How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Offsite Design
Psychologist Henry Cloud, in his important book Boundaries, talks about how the most potent word a young child learns is “no”. The word “no” signifies a first step toward realizing a limit, a boundary, on what the child is willing to take on, and what he/she is not. “No” is a potent word in the adult world of business, too, as managers make difficult decisions about the workload of the folks under their care.
In the busy, chaotic building components industry, management often can struggle with saying “no” to business opportunities which overload and overtax their personnel resources to the point where existing turnaround time suffers, or faithful customers start feeling poorly served, or quality of the team’s design output declines. Yet “no” is an important, protecting word. An effective team leader is willing to say “no” to any expansion of business which negatively affects either short-term profitability or long-term company health and viability. If you are an industry professional serving in management, remember that some things are too “good” to say “yes” to!
Taking a step back, it is still helpful to analyze why you had to say “no”, and how your pool of resources could be expanded or extended to encompass a future, possible, reasonable “yes”.
The questions are very straightforward:
- Have you had the discipline and foresight to refuse certain business expansion which would overtax your staff?
- Have you purposely overbid on large contracts which you felt were on the borderline of possibility?
- Have you pulled back your sales team from pursuing a certain customer because you felt an aggressive increase in volume would be too much of a shock to your talent resources?
- Have you purposefully limited yourself to only a certain slice or segment of your market, due to discomfort with the level of talent on your team?
- Have you avoided moving into a new geographical territory because you don’t feel your current design capacity is adequate to the new business to be had?
- Have you wanted to hire a good commission-based salesperson but didn’t feel comfortable with the financial commitment of a corresponding new hire in your design department?
- Have you actually allocated funds to bulk up your design office, but held back due to discomfort at the thought of training someone new?
The solution is to consider offsite assistance for some of your design needs. Taking the step of saying “no” to new business required a little step of faith, a little bravery – it was doing the right thing. The step of bringing on an offsite design firm like Gould Design, Inc. (GDI) is a similar moment of faith, a brave step into a slightly different paradigm. It is the expansion of the company team into something bigger, more capable and more diverse than in the past. It represents new personalities, new faces, new relationships, and a slightly adapted way of working. It is a distinct change!
This change is a challenge, to everyone on the team, as the dynamic needs to grow and adapt with the transition. Teams, especially in healthy companies where management and talent have empathy and a close-knit sense of mission, tend to develop an unfortunate alternate identity of a “tribe”. It’s entirely natural, but good managers know a tribe is different from a team! Teams are a deliberate, managed group of people joined by a common mission to accomplish a task. A tribe on the other hand is a clique, a group of people who are connected socially. When a company expands or grows to engage the mission, the sense of social definition often needs to expand and grow with it. Bringing on some outside design resources can be a defining step and a time of growth for your team, as relationships and methods get redefined and stretched.
The rewards can be great. Growth and stretching can be good for a company, and as in any corporate growth period, the team learns in time that even offsite designers like the GDI staff are people, too. We enjoy working with others, sharing our stories; we have kids and lives, we have soccer matches and recipes and advice to share just like any co-worker, albeit at a distance. We are here to connect with you, and to help, how and when you need it; we have learned how to build relationships even at a distance. The Internet has shortened the distance between us all from miles to mere clicks. And in terms of our business offerings, you know as a manager your ultimate goal of increased throughput and capacity to “scale up” design resources for large projects, or go “dormant” during slow periods can be incredibly liberating. Consider stretching your team to something greater than it was. A good offsite design firm is there for you; here at GDI we want your success to be our success. We want you to grow in confidence, we want you to re-evaluate those conditions under which you used to say “no” to business, and more confidently and rationally move forward a future where you can say, “yes”!
In summary, the answer to the “how” question is really a what: What are you waiting for! Contact GDI today and let us solve those problems for you and help you grow your business. Besides, have you considered what your customer thinks when they hear “no”?
Jonathon Landell – Design Professional
Gould Design, Inc.