afternoon scholars learned how understanding personal characteristics, promoting creative collaboration, and practicing effective communication would encourage a successful, productive, and supportive workplace. Prior to the session, everyone was asked to complete a Life Styles Inventory (LSI) assessment, the results of which were discussed by the first presentation speaker, Cable Clarke. Next the scholars participated in a series of collaborative activities built on the foundations of improv comedy led by Shawn Westfall. Finally, David Shave-Brown gave a presentation on how to translate the skills learned during this session into the practice of architecture.
Presentation #1 – Industry Culture
Cable Clarke, CEO of Clarke Consulting, began the session with a presentation focused on understanding the impact individual behaviors and personal traits have on the culture and climates of industries, agencies, and organizations. With over twenty years of experience, Cable shared past experiences with clients and discussed how the leadership styles of those at the top have a lasting impact on the perception and effectiveness of a company. For example, during the presentation the scholars were shown a series of logos from well-known institutions and asked to recount their official mottos and then describe how this informed cultural assumptions.
The remaining portion of the presentation discussed the results of the LSI assessment taken prior to the session. Cable reviewed how the results can be interpreted and described ways in which everyone could improve in areas they saw fit in order to become more constructive and effective leaders. The scholars were challenged to consider potential areas of improvement and what they might be able to focus on over the next 7 months, and will retake the assessment at the end of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program to determine if the work was effective. Cable offered to be a resource to the scholars for guidance through this process.
Presentation #2 – Improv
Shawn Westfall, CEO of Commedia Partners, lead the scholars through a series of improv comedy exercises during the second presentation of the session. Through growling like tigers, split second karaoke, trying to sound British, and constructing single word-by-word sentences from a six headed doctor the scholars learned the importance of the “Yes, And” principle.
Utilizing his previous experience in marketing as well as his expertise in improv, Shawn demonstrated how open communication, egoless behavior, and encouraging trust between colleagues can lead to better and more creative collaboration. At the end of the presentation the scholars discussed how using the same mindset learned in improvised comedy could be brought into their workplace. The scholars learned that eye contact, being vulnerable, not overthinking, and having fun are simple strategies to develop creative communication skills.
Presentation #3 – Application
David Shove-Brown, Partner at //3877, concluded the session with a presentation on understanding how the day’s lessons could be applied directly to the architectural profession. With previous experience in both personality assessment programs and improv seminars, David was able to demonstrate aspects he personally uses in his own firm. The presentation first focused on the awareness that architects are not taught how to be collaborative in school, and how the reality of the profession requires complete collaboration with clients, consultants and colleagues. David shared his experience of surrounding himself with team members that compliment his weaknesses through their strengths. He also described action items the scholars could start using in their daily work and small tasks that could have a large impact on effective operations. Next, David shared 10 rules for conversation and strategies were discussed for developing communication skills. Finally, David encouraged the scholars to employ empathy, use clear communication tools, and to be willing to address difficult topics in order to improve relationships within an organization as well as with the clients they are working with. The scholars learned that human connection is important to be a successful leader.