Mike Pierce's blog

Understanding and Fulfilling Client Needs vs. Wants

I have been thinking about a few instances lately where our team – myself included – felt we were in good shape on a project, that we had what the client wanted. I think this perception was based on what we believed the client needed. In the end, we were listening to ourselves and not the client. After some stresses and strains, we understood and delivered, but there was pain that could have been avoided or at least mitigated better.

The Corporate Moral Compass: Upholding Core Values

Values, Mission and Vision statements are widely used and a common practice in organizations. The creation of them is often a painful process when done by a committee, as it reminds one of the camel being a horse designed by a committee – it’s hard to agree on the exact wording and priorities. That said, once established, how well does the organization actively promote them?

Trends in Contract Terms and Conditions

When I started in sales some 30+ years ago, many of Austin’s design and construction projects were completed under a simple agreement between Austin and Owner. Austin’s standard agreements were simple layman’s contracts that explained costs, payments were based on Advance Fund Schedules (we were paid in advance for the work to be performed), limitations of liability and warranty, and cost protections the Owner and Austin agreed upon.

Building Belief in Sustainable Design

The Austin Company recently nominated Judi Szabo-Stull, Manager of Facilities Development in our Cleveland Operations office, for a Green Building & Design 2015 Women in Sustainability Leadership Award. For Judi, this is a much-deserved recognition – internally to Austin and more broadly within the industry. Good luck in the process Judi!

Reflections on Independence Day

I write this on Wednesday night, July 1. July 4 is Saturday. We all seem to refer to July 4th as the “Fourth of July”, as opposed to the original and more appropriate name, Independence Day. When someone recently referred to Independence Day, the immediate vision that entered my mind was not parades or fireworks, but the Will Smith movie, Independence Day. That is embarrassing to admit and depressing to think about.

Leadership: Finding Your North Star

Leadership seems to be such a popular topic covered at industry association and company meetings and seminars, as well as the focus of study by countless consultancy and academic agencies. Thirty years ago, I do not remember there being such a concentrated focus on it. Clearly, it has become a more important aspect of what organizations do to compete and succeed.

A Little Respect and Common Courtesy

So I am kind of struggling with this one.

Over the past year or so, business emails from strangers trying to interest me in something start off with the salutation, "Hey Mike". Growing up, my Dad – who was the consummate gentlemen – would have been embarrassed to hear one of his kids show disrespect, rudeness even, to a stranger by using such a casual greeting, especially in a professional environment.

Building Trust and Keeping Clients

“You start losing a client the moment you get it.” ~ Jay Chiat

Regular readers of my blog know that I like to post some quotes at the end that are relevant, sometimes amusingly so, to the topic. In researching appropriate quotes for this post, I came across this one by Jay Chiat, Advertising Executive and co-founder of TBWA\Chiat\Day.

Integrated Project Teams: 5 Steps to Improve Project Performance

A recent study by KPMG, reported in Building Design & Construction, indicated that more than half of the Owners who contracted for projects last year suffered underperforming projects – defined as being more than 10% over budget or 10% over schedule. Many attributed this more to a shortage of talent, rather than poor planning.

KPMG International offered five steps for owners to improve the performance of their projects:

Leading with Industry Loyalty

Recently, while at a conference in an industry we serve, I was asked by a prospective client why they should choose The Austin Company over a competitor for their next project. It is an awkward question since first, you are being put in a position where anything you say can be interpreted as bashing the competition and that can always backfire on you. And second, in our industry, we do not know our competition as well as say, Coke knows Pepsi.

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