Charting Your Course: Master strategies for organizing and managing architecture firms

ARCH FIRMS

The model derives from observing that two key driving forces shape the operation, management and organization of every architecture firm: first, its choice of technology (particular project operating system or process employed by the firm), and second, the collective values of the principals of the firm (Values refers to the personal goals and motivation of the principals in charge of the firm).

In regard to technology:

  • In general: Brains (expertise) firms:  they offer the smartest kid on the block/ In architecture: Strong-idea, organized to deliver singular expertise or innovation on unique projects.
  • In general: Gray-hair (experience) firms: they customize ideas, but rarely are positioned at the cutting edge/  In architecture: Strong-service organized to deliver experience and reliability, especially on complex assignments
  • In general: Procedure (execution) firms: they offer a prompt start, quick disposition and low cost/ In architecture: Strong-delivery, organized to provide highly efficient service on similar or more-routine assignments, often to clients who seek more of a product than a service

In regard to values:

Practice, as defined by Webster, is “the carrying on or exercise of a profession or occupation as a way of life.” Business, on the other hand, is defined as a “commercial or mercantile activity customarily engaged in as a means of livelihood.”

Practice-centered professionals  typically have as their major goal the opportunity to serve others and produce examples of the discipline they represent. Their bottom line is qualitative: How do we feel about what we are doing? How did the job come out?

Business-centered professionals more likely have as their personal objective a quantitative bottom line, which is more focused on the tangible rewards of their efforts: How did we do?

 

References

Weld Coxe, Hon. AIA; Nina F. Hartung; Hugh, H. Hochberg; Brian J. Lewis, UDavid H. MaisterU,, Robert F. Mattox, FAIA; and Peter A. Piven, FAIA,  1986. Charting Your Course: Master strategies for organizing and managing architecture firms. In Architectural Technology, (May/June 1986), pp. 52-58. Retrieved here

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