Change Presents Opportunity

A friend of mine recently called to tell me how very excited and equally exhausted he was after revamping his company with some major changes that took the majority of the summer to implement. While I shared his enthusiasm, it occurred to me that there’s probably a better approach than undertaking a major company overall once every year or two. Change is so much a part of this technological age that planning for it on a daily/weekly basis makes more sense. Incremental change will be more effective, provide continuity and create a lot less stress.

What it comes down to is seeking to be the best you can be every day, and leading your company similarly. To paraphrase Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” “the habit of self renewal” or “sharpening the saw” requires continuous focus and rededication. Applying this at a company level suggests we dedicate a large amount of our daily/weekly time to future planning on what Covey refers to as “Quadrant II” in order to achieve our highest potential.

Over the years, I have been particularly gratified to experience some mega changes within our own organization, mainly attributable to mandatory weekly departmental meetings. It’s here that we focus attention not on project specifics but rather on management systems and processes. We are in a continuous mode of analysis, re-analysis and reinventing of our company.

Providing services that encompass architecture, construction, interior design and brokerage requires certain expertise across a broad spectrum and a monumental effort to stay abreast with ever-changing methods, materials and marketplace. Through our meetings, the team has derived a solution to collect and manage this wealth of information. Each staffer is assigned a general area of research for which they become the go-to expert. Each person is responsible for conveying the latest developments in their area of knowledge to the group at a specified meeting.

Not only does the team become informed, but everyone knows to whom future questions on a particular subject should be directed.

This has led to a very extensive information library and a system of checks and balances on a company-wide server. Communication among departments is facilitated, allowing managers to derive solutions independently and with more consistency.

Another method we employ for sharpening our tools involves ongoing field trips to each of our homes during construction, providing our architects and interior designers the opportunity to hone in on design subtleties that otherwise might be overlooked in two-dimensional CAD. It is also conducive to on-site interaction between the design team, superintendents and project managers to engender a renewed appreciation for each other’s role in project management.

In previous articles, I talked about our company’s commitment to Showcase of Home events (a total of 13 over the past 16 years), always a monumental effort on the part of the entire team that staves off any sense of complacency for us. By far our most effective marketing promotion, showcase homes result in our collective best in the areas of design, execution and lifestyle. It has been the soul of our research and development, inspiring continual rejuvenation of our company’s spirit and sense of direction.

In 2000, the company made a major move by opening an office in Houston, three hours door to door from our main office in Austin, Texas. We recognized opportunity knocking when our Houston client asked if we would consider building the 15,000-sq.-ft. home which we were designing for them. Eight years later, due to very deliberate planning, we have a fully staffed Houston office that accounts for two-thirds of our work in a tenuous real estate market.

Apart from the meetings which inherently nourish strong internal communication, I have an open-door policy and make myself available for whoever has a question or problem. I am always eager to share my 30 years of experience with anyone seeking to learn.

It is said that it requires 30 days of intentional change to form a new habit. I say it takes a lifetime of search for change and improvement. Keep “sharpening the tool” and take your company to new heights.