The Art of Seeking Professional Services

The Mayor of Hamelin Syndrome.

The Pied Piper Syndrome is a term often used to refer to people blindly following a trend, similar to the folklore about the children of Hamelin who followed the mesmerising tunes of the Pied Piper’s musical instrument. While trends have often lured architects through early movements such as the Neo classical, Gothic, Art Deco to the later Deconstructivism, Sustainable and Passive Houses, this article choses to explore another aspect of the Pied Piper narrative, one which has often been overlooked. Why did the Pied Piper choose to lure the children away in the first place? The obvious answer was that he had not been paid his dues.

The reason for not having been paid his dues, was that the Mayor of the Town felt that removing rats from the city was hardly any task worth paying for. Further, the Mayor felt that the Pied Piper could not do anything even if he was not paid. This clearly demonstrated the myopic vision of Mayor as an administrator. The Mayor was not even concerned about the fact that some rats may return in the future and that the Pied Piper’s help may be required again. Thus in a way, the Mayor triggered a tragic event which had the potential to have far reaching consequences for so many people.

A very similar situation exists commonly in India, where people take pride in “making” their own houses, factories and buildings, never mind the violation of building and safety codes and the risk to their lives as well as those of living in those spaces. Seeking professional help has mutated into a strange, self destructive habit which compromises the very basis of objective of approaching a professional.

Let us take the typical example of a person who has fever. Instead of approaching a doctor, this person will first open his medicine drawer and take whatever medicine is lying in the drawer. A few days after not recovering, he will approach a doctor. He will take medicines prescribed by the doctor for one day and on the very next day he will seek advice from a homeopath, another doctor and a spiritual healer and continue to take some of the medicines prescribed by all the people he has seen. If he does not recover( or his health gets worse), he will blame all the people he has seen and also blame it on fate.

A similar dismal situation exists in architecture as well. People and organisations often approach Architects for advice on designing a house or a township for example. Half way through the project, they feel that they can complete the project on their own. They feel they can save some money by not paying the Architect’s and other engineering consultant’s fees and often feel that they can get away with it. It is not possible to calculate the tremendous damage they have caused to their own project doing so.

Any project is dynamic entity with its own unique challenges and opportunities. The professionals such as Architects/ Engineers, need to monitor it regularly (if not in real time) and evolve on their own designs in the best interest of the project.  Discontinuing the Architect’s services half way is similar to pulling out your close relative from an operation theatre, half way through the operation while the body may still be open. It is extremely important to let the project achieve a full closure before it is made operational and open for public use. In fact, it is worthwhile to keep in touch with the technical consultants even after the project has been completed.

Abandoning Professional services should always be the last resort. In case there is a genuine dissatisfaction with the Professional services provider, it is always a good idea to let your concerns be known, before taking extreme steps. While discontinuing professional services may initially appear to be financially appealing, the long term costs often far supersede the savings.

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