By Steve Starr, Special to Overdrive
Ask any entrepreneur what they would like to accomplish, and high on the list will be initiating greatness through their venture. In order to achieve success, I have found that it’s vital for a company to simultaneously focus on designing its internal business as well as its craft. In The E Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber notes, “A Fatal Assumption is: if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does that technical work… [but they] are two totally different things!” Over the past year, my architectural firm embarked on a journey we entitled The Greatness Project, and through this we have made a noteworthy impact due to our collective passion, strategic balance and intentional diversity.
The Greatness Project
Drawing from concepts in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, along with Simon Sinek’s vision of Start with Why, our company set out to establish a corporate Why. According to Sinek, “It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters why you do it.” Taking the firm on an atypical office retreat, we withdrew from the hustle of everyday life for two days. Together, we helped each employee develop their personal Why, and began to understand what our employees are passionate about – and what makes them wake up in the morning.
From there, we created a collective Why for our firm that demonstrates to outsiders the basis of our practices. By having this defined statement that incorporates opinions of all the members on our team, we are able to accurately communicate the ideals behind our approach. We have found this to be incredibly useful because it helps us develop relationships with people that share similar values, while also keeping us directly aligned with our own purpose through every action we complete.
While defining a company’s passion is important, there are other factors that cannot be ignored. In order to increase the value of our firm, we had to view the business as just that–a business. I have learned that a balance between three spheres must exist. Along with projects that fulfill passions and align with a Why, companies must also focus on work in which they excel, and assignments that drive profits. While the ideal venture would satisfy all of these criteria, it’s important for every undertaking to fall into at least two of the categories. In any business, it’s essential to keep sight of why you and your employees do things each day, to avoid sinking into the monotony of simply completing tasks. Nearly every business begins with passion and holding onto that passion is vital to success.
Doing it Differently
Our team believes in the fundamental ideals to running any business. We value effective communication, unfaltering loyalty and profound trust. However, our approach encompasses much more than that, with a focus on three important characteristics: strategy, creativity and responsibility.
Incorporating these ideals into an assignment allows a company to consistently generate innovative and effective outcomes. While these exact values may not be necessary in every field, I have found that the more involved a team becomes, the better they are able to carry out their job and strategically recommending relevant resolutions to complex problems. Allowing your company to stand out from the crowd through intentional work practices demonstrates to others your dedication to the craft.
Finally, it’s important to embrace business ventures that differ from your norm. Although we are continuing to develop comprehensive and consistent processes, we recognize that every engagement is different. Stepping outside our comfort zone allowed us to become experts in a myriad of areas and this ability can transform a company. Our firm’s passion and dedication to a corporate Why have paid off through our consistent growth and recognition in the industry. In essence, our design efforts have been directly influenced by the internal design of our own business approach, transforming a small company into a great business.