Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Global practice, Leadership, Uncategorized | No Comments »
A big day today in the history of our precious planet - it is estimated by the UN that today is the day we cross the threshold of 7 billion people alive on Earth. Admittedly the science is a little fuzzy on how exactly to count 7 billion people, but let’s assume that they are right, plus/minus even a month or two. The pace of population growth is quite remarkable.
In 1804, we reached 1 billion. It took until 1960 to get to 3 billion people. Then the population exploded. 4 billion in 1974; 5 billion in 1987; 6 billion in 1999 -which brings us to today.
The scale of humanity’s need for better design cannot be understated. Globally and locally, the services of much of the design community have not served most of the population. The good news is that there is a movement to shift these paradigms. The Rural Studio at Auburn University is a model many schools are now trying to replicate - students doing great design at little cost. Public Architecture continues to encourage the design professions to give a simple 1% of their time to pro bono design. Their former Executive Director, John Cary, is curating a discussion about the movement at www.PublicInterestDesign.org . The recently launched IDEO.org is striving to partner IDEO’s approach of human-centered design with the people who need it the most. Project H Design is incorporating design into education.
7 billion people is clearly a milestone - and one with uncertain consequences as growth continues towards 9 billion by 2050 (slowing a little). The scale of solutions can and must vary - what matters is that the design community begins developing them more quickly and more responsibly.
Posted: August 15th, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Recently, Vineet Nayer, had a great post on Harvard Business Review discussing a shift from managers acting as the gatekeepers of information to navigators who use their experiences to steer the team through difficult situations and sort through information. Sounds pretty obvious right?
Nayer writes, “For the first time, perhaps, managers find themselves overshadowed by the net’s omnipresence in answering questions about the what and how. Their authority as information-providers is eroding quickly, putting to rest that once-key role. As executives adjust to that new reality, they are asking themselves what team members seek from them today.”
If your organization looks like the image at the left, you are likely already feeling the tremendous weight of continuing to protect information, holding down all of those people below from learning and growing. Seems rather obvious that organizations with these attitudes will be forced to change or no longer exist, but far too many exist within our industry.
Furthermore, when the author asked a group of young managers about their roles, they saw themselves as collaborators and mentors, rather than controllers and hoarders. Many professional practices, supported by policies and programs of national organizations like AIA and NCARB, have created paths with hurdles that must be earned, rather than creative means for accessing and sharing.
From the beginning of a young architect’s career, the focus is on counting hours with information that someone is giving you in the quest of learning everything possible to practice on your own - the goal of passing the ARE. While very few people could genuinely say that passing a series of exams encompasses everything an architect needs to know, it remains the standard all are held to. In the process, we lose hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of young architects each year who choose to work for “alternative practices” or leave the discipline all together in search of a career path or organizations filled with navigators, rather than gatekeepers.
These attitudes continue throughout all levels of practice - in fact we often see them at the most senior levels of organizations. Clearly, leaders of the most successful organizations are sharing information with their leadership teams and partners, and with their entire staff. Charting a clear course for the future, acknowledging that storms will arise, fostering attitudes of adaption and growth, and addressing limiting beliefs are keys to future success. What does your organization look like if your “structure” was more like the organization at left, rather than the traditional pyramid above?
This transformation is happening around us, driven largely by technology and imbedded generational differences. As we embrace new technology platforms for sharing knowledge, we must too address cultural issues of sharing and managing - shifting from control to collaboration. Between partners, between staff, between organizations, and between the multitude of stakeholders involved with projects. How can we navigate through the current storm and conflicts to smoother sailing tomorrow?
Posted: August 9th, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Late yesterday, our industry, and indeed our nation, was struck by the news that Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface, had passed away after a 20-month battle with cancer. Most know Ray’s story of enlightenment and leadership, steering Interface on their journey towards “Mission Zero”. For those who haven’t, or for a great history of the journey Ray inspired, visit Interface here to learn more.
Ray was an inspirational partner with the Design Futures Council since our founding, and involved in our very first Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in 2001. A Senior Fellow of the DFC, Ray was a gentle leader who connected personally with thousands of people as he shared his story and challenged each of us to reach deeper within ourselves and our organizations to shape a new future.
In a speech at last year’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design, Ray said:
“Our higher calling, that takes the breath away, is to shift the paradigm, beginning in our own minds and wherever we are. The power of a question, is my last question for you. Will we, the larger, collective we, shift paradigms? And do it in time? And truly embrace this new view of reality? That is the question of our era. And the hell of it is, it’s up to you and me.”
It is indeed now up to us to strive to fulfill Ray’s vision for a world driven not by business as usual, but by doing what is best for our planet and future generations. A big challenge, but as Ray often said, “If anyone can do it, everyone can do it.” And we must.
Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Compensation, Education, Leadership, Uncategorized | Tags: Tuition Tuesday | 4 Comments »
Third post in this multi-part series on increasing college tuition, with a special emphasis of course on the impact on the design professions. Today’s topic is about the growing disconnect between tuition and salary.
The statement that “there is no money to be made in architecture or design” has long been shared with students, and unfortunately in many cases accepted as fact. For many years, issues of unpaid and underpaid internships caused significant hardship within the profession. Over the last 15 years however, the profession has done an admirable job of nearly ridding itself of the practice - with some exceptions - and recognizing the contributions of young staff. In the most recent DesignIntelligence Compensation & Benefits survey, the mean annual salary for year 3 interns, just finishing IDP, was $44,750 plus a mean bonus of 2.7%. A big jump from 1996 when DesignIntelligence reported a mean salary of $28,760. In fact this growth even beat inflation.
So the good news is, we are slowly making strides in what we pay recent graduates and interns. The not so good news, the cost of education is greatly exceeding these gains. According to the College Board, tuition and fees at public universities have surged over 130% over the last 20 years. At the same time, the maximum amount of government-subsidized loans that a student is eligible to receive for a four-year degree has remained $23,000 since 1992
Median income has remained roughly the same since 1988, while tuition and fees has more than doubled. Source: CNN Money
This post isn’t meant to argue that recent graduates and interns are underpaid - we can save that discussion for another time. However, what is increasingly apparent is the disservice to recent graduates who spend thousands of dollars to get college degrees, and then find themselves in a work force which doesn’t compensate accordingly. A push towards increasing the value and relevancy of the degree is necessary, and requires a joint effort between the academy and professional practices. Then perhaps the conversation can become more about value and less about cost. By recognizing value-in (tuition) and increasing value-out (relevancy), we can grow our profession in more sustainable ways, and support the next generation of leadership.
Posted: March 14th, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Economy, Global practice, Professional practice, Strategy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
A recent article in the Financial Times noted that in 2010, China spent more than $1 trillion on new building projects, overtaking the United States. Comparatively, investments in construction - both private and public - decreased in the United States from roughly $1.5 trillion in 2005 to $983 billion in 2010. Decreasing opportunities in the United States - and increasing opportunities abroad - are of no surprise to most architecture firms in the US and firms of all shapes and sizes are now working in overseas markets.
Since 1998, Greenway Group, on behalf of the Design Futures Council, has conducted the Multinational Design Firm Fee Survey, which examines the 30 largest exporting architecture firms headquartered in the United States. Nine firms have held a spot on the Top 30 list for the past 12 years:
- Cannon Design
- Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
- Perkins + Will
Fee growth by firms in the DesignIntelligence Top 30 US-Based Multinational Design Firms has taken place every year for 12 years without exception - and we expect 2011 to be no different. The annualized growth rate for the DI Top 30 in their non-US based revenue is 29.9%. A report released by Global Construction Perspectives forecasts that China will account for 20% of total construction by 2020, up from 14% today.
We believe that developing resilient strategies and engaging foresight scenarios is critical for firms engaged in international work, and for those exploring opportunities in these markets. Is there money to be made? Of course. But for inexperienced firms, there may be more to be lost. Are the design opportunities unique? In many cases yes.
The design professions, particularly the A/E/C community, have a tremendous opportunity to impact future development of cities, whether in China or in another slice of the $97.7 trillion global construction market over the next decade. How globalization continues to shape our practices - and how we in turn shape our environment - is a constantly developing paradigm of practice. We may not know exactly how, but we certainly know that within the challenges of global practice lay numerous opportunities for growth, prosperity, great service, and meaningful design.
Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: James P. Cramer | Filed under: Economy, Leadership, Planning, Professional practice, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tags: Communications, Culture, Leadership, management, Motivation | 13 Comments »
Each day I get asked about — or find myself in a discussion about — executive level leadership. Both the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards are looking for their next chief executives. Several of the largest firms in the country are also considering transitions in their leadership brought about by economic, demographic, and opportunity shifts in their professional practices.
These search and selection processes give us pause. The stakes are high. How should these organizations determine the best leaders?
Whatever else the leader’s role in an association or professional practice, there are 10 base essentials. When these foundational characteristics are present, the organization functions with energy and competence to serve its mission. Here is what I believe is essential.
1. Leaders act as both visionary and key day-to-day resource for overcoming difficulties. They set the tone for the can-do culture of the organization.
2. They develop and conceptualize the organization’s tactical plans to accomplish strategic ambitions. They develop and keep clarity around goals. This develops strategic optimism.
3. Communications are sincere, open, and energized. The leader is not intimidating and has the wisdom of perspective, good humor, and agility to work with a diversity of situations.
4. Leaders are able to manage demanding schedules, and their agenda is always focused on what matters most.
5. They listen and then coach every situation they find themselves in.
6. Financial matters are monitored, measured, and communicated, and these leaders tend to consistently bring in the bottom line — no matter the excuses of the day.
7. There is an ambassadorial quality about them. They are sought out to problem-solve and inspire along the way while building bridges.
8. Today’s issues are never ignored, and there is a sense that the longer-term plans can be realized through today’s actions – no matter how painful.
9. Resilience is manifested in the language of the leader who is prepared for inevitable surprises.
10. Accountability is never shirked and the leader takes final responsibility for results and outcomes. This is a stand-and-be-counted attitude that becomes contagious in the life of the organization.
Leadership is demanding. Great leaders are rare. These 10 characteristics are framed by lifestyle and attitude. Leaders are not perfect, but they have an uncanny knack for applying sensible, inspired, day-to-day actions that make all the difference.
Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Leadership, Strategy, Sustainability, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »
Holstee is an organization was founded in 2009 by two brothers who are passionate about sustainability and wanted to pursue this lifestyle and its links with innovative design. They have produced a variety of products including shirts, wallets, and jewelry - you can find more of their products here. To help its customers understand the ecologic impacts of the product they sell, Holstee has developed a series of badges which describe the key sustainable elements of each product. They have also taken great care to address issues of shipping and packaging - two significant issues for the sustainable product realm. And if this wasn’t enough, Holstee has committed to using 10% of all sales as micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Holstee has tied this all together with their manifesto. Not only graphically pleasing, but also contains powerful beliefs which guide the organization. Not only has it generated a decent amount of press, but it also makes their consumers aware of who they are and what they believe.
What if you were to develop a similar “manifesto” for yourself as a design leader? What would it say?
How about for your professional practice or organization? What bold public statements are at the core of your work - define the essence of your practice? Are they different than your personal beliefs?
Posted: July 5th, 2010 | Author: James P. Cramer | Filed under: Best Practices, Education, Leadership, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tags: change, conference, Sustainability | No Comments »
Climate change comes bearing gifts. While not welcomed offerings, these changes demand a vastly different approach in the way architects and designers think about their professional practices. Something big is happening.
Moreover, architectural careers have quit working like they used to. Climate change will affect the economy and the underlying tenets of roles and responsibilities in the making of buildings – and urban environments. The challenges brought about by climate change create new puzzles to solve. We can meet these challenges. There are many approaches.
The Design Futures Council will be hosting our 9th Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design Oct. 5-7 in Atlanta. Again this year we will bring together 100 delegates to share case studies, present deep understandings and practical experiences, and chart the future. Invitations were mailed last week to members and fellows of the Design Futures Council.
To be considered for one of the delegate positions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary Pereboom at email@example.com. We are seeking thought leadership and a diversity of talents.
All of us need to catch on to what’s happening. We need to seize the opportunities brought about by change.
Posted: June 9th, 2010 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Event Calendar, Leadership, Sustainability, Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Design Futures Council seeks nominations for its annual class of Emerging Leaders. Winning nominees will receive registration scholarships to attend the 9th Annual Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in Atlanta, Oct. 5 – 7. The DFC seeks to identify and recognize emerging leaders who are having – and will increasingly have – a profound impact on design practices, the profession, and the community.
Successful candidates will represent the future of practice in terms of its broadening scope, service to society, sustainable design, technological innovation, or other areas deemed relevant by the nominator.
- Nominees must be within their first 10 years of professional practice.
- They may come from any area of the design professions.
- They must be playing a role in designing a more sustainable future.
- The nominator must be a member of the Design Futures Council or past Summit attendee.
Six candidates will be chosen by a distinguished jury of past Summit delegates to receive a full scholarship, which includes registration and participation in all Summit events. Chosen candidates or their employers will be expected to furnish travel and accommodation expenses to and from the Summit. Some travel assistance may be provided on a case-by-case basis.
To nominate a candidate, download and complete the nomination form by July 1. Nominees and nominators will be notified in July. Any questions about the Emerging Leaders Program should be directed to John Cary via email - johncary [at] mac [dot]com
Nomination Form - Word Format
Nomination Form - PDF
Posted: January 12th, 2010 | Author: Jane Gaboury | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: cover, DesignIntelligence, redesign | 2 Comments »
We’re really excited about the January/February issue of DesignIntelligence, which debuts the new four-color cover design. What do you think?