Cheaper, Better, Faster: The Case for Entreprenurial Marketing

The increasing pressure to design and construct buildings cheaper, better and faster can seem like the surest path to a landscape of mediocre, throwaway buildings.  Architects prefer to look at projects as a factor of the dependent variables quality time and budget, explaining to a client, that meeting a low budget might compromise quality and perhaps argue for building a better, but smaller design.  Those relationships are weakened by market forces such as fewer resources or shorter client timetables to effectively launch a project and build, maintain or increase their market share. Clients demand that they want it all and want it now.  And there's a business theory for that.  Called Entrepreneurial MarketingLen Lodish, a Professor at the Wharton School of Business argues that smaller businesses need fast results with minimal investment.  Even the largest institutions in our industry operate much like small businesses, which is why I find this idea so compelling.  

To help get inside our client's head, let's focus on making the business case for ideas:
It's hard to focus on the long term when you have an immediate need that will likely exhaust your capital budget.  That's why so many large institutions look like they have tumors of one story buildings growing out of them and are a wayfinding nightmare. Schedule and budget concerns may be non-negotiable, but your client didn't hire you to smile and nod your head.  They hired you to think about the problem in ways that they can't.  As long as you have truly listened and respected their concerns, presenting a less literal solution than the one they asked for will gain their respect and produce a better project. 

There is also an implicit assumption on the part of the client by playing its safe, they know what they will be getting, and that the project will proceed more quickly and cost less.  Looking for proven solutions, they may be a little hesitant to explore innovative design practices, cutting edge research or sustainable tactics.  Or, they may  require integrated project design or minimum LEED certification without really understanding what is involved.  

Innovation does not have to come at a premium, and sometimes, the payback on implementing a cutting edge technology , unconventional method or research makes its own compelling argument. Architects are not necessarily known for their financial wizardry, but by presenting a strategy in terms of its return on investment, the conventional understanding of cost, schedule, and budget are transformed.  design time frames can become more elastic, with more time spent in pre-design and schematic design in order to brainstorm and then vet options as a team.  When we view a building project over its lifetime, the way that the problem is framed and eventually solved becomes more dynamic as well, leading to what the client wanted to achieve most- value.