The Business Behind Design

Behind all great architecture and engineering work there needs to be an efficient, effective business operation in place in order to maximize profits. In his Business Behind Design blog, Steven Burns, FAIA, Director of Product Strategies for BQE Software, creator of ArchiOffice, and long-time managing director of an architectural practice, offers valuable advice about running a design firm.Topics include project management tips, financial best practices, marketing how-to, advice for maximizing meetings, business software, recruitment and retention, and strategic planning. For more on BQE Software, visit:
Why employee advocacy is key to social media success
Building Team | December 07, 2015 | Steven Burns
Employee advocacy is key to boosting social media engagement, and employee advocacy is about more than just the promotion of a firm’s brand.
5 ways to bring data into marketing and business development
Building Team | November 30, 2015 | Steven Burns
Here are five ways to use data to enhance the client acquisition process
The benefits of selling your firm to employees

Other benefits of selling a firm to employees is the opportunity to mentor the next generation of employees and providing your clients with continuity. Photo: Flickr/

Building Team | November 17, 2015 | Steven Burns
One business advisor recommends professional services businesses to develop a group of employees who are willing and able to buy the business
Building Team | November 02, 2015 | Steven Burns
Hiring for culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same
Building Team | August 25, 2015 | Steven Burns
By analyzing the “benchmark firms” selected from its annual surveys, PSMJ has identified several characteristics that distinguish top performers
Understanding the values and aspirations of millennials

Only 28 percent of millennials believe that their organization is taking full advantage of their skills, research from Deloitte revealed.

Building Team | August 20, 2015 | Steven Burns
A recent LinkedIn workplace survey revealed that millennials (defined as individuals aged 18–24) are quite different from boomers (those aged 55–65)
How to improve project planning
Building Team | August 11, 2015 | Steven Burns
A recent research project revealed that more than 75 percent of project owners have no consistent method for assessing project risks and setting budge...

According to research by talent management firm Development Dimensions International, 89% of leaders with strong interaction skills have more engaged teams. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

Building Team | July 10, 2015 | Steven Burns
Much of what’s written about employee engagement focuses on how leaders can help their employees become more involved at work. But what about the lead...
How to earn respect as a leader
Building Team | June 18, 2015 | Steven Burns
Employees will give you minimum effort if the only reason they respect you is for your authority
Is your firm social enough?
Building Team | June 09, 2015 | Steven Burns
The overwhelming majority of A/E/C firms are engaged in social media. But to what end? 
Succession planning starts with developing your leaders

A leadership-succession process should involving mentoring and coaching. Photo: HA0521-021/Flickr.

Building Team | June 03, 2015 | Steven Burns
Two-thirds of U.S. companies still admit that they have no formal succession plan in place, a 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of Cor...
Why it’s so hard to figure out what to pay top talent
Building Team | April 03, 2015 | Steven Burns
Is your firm’s approach to compensation effective in today’s rapidly changing talent market?
Are face-to-face meetings still important?

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference.

Building Team | March 17, 2015 | Steven Burns
One CEO looks pass convenience and advocates for old school, in-person meetings.
How to give feedback effectively

If initial feedback doesn’t resonate, effective leaders also know how to turn up the pressure in a way that is progressive, but not too sharp.

Building Team | March 06, 2015 | Steven Burns
A great feedback-giving leader evaluates the individual
What your employees really want

Employers can support employees' personal growth by encouraging them to take courses online or be mentored by more senior employees. Photo courtesy of Evan Bench/Wikimedia Commons.

Building Team | February 24, 2015 | Steven Burns
Here are key aspects of a job that keep employees happy
Why diversity at work matters

In the U.S., there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance, a study by McKinsey found. Photo: Monisha Pushparaj/Wikimedia Commons

Building Team | February 17, 2015 | Steven Burns
Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median...
The 4 leadership behaviors that really matter McKinsey & Company

Using a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, McKinsey surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world.

January 30, 2015 | Steven Burns
It includes seeking diverse perspectives and supporting others.
December 26, 2014 | Steven Burns
Successful innovators care about solving interesting and important problems — innovation is merely a byproduct. SPONSOR CONTENT
December 19, 2014 | Steven Burns
There are many reasons why people quit: employee mismatch, work/life balance, co-worker conflicts, relocation, family matters, lack of good communicat...

Photo: mapichai vie

December 16, 2014 | Steven Burns
Replacing the names on the door can be tricky for AEC firms. SPONSORED CONTENT

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Architects | November 26, 2014 | Steven Burns
A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science revealed that employees were 26% more satisfied in their roles when they had positions o...

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Architects | November 12, 2014 | Steven Burns
A collaborative planning and design process may seem like a common-sense goal, but the concept can be a challenge to achieve in the fragmented AEC ind...

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Architects | November 06, 2014 | Steven Burns
To attract and keep talented individuals who are different than you, Entrepreneur magazine suggests a few foundational principles. SPONSORED CONTENT

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Building Owner | October 29, 2014 | Steven Burns
Telling your employees to become more engaged and productive won’t work. But putting mechanisms in place that encourages their progress will. SPONSORE...

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Architects | October 19, 2014 | Steven Burns
Another brainstorming session, another slew of tired ideas. How can you push your team to be more creative and bring in new perspectives? SPONSORED CO...

Illustration: Stuart Miles via

Architects | October 13, 2014 | Steven Burns
Kristof De Wulf, CEO of InSites Consulting, argues that the effects of customer-centricity typically don’t endure, leading only to temporary improveme...

Illustration: digitalart via

Architects | September 25, 2014 | Steven Burns
By now, the idea that organizations must adapt to maintain both relevance and market share is so ingrained that it’s been reduced to pithy sayings. Bu...

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Architects | September 13, 2014 | Steven Burns
Asking the right questions can help business leaders to anticipate changes, seize opportunities and move their firms in new directions. SPONSORED CONT...

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Architects | September 13, 2014 | Steven Burns
An oven-overlooked factor in assessing the success of a leader, according to organizational development consultant Brook Manville, is his or her abili...
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