How a List Taught Me the Power of Transparency in CAD Management

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At the turn of the century, I was an aspiring young art director. My business partner and I had just landed a music video for the British-Norwegian boy band A1's new single "Same Old Brand New You’. 


As a design team, our challenge was to convert a fisherman’s shack in Dungeness into a cool American gas station and mechanics workshop for the film crew to use as a background for the band's performance. We knew that we couldn’t do it on our own.

Music video for "Same Old Brand New You" by A1:


As a small business, hiring people (even temporarily for a video shoot) felt like a huge risk. The more money we paid in wages, the less we earned in profits. If things went wrong, we would have to pay our crew, but we might not afford to pay ourselves.


If we went over budget, we may even wind up in debt. Winning the design of this video felt like a big step for us; we had to get it right—so this was a risk we needed to take.


As I worried about how we might manage our team, I wrote an extensive list of what I needed each person to do. Being too lazy to create a list for each person, I photocopied the entire list and gave a copy to each team member. I did not anticipate the result.

As we arrived on location, our team swung into action. With little prompting from myself and my business partner, the vintage American cars were parked, petrol pumps were positioned, and various mechanical parts were fixed to the side of the shack. (In the Entertainment industry, this is known as "Set Dressing").


Image courtesy of A1Image courtesy of A1


 A nearby stretch of concrete was transformed into a drag strip, with a scaffold tube, rusted sheet metal, and lots of yellow floor paint.


And then the magic happened. Once our crew had completed their allocated tasks, they read the list, picked another task—and did that, too! Before long, they caught up with me to remind me of the tasks I had allocated for myself and even offered to do them for me. 


It was a magical experience to see a plan I had sweated over for so long, so willingly and competently executed by an enthusiastic team. And all because I had given them a list.

That day, on a windy, shingle beach overshadowed by a nuclear power station, I learned a formative lesson. I learned that putting effort into planning and communication in advance would reap the rewards later by removing myself as a bottleneck to the team's success. 


Image courtesy of A1Image courtesy of A1

  • Teamwork is unlocked when the goals for the team are clear.
  • Task transparency allows team members to step in and help each other.
  • Information such as goals and context allows team members to self-correct tasks to suit changing project conditions.

CAD Drawings and Transparency in Project Management

My list was an emergent project plan. A technical drawing also represents a plan of action. I have always considered technical drawings to be the backbone of a successful design and engineering project.


A technical drawing documents the plan that all stakeholders have committed to. The benefit of a well-executed set of technical drawings is that the project team has all the information necessary to complete their tasks, and all the information they need to adapt should project conditions change.


Technical drawings don’t need to document how the task should be carried out. A good set of technical drawings isn’t created by a drafter alone; the drawings are the culmination of all the stakeholder's input. The stakeholders have already thought about how the plan might be carried out and coordinated their approach. The information on the drawing is there to remind them of their shared objective.


As a drafter, nothing beats the feeling of laying out a set of technical drawings and watching the team pour over them as they get excited about the work ahead. If the team is totally absorbed by the project and has no need to ask clarifying questions, I consider my job well done, and I can quietly slip away to work on the drawings for the next project.

I have used a list as a starting point for many projects over the years, and every time I am transported back to the wind and rain of Dungeness. My experience on that shingly beach transformed how I viewed teamwork and task allocation and would become fundamental to how I think about the role of CAD drawings.


The ability to clearly communicate the project's goals and tasks to the team was instrumental in our success. These lessons have stayed with me and shaped my approach to CAD management. A well-executed set of technical drawings is more than just a plan - it reflects all stakeholders' input, offering the team the necessary information to adapt and excel. So, the next time you embark on a project, think about 'Brand New You'—and the power of the list!

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