Here’s the real deal: While the economy for architects and designers will be down about $7 billion over the next 12 months, there will still be nearly $30 billion spent on professional services in 2009, with an expected uptick in 2010.
You don’t need to be one of this year’s victims. You can lead and participate in the shift from private to publically funded projects, and you can lead the shift to relevancy in a changing market context. You can lead success.
Yes, there is plenty of strategic optimism if you want to find it.
For instance, I’ve just completed the Design Futures Council’s 5th annual Leadership Conference on Design Strategy, Innovation, and Change held in La Jolla, Calif., at La Valencia Hotel. This was a small and powerful conference. We had a full veranda room of 45 leaders perfectly fitted at round tables overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Participating firms constituted a real Who’s Who of successful leaders in our industry. And they are gearing up for even more success this year. Leaders came from HKS, Autodesk, OWP/P, DLR Group, Cannon Design, NBBJ, Mortenson Construction, Staffelbach, MulvannyG2, Chamberlain of Canada, CEDIM of Mexico, Hanbury Evans, Rice University Facilities, Carnegie Mellon, HMC, HDR, Sasaki, Devenney Group, Hettema, and 25 more. What a great diversity of leadership angles this group possesses and is willing to share!
In fact, it was one of the most dynamic, high-energy, and passion-filled rooms of people I’ve been inside in a long time. Each session provided a candid and comprehensive look at how to succeed in architecture and design – ranging from small creative firms to large institutions. Speakers were not only solid but scored an average evaluation of 9 out of 10 as they presented step-by-step real-life examples and tell-it-like-it-is information in context with today’s challenges.
I would especially like to thank psychologist Richard Farson, educators Laura Lee and Renée Cheng, architects Markku Allison, Phil Bernstein, and Scott Simpson. Our intern and associate Jonathan Bahe along with author Scott Simpson co-presented a session on growing practices (even in today’s economy) and establishing goals and turning ideas to actions. Their research is fresh and compelling. We also had a wonderful case study by architect Randy Peterson, the CEO from HMC.
I’ve learned that networks really do work to the degree that you’re in a strong one. At the risk of sounding promotional, the network of leaders at the conference proved to be exceptional. I was encouraged by their voices. Theirs was a sober – yet never dark – story.
Now, we’ll be looking at the markets through a changed economic lens. Moreover, we’ll be appreciating the reasons why design will win in the future. It’s not just an asset but will also be a multiplier of opportunities.