Forbes magazine released its annual Forbes 400 list last month [9/98], detailing the wealthiest individuals in America. There weren’t many architects on the list. In fact, there were none. The fortunes from many of the wealthiest architects today

These are critical questions for design professionals who have put their personal funds at risk in an enterprise or who are seeking to cash out at some future point. The average b-school professor will insist the the fundamental worth of a business is created through the persistent application of proven management techniques that cost-effectively increase revenue. While admitting such an approach is more difficult to execute than it sounds, they insist that it works and that’s the preferred way to enhance profit performance and firm value. So for generations we’ve been told than anything an executive can do to hone growth-oriented marketing, financial management and administrative skills would ultimately work to produce a bigger top line and healthier bottom line. The “nose to grindstone of growth” approach is still considered by most “experts” to be the best avenue to wealth creation in a business.

Researchers from Booz-Allen & Hamilton suggest that firm’s revenue growth is only moderately related to its equity value and that you can direct your firm’s affairs along two fundamentally different paths to create wealth. The first relies on superior planning and the application of sophisticated management techniques, emphasizing productivity enhancement through re-engineering, TQM and scientific management. The second path seems to have greater potential to take a firm beyond the “ordinary excellence” produced by the more common classical management techniques. Such an approach to firm wealth-building is fueled by innovation and guided by “entrepreneurial” managers who constantly strive to do new, dramatically different things to differentiate themselves from competitors and to compel client response.

Such pathfinders focus on understanding a client’s needs—and latent wants—and design unique products, services and delivery methods to satisfy them. They concentrate on initiating change, strategizing, seizing opportunity and moving quickly and decisively. The firms they lead are well-managed in the conventional sense, but truly distinguish themselves with an ability to create new and better techniques to design, develop produce and market. These firms are driven by creative, messianic managers who are able to take risks; make quick, confident decisions; and energize teams of like-talented individuals. Their firms not only grow, but generate above average performance, profit and promise. Yet, for the kind of payoff you want, you’ll have to release your innate, intuitive entrepreneurial energies.

Keep in mind the words of Niccolo Machiavelli: “It is better to be bold than too circumspect, because fortune is of a sex which likes not a tardy wooer and repulses all who are not ardent.”