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Getting on the Same Page
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Getting on the Same Page

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

For years now, the power of teamwork and the communication it requires have been recurring, primary themes in the pages of WaterShapes.

It’s no secret that, more than ever before, the design, engineering and construction of custom watershapes of all sorts is a multi-disciplinary undertaking that involves project teams that might include architects, landscape architects, engineers, geologists, interior designers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors, among others.

Certainly, there are still many of you who work start to finish on projects as solo, self-contained operations, but even a brief survey among top-level watershapers these days reveals that many (if not most) are working quite frequently as team members in close concert with other professionals.

This is nothing short of an evolutionary step in watershaping – one that carries broad implications.

For starters, many have told me that the role of the watershaping consultant, designer or contractor is now frequently on par with that of other players on the team – a trend Brian Van Bower explores in his column this month (click here). In fact, Brain points out the increasing frequency with which he’s hearing about projects where watershapers are the driving forces behind (rather than adjuncts to) overall landscape designs. Likewise, in situations where watershapes are integral to structures, more and more watershapers are working with architects from projects’ very first stages.

Yet another consequence of the team concept, especially for those who work well with others, is that these situations – where professionalism and trust are of paramount importance – become tremendous resources in generating project leads and referrals. Repeatedly, in fact, I’ve heard that many of the most lucrative and creative projects these days are coming not so much from clients, but more often from professional referrals among team members impressed by each others’ capabilities.

Carried in this trend is a distinct need to communicate effectively, both in person and through project documentation. In today’s world of electronic communication and computer-aided design, those who are up to speed in the use of the vast array of available tools certainly have an advantage over those who prefer not to get involved with modern CAD technology, but that edge only exists when those doing the communicating manage to find common ground.

These points are underscored by engineer and watershaper David Peterson, owner of Watershape Consulting, Inc. (Carlsbad, Calif.), in “Playing by Rules,” which you’ll find by clicking here. This is the first in a series of discussions on the National CAD Standards (NCS), a huge, collaborative document produced by leading trade organizations, software suppliers and large architecture and design firms to define and address a range of formatting, layering and nomenclature issues that have emerged in the wake of CAD’s rise to common use.

The aim here is to encourage interoperability among firms using CAD technology to pursue their projects. Those involved all recognize the simple fact that if professionals aren’t using these systems in sensible, predictable and consistent ways, the chances for orderly progression of coordinated work on projects is severely hampered.

Before seeing this article, I confess that I’d never thought about this issue or of the need for a standard, but it all makes sense: The benefit of everyone literally being on the same page with their computerized documentation is crystal clear. Peterson’s hope (and ours at WaterShapes), is that professionals who work on teams – and even those who don’t, because who knows what the future may bring? – will explore the NCS, hone the skills needed for effective, consistent cross-disciplinary communication and ultimately push the teamwork concept to even greater heights.

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