People and relationships are as important as design at DPAI.
Every company has a culture. As soon as two individuals decide to collaborate on a common goal, a culture is established. If neglected, this culture will take on a life of its own and develop organically, for better or for worse. Some of the most successful companies are acutely aware of this fact and spend a great deal of time and resources on understanding, creating, and maintaining a positive work culture. Culture is the ether, the oxygen that forms the context in which all company activity occurs.
This starts with values. At DPAI, we spent months of hand-wringing, revelation, anxiety, epiphany (and sometimes tears) to establish our values. They are posted throughout the office and are referred to as a touchstone for decision making, promotion, conflict resolution and any activity or process that occurs in the undertaking of our work.
The transformation has been nothing short of profound. Awareness of these collective values has created new processes for employee reviews, interviewing prospective candidates, and establishing basic day to day administrative policies. More importantly, it has changed the way we communicate with one another, with our clients, and with the public in general. Let’s look at some of them in more detail:
“We choose to be positive and humble” and “Vulnerability is a prerequisite for growth” are two of my personal favourites. The formal adoption and articulation of these core values has allowed us to establish new policies for design review within the office, for employee review, and has made it easier to collaborate with clients and consultants. If we allow our egos to get the better of us, this can seriously impact our ability to do our best work and deliver the best value to our clients. Not wanting to feel vulnerable will impact experimentation and improvisation in the design process. By our declaration of these values, everyone inside and outside of DPAI have been given license to call us on our behavior if and when necessary.
The trifecta of “Good process yields great results”, “Good design takes time”, and “Efficiency is beautiful”, speaks to our awareness of and ability to follow a clear process to always deliver the best possible value. Rushing in the name of efficiency is like sparing no expense to save money. These values also remind us that when we are busy, and tempted to cut corners, that process and efficiency must be the focus of our efforts. Otherwise we are not being true to ourselves.
Everyone has values. Few write them down, talk about them, and purposefully live them. For me this process has been unimaginably fruitful and empowering. I am proud to say that dpai is a “values-based” company.
Principal & CEO, dpai architecture inc.