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?