Contract - April 2016 - 34

Five Steps Toward Knowledge Leadership
by Evelyn M. Lee, AIA

Evelyn M. Lee, AIA, writes
a regular column for Contract
on business practices in design
and professional development.
Lee is a senior strategist at
MKThink, the ideas company
for the built environment
based in San Francisco,
and holds graduate degrees
in architecture, public
administration, and business
administration. Lee has served
on the AIA national board
of directors and, in 2014,
she received the AIA Young
Architects Award. Her website
is evelynlee.com.

34

I was recently at dinner with three friends:
a hospitality architect, an interior designer with
a portfolio focused on workplace, and a computer
scientist. When our non-designer friend asked
the designers at the table if we would ever design
our own homes, we each agreed that we would hire
a residential specialist or at least consult with one.
With the rise of complexity in buildings and
their systems, along with an ever-increasing list
of material and technology choices for fit and finish,
it is no wonder why the necessity for specialization
in our field continues to grow and become that much
more specific. How, then, does your firm differentiate
itself from all of the other specialized offerings?
For professional service firms, the primary
differentiator is their ability to position themselves
as a " knowledge leader."
Keep in mind that knowledge leadership must
be earned by both firms and individuals. In order
to do so, clients or peers must recognize the
knowledge leadership in the first place. I am always
wary of fellow practitioners who, on a regular basis,
tout themselves or their firms as thought leaders
with no solid rationale. In other words, they have
not earned the title. After all, leadership by definition
requires followers, and firms must have a body
of content that supports this.
In the end, establishing your firm as a
knowledge leader becomes a thoughtful process
of continuous learning and numbers. Here are five
steps that you and your firm can take to grow your
own followers:

1.	 Start by asking and responding to questions
Define and/or refine the firm's voice and area
of expertise by having conversations internally
and externally with peers as well as clients.
The discussions can help to identify the best
places to continue to grow your knowledge base.
2.	Self-publish regularly
A firm that is more searchable online is more
likely to be identified as a knowledge leader. The
best way to become searchable is to consistently
generate meaningful content and send it out
to the world on as many different platforms that
you believe your firm can manage on a regular
basis, both in print and online in every form from
white papers to blogs to tweets.
3.	 Host events at least quarterly
Consider creating a regular speaker series or
pop-up event that coincides or runs tangentially
with the firm's area of expertise. Are you
positioning yourself as a workplace expert?
Moderate a panel of facility managers, real estate
experts, or change management individuals.
Host it, and invite key contacts. Doing so will grow
a firm's knowledge relative to its area of expertise,
and also provide an opportunity to form or expand
a relationship with a potential client or consultant.
4.	 Get published
Actively seek out publications in print and
online that may have an interest in the content
that you and your firm are producing. Use recent
articles as a reference point, ask if they are
interested in republishing the content, and pitch
a few new ideas for articles that you are willing
to write for them as exclusive, unique content.
Contract editors always welcome your ideas!
5.	Speak at events
Routinely respond positively to calls for
presentations. As you or your firm becomes
identified as a knowledge leader, speaking
at events could also provide an additional source
of revenue through honorariums.
Besides the buildings and interiors that you
design, know that you and your firm are only as
thoughtful as the words you publish. Thoughtless,
derivative pieces will not earn you any followers.
As with most things, consistency and patience
are key to the process. Knowledge leadership
requires proficiency around a specific topic,
and it takes time to become acknowledged for
it. Finally, continuing education needs to be a part
of the culture of a knowledge leader. It keeps
content fresh and ensures your voice remains
relevant within the contemporary landscape. c

contractdesign.com 	

APRI L 2016

PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL BOWER

COLUMNIST


http://www.evelynlee.com http://www.contractdesign.com

Contract - April 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - April 2016

Contract - April 2016
Contents
Editorial
Industry News
Columnist: Five Steps Toward Knowledge Leadership
Product Focus: East Coast–West Coast Design
Product Briefs
HD Expo Preview
ICFF Preview
Vandal
Foxglove
Galaxy Macau
Seamarq Hotel
Palace Hotel
Kameha Grand Zurich
South Congress Hotel
MGM Harbor Resort
Designers Select: Hospitality
Sources
Ad Index
Exhibition: The Influence of Toyo Ito and SANAA
Contract - April 2016 - Intro
Contract - April 2016 - Contract - April 2016
Contract - April 2016 - Cover2
Contract - April 2016 - 1
Contract - April 2016 - 2
Contract - April 2016 - 3
Contract - April 2016 - 4
Contract - April 2016 - 5
Contract - April 2016 - 6
Contract - April 2016 - 7
Contract - April 2016 - 8
Contract - April 2016 - Contents
Contract - April 2016 - 10
Contract - April 2016 - 11
Contract - April 2016 - 12
Contract - April 2016 - 13
Contract - April 2016 - 14
Contract - April 2016 - 15
Contract - April 2016 - 16
Contract - April 2016 - 17
Contract - April 2016 - 18
Contract - April 2016 - 19
Contract - April 2016 - 20
Contract - April 2016 - 21
Contract - April 2016 - Editorial
Contract - April 2016 - 23
Contract - April 2016 - 24
Contract - April 2016 - 25
Contract - April 2016 - 26
Contract - April 2016 - 27
Contract - April 2016 - 28
Contract - April 2016 - Industry News
Contract - April 2016 - 30
Contract - April 2016 - 31
Contract - April 2016 - 32
Contract - April 2016 - 33
Contract - April 2016 - Columnist: Five Steps Toward Knowledge Leadership
Contract - April 2016 - 35
Contract - April 2016 - Product Focus: East Coast–West Coast Design
Contract - April 2016 - 37
Contract - April 2016 - 38
Contract - April 2016 - 39
Contract - April 2016 - Product Briefs
Contract - April 2016 - 41
Contract - April 2016 - 42
Contract - April 2016 - 43
Contract - April 2016 - 44
Contract - April 2016 - 45
Contract - April 2016 - HD Expo Preview
Contract - April 2016 - 47
Contract - April 2016 - ICFF Preview
Contract - April 2016 - 49
Contract - April 2016 - 50
Contract - April 2016 - 51
Contract - April 2016 - 52
Contract - April 2016 - 53
Contract - April 2016 - Vandal
Contract - April 2016 - 55
Contract - April 2016 - 56
Contract - April 2016 - 57
Contract - April 2016 - 58
Contract - April 2016 - 59
Contract - April 2016 - Foxglove
Contract - April 2016 - 61
Contract - April 2016 - 62
Contract - April 2016 - 63
Contract - April 2016 - 64
Contract - April 2016 - 65
Contract - April 2016 - Galaxy Macau
Contract - April 2016 - 67
Contract - April 2016 - 68
Contract - April 2016 - 69
Contract - April 2016 - 70
Contract - April 2016 - 71
Contract - April 2016 - 72
Contract - April 2016 - 73
Contract - April 2016 - Seamarq Hotel
Contract - April 2016 - 75
Contract - April 2016 - 76
Contract - April 2016 - 77
Contract - April 2016 - 78
Contract - April 2016 - 79
Contract - April 2016 - 80
Contract - April 2016 - 81
Contract - April 2016 - Palace Hotel
Contract - April 2016 - 83
Contract - April 2016 - 84
Contract - April 2016 - 85
Contract - April 2016 - 86
Contract - April 2016 - 87
Contract - April 2016 - Kameha Grand Zurich
Contract - April 2016 - 89
Contract - April 2016 - 90
Contract - April 2016 - 91
Contract - April 2016 - 92
Contract - April 2016 - 93
Contract - April 2016 - 94
Contract - April 2016 - 95
Contract - April 2016 - South Congress Hotel
Contract - April 2016 - 97
Contract - April 2016 - 98
Contract - April 2016 - 99
Contract - April 2016 - 100
Contract - April 2016 - 101
Contract - April 2016 - MGM Harbor Resort
Contract - April 2016 - 103
Contract - April 2016 - Designers Select: Hospitality
Contract - April 2016 - 105
Contract - April 2016 - Sources
Contract - April 2016 - 107
Contract - April 2016 - 108
Contract - April 2016 - 109
Contract - April 2016 - 110
Contract - April 2016 - Ad Index
Contract - April 2016 - Exhibition: The Influence of Toyo Ito and SANAA
Contract - April 2016 - Cover3
Contract - April 2016 - Cover4
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