ABSTRACT

Types of design firms together with their culture, business models, leadership, and technology are examined to provide insights and windows into creative and critical thinking in these areas. This chapter examines how to create a firm culture that supports innovative design and promotes an inclusive and respectful environment, all of which help attract and retain both staff and clients. Regarding the use of new technologies, there is a balance between discussing specific tools (which will, predictably, become dated or be usurped by other tools) and the skillsets, understandings, and work processes that promote critical thinking about technology. Ideas for innovative business models are intended to trigger creative thinking toward becoming more entrepreneurial, to disrupt the practice status quo, and to spring into an exhilarating and lucrative future. The notion of “smart fees” or fees based on time plus quantified value to the client is addressed. Practice-based research—identifying and investigating specialized topics in design and construction—creates opportunities to innovate and advance knowledge for both projects and the profession. How leadership skills and techniques can be leveraged to benefit and influence the firm, profession, and society are set forth. Succession planning—transferring ownership—concludes the chapter.