Responsibility and Integrity
Ian Johnson 1998

A year or two out of high school and before studying architecture, I worked with a good four partner firm of Sydney architects. One partner 'took me under his wing' so to speak. He ensured that I had a good team and left me to sort design and team management through.

At the opening of a new wing which my team had produced at an exclusive private school. The schools' chairperson, head and other luminaries loudly and decoratively  commended the design and process along with my mentor, the firm's partner. He, was a very fine person and one of the deepest honesty (still, I had better not name him.) He replied that he had nothing at all to do with the success and that this solely rested on my immature shoulders.

I could have shrunk through the soles of my shoes. As in any firm the risk was all his, the choice of team leader and designer was his, the choice as to whether or not to intervene at any stage in the process was his as was the degree of oversight he wished to pursue. In short, the responsibility, benign or otherwise was his.

My own pleasure and return came of producing the work and from the greater responsibility and potential income which may follow successful work.

As my mentor spoke, I knew that this was not in the best interest of the firm or even my own. These people took no pleasure in hearing that the work they had applauded as of appropriate quality did not come from the hand of the person they trusted to achieve it. They had selected their architect for past achievement, respectability and communication and may have felt that this was thrown in their face. Demeanour for the rest of the evening was distinctly sullen and the firm never received another commission from that source to my knowledge.

Perhaps the point, if there is one, is that responsibility runs much deeper than the surface. Return does likewise. There is little need in having ones name over the things with which one has been involved. In the long run all things are a team effort anyway and the firm having aggregated responsibility for the team is the rightful place of ownership of the work.
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