Can marriage between a creative and a control freak be a happy one?

Charles 1 Comment

Project manager


The relationship between architects and project managers in the construction industry is always icky. The architect is the creative visionary; the project manager is the person tasked with co-ordinating suppliers and service providers so as to bring the vision in on time, in budget, to the client’s satisfaction. Architects tend to want more than they can have. “No, we can’t use those bricks,” a project manager will say, “they’re too expensive.” Architects reckon they are in charge; project managers know they are. Architects often feel that the tail is wagging the dog.

Not unlike the relationship between a celebrant and an undertaker, perhaps?

An analysis by Gerrit Muller of Buskerud University College highlights the differences between celebrants and undertak… I mean, architects (A) and project managers (PM). In a comparison of caricature characteristics of both parties, Muller suggests that:

A = independent, PM = conformist; A = critical, PM = demanding; A = curious, PM = control minded.

Leadership values.  A = based on knowledge and vision; PM = based on key performance indicators – title creates expectations – task-driven. 

Goal.  A = best possible solution; PM = highest hierarchical level. 

Design. A = elegant; PM = if it works it’s okay. 

Application.  A = perfect fit; PM = no complaints. 

Changes.  A = fact of life; PM = avoid changes. 

In order to get the best from the relationship, Muller proposes:



Leadership instead of task-driven management

Process orientation instead of hierarchical organizations


Mutual Respect

Recognition of diversity and nonconformity

Reverse Appraisal

Stimulating open communication



  1. Charles

    Spot on – even though my brain started to hurt as I pondered process orientation and reverse appraisal. However, teamwork and mutual respect seem like good places to start.

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