Buddy, can you spare a design?

Are you an idea-hoarder?  Do you hold back waiting for the most opportune project or presentation to share your best thoughts?  Worse, do you withhold your creativity for when you’ve locked into a contract? Perhaps the urge to compete is hardwired into us as a survival mechanism.  We see the world of design as a finite pie and feel that somehow maneuvering to prevent others from getting a piece means there will be more (or any) left for us.  I even had a boss who once said, “it’s not so much that we win the job, as that others lose.” 

I don’t even know where to begin on the shortsightedness of this kind of red ocean thinking.  What it really shows is a lack of belief in the compelling power of your ideas. Fear that they might be pirated away and someone else will profit from your inspiration. Instead of talking about ideas, we do what I like to call defensive marketing and attempt to show a prospective client how much we outrank the competition via any number of self-serving metrics.  This is your wake up call: they don’t care. Since your competition is probably making the same unfavorable comparisons with you, all praise or criticism become neutralized.  Clients will really select an architect based on their ideas, including those that can positively affect their processes and bottom line.

Ideas are valuable, but only when they are shared.  What you are sharing is your ability to listen, gather and synthesize information and creatively interpret it to make an environment:
Your ideas are what differentiate you
1.  They are the personal connection that shows a client that you get it
2.  They are what showcase your individual personality and likability (a very underestimated criteria for architect selection).
3.  They speak to your culture and work process more than any marketing lingo ever could.

Your ideas inspire your clients to dream bigger

1.  They ask clients to question their own assumptions
2.  They make someone think differently about a problem
3.  They help to define a problem in a clear, concise way (and maybe even shed light on the fact that the client is trying to solve the wrong problem).
4.  They show what is possible.

Your ideas grow, stretch and multiply when you share them
1.  They are a renewable resource. No matter how many ideas you share, your mind will make more
2.  They create a flow of energy and creativity that grows in value
3.  They are the key to access old markets run by old ideas
4.  They enrich us by expanding our inspiration, reach and vision

Don’t hold back. Creativity and innovation is not a zero sum game.  There is always room for change and improvement. When you hoard your ideas, no one can benefit from them, not even you.