How Firms Succeed: A Field Guide to Design Management

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9780967547787: How Firms Succeed: A Field Guide to Design Management
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How Firms Succeed is a hands-on guide to running any design-related business from a two-person graphics team to middle-management to CEOs of multi-national firms, offering advice on specific problems and situations and providing insight into the art of inspirational management and strategic thinking. Together, Cramer and Simpson provide "deceptively simple yet ultimately critical guidelines" that inspire and educate designers at all professional levels. It combines practical solutions with business theory. Sections address such critic topics as marketing, operations, professional services and finances as well as the Anatomy of Leadership, a new perspective on the how’s and why’s of design leadership. The book includes chapters on such topics as "Demystifying Design Fees," "How Technology is Redesigning Design," "Principal Leadership—Choosing the Next Generation," "Hypertrack: Setting New Standards for Client Service" and "Performance-Based Initiatives: Motivatin! g Your Firm." Each chapter closes with a list of questions intended to give the reader points of reflection for their own goals and experiences.

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About the Author:

James P. Cramer, Hon. AIA, Hon. IIDA, CAE, is the Chairman/CEO of The Greenway Group, a management consulting and research firm based in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He is the author of Design plus Enterprise, Seeking a New Reality in Architecture and Design, editor of the monthly newsletter Design Intelligence, and co-editor of the annual Almanac of Architecture & Design. He is adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Hawaii, Manoa and co-chair of the Design Futures Council. The former executive vice president/CEO of The American Institute of Architects in Washington D.C., he has degrees from Northern State University, the University of St. Thomas, and postgraduate studies at the Wharton School of Business. He lives in Dunwoody, Georgia, with his wife Corinne Aaker Cramer.

Scott Simpson, FAIA, is a principal of The Stubbins Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A senior fellow and co-chair of the Design Futures Council, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C., he is a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences and has published more than 70 articles dealing with issues of innovation in the design professions. He is also an editor-at-large of DesignIntelligence. He has been a design critic at Yale University and the University of Wisconsin and a guest lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His academic background includes degrees from both Harvard and Yale. He lives in a house of his own design in Carlisle, Massachusetts, with his wife Nancy Kuziemski.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

HON. RICHARD SWETT , FAIA

I have long believed that the architecture profession needs exactly what this book provides--namely a top notch guide to the pragmatic dimensions of running a successful design firm. There are precious few books that address this topic at all. Most books on architecture deal with buildings as art objects and focus on the design aspects of the structure. How Firms Succeed by Jim Cramer and Scott Simpson is an invaluable resource book that transforms the poetry of architecture into the prose of practical management advice. This book will give any firm greater organizational and business confidence to optimize their design capabilities because it answers and offers solutions to many of the questions and problems that distract firms from their quest to provide excellent design.

During the course of my career as an architect, energy developer, congressman, and ambassador, I have witnessed and participated in a maze of complex systems, govern-mental regulations, professional disciplines, special interest groups, grassroot community organizations and big businesses, all seeking to impact our "built environment." I have found that there are few people well equipped to sort through the cacophony of competitive interests in a constructive way that ultimately achieves harmony. By virtue of our training, skills and perspective, designers should play that role, but sadly, they rarely do.

From this morass of conflict, architects and designers are expected to create sound structures of lasting value--works of ART, if you will. These forms we create are more than art, however. They must function as protective machines providing order and place while they elevate the human condition, both spiritually and literally. And, as we all know, this is easier, much easier, said than done. But that IS what we architects, engineers, and designers are committed to do--it is the central mission of our design professions.

Daunting as this mission is, the truth is that in todayís world what I have just described is no longer enough. We must be prepared to do more. It is time that every architect with the vision and desire to create outstanding designs must also be able to successfully administer his or her practice so that the firmís creations are the best they can be. Today, architecture and engineering is much more than just the design of buildings. It is a process that has the responsibility to organize and interpret complex quantities of information that include not only the physical creation of the building, but an incorporation of all the systems, infrastructure, relationship between people and information that are contained within as well. In addition to this, the building must respond to and enhance the context of community in which it is located.

This is a tall order for any architect and client to address successfully. That is why every firm engaged in this exciting and important task needs to first insure that the administrative responsibilities are taken care of. In How Firms Succeed, any architect, engineer, or designer who is managing a firm can find a truly comprehensive collection of accessible and useful descriptions of the multitude of components that go into making a firm successful. Many of the examples are taken from profitable practices that are leading the profession in innovative design and management techniques. The book is a tremendous userís guide that every firm should possess.

In its pages are not only descriptions of examples and techniques used in some of the nationís leading firms but helpful lists of important organizational tools that bring light and reason to the managerial requirements any firm must address. Whether it is understanding how to market a firmís abilities, operating the business, providing the professional services or adequately balancing the risks and rewards of the financial aspects of a practice, Jim Cramer and Scott Simpson use their wealth of experience and professional training to describe in manageable detail all this useful information in a way that is tailored to the architectís particular needs.

The closing chapter of the book, "Anatomy of Leadership," eloquently addresses an issue that I believe is of central importance to the architecture profession--leadership. Architects, engineers, and designers can and must be leaders in the public life of their communities, and Cramer and Simpsonís book furthers the discussion how and why. This book should rapidly become an indispensable part of every designerís working library.

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