I see Asia-Pacific work expanding by perhaps 5 to 6 percent each year over the next three years. Whether you want to grow your professional practice here or abroad, one thing is certain—it takes a plan and commitment.

Doing work across the Pacific is not for everyone. But for those who do, opportunities abound. I see Asia-Pacific work expanding by perhaps 5 to 6 percent each year over the next three years. Whether you want to grow your professional practice here or abroad, one thing is certain—it takes a plan and commitment.

Growth requires ideas—not just a growing economy. Some ideas actually work best in a down economy. Robust professional practices have been built during recessions and even depressions. Creating a relevant practice in any economy only requires the discovery of missing links between what is and what can be. We refer to this as “GAP Discovery” or simply “linking to relevance.”

Sometimes linking current activity into a breakaway idea happens in teams. Other times it happens in isolation. Creative ideas can surface during times of sanctuary or simply while napping or at any time, subconsciously. We’ve heard many anecdotal stories where creative ideas sprang forward and eventually proved to be the fuel of new, relevant growth. People say—I’m sure glad I wrote that idea down. The power of an idea cannot be overstated.

That is why your agenda for 2003 should include creativity and innovation. Moreover, anticipating and developing ideas for new success is a part of “best practice” behavior.

There are several springboard opportunities in the near future (in addition to the Asia Pacific Symposium on Architecture April 8-11 detailed on p. 3 in this newsletter). The Rhode Island School of Design’s sixth annual Success by Design starts Thursday, April 24. The symposium, presented by the Center for Design and Business includes the topics:

  • Michael Graves: A Blueprint for Success

  • How Design Transforms Businesses

  • What a Difference a Brand Makes

The Center for Design & Business is a joint venture between Bryant College and RISD. You can get more information at www.centerdesignbusiness.org.

Another good opportunity is the Design Futures Council’s Summit on Creativity at the Salk Institute in LaJolla May 7, the day prior to the start of the AIA Convention in San Diego. A rich diversity of speakers, panels, and participation by delegates will explore:

  • How Firms Become Innovative

  • How to Be a Transformational Thinker

  • Paradoxes in Innovation

  • Driving Growth Through Creativity and Innovation

  • Technology and Creativity

  • From Market Share to Market Creation.

Recalibrate your personal agenda for the new opportunities just ahead. While there is lot wrong within design business today, there are many pathways to improvement. Growth has to be created, not just harvested. Your agenda should include rallying those in your firm to start thinking ahead—innovatively.

—James P. Cramer