Professional Development – Truss Design: A Trick My Day Job Never Taught Me That GDI Did – Part 13

Professional Development – Truss Design:  A Trick My Day Job Never Taught Me That GDI Did – Part 13


Technology helps

To an industry like ours, the internet is still an amazing thing.  I hear stories from salespeople about the early days of growth and development in the software and communication side of the Structural Building Components (SBC) design, how computers overtook tables and hand calculators, outside engineering review overtook internal review, how the speed of everything increased and increased, and how the marvelous advances in communication has transformed our industry into the fast-paced, efficient workplace of today.

Working conditions unchanged

Yet for all the efficiency gains of the technology which serves us, the way in which we in the industry serve each other in the workplace has changed very little. SBC designers still see themselves, and are often seen by their coworkers, as ancillary to the central demands of manufacturing and production. They are the office bees, the paperwork-fiddlers, the button-clickers; no disrespect intended, just another holdup in the process of pushing wood and plates through a crack in the side of the building!


What is lacking in many SBC designers is a sense of encouragement and camaraderie, the ability to lean on and learn from some peers who often have a better answer and a more intense focus on a particular issue than them.  Some questions to ponder regarding this:

  • Who doesn’t benefit from working in a small team of dedicated people?
  • Whose output doesn’t improve through rubbing elbows with smarter, more experienced folk?
  • Who doesn’t gain a sense of purpose and support through being part of an organization that focuses solely on your specialty, component design?

Truthfully, camaraderie and mutual support are a great part of any healthy and dynamic work environment.  With the injection of modern technologies like the Internet and remote offices, the importance of camaraderie and shared experience are increased dramatically, since the old “water cooler” at the office may be gone, and the amount of “down time” to connect informally with co-workers and build relationships is lessened.  Since the 2008 downturn, the expertise that might have been available to new or inexperienced designers simply isn’t around to share the kind of wisdom and insight necessary to grow in skills, proficiency and confidence.

Focus on what you’re good at

In contrast to this, a take-away lesson I’ve learned through working through the Professional Development process at Gould Design, Inc. (GDI) has been, to appreciate a healthy working environment where designers focus on what they’re good at.  At GDI, I feel like a productive, contributing member of a team, a team of specialized, like-minded people who concentrate on design, and who don’t spend time on aspects of the industry which don’t immediately concern them – such as manufacturing.

To the extent that we can input some efficiency into a plant’s operation through good design, we have an interest in that side of the business.  But here we are as designers first, and we have a level of expertise and camaraderie which can build upon itself over time.

This singular focus is a benefit to me, to GDI, and eventually to all our customers.  We encourage each other, are assigned personal mentors so as to methodically learn from each other, and we make a constant effort communicate with each other the lessons we learn about this, a most critical aspect of our industry.  Finding a skilled truss designer is always good; finding a way to encourage camaraderie, focus, and continued Professional Development is much better.  My hope is that more designers like me can benefit from training and a workplace environment which encourages them in their pursuit of their craft.

How is your current position helping to foster your growth?

You can read Part 1 in this series here.

You can read Part 2 in this series here.

You can read Part 3 in this series here.

You can read Part 4 in this series here.

You can read Part 5 in this series here.

You can read Part 6 in this series here.

You can read Part 7 in this series here.

You can read Part 8 in this series here.

You can read Part 9 in this series here.

You can read Part 10 in this series here.

You can read Part 11 in this series here.

You can read Part 12 in this series here.

Stay tuned for Part 14.

Jonathon Landell – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.