Is Your Firm World Class?

April 20, 2006 · by Williston Dye, AIA

We all think we’re the best. We all think that our firm is better than those other guys. We all think that our designs are the best. We all think that we do everything right. We all think we treat everyone right inside and outside the office. We think this is a great work environment. We all think our methodology is the best. We think we are a world class organization.

Give yourself a quantitative answer by asking your firm using this survey as a guideline.

We all think we’re the best. We all think that our firm is better than those other guys. We all think that our designs are the best. We all think that we do everything right. We all think we treat everyone right inside and outside the office. We think this is a great work environment. We all think our methodology is the best. We think we are a world class organization.

However:

We never apologize to ourselves when we are not the best. We can rationalize all our wrong decisions. We can justify why the other guys got the project. We can evaluate why someone leaves the firm. We can reason through our lack of profit. We can analyze what went wrong. We can dissect our mistakes and then make them again. We can easily criticize others. We can deny positive suggestions for change.

So is your firm still world class?

This survey attempts to put a score on this most subjective of questions. The survey requires careful thought and along the way you may think of other questions or variations of questions to ask your firm. Depending on your current feelings about your organization you may think you are a 10 or a 1 on the score card. But just like, “if you build it they will come”; if you ask them, they will tell you. Everyone in the office should take the survey and the individual scores should be averaged.

Further by conducting this survey once a year you will spot trends, hopefully positive trends, thereby demonstrating that your firm is on the journey to truly being world class.

Too often we think we have to be the superstars of the profession to be world class. Not true. Or perhaps we think we have to get the largest, most visible commission on earth to be recognized as world class. Also not true. Or maybe we think the most publicity and recognition makes a firm world class. Regardless, there are just too many variables within an organization. Being world class in one category or with one project does not qualify the entire operation of the firm.

The results of this survey can be very surprising. Share the results and start the journey.

Williston Dye is the director of the Stubbins Associates’ Las Vegas office. He has served as a DFC board member and is the former head of Disney Imagineering.

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