A while back, I was half-listening to a radio talk show when a guest's comment struck me like a bolt from the blue. New York Times Magazine columnist Lisa Sanders, a practicing physician, was talking about the basic problem with America's health care system. What caught my attention was the following statement: "Thinking, which is really what a doctor does -- thinking, examining, questioning -- is not valued by the system. We value doing rather than thinking." At a single stroke, her words solved a mystery most architects grapple with for the whole of their professional careers: why some people cannot seem to fathom what architects do, and why it takes us so long to do it. Citing an example in her own profession, Sanders described a day during which she'd seen a slew of patients with very complex medical issues, capped by a routine, 20-minute procedure to remedy an ingrown toenail. Later, to her surprise, she found that the medical insurers had paid her more mo...
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