Contributed by:
Dan Noble

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Leadership Transition: The First 100 Days

At HKS, we have new leadership taking the helm in our healthcare practice, with Jeff Stouffer assuming the position of Healthcare Group Director, and I’ll be serving as President and CEO. Both Ralph Hawkins and Craig Beale will be staying with us, Ralph as Chairman and Craig as Global Healthcare Director. So change is afoot … but we’ll have a smooth transition and continual leadership with Ralph and Craig.

As we look forward to 2014, I am extremely excited about short- and long-term prospects. We do have some challenges, but I firmly believe we have the talent and drive to propel us to new levels of achievement and success.

Below I’ve highlighted several things I think that we – as an industry and a firm – need to focus on.

1. Push “Focus on Architecture” Initiative

Consider eliminating the words design and production from our vocabulary and focus on quality architecture.
Break down our manufactured silos of design, documentation and implementation. This will promote a continuous development of the design, and enable us to draw the appropriate thing at the appropriate time.
Eliminate the inefficient baton pass between phases that results in the loss of energy, information and efficiency. We will eliminate an unnecessary learning curve, reduce mistakes and prevent information from getting lost in the transition.

2. Develop the “Whole” Architect

Eliminate wasteful bureaucratic hierarchy.
Promote ownership of the entire project and idea.
Ensure we have a firm grasp of the basics: Blocking and Tackling.
Reduce our errors and omissions on our drawings.
Have continuity among design, implementation and particularly in the field during construction.

3. Recruit the Best Talent

To use a sports analogy, we should draft for talent - not by position. However, there are always exceptions.
Train the talent technically and pragmatically.
Develop left and right brain thinking.
It’s easier to train raw talent than it is to pull quality out of mediocrity.
Make the architectural profession a magnet for the best and the brightest.

4. Develop and Promote a Culture of Accountability

Treat each project and every action as if you were running your own firm.  It will be more gratifying for you in the end and better for the collective whole.
Forget about an overall firm “net” for a moment … take responsibility; it’s your decision to defend. How would this perspective affect your thought process?
Follow Quality Control Protocols. We need to eliminate errors or omissions that lead to claims. Know how a building gets put together and how we get there through an intelligent, efficient process.
Our final products are the environments we have imagined and coordinated – the built environment or improved work process that comes from thoughtful problem solving  … not the drawings that describe them.

5. Think More Innovatively

Project delivery means drawing the right thing at the right time, and working with consultants, contractors and fabricators to help document design intent more efficiently.
Consider peripheral income streams.
Develop and research the science of putting together a building – sustainability, skin technology, and building methodologies.
Leverage technology better:

Utilize the potential of smart drawings with attributes.
Draw to the level necessitated by the phase.
Find the best tool for the phase … but be open … it might be Revit.

6. Get a Better Handle on International Work -- It’s Here to Stay

More development will be happening outside the U.S. than within our borders over the next decade.
The world is flat.

7. Be More Entrepreneurial

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s gestaltic. Work together.
But the parts are better when they are smaller … and more nimble.
Think big … act small.

8. Become More Connected to Communities

It’s the right thing to do.
It can bring work and/or lead to more work.
It broadens our network and connects us to our communities and opportunity.
It increases our connections and develops new relationships.

9. Tell Our Story Better

As an industry, we have such a compelling story to tell.
We don’t leverage our work as strongly as we can.
We need to amp up our game.

10. Good Design is Good Business

Own the non-commoditized world of design and construction and emphasize thought leadership and added value.
Know our clients’ businesses.
Contribute to their bottom line – and enhanced ROI.
Let the building be an ally to the business at hand.
Publish more on the intelligence we bring to problem solving and the building solution.

Dan Noble, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP, is president and CEO at HKS, Inc.