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Strategies in the time of the Corona Virus


American Institute of Architects, Montana Chapter Newsletter

Reprint from: AIA Montana Newsletter 3/17/2020

Strategies in the time of the Corona Virus
Sophia Sparklin, AIA – Immediate Past President

 With Corona creating great uncertainty, a community like ours can be a platform to exchange things that work. In the next weeks, let’s bring our community in Montana to life with our insights and questions. Have you learned valuable lessons in remote work? Discovered great tools? Found a secret source of toilet paper? While we may be facing more self-isolation, and less in-person events (including the postponed AIA 2020 LA conference), we can still have an active community.

Personally, I’d also like to urge you to be patient and compassionate with yourself and each other. We are resilient, and will make it through this, but based on what I’m hearing from family and friends in other places, it might get tough.

So in case you find your team working remotely, I would like to share one insight from the last nine years of a hybrid team, with some people in our Great Falls office, and other team members in multiple towns,  states and countries. Regardless of your tools of choice:

Overcommunicate. As in over-clarifying, until you really are on the same page. The reason I bring this up is that when we are face to face in the same space, these things get naturally clarified as we go. In a remote situation you can go a long time until you notice the disconnect. And that can get very painful fast.

So overcommunicate so much it feels obnoxious. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it is really helpful. Most people believe that they are perfectly clear in their communications, because we all have internal context and technicolor vision of what we think. Transmitting that to other is actually really hard. My husband taught me this when he returned from his first wildfire deployment. At fire camp, they have to say important things three times, repeating things back and forth, like in old fashioned radio-communications. It works in our marriage too.

For more reading in this, I will refer back to Brené Brown’s recommendation to “paint a picture of what DONE looks like”, and her TASC checklist. Hang in there, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Sophia Sparklin

Growing up in a family with generations in medical practice, Sophia discovered her passion for architecture during an internship 1996. Since then Sophia received formal and informal education in Germany and the US. At Arizona State University she was honored by the Henry Adams Certificate for graduating on top of her (Master of Architecture) class in 2005.