October 17, 2013, by Charlie Jahnigen

2013 – Five Lessons Learned

As Black Friday and Holiday Season is upon us, I want to take a step back and look at 2013. If I don’t do it now, the year will be over, so bear with me. The following points summarize my observations of the past year.

1. Time flies when you are having fun. Holy cow, does this calendar say October? When did fall start? I thought it was summer still. I made this statement in a February blog and things haven’t changed! I guess these are indicators that I am having fun as an architect these days. In reality, I love my job and the final product is rewarding. I continually enjoy working with people and solving problems. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of contracts and specifications but it is nice to step back and remind myself of the SHP Mission Statement: Joyfully enrich the lives of people through service and design.

2. It’s all about people. This profession revolves around human use, human design and humans that construct. I was in a meeting yesterday with a client who talked about his long standing relationship with the design and construction parties at the table. We have partnered with his team over the past 20+ years and together have created great projects. We have earned the trust of the client because our staff has created solutions that his community needs. At the end of the day, we are successful because we help our clients to be successful.

3. It's all about communication, but do we have too many modes of communication? Currently I use the following pieces of hardware to communicate:

  1. Laptop
  2. ipad
  3. iphone
  4. Desk phone
  5. My voice

In addition to the hardware, I use the following software platforms:

  1. Outlook
  2. Microsoft (letters, presentations, etc.)
  3. Texting
  4. Twitter
  5. Multiple drawing software’s
  6. Blogging
  7. Google Instant Messaging
  8. Google +
  9. LinkedIn
  10. Hotmail (Yes, I still have an account from 1998)
  11. What else?

I’ve tried to stay away from fad or passing trends of communication. Yammer, Jabber, Chirpify, Flayvr, ________(insert single catchy name here) are all ways to connect to people but they need universal acceptance to consistently work. As year-end nears, I will focus on the communication tools that are the most effective and will be thoughtful about what to add to the arsenal.

4. Competition is high! 2013 has brought a lot of great new opportunities. With every opportunity, we see an increase in competition. If the competition is local or national, it has caused us to re-examine how we go about developing and executing business. Sitting here today, I feel like the competition has made us better architects and engineers and our clients are the beneficiaries of these subtle rivalries.

5. Will 2014 be better? There is no doubt that America is operating with political questions and growth seems somewhat stagnant. Everyone on both sides of the aisle is looking for change and waiting to see what will happen. In 2013, I have seen friends change careers and reputable businesses learn new ways to operate and become more nimble. Although we have faced challenges in the last year, I feel fortunate to have gained the knowledge and look forward to what next year will bring.