I took a long & very winding path to where I am today. It started when I declared theater as my major in college, then took a 90 degree turn when I was accepted to UC’s DAAP college for Interior Design. During my time there I learned so much about how we build modern structures but more importantly, I learned about the ways in which a successful team works.

Now having spent 10+ years working in & with small businesses I have come to realize effective design-build teams look very similar to high-functioning small business teams. Each need 5 types of people to create a successful outcome.

1.     The Architect

Every small business needs an architect. If a business is just starting out, this is typically the founder. This is the person who can see something where there is nothing. The type of person who can see the raw landscape and leverage its subtle uniqueness to design something magnificent.

The architect is often incredibly charismatic and passionate. They can generate a lot of energy & enthusiasm for the work happening within the business. At their best they can easily communicate their vision and bring the team along. At their worst they can be unrelenting, unfocused, secretive and very autocratic in their leadership style.

2.     The Interior Designer

The interior designer needs the box. In other words, if you asked this person to create something from nothing, they would most likely be paralyzed by possibility or draw a complete blank. This person is still a creative force within your organization, but their strength lies in connecting the dots. Give this team member a loose set of boundaries and watch them shine. If your organization uses EOS, this person is usually referred to as the Integrator because they take the big vision and build it out to something the rest of the team can see.

3.     The Engineer

While the architects and interior designers are focused on possibility & the future, the engineer is focused on what is now and what is concrete. This is the person in your organization who lays down truth bombs or starts many of their sentences with, “well, have you thought about…” These types of people can be seen as “Debbie downers” or naysayers, but their genius lies there. They are the ones who can see all the pitfalls and potential breaking points. If you want a structurally sound business, this is your guy/girl.

4.     The Contractor

This is where the action starts. Architects, interior designers and engineers are idea people. The contractors are the get-it-done people. The contractor is a critical piece of the small business component. They are the ones who can take all this planning and make something happen. They are typically excellent front-line managers who can motivate their teams, keep the trains running on time, and pull focus back when it starts to wander. These are your project managers. These are the people on your team who have the hands-on knowledge and experience to move your business forward. 

5.     The End User

You could build the most beautiful, highly functional building in the world, but if you don’t have anyone using it what is the point? These are your entry level or staff level team members. These are the people making your “widgets”. If you subscribe to the Deming philosophy (which I do), then you know that he believes 99% of workers are willing workers. They want to show up and do a good job. What Deming espouses is that when workers fail it is the fault of the system and processes, not the worker. So, these are truly the people that the architects, designers, engineers and contractors answer to. Because if your business doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t for your customers, which means it just plain doesn’t work. 

So, which one are you? And, is one (or more) missing from your organization?