Cultivating a Culture of Expertise

As part of our latest strategic plan for the firm, LS3P spent a great deal of time in 2019 developing and refining a new vision statement that would unite us around common goals for the coming years. In navigating 2020, a year already defined by global challenges we did not anticipate, our new vision statement has taken on new layers of meaning and heightened importance:  In our commitment to the Southeast, we create architecture that enriches community through a culture of design excellence, expertise, innovation, and collaborative engagement.

Expertise has never been more vital, in architecture and in many other industries. Expertise is what allows us to solve problems without reinventing the wheel, to innovate based on a solid foundation of knowledge, and to earn the trust of our clients and communities as we listen to what they truly need. Expertise goes beyond skill, folding in sound judgement and the ability to synthesize information from diverse perspectives to create solutions that serve our communities. It is borne out of long experience, collectively and individually, and is woven into all aspects of our firm’s culture- into our designs, into our market sectors, into our technology, into our Knowledge Teams, and into our business practices.

Expertise resides in our people.
Above all, expertise is a human attribute, and it resides in our team members. This is a fact that we never take for granted: the people who choose to share their knowledge and talents with us are the foundation of our firm, and we are grateful for them every day. From our architects to our construction administrators and spec writers to our interior designers to our business teams, we depend on the advanced skills and detailed knowledge that all of our team members contribute in their diverse roles across the firm.

Expertise is amplified by collaboration.
The process of collectively sharing ideas elevates us all, to the benefit of our firm, our clients, and our communities. Sometimes our collaboration occurs between individuals and project teams within the office. Often, we form teams across multiple offices to pair the right expertise with each project. When we collaborate across sectors to bring a multidisciplinary approach to a design challenge, we yield some of our most exciting results.

Expertise is multigenerational.
Our most experienced team members have vast institutional and industry knowledge, often with substantial expertise in a particular element of practice. Through teaching, mentoring, and even through informal interactions, our most seasoned experts are incredibly generous and deliberate about passing their knowledge to the next generations. Our emerging professionals, likewise, bring expertise from their academic programs and other life experience that helps to generate new ideas, techniques, and perspectives. From all levels of practice, this shared expertise makes us better as designers and stronger as a firm.

Expertise requires a diverse team.
“Business supports practice,” a mantra we repeat often, illustrates that our business teams are integral to everything we do. While our designers apply their expertise to buildings, our business teams focus on world-class technology, HR, legal, and finance processes to streamline our workflows and allow project teams to do what they do best. Our marketing, communications, and business development teams are critical to relationship building and brand enhancement and our administrative teams provide invaluable support to keep us running smoothly. Excellence is a beginning point, and the targeted expertise of each team member reflects that each day, in business and in practice.

Expertise must be captured and shared.
For a firm populated with busy and high performing team members, finding time to share knowledge is challenging. However, taking time to document, refine, and disseminate expertise is always worth the effort. This sharing can take the form of written pieces such as white papers, case studies, blog posts, or structured events such as in-house trainings and staff meetings. Our LS3P Academy seeks to harness and share expertise, and our Knowledge Teams create opportunities to engage deeply with a variety of topics. Expertise is often shared through informal desk crits and red line discussions, or just by sharing lessons learned on job sites or at team meetings.

Expertise is at the core of our culture, and is embedded in all that we do. In the weeks and months ahead, we will have many opportunities to draw from this strength, and to apply it in serving our communities across the Southeast. We will use this collection of expertise to help our clients, communities, and partners navigate the uncertainties of our “new normal.”  Most importantly, we will continue to push ourselves not to become complacent, and to continue to grow our expertise as individuals and collectively as a firm.

About Katie

As Principal and LS3P’s firmwide Marketing & Communications Officer, Katie Robinson plays a vital role in the firm’s Practice and Business processes, working closely with the Executive Committee to ensure the firm’s goals are fully supported.  From a practice standpoint, Katie manages the firm’s internal and external communications including all media platforms and digital presence. She creates and implements marketing collateral, brand management strategies, and marketing budgets, using strategic leadership to foster collaboration among the firm’s marketing staff throughout its eight offices.

As part of the firm’s Business Team, Katie focuses on leading knowledge management efforts.  She works closely with the LS3P’s Data Managers and Contract Assistants to maintain data collection as a top priority on all projects. One vital aspect of Katie’s business focus is the firm’s custom Dashboard which serves as the communications and data hub for the firm. The Dashboard pulls information from several sources including Deltek Vision, creating a one-stop source for internal communications, financials, support requests, employee information, marketing statistics, and project data.

Her passion for the built environment and her eye for graphic design, coupled with her understanding of the importance of effectively communicating how data supports design, is a true asset to LS3P.