Define your firm’s thoughts, resolutions for 2018

The turn of the calendar is a good time to think differently about the future of engineering.
By Christine Brack, Morrissey Goodale, Chicago January 11, 2018

Christine Brack is a principal consultant at Morrissey Goodale. Courtesy: Morrissey GoodaleTransitioning into a new year always bring resolutions to mind. It is also a convenient time to look back, if even briefly, and reflect on the months behind us-and think about what lies ahead. We are so often in a rush, however, to ramp up after the holidays, re-engage on projects, reconnect with clients, and fill the pipeline, we run the risk of being short-sighted.

The industry was certainly busy in 2017: consistent acquisition activity, firms scouring for talent, plenty of projects to pursue, and continued focus on developing leaders. Likely you also have strategies in place to address one or more of these areas. Before you become too swamped to think beyond next month, contemplate the following thoughts and what they might mean for your firm in 2018. Go a step further and make it a resolution to discuss these internally throughout the year.

  • Think outside the industry. When we think of innovation, we most often think of the technology at our disposal to produce our work. We should also think business innovation and there are management and operational ideas used in other industries worth exploring. Looking top-down and across our field can be a limiting view. Whether financial services, hospitality, manufacturing, or health care-they have employee development, communication, and workplace challenges too and are coming up with powerful new ways to overcome them.
  • Make changes and not excuses. Not every strategy gets executed and there are only so many hours in a day, but don’t be so busy or concerned how change will impact the organization that you aren’t getting better or growing. Tough decisions have to be made. When excuses are made instead, you deny the firm the opportunity to improve, work smarter, be accountable, and even be more profitable. When you look into 2018, do you want a tally of operational successes or a wish-list of the way things could be if there weren’t so many projects starting all at once? We are only a few days into the new year. You are on the edge of opportunity. Take it.
  • Understand the difference between trends and the industry’s facts of life. Multiple generations in the workplace, challenges to recruiting and retention, more competitive business development, higher client expectations, more complex projects, and the rapid introduction of new technologies. These aren’t trends-they have been plaguing the industry for more than 10 years. The interesting trends to watch are how firms innovate to deal with these scenarios.
  • Keep an eye on the other trends. Leading an organization in tough work (see point above) and just when we think we have those in order, the real trends come rolling through. Some trends never stick and fade out and some become the new normal. Even in our industry, many workplaces are more mobile than before and more virtual. There is an increasing adoption of lean management. "Resiliency" and "placemaking" project types are of strong interest to more firms and clients. Public-private partnerships (P3) is expanding from just conversation and rumor to a real thing. Thinking that acquisition is the only option to growth is prominently trending. It will be interesting to see how these develop through the year.

These ideas will take some deeper thinking and courage but will carry you farther this year than by doing the same as you’ve done before.

Think about what your own outlook is for the upcoming year and about the types of decisions you need to make that will make small or significant differences. No matter how 2017 turned out for anyone, it is behind us, and 2018 presents its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.

Best wishes for a prosperous and exciting year. 

Christine Brack is a principal consultant at Morrissey Goodale, a CFE Media content partner.