An organization that designs together grows together
Tecton Architects is a multi-specialist architectural, interior design, and master planning firm serving notable clients throughout the Northeast. The firm’s continued success can be attributed in significant part to its culture of sharing, support, and collaboration, and its commitment to clients, partners, and the architecture profession keeps them striving for technical and creative excellence, constructability, sustainability, and public well-being.
After nearly 40 years of steady growth, the leadership team believes there is still more they can do; untapped energy that can bring even more good into the world. Fathom was engaged to guide their exploration of who they are for their communities today and how that might look different in the future. This strategic development journey revealed and gave language to a new firm purpose, guiding principles, and action priorities.
Most recently, the firm took the bold step of inviting every employee to play a part in creating the firm’s future. Over the course of an all-day retreat, Fathom and members of the Tecton team facilitated a series of activities that allowed each person to contribute and offer their individual perspective. Beginning with an exercise that explored everyone’s hopes and dreams for the firm, we created a composite of a potential future with ideas that had never been considered. The second activity resulted in an initial sketch of what it would take to get there.
With careful planning, sessions like this can result in even more than the ideas that are generated. In our experience, they can be a place where new forms of leadership emerge, team dynamics improve, skepticism is diminished, and momentum grows exponentially.
For Tecton, the heroic vulnerability of the firm’s leaders and the courage of individuals at every level of the organization to speak openly about their experiences allowed the firm to come together around new enthusiasm for the future and to be part of its realization.
Stay tuned for more from Tecton Architects.
"I can’t say enough just how awesome it was just to have the whole firm involved. When we were working with the focus group we felt very alive about what was going on and our hope was that that would cascade into the rest of the firm and sure enough it did. The hope is that this really has the momentum to carry us forward and speaking with some people it seems like it will."
Mixing it up
The whole Tecton team gathers in the morning at a community space they designed. As everyone enters they are given colorful bandanas that match them up with members of the firm they don’t always work with on a day to day basis—their team for the day.
Leveling the playing field
Leaders from the firm introduce the day and make it clear that the future success of Tecton depends on everyone contributing freely today.
What is possible for Tecton?
In the first activity, individuals record what they see is possible for Tecton’s future. Ideas are then shared with their teams, and one representative shares the group’s aspirations to the whole room.
"To get almost 60 people all thinking the same way without any kind of pre-conceived planning or any “planting of ideas”… that was pretty cool."
Teams discuss their ideas for the future and share personal stories that reinforce the changes they desire.
Recording and reflecting
Fathom’s Matt Reiniger illustrates a shared image of the future the entire team wants. Topical categories are created allowing others to jump in and build on their ideas.
What will it take to get there?
Using the new firm Purpose and guiding principles as a reference point, the groups are asked to record their ideas for “what we need to do” and “what we need to not do” that will move us toward the picture of the future, and Tecton realizing its potential.
"The last time we had done something like this was six years ago and my guess would be that it only penetrated the firm about 20%-30%... there were still a lot of people left behind. This time I am really expecting there to be a real solid consensus and some motivation and again people holding me and my partners accountable for what we do and where we go."
As the day’s final activity each person is given the opportunity to sign up for a series of upcoming workshops that will allow them to take action on shaping the future of the firm.
Celebrating what’s next
After the official activities, everyone celebrates with beer and BBQ and the day is deemed a big success.