Each day has 1,440 minutes. Every design firm starts each day with the same time currency. Time can’t be stored nor saved. These minutes flow forward value, more or less. Make it more.

John Ruskin is one of the most quotable sources on design value. We have a file here in Greenway’s office that has some well-worn statements and I have used them often.

One of my favorites goes like this: “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do. The law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it’s well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

You and I can agree that our world needs better design and better architecture. And our research continues to deliver the fact that owners and clients don’t want ordinary architecture services–they want an experience that they can fall in love with. They want a design expert who is strategic, optimistic, confident, and trusted. They don’t want a vendor. No, they don’t even very often want a commodity, despite what gets said in all the paperwork. And even when they send out a form that has RFP written at the top, owners are really looking for the professional firm that can deliver more, and this often means paying more to receive more.

Technology allows us to deliver this value at an accelerated speed. Each day has 1,440 minutes. Every design firm starts each day with the same time currency. Time can’t be stored nor saved. These minutes flow forward value, more or less. Make it more. Don’t confuse activity with results, and always negotiate for the envisioned results. That is where you can master negotiation. Envision the best your firm can offer, then map out how to consistently deliver at that level. Provide the value, and thereby jettison the price eliminator.

—James P. Cramer