MEREDITH Strategy & Design

We design great places and spaces that enhance the experience of  work. 
Our purpose is to help companies and organizations of every scale
more effectively achieve their goals
and capture value from what they and their people do.

Jim at meredithstrategyanddesign dot com

(248) 238-8480

Who pays for lunch?

I had a rather interesting conversation with a fellow professional today about the financial performance of design firms. A powerful insight emerged.

Where a design leader is committed to the client's goals the firm profits more than where the project manager is committed to the firm's goals.

That's worth repeating.

Where a design leader is committed to the client's goals the firm profits more than where the project manager is committed to the firm's goals.

How could this be?

Our conversation started, as many of these very insightful conversations do, over a lunch without an agenda. Let's get together, we said. And, we're friends. So no agenda, no walls. 

He said he'd been going over project reports and found an early indication of this anomaly about project performance.

We discussed comparative projects. His perspective was project management – clear objectives, proven processes, good systems for good reports. My perspective was design excellence – clear understanding of client goals and purposes, designer ownership of client satisfaction, designer's commitment to team skill development.

My friend's projects were, it turned out, burdened with processes and reports. Our projects, on the other hand, benefited from a passionate leader.

A passionate leader in our firm means a person who, while certainly having a career trajectory in his/her vision, selflessly embraces our client. She digs deep to understand why the project is being undertaken or, better, has been so embedded in our client's strategic conversation that she has shaped the project on behalf our client. The project is then managed in terms of the benefit to our client's clients. That is, we reframe the facilities project in terms of the people who will benefit from the performance of our client.

Not stopping there, she also works with the goal of making every member of the team successful. That is, she assures that each member of the team, beyond their understanding of their value to the client, also has an opportunity to learn new things and grow their own competencies and capabilities. What looks in the office as overhead is returned to the office as profitable performance.

His team's projects barely broke even. Our team's projects delivered profit. We were happy with the comparison.

He paid for lunch.

(And he knows I'm talking about him)