It’s Elementary

This month of March is that unpredictable, yet hopeful time between winter and spring.  A time for students to take a break before continuing on with their school year.  For gardeners, a time of preparation.

A kind of starting over.  Beginning again.

I’d like to spend this month in similar fashion.  I want to go back to the beginning in terms of thinking (mine, at least) about the design business.  Back to the basic, and yes, elementary.

You may feel a bit like these kids in the picture, forced to review their times tables.  My posts are brief out of respect for how little time we all have, so I prefer to break things down to bite-sized and simple.

You more advanced scholars may not be as challenged this month, so for extra credit, feel free to peruse the Key Indicators, and let me know what you think.

Beginning again

Design firms have a business model that looks pretty much like any business– we sell our product or service to someone willing to pay for it.

But, unique to design firms, we are selling a highly-specialized, creative and technical ability to envision and design complex physical environments, to customers (clients) who intend to then construct and occupy those environments.  We are selling an art form.

The value established for this transaction may be driven by many factors– the geographical market we practice in, the project type, our degree of expertise or specialization, and the client’s perception of the value we offer.  Typically, we must establish this value prior to taking on an assignment.

I would reduce our unique business proposition to this: we are striving to produce the very best, most creative design solution to a client’s needs and aspirations, while maximizing the agreed-upon value of this solution to our client.

Fairly obvious and simple.

I see two distinct aspects to that business proposition.  First, we must put in place a complex creative process whereby we are solving a unique, one-of-a-kind problem with a physical environment never before imagined, much less built.  Essentially, an experiment, because it will only happen once for each assignment.

And secondly, somehow, we will want to be sure we spend less on this complicated creative experiment than the value established for the assignment.

Not quite so simple now.

Nevertheless, we can bring some simplicity and predictability to it.  We’ll break it down over the next few weeks, and then we’ll move on.

If may seem elementary, but that’s what we want for now.

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