How to Empower Your Team Beyond Projects

How to Empower Your Team Beyond Projects

Register now for our weekly presentation
with the Monograph team.

hosted by:
Evelyn Lee

Evelyn Lee

Founder

@

Practice of Architecture

George Valdes

George Valdes

Growth

@

Monograph

date / time:

September 24, 2020 4:00 AM

PT

resources:

Join us on Thursday, September 24th for Best Practice, a virtual fireside chat series dedicated to practice operations at architecture firms and beyond. From pain points to potential, hear how leaders in the architecture and engineering industry are innovating through new business models and managerial techniques.

We’re chatting with Evelyn Lee, Founder of The Practice of Architecture, a company focused on helping individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth. She also works as Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies and is the first female Treasurer for AIA National Board 2020-2021. Evelyn has received numerous industry awards including the 2016 40 Under 40 award for Building Design + Construction and the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award.

In this 45 minute chat, we'll talk to Evelyn about leadership, management, and the opportunities available today for architects to improve their practice operations.

Find out:

  • What can Architects do today to run a better business?
  • What does effective management look like?
  • What can firms learn from technology companies?
  • and More!

About The Practice of Architecture

The Practice of Architecture helps individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth, building careers and practices that prosper in today's changing world.


date / time:

September 24, 2020 4:00 AM

PST

Evelyn Lee

Evelyn Lee

Founder

@

Practice of Architecture

George Valdes

George Valdes

Growth

@

Monograph

resources:
resources:
hosted by:
Evelyn Lee

Evelyn Lee

Founder

@

Practice of Architecture

George Valdes

George Valdes

Growth

@

Monograph

date / time:

September 24, 2020 4:00 AM

PST

resources:

Join us on Thursday, September 24th for Best Practice, a virtual fireside chat series dedicated to practice operations at architecture firms and beyond. From pain points to potential, hear how leaders in the architecture and engineering industry are innovating through new business models and managerial techniques.

We’re chatting with Evelyn Lee, Founder of The Practice of Architecture, a company focused on helping individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth. She also works as Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies and is the first female Treasurer for AIA National Board 2020-2021. Evelyn has received numerous industry awards including the 2016 40 Under 40 award for Building Design + Construction and the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award.

In this 45 minute chat, we'll talk to Evelyn about leadership, management, and the opportunities available today for architects to improve their practice operations.

Find out:

  • What can Architects do today to run a better business?
  • What does effective management look like?
  • What can firms learn from technology companies?
  • and More!

About The Practice of Architecture

The Practice of Architecture helps individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth, building careers and practices that prosper in today's changing world.


Register for Live Event

Thank you!
Your registration has been received!

Check your email for confirmation.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Register to Watch Now!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Evelyn Lee of Slack on designing a new future for architecture

When most people hear the word “architect” they picture building blueprints.
While it’s true that construction and architecture go hand-in-hand, the construction industry has historically ebbed and flowed dramatically.
That’s one of the many reasons why designer Evelyn Lee is advocating for a tectonic shift in the way we think about architecture as a profession.
A pillar of the architecture world for over 15 years, Evelyn is currently a senior experience designer at Slack. She was also the first female treasurer for AIA National, and founded a popular podcast called Practice of Architecture.
Evelyn’s eyes are set on the future of architecture: how both individual practitioners and leadership need to approach their work in a way that fosters innovation and breaks down barriers. Here are some of her thoughts.

1. Architecture needs to grow beyond building

Every day it seems like traditional architecture services are being gobbled up by other providers.
Title duties? Gone.
Scope of work? Absorbed by general contractors and project managers.
Evelyn says that we can’t just roll over and accept that.
“I'm like, okay, what are you going to do about it? What pieces are we going to take back? What new pieces are we going to deliver?” she said.
Yes, you can certainly use the AIA as a resource to regain services or find tips and templates. But success also requires self-advocating.
“You are your best microphone,” said Evelyn. “I think maybe we need to be teaching more people to fish. But I also think for whatever reason, architects don't tend to reclaim things, or to step in other people's pond. And we just let people steal from us. In order for us to remain relevant, we're going to have to start fighting back.”
The best way of fighting back doesn’t necessarily mean battling for what we used to have. It also means thinking creatively, expanding into new areas that push the architect-client relationship past its traditional confines.
“I've been in it now for nearly two decades. And unfortunately I haven't seen that much push. It's been interesting to see what COVID has done when it comes to remote technology. And it's interesting to see the growth of building tech and VC deployment,” Evelyn said.
Now more than ever, the time is ripe to explore new areas.
New areas might include firms looking at other SaaS models that they can deliver to their clients to continue a relationship after a building is built, such as helping with operation and maintenance.

2. Innovation starts with communication

Architecture doesn’t have to be redesigned in a day.
In fact, there are smaller and more productive ways to start enhancing the profession that can happen right this minute.
Evelyn says the first step is to look at your firm’s individual culture. If you're in leadership, is communication transparent? Is innovation encouraged?
For employees, are you thinking entrepreneurially about the workflow? Are there ways the workflow might be streamlined?
In a remote setting or otherwise, it’s problematic when stakeholders aren’t in the loop. At Slack, Evelyn’s team uses a channel that includes everyone from interns to VPs.
“Everyone always sees what's going on on a project all the time. So that allows [them] to say, have you guys thought about doing it differently this way?”
Teams can excel when individual employees feel they have the power to make processes streamlined and more efficient.

3. Forward-thinking approaches to architecture pay off for everyone

It’s beneficial to set time expectations and see what employees can do creatively within those boundaries.
For example, imagine that you assign a task and stipulate that the work needs to be accomplished within 40 hours. Consider making how it gets done open to negotiation.
“We are so time-driven and architecture. So how do you, in addition to telling them you have 40 hours to deliver on this task...give them the freedom to play that out and to change the way the firm does things, and to do it within those constraints? You still have to do it within the 40 hours, but show me if you can do it quicker, faster, better,” said Evelyn.
The results might be surprising: employees that feel engaged, and companies that earn more profit on the back end.
That’s why even in a formal work setting, Evelyn advocates for young professionals to think strategically and not be afraid to ask questions and pursue enhanced productivity.
“I think you need to be entrepreneurial about your career,” Evelyn said.
This may require explaining to superiors the inherent value in doing something differently, and explaining exactly how it will make you more productive.
It could also mean showing rather than telling: running an experiment and backing up your thoughts with proven results.

4. Cultivate a great customer experience

The more billable hours, the better - right?
Perhaps. But when you’re chasing billable hours and get sucked into the vortex of time-based services, you typically spend more time in the construction document phase or the CA phase.
An outdated focus on billable hours often takes architects’ focus away from what they do best.
“I think we should pay more attention to where and how we structure our value and get paid upon our value,” Evelyn said.
The true value of architecture lies in the SD and DD phase of the project.
“We need to be more aware of the technologies, and willing to give into the technologies that allow us to embrace putting more money on the SD and DD side of things, and to let go of the hourly rate that we get paid on the CA side,” she said.
Providing value means figuring out what actually helps our customers, and making the customer experience as rewarding as possible.
On that note, Evelyn cautioned being wary of relying on the same repeat clients over and over.
If those relationships are based on respect for value and work quality, that’s great.
But if they’re a legacy of “good old boys” relationships, they could disappear overnight.
“I don't want to go to an old ‘cigars on the golf course’ type of thing happening. Like it's just a boys' club thing. I don't mean to be sexist about it. But is it just an old comradery thing that is helping keep that relationship going? Or is it one where they actually see you as a strategic partner?”
Chances are the relationship is a combination of both - and that’s ok. The key is that firms should be constantly seeking out opportunities to make the client relationship better.

5. The path to fostering fledgling ideas

Fostering innovation within a firm is possible. As described above, it requires communication and open-mindedness on the part of leadership, and proactive thinking on the part of employees.
But if architecture as a profession is going to expand in scope, it will need support.
“The practice of architecture is really about how do we evolve our practices to remain relevant,” Evelyn said.
This can come from the education front, and it could also come from the investment front.
Evelyn recognized Monograph’s George Valdes as someone who’s providing financial support in the form of angel investing.
She also sees the need for other kind of support. Evelyn envisions groups that act like incubators, helping architects pursue innovative products and processes.
“The big goal would be like for Practice of Architecture to be an accelerator or an incubator for new ideas coming out of firms, and then helping them with go-to-market on the non-building side,” she said.
It might be a product that supports the building industry. It might be a new process or operational update. It might be something that helps with client education.
The big goal is change - both small and large - that sets architecture on a course for future success.

Join us on Thursday, September 24th for Best Practice, a virtual fireside chat series dedicated to practice operations at architecture firms and beyond. From pain points to potential, hear how leaders in the architecture and engineering industry are innovating through new business models and managerial techniques.

We’re chatting with Evelyn Lee, Founder of The Practice of Architecture, a company focused on helping individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth. She also works as Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies and is the first female Treasurer for AIA National Board 2020-2021. Evelyn has received numerous industry awards including the 2016 40 Under 40 award for Building Design + Construction and the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award.

In this 45 minute chat, we'll talk to Evelyn about leadership, management, and the opportunities available today for architects to improve their practice operations.

Find out:

  • What can Architects do today to run a better business?
  • What does effective management look like?
  • What can firms learn from technology companies?
  • and More!

About The Practice of Architecture

The Practice of Architecture helps individuals and firms identify opportunities for leadership and growth, building careers and practices that prosper in today's changing world.


Upcoming WebinarsWatch On-Demand

Stay up to date

+ Webinars
+ Guides
+ Events
+ and more!
WORK EMAIL:*
Thank you! See you in your inbox.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Best Practice insights

Sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of the advice and stories from emerging leaders in design and practice operations.

Try Monograph

Create more time for your team to do what they love.
More Architecture. Less Admin.
Get Started
Designed for Architects by Architects