I was lucky….

I was lucky. On my first day of work at BLDD, I could look around the studio and actually see my future business partners. Steve sat two desks over, Randy asked me to “tell everyone a little bit about myself” and Sam popped in from the construction trailer at Richland. Bruce and I had graduated together from architecture school the day before; Mark had been my TA for structures class and I was Scott’s TA for another.

But the world has changed. We’ve grown from one office to five offices, and the future of BLDD is going to be more dependent on technology for communication. We need to work, work hard, at creating personal relationships between our colleagues.

That’s the objective of the BLDD’s Leadership Institute. In addition to fostering personal relationships, we are also deliberate about distributing our corporate knowledge to our staff and being mindful of preserving the unique culture of BLDD that has served us well.


Over the last five years, I have been given the gift of being the facilitator of the Leadership Institute. It has been a gift so large that no business etiquette-approved thank you note could ever address!

A little background: In the fall of 2011, we were having our annual meeting to discuss each of our employees and their strengths and weaknesses. (Lots of strengths, but a only a few weaknesses, by the way…) I jotted them down and started the conversation that each one of the weaknesses that was mentioned could be corrected. We just needed to have some training. My teacher-genes were kicking in.

From this was born the idea of a year-long course divided loosely into four topics: BLDD’s Core Values, Communications Skills, Professional Skills and Technical Skills. The “faculty” would be us – the principals and associates of BLDD and our classrooms would be our offices.


We are now in our fifth year of the BLDD Leadership Institute. We started each year as an open book with a session entitled “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about BLDD*….*but were afraid to ask” where our president, Steve Oliver, answered any question that the class asked.

In the summer, we’ve spent two days in Chicago working on Process Improvement, a session lovingly known as “This is Broken.” We’ve also recorded each other giving presentations – a horrifying experience! We’ve worked to increase our knowledge of contract language and learn more about each of our core values of Passion and Fun, Integrity, Accountability, Respect, Work Ethic and Innovation.


And, we have increased our self-awareness with the DiSC personality profiles. I’m a conscientious “C” who sets high standards for myself and others, in case that’s not obvious!

It is our final year for the Leadership Institute. We aren’t done with training, sharing and self-improvement but the format for training is going to morph into something different in the future.

Thank you all for the gift of the last five years. I was thrilled when my partners agreed to the concept of the Leadership Institute and let me run with it. We didn’t know what it would be or what it could be, but we knew that it had the possibility of being something big that could impact the future of BLDD Architects. It has become all of that and more.


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