“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”– George Orwell

Somewhere, in every Architect’s career one has encountered a manager–straight out of Orwell’s,  Animal Farm.  If you haven’t, keep living and working – you will. An Orwellian manager that represents the pigs in this classic story. You know the story, the animals take over the farm and displace the human farmer. Eventually, the pigs end up making rules that are more oppressive than the conditions they lived under when the farmer was in charge of the farm.  In an attempt to make it better-they make it worse. It is the only way they know how. They only know how to deal with things, like an animal would. Instead of earning respect, they demand it. That is a fact that is the same at both farm and firm: Respect is earned, NOT demanded.

The problem is within their own head, not outside of it. The initial rules for the farm were designed to be equal for all, to protect all, and to help, all. It was supposed to be an environment of mutual cooperation and growth.  For those not immediately familiar with what the rules are or, perhaps, it has been a while since English Lit. Here they are again:

7 Rules: The 7 Rules of the Farm

1.  Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2.  Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3.  No animal shall wear clothes.
4.  No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
5.  No animal shall drink alcohol in excess. 
6.  No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
7.  All animals are equal.

The pigs, who initially wanted prosperity for all–for the good of the firm–errr, I mean farm–end up reverting to the only way they know how to run things and that is – to make more rules, rules, that of course, they themselves, are an exception to.  In Orwell’s magnificent story, the rules above remain the same as the pigs gain more power, with the addition of a comma where there was previously a period. Then tack on the addendum of the phrase, “except a pig.”  So rule number three from above in its final form states:

3.  No animal shall wear clothes, except a pig.

I once had a Project Manager who was angered by the sight of people talking. He considered ALL talking bad, even though we had a large team that needed to collaborate and discuss situations regarding the building we were designing. He wanted all information to flow through him, he wanted to be the Alpha and the Omega or more properly suited – The entry and exit orafice for project information. Not only is this distrustful, controlling and just plain rude to other people, it is/was dangerous. This manager had a very short, short-term memory and no long-term-memory, at all. (Think: Drew Barrymore’s character in 50 first dates). He could not remember the information that he INSISTED on obtaining only the day before, thus, he deemed it, “A lie” or, simply, a non-event that, simply put, “..never took place.”

Another peculiarity happened when he saw more than two people speaking, his brain identified it as, “A union meeting.” Time and again he would say, “This looks like a G*d D*mn union meeting.” It was, typically, a conversation about flashing, a code, etc. etc. I, myself, have never been to a “union meeting” and not quite sure how one looks? I have always worked in the white collar world of Architecture where most people treat each other, as professionals, and with *gasp* professional courtesy. Evidently, he must have had some experience with “union meetings” at some point in his work life. We tend to assimilate information and assign it to what we are familiar with. He was once, possibly, a riveter on an auto-line, therefore, his mind sees more than three people gathering as a, “union meeting” that is about to commence. Makes sense.

The only time that talking was permissible was when he was part of the conversation, then, it could proceed until he either finished talking or someone else was talking which caused him to immediately lose interest. He had an affinity for the sounds of his own voice and was very much repulsed by the sounds of others voices. Often, mid-sentence (others sentences, not his own) he would growl, “Get back to work!” or throw up his hands while others were talking and say, “I do not give a shit about this, get back to work!” (What he did, “not give a shit about”, was a question that he had asked for an answer to. Again, the short term memory problem.)

Several times during the course of one year he was home for stints of three days and, one time, up to a seven days with “the flu”, however, when other people had to take, only, three hours off to tend to a chronic ear problem with a medical doctor he suggested that they, “..walk to the corner pharmacy and “…buy over-the-counter “drops” and  “..maybe one of those tubes to stick down your ear and light on fire to remove the wax.”  He really was not interested that the problem did not involve “wax” OR “drops” but, that it involved balance and naseau–he simply did not care– and dismissed it as a non-problem.  Why? because it was not his ear or his health.

4.  No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets, except a pig. 

You get the idea, all was bad, except, if it involved him. No one was truly sick, except him. No one knows anything, except him. Alas, All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Some, within Architecture are in awe of these diminutive types who claim they have “done this” or “worked on that” in this country or that one, while, people who actually have worked on large projects and facilites go unnoticed, simply because, we do not boast. Thus, we are somewhow relegated and pigeon-holed while we are managed by someone with an IQ 50+ points lower than our own.  Some of these types claim they have worked on “…projects all over the world” yet, they behave as if the only place they have ever been is to lunch at I-Hop, with table manners and conversational abilities commensurate with that level of dining.  Any trough will do. No one stops to ask if these brutish pig-type managers have really accomplished so much and are really so elite then, “Why does their employment history show a series of very different patterns, other than, what they claim?” And, Why would they make a 3rd tier Architecture firm their destination, of choice?” Was it a choice?

As scary as this is, the people who allow people like this to takeover their farms –I mean, firms– are truly the dangerous ones. People who run firms that are not large enough, nor, prestigious enough to be as disconnected as they are from the very buninesses that they own. They let these diminutive types tell them how to do things and when to do them, yet, they have no equity in the business. Anyone who stands up to them–sends them squealing down the corridor to complain.  All while the owners never invoke the law of the common denominator. I wonder if it ever dawns on them, *This guy has a problem with many people, is it the many people..OR is it – him?* (scratching head).  It never seems to even cross their cerebrum that, *He is the common denominator in all of these situations.*

Another oddity, is that they let these Orwellian managers bring “friends” to the farm (I keep doing that–I mean, firm!) With the promise that they themselves AND their friend, have done, and will-do, great things, even though, all evidence is contrary to this. This strikes me as almost some type of religion, meaning: even though all observable and physical evidence says otherwise, the firm owners want to believe SO badly, thus, they let their brain tell their eyes what to see instead of letting their eyes deliver the information to their brain, to then be processed and logically analyzed. These people have done nothing for them, yet, the firm owners still believe they will….someday.

In some Architecture firms there seems to be a type of logical disconnect regarding these ideas.  And, they seem oblivious to the fact that these rules do not make things better, they make them–worse.  And letting these people take the reigns of their farms, nay, FIRMS is a long term recipe for disaster and possibly a very short term recipe, depending.

It just does not seem to click for some that: People are most creative in an environment that fosters creativity, one of mutual respect, but, then again it is people that give people mutual respect, not pigs. 😉

Animal Farm

  When small men begin to cast long shadows, it is a sure sign the sun is setting.


9 Responses to ““All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”– George Orwell”

  1. Liz Griffore Says:

    This article is sure worth reading and has some very interesting points. I truly enjoyed it and Iam sure we have all met someone like this in our lives..when you really think about it..this writer should be writing books for a living…

  2. Archiminister Says:

    Yes, I am sure that we have all met someone like this. He is a sick person, for sure, but in the words of Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but. Because of those who look on and do nothing.”

    Thanks for the compliment, I am glad you are enjoying my posts!

  3. rdzinen Says:

    Wow, it’s uncanny. I knew someone just like that. Maybe it was the same guy?

  4. Archiminister Says:

    It is VERY possible. The man I am speaking of gets around/has been around. He has pulled this ruse on many Architectural firms and brings “the friend” (mentioned above) in to each of those firms at approximatly the same time-sequence. The difference is: The other firms he was at caught on and they were both shown the exit around one year into the con, errr I mean, employment. I suppose some people are just more naive than others or make their decisions based on evidence, rather than, wishing that, ‘peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.’

  5. Archiminister Says:

    When small men begin to cast long shadows, it is a sure sign the sun is setting.

  6. Skye Grove Says:

    Even though you are writing about a specific person here, we find our professional (and personal) lives filled with characters like this. Excellent article! Quick wit and worth passing along.
    I will be following this blog for future brilliance.

  7. Archiminister Says:

    Skye, Thanks so much for your kind words and compliments!

    Yes, so very true! I have to say though, this character is ummm…pretty unique. He is a mess professionally and personally. I think the core issue is incredibly low, self-esteem. One has to like themselves before they can like others.

    I will, however, credit him with this. He really needs to start a religion. He has a knack for getting grown men, albeit, weak men, to follow his advice based on a lot of hot air and promises of, “Someday I’ll.”

    There will always be creepy people, that is for sure. The ones who really need be taken to task are the people who encourage it and allow it to exist in their respective businesses to the exclusion and detriment of others. He has verbally and mentally abused people and, yet, he still remains. Almost unheard of in such a litigious society, as America. There is typically a no-tolerance policy for this sort of behavior and people are quickly shown the curb, lest their employer find themselves under legal action. I suppose they think it is worth the risk because he may help them…someday. No pressure on him one way or another, he will just ride that wave until it hits the shore. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy my future posts. 🙂

  8. The Javelineer Says:

    Heh. Although pigs don’t fly, they seem get around rather easily. This post could have been written about high tech too. Nice one.

    • Archiminister Says:

      Thank you! Yes, they do make their way around rather easily and show up in all sorts of work environments and public places. They appear to come in both the male and female varieties.

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