Two Heads are Better Than One – Most of the Time

Consider a joint venture, suggests BDAV President, Lindsay Douglas

As building designers or architects, most of us have our ‘thing’ – the ‘thing’ that puts a spring in our step and gets our creative juices flowing. Perhaps yours is heritage renovations, commercial office buildings or residential projects. But what about the large-scale projects we would like to be part of, but sometimes reject due to a lack of resources or experience?

Don’t just write off these opportunities; consider a joint venture.

In our industry, work often ebbs, flows and fluctuates. The most interesting work often lands on your doorstep when you least expect it, and when you’re least prepared. So, how do you balance projects you’re passionate about with expanding and bolstering your sectorial experience?

As with most problem-solving in life, two heads are better than one, and it’s no different in the building design/architecture industry. I have found time and again that success is often achieved through collaboration, partnership and diversification. So, in order to broaden your horizons and your portfolio experience, why not divide and conquer and examine the possibility of a Joint Venture (JV).

But when does it make sense to consider a JV, and what are the risks and rewards?

As always, necessity is the mother of invention. A well-formulated JV – with a common client in mind – can provide you and your company with the opportunity to grow, expand and diversify a skillset, and build new relationships.

More and more, I’m noticing firms trialling JVs to plug skill deficits in their teams or gain additional experience in specific industries.

While JVs are not a new concept – particularly in the medical and mining industries – it appears inevitable they will become more prominent across all industries as companies try to do more with less. And, as industries evolve, the nature of JVs will change with them.

However, no matter what changes emerge in the years to come, the most successful JVs will continue to be those with a clear direction, a clear division of labour and a clear, achievable end goal.

In an era when client requirements and expectations are becoming more and more demanding, providing quality service and value-for- money and has never been more challenging. As a result, a package of suppliers and experts is an enticing option for potential clients.

To ensure the success of your JV, you must first identify potential partners/team members who will complement and enhance your work, while bringing something unique to the project team.

For example, for building designers eager to engage in a JV, partnering with an interior designer will significantly broaden the scope of the JV team’s capabilities and offer the client a different perspective on the entire project.

Innovation often comes as a result of applying different disciplines and skill-sets to a problem, so adding a diversity of expertise can also give you an edge. Retail experts, hospitality experts, even branding experts can help bring an innovative approach to a JV that will help to capture the client’s imagination.

And, contrary to popular belief, competitors can work together effectively and become trusted partners in a mutually beneficial JV.

As long as your capabilities are complementary, a JV will be adding value for clients.

Once you have met and identified potential JV partners, prepare your credentials and approach a client who is eager to consider a diverse project team with different specific areas of expertise.

Speaking from experience, illustrating creative thinking to solve a client problem and leveraging different skill sets to nail a client brief is the best possible outcome for any client.

So, if you’re after your next professional challenge and are considering a JV, connect with like-minded BDAV members today, agree on a target project and get collaborating. After all, many hands make light work.

Benefits of Joint Ventures

  • Take on larger projects without increasing existing scale of your company.
  • Build hands-on expertise and improve skill-set.
  • Work in sectors not previously tackled.
  • Gain valuable experience and diversify client offering.
  • Form new working relationships and connections.

Key considerations

  • Some practitioners work better alone. Only choose a JV if you enjoy working in larger teams.
  • Do your research on your partners prior to committing to be a part of a JV.
  • Set clear roles, responsibilities and expectations. From day one. In writing.
  • Establish clear lines of communication to avoid double handling.
  • A JV should be viewed as a learning opportunity. Don’t get involved in one for purely financial reasons.