by Stephanie Goldberg
This time of year, many of us are making our New Year’s resolutions. While setting personal goals, we joke about how we will break them before the year’s end and repeat the cycle next year. But why can’t we make similar resolutions for our business lives, with better success and resolve? In revisiting and reinventing the concept of the New Year’s resolution, we can take stock of where we are professionally and where we want to be a year from now. According to the American Psychological Association this “is a time for people to reflect on the past year’s behavior, and promise to make positive lifestyle changes.” Translating the statement to relate to the Design Firm, how might this chance for reflection impact the age-old concept of a yearly resolution and how might it benefit the company as a whole, as well as the individual? At Lab, we thought about creating five points where one can focus on and be impactful. Here are our reflections on “positive change.”
- Donate office time on projects with social impact. While we look at all of our projects as opportunities to make real impact on people’s lives, we can take the time to seek out projects for non-profits and others that would not be able to afford professional services. Knowing that a designer’s spare time is limited, the company Public Architecture has established the concept of 1% for good – giving one percent of office resources to a group in need of design work. Calledtheonepercent.org, the organization helps pair building professionals with non-profits helping to facilitate positive non-profit work.
- Focus on Office Culture. As the year progresses, firms get busier and tied up with meetings, production and deadlines. How the team coalesces can get lost in the shuffle. At the start of the new year, one can look back at the work accomplished and how the teams juggled the various tasks of bringing work to fruition. Before the year jumps into gear, goals for how the office might work better together can be established. Are there better opportunities for mentoring? Are there those in the office who need or want new challenges? Should there be more time for the office to come together to review overall progress or design ideas? These can be reviewed now and methods for checking in established throughout the year.
- Look at where we are heading. By year’s end, projects have been completed, interviews attended, connections made, all contributing to a direction that the firm is heading. Comparing this past year with others further past we can look at the overall path the company is headed and compare to goals that may have been established in long-term planning meetings. At this moment, there is the opportunity to decide if there are additional paths the company can or wants to take. These can be based on long range planning goals already made, or decided based an understanding of the natural direction the latest body of work is taking the company.
- Understand the greater team. We think of our projects as the product of a larger collaboration between the Architect, Client, Contractor, and Consultants. Project success hinges on the collaboration of this larger team. Looking back, is there ways where we can work better together? What was most successful? Moving forward, one can seek out opportunities to discuss goals for future collaboration. Perhaps such conversations can take place outside of the job meetings early on in the year, before work gets back in to full swing.
- Think about our 24/7 world. A big question in this digital age is balance of work and life. With our smart phones on all the time and usually by our sides, we are increasingly connected on a continuous basis. Returning from our holidays, and time with family, one can look back at how on call we have been throughout the year and decide if it has worked well or not. Has the level of connectivity led to better and more effective work or has is interfered with overall creativity and attention to projects? The answer will be different for everyone, but it is worth looking at. Our connections to our phones have an immediacy that is hard to escape. Taking the time to look at the larger continuum can help us to decide how we want the relationship with our technology to evolve in the coming year.
Drawing from long term plans but taking time to look primarily at the past year and the new can be a valuable exercise. It allows the firm to take a fine tuned view of the ongoing development of the office and establish small and achievable goals. The key to successful New Year’s Resolution is to start small. Self reflection itself can be the goal, and looking forward an opportunity. In the process of looking to the new year, we can decide how we might keep our resolutions and how important they are to the ongoing success of the firm. Perhaps it is as simple as setting up time as an office to review the ideas set forth at the start of the year, or as complex and staking out a new direction. It’s a new year, full of possibility and success.
Stephanie Goldberg, AIA, NCARB BC+D,LAB/ is a LEED accredited professional at LAB/ Life. Science. Architecture, Inc.