TZL 1469 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

December 19, 2022, Issue 1469 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Top three areas of development

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Successful PMs use their skills to leverage tools, motivate actions, and accomplish objectives, which is the essence of leadership. What is project leadership?

Communication Leadership Project management

FIRM INDEX CH Engineering.......................................................4 Coulter Jewell Thames, P.A..........................8 Hatch............................................................................ 10 Huckabee Architects, Inc................................2 Image Engineering Group..............................2 Living Stone..............................................................6 Pennoni.........................................................................4 Rachlin Partners.....................................................2 SCS Engineers......................................................10 Thomas & Hutton.................................................8 TSK Architects.........................................................2 MORE ARTICLES n JAY KENNEDY & JULIE THIEL: Emotional intelligence Page 3 n Incentivizing: Sean Sullivan Page 6 n KEVIN BERTRAND: Quality through connections Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Questions that need to be answered Page 11 In our annual Best Firms To Work employee experience survey, we ask participants what three training areas are most important to their development. The chart above shows how training needs change over time for individuals as they move through their career. People at the beginning and end of their careers value communication, younger professionals value project management, and emerging professionals value leadership training. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

O ver the past three decades, numerous pieces of research have studied project management in AEC firms. Researchers have hypothesized that, as project uncertainty and complexity grow, so too does the need for leadership from project managers. This work has spurned the notion that project leadership will supplant the more management-oriented practices of the past. What is project leadership exactly? The hairs of management and leadership have been split in the academic community for years, with much of the research failing to bridge the gap between academia and practice. However, more recent research has begun to dial in on what exactly it means to deliver project success, and the results are a bit surprising. Whereas classic approaches to project management define success as delivering projects on time, on schedule, and on budget, the modern AEC climate has considerably more facets to “project success” than simply those three metrics. Rather than monitoring and controlling a static environment (i.e. “managing”), project success today is defined by the project manager’s ability to create clear objectives for the team, communicate with a variety of team members and external stakeholders, resolve conflicts, solve problems, and connect everyday activities to the overall project vision, among other items. Project manager success today is about the project manager’s ability to apply leadership principles in the project environment. Unsurprisingly, researchers agreed and found that the leadership ability of the project manager is the strongest predictor of project success. Both investigative research and Zweig Group’s data suggest that there are a set of skills and competencies that serve project managers well and that are present in successful project teams. One study boiled the most important project manager skills and competencies down to 10 key items:

Justin Smith, P.E.

1. People skills 2. Leadership

3. Listening 4. Integrity

See JUSTIN SMITH, page 2



Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor

Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402

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probably explains a lot of why project managers feel a sense of inner turmoil about having to choose what to work on. Your clients’ preferences are distinctly different than what you feel to be most important about your work. How can we resolve that? PRIORITIZING LEADERSHIP. Effectively leading projects starts with prioritizing project interactions and project communication. Carving out the time and space to prioritize interactions requires interrogating and leaning out your internal project manager to only those items that advance you toward your goals. Here is a simple framework that you can use to take a hard look at your current process and determine if you are prioritizing the right things: 1. What are the most important goals of this phase of the project? † What are our goals? † What are our client’s goals? 2. What are the actions that need to happen to accomplish these goals? 3. What are the specific, purpose-built tools that project managers should use to facilitate those actions? 4. What are the leadership skills that project managers should bring to bear to be successful in achieving these goals at this point? When linked together, it becomes clear that successful project managers use their skills to leverage tools, motivate actions, and accomplish objectives, which is the essence of leadership. Unsurprisingly, in our work with nearly 1,000 project managers over the past two years, project managers rate leadership and communication skill development to be most critical to their continued success and their overall career development. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! This presents an incredible opportunity for firm leaders to win big with their people and their clients by prioritizing development of those skills that are best linked to what both your staff and your clients are looking for in AEC providers. It is hard to find a good reason not to. Justin Smith, P.E., is an advisor at Zweig Group specializing in project management and leadership development. He can be reached at

JUSTIN SMITH, from page 1

5. Strong trust builder 6. Verbal communication 7. Strong team builder

8. Conflict resolution and management 9. Critical thinking and problem solving 10. Ability to balance priorities

Most interesting about this list is that the relative importance of the various items are dependent on the project environment. Some items, like risk management, do not appear in the top 10 global inventory, but are most important in a project with high uncertainty. However, leadership, people skills, and communication consistently rank in the top five as most critical to project success, regardless of the circumstances of the project. How do we link this to practice? BRIDGING THE GAP TO PRACTICE. Researchers asked project managers what they thought were the most important elements of their work. This same research also asked clients what, in their view, was the most important work for project managers to focus on when working on their projects.

Project manager self-report Client report 1. Setting clear objectives 1. Planning 2. Reporting 2.

Communication with the client 3. Setting clear objectives

3. Planning

Establishing and maintaining communication with clients and stakeholders

4. Motivating the team 4.

Monitoring and controlling, managing uncertainty (tied)

Monitoring and controlling



In the eyes of clients, two of the five most important elements of any project manager revolve around the their ability to communicate with clients and stakeholders. Conversely, project managers (in this research) do not feel that to be a top five issue. Project managers trade that away for “reporting” and “motivating their team.” These are not unimportant items, but it

IN-HOUSE TRAINING The most effective way to fully leverage Zweig Group’s training programs is to customize them to fit your firm’s needs. Zweig Group offers customized versions of all of our highly acclaimed seminars, built around your people, culture, and needs. Learn more here, or contact Shirley Che at to kick start your in-house training.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Emotional intelligence

Be thoughtful in how you approach and manage your emotions, and you will find success building and maintaining meaningful client relationships.

Y ou have a meeting with a potential new client. You have the skills and expertise to bring meaningful results to their organization, but in today’s competitive market that’s just not enough. Approaching a new client relationship through the lens of emotional intelligence is critical to not only win and maintain new business, but it can also set you apart from your competitors.

Jay Kennedy

Here are some ways you can think about your EQ when approaching a new client relationship. WHAT IS EQ? What does emotional intelligence mean? It is the ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage internal emotions. It also means understanding how to read the emotions of others to foster positive outcomes. EQ can help you overcome conflict, manage nerves and anxiety, and empathize with others. It takes practice, self-reflection, and self- awareness. When approaching a new client relationship, flexing your EQ skills can also put you at an advantage to better listen to and really understand the client’s

needs. Think of EQ as a tool in your toolbox, along with the technical expertise and skills you also bring to the client relationship. EIGHT TIPS FOR APPROACHING NEW CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS. Having a high EQ means you can make emotions work for you in a constructive way. Here are some things to consider when approaching a new relationship with a client: 1. Practice self-reflection and self-awareness. Emotional intelligence is something that takes practice and ongoing self-reflection. Do you have weaknesses you need to overcome? Are you too

Julie Thiel




TRANSACTIONS CH ENGINEERING JOINS PENNONI Pennoni, a multidisciplinary consulting engineering firm headquartered in Philadelphia, announced the purchase of certain assets of CH Engineering located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The group will work as the CH Engineering Division of Pennoni. “We are delighted to welcome CH Engineering. This new addition allows Pennoni to expand our service offerings, boost staff and broaden our client base in the Carolinas region. Their reputation for hard work and dedication to clients will serve as a cornerstone in this new chapter. We look forward to developing strong and lasting client relationships for years to come with this new expansion,”

says president and CEO at Pennoni, David DeLizza. CH Engineering is an engineering and land surveying firm founded in 2000. Their client base includes state agencies, universities, municipalities, counties, architects, real estate developers, and other consulting engineering firms. CH Engineering strives to maintain and improve the safety, health and welfare of the public through providing quality design and allied services to the public and private sectors in the Carolinas. “This is a wonderful opportunity for growth for our firm. We are excited to join Pennoni and expand service offerings in the region. We are thrilled to expand

our work and to continue to service the Carolinas with a larger, full-service firm,” says general manager of CH Engineering, Maha Chambliss, PE. Chambliss, who will join Pennoni as a senior engineer, brings more than 30 years of experience. Prior to forming CH Engineering her experience included time spent with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Chambliss is a graduate of North Carolina State University. Pennoni staff and the newly added staff from CH will work in Pennoni’s current Raleigh office located at 5430 Wade Park Boulevard, Suite 106, Raleigh, NC 27607.

anxious about a client proposal? Instead, reframe your thoughts that you are feeling excited. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Instead, you’re feeling motivated to succeed. Your internal “talk track” can make your emotions work to your advantage. 6. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Empathy is vital to growing your EQ, and putting yourself in the client’s shoes can help you better understand their ideas, concerns, challenges, and how you can best help. It’s also important to remember that they view their time as valuable, and they are giving you some of that time because they want to hear what you have to say. Approaching a client meeting with that attitude can help foster a positive relationship with your new client. 7. Watch out for anything that triggers a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. In a client meeting, are there answers you didn’t expect or prepare for? Did someone say something that put you on edge? Don’t get defensive. Understand that certain things may trigger your fight, flight, or freeze emotions. Managing your emotions during meetings and knowing you may run into something that makes you uncomfortable can help you redirect your emotions positively. 8. Approach client relationships as a partnership. As a consultant, your job is to help your client succeed. Understanding the give and take of client relationships can set the foundation for long, fruitful partnerships. EQ can help grow your business, grow your career, and grow positive relationships. Be thoughtful in how you approach and manage your emotions, and you will find success building and maintaining meaningful client relationships and securing new business. Jay Kennedy is vice president of Texas operations at WSB. Connect with him on LinkedIn. Julie Thiel is vice president of human resources at WSB. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


informal in initial relationships before you know someone? Do you struggle to speak up and be assertive in group settings? Do you dominate conversations and cut people off during team meetings, rubbing some people the wrong way? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses and learning how to manage emotions will put you on a better footing with new clients. 2. Don’t approach a potential client meeting thinking you know everything. Clients are seeking your expertise, and they want to know what you bring to the table. But that doesn’t mean you should approach a new client meeting thinking you need to have all the answers. Stop, listen, and really pay attention to what the client needs, what they say, and how they say it. You’ll be able to offer more insightful solutions, as well as build a stronger working relationship. 3. Speak up. Listening is important, but clients are meeting with you because they want to hear what you have to say. Often, people feel more comfortable speaking up and offering contrary opinions when they are with people they know well. With new clients, understanding how to offer constructive critique or differing opinions is important to guide them in a positive direction. Find a balance to ensure you’re listening and offering input without dominating the conversation. 4. Prepare, prepare, and prepare. Meeting with a potential client is a high-pressure situation, and many people feel anxious approaching a new business relationship. But EQ is about managing emotions, and that means managing your anxiety. Preparing thoroughly for a proposal or presentation and doing your research can help you overcome nerves and make a stronger case on why you are the best person or firm for the job. 5. Reframe your state of mind. It takes conscious effort to change negativity into positivity, but reframing your emotions is helpful to build self-confidence. Feeling

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Incentivizing: Sean Sullivan President of Living Stone (Black Mountain, NC), a design-build firm that has been crafting luxury, award-winning custom homes for more than 25 years.


S ean has been leading his team for more than 25 years. He started out as a remodeler and subcontractor with numerous small projects and slowly transformed Living Stone into the award-winning company it is today. Sean’s currently responsible for general management and guiding clients throughout the design and build process and is one of a very few Accredited Master Builders in North Carolina. He’s also a certified Energy Star partner and nationally recognized Green Builder. With a proven process and strategic partnerships with architects, designers, and realtors, the company has delivered dream-worthy homes to families seeking a happier, healthier life in the North Carolina mountains. All Living Stone homes are green by design and he works closely with his wife and business partner, Laura Sullivan of ID.ology Interiors & Design, Living Stone’s design partner. For the Sullivans, green is not just a trend or upgrade, it’s a way of life. While Living Stone is currently based in Black Mountain, it’s

in the process of moving all operations to Asheville, North Carolina – just about 20 minutes away from its current locale and closer to its third business, Atelier Maison – a healthy home furnishings store. All three of these businesses work together to meet their seven levels of services:

Partner by design

Priced by design

Age by design

Green by design

Interior by design

Build by design

■ Furnishing by design “We build green, energy efficient homes and have brought the



‘whole living’ philosophy together with the addition of this business,” Sean says. INCENTIVIZING – NOT REGULATING. Sean’s primary focus is ensuring that clients have a smooth design-build experience at Living Stone. He says there are three different types of clients to shepherd though the process. “It’s no secret that culture impacts recruitment and retention. But, we really do live and breathe it here. We provide great benefits and invest heavily in that part of the business. We call it organizational health.” “About a third of the people will absolutely love and embrace it; another third will cruise through it; and the last group will struggle with it,” he says. “It’s the first thing we try to do when working with a client – identify which group they fall into and then pair them up with the project leader who is the best fit. We want their needs and wants to match their investment.” And when clients are well matched, a sense of trust begins to emerge. Living Stone is built on an organizational structure of trust and runs like an open book. This transparency flows into all parts of its culture – including client relationships. In fact, the company started to use a software system called CoConstruct where clients can see online when a change is made. Clients get an alert and are trained to sign off on the change as needed so there are no communication issues or surprises when it comes to changes, billing, or fees. Sean admits that while Living Stone has a great team and system in place, labor is a key concern. He says the problem isn’t new – it’s been around for about 15 years now. “It pretty much started for us during the Great Recession,” he says. “People went to other industries and didn’t come back. A generation has also retired.” To combat this shortage, the company does a great deal with local colleges and universities. It has several established internship programs and puts an emphasis on training during their stay. They’re also hiring younger people and putting them into assistant roles so they can learn the ropes on the job and then move into more project management types of roles.

Creating a culture where people want to work is also part of the plan. That’s one of the reasons why Living Stone is a certified “Just Economics” employer. Just Economics works to educate, advocate, and organize for a just and sustainable local economy that works for all in Western North Carolina. “It’s no secret that culture impacts recruitment and retention,” Sean says. “But, we really do live and breathe it here. We provide great benefits and invest heavily in that part of the business. We call it organizational health. We check in with staff and ensure we all have the right expectations.” The company also has a volunteer project every first Friday of the month where staff get to spend time working with local community groups such as Western Carolina Rescue Ministries; Bounty & Soul; and Black Mountain Home for Children Youth and Families. Living Stone also offers profit-sharing, a 401(k), and other full benefits to staff. Its philosophy for building is much like its philosophy for running the business. “The green building industry is all about regulating,” he says. “We prefer to incentivize, not regulate.” In an effort to meet that end, Sean works with a business consultant that helps Living Stone with the organizational health efforts and to build a stronger overall culture. Sean is also a member of The National Association of Home Builders 20 Club. This is a place where peers and colleagues can share problems, help each other, and compare financials and strategies to see how they are doing. One of the things Sean has learned from talking to others and from personal experience is to not take things personally. “I’m always reminding everyone of our core values and why we’re doing something the way we’re doing it.” “If a client isn’t happy for some reason I need to know why,” he says. “Over the years I’ve developed a philosophy – no regrets. With each failure, you learn how to make improvements.” Currently, Living Stone primarily works in the residential arena and Sean says one of his favorite projects has been a recent one See INCENTIVIZING, page 8

HEADQUARTERS: Black Mountain, NC

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 25 at Living Stone (57 for ID.ology and Atelier Maison)







Architectural design

Architectural drawings

Building design

Energy-efficient homes

Floor plans

Green building

Home additions

Home remodeling

Home restoration

House plans

New home construction

Sustainable design

Universal design

Custom homes


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

EMBER 19, 2022, ISSUE 1469


TRANSACTIONS COULTER JEWELL THAMES, P.A. COMBINES WITH THOMAS & HUTTON TO SERVE EXPANDING RALEIGH- DURHAM MARKET Thomas & Hutton, a Southeast-based professional consulting firm, announced the addition of Durham’s Coulter Jewell Thames, P.A. to the team. With offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, T&H’s addition of CJT increases its presence in the Raleigh-Durham region. CJT’s offices in Durham and Roxboro, North Carolina, join the Thomas & Hutton family. Co-founder and president of CJT, Dan Jewell, RLA, ASLA, will serve in his new role as a T&H principal and Raleigh- Durham regional director. T&H is well-positioned to provide more civil engineering, landscape architecture, and surveying services for public and private clients in and around the Research Triangle region. On growing the region, President and CEO Sam McCachern says, “We are excited about the addition of CJT to the Thomas & Hutton family. Their suite of services and expertise complements those of T&H, and further strengthens our capabilities in the Raleigh-Durham market and beyond. This is truly a win- win for the work we do and the clients we serve. I look forward to what we can accomplish as ONE company.” Jewell serving in his new role as a T&H principal and Raleigh-Durham Regional Director, states, “The decision to join T&H was made with the mutual success of our clients and employee family at the forefront. From the beginning, we felt that our companies had a similar workplace culture and philosophy of maintaining

long-lasting client relationships by providing personal, professional, and quality service. We are excited to join T&H and are confident that this decision will enhance the services we provide our clients while advancing opportunities for our strong team of engineers, landscape architects, surveyors, and staff.” For more than 75 years, Thomas & Hutton provides design solutions for infrastructure and land development across the southeast. The addition of CJT’s expertise strengthens the firm’s services, including planning and design of large and small-scale developments. Formed in 1995, CJT provides consulting, engineering, land planning, landscape architecture, surveying, and construction administration services across North Carolina, particularly in the Triangle region and surrounding counties. Additional CJT talented staff will join North Carolina Economic Regional Director Timothy Downs with leadership, including Jewell as a principal and Raleigh-Durham regional director. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University and has more than 40 years of industry experience. He served as State Chapter president for the North Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and sits on various boards including Durham Central Park, Durham Area Designers, the Home Builders Associations of Durham Orange and Chatham Counties. Preston Royster, PE is a principal and civil engineering department manager. He earned bachelor’s and master’s

degrees in civil engineering from North Carolina State University. With more than 15 years of experience in project management and design of small single-family residential projects to large scale developments, Royster’s expertise includes site design, water and wastewater system design, and water resources, including green infrastructure and low impact development. Jeremy Anderson, RLA is a principal and landscape architecture group leader. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from North Carolina State University and has over 22 years of consulting experience providing feasibility studies, conceptual master planning, detailed site layouts, construction plans, and sustainable development, including wetland design, recreational trail, and greenway planning. Jeff Williams, PLS is a principal and land surveying group leader. He earned his civil engineering degree from Conestoga College, Ontario, Canada. His 35 plus years of surveying experience includes boundary and topographic surveys, subdivision platting, route location surveys, and ALTA surveys. Williams oversees all land surveying operations and manages survey crews. Thomas & Hutton operates in 10 regions across North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. An established and well-respected leader in providing professional consulting and comprehensive engineering and related services, Thomas & Hutton looks forward to continuing its legacy of providing design solutions to improve communities.

residences is one of the company’s key focuses, they’re working in other markets as well – for example hospitality, healthcare, and gated communities. When asked how he would describe his number one job responsibility, he says “CRO, or chief reminding officer.” “I’m always reminding everyone of our core values and why we’re doing something the way we’re doing it.” “If a client isn’t happy for some reason I need to know why. Over the years I’ve developed a philosophy – no regrets. With each failure, you learn how to make improvements.”

INCENTIVIZING, from page 7

– one that’s won numerous awards – the Sennett residence in Asheville, North Carolina. The main goal for this home was to incorporate aging in place principles while keeping an elegant, bright, contemporary aesthetic on a mountain lot. Warmth and comfort were a focus of the homeowner while incorporating stylish, rich finishes and merchandising. Sean shares that this was also one of the more challenging projects they’ve worked on to date. The above road lot took eight months and $600,000 to carve out and create a retaining wall. They then cut for the house and added a pool on the far side. “We jackhammered for months,” he says. Sean adds that while designing beautiful age-in-place

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Quality through connections

A ccording to Charles Eames, “Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” Strong connections lead to strong communications and successful outcomes, so it’s important that we listen, understand, and respond in ways that are supportive.

We can interpret the above quote in different ways. We think about our interactions, and how we relate and communicate with colleagues and clients. But oftentimes, we don’t think about how our ideas and even objects around us can affect how we connect with others. Another interpretation could be that for quality design and operation of a facility, we need to connect adequately to infrastructure like pipelines, electrical systems, and the internet. The bottom line is that everything can be interpreted through the connections we have or the connections we are creating in the process. How do we achieve these connections? Connecting with infrastructure can be straightforward, as infrastructure doesn’t have feelings; it doesn’t talk back, disagree, or challenge our ideas. Clients and colleagues, on the other hand, can challenge us at every pass. But it is these connections that can give us perspective and help us to grow. Connections begin by reaching out, building a team, asking for

help, researching, and analyzing the possibilities presented. It’s what we do as we journey through life that can lead to enduring connections. Here are a few strategies for building strong connections: 1. Be in the moment. In our technological age, with internet, Teams, and Zoom meetings, we have many tools that are intended to help people connect. However, the best way to really connect is by actively listening and being fully engaged when someone is talking with you. Put the phone down, close the laptop (unless they are communicating through a video call, of course), and focus on the individual. 2. Build trust. Being reliable gains trust in others. Show reliability in your listening skills by repeating back key ideas from your conversation.

Kevin Bertrand




BUSINESS NEWS NEW RESEARCH FINDS ESCALATING URBAN CHALLENGES AND THE NEED FOR CITIES TO BECOME FUTURE-READY Social, economic, and environmental disruptions, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, are radically altering the expectations and behaviors of citizens, requiring urban leaders around the world to develop action plans to become future-ready. ThoughtLab, a global research firm, and Hatch, a global engineering, project management, and professional services firm, have joined forces with a broad coalition of business, government, and academic experts to provide city leaders with a blueprint for future success. Titled Building a Future-Ready City , the newly released study findings show what it means to be future-ready, and what cities need to do to get there. To analyze how cities are future-proofing their urban environments, ThoughtLab, together with Hatch Urban Solutions, conducted a worldwide benchmarking study of 200 cities – representing 5 percent of the world population. They also surveyed 2,000 citizens in 20 worldwide cities to assess the alignment between city strategies and citizen expectations. To gain qualitative insights, ThoughtLab interviewed city leaders about their plans and held meetings with a global cadre of urban experts.

The most successful metro areas, according to the study, will be those that have clear long-term visions and plans for transforming themselves into future- ready cities with the ability to meet dramatic shifts in citizen behaviors and urban solutions. To assess the future-readiness of cities, the study investigated each city’s progress across digital infrastructure, transportation, living and health, and other critical urban domains, as well as the level of transformation each city believed it required to meet future urban demands. In addition to self-reported data from cities, ThoughtLab and Hatch economists included data from trusted secondary sources to develop a pioneering future-ready index. The study examined many pivotal areas of future-readiness. The top areas where future-ready cities reporting having made the most progress include driving digital transformation; building resilience and agility; using technology and data to improve decision-making; adapting to citizen needs around health and safety; building trust and transparency; empowering communities and citizens; and building global economic, political and trade connections. The research shows general alignment between city leaders and citizens, but

also some major gaps in views. Both groups see climate change as the greatest challenge facing cities and agree on the need for major urban transformation. They concur that affordable housing, homelessness, and public health should be high on urban agendas. But citizens see inadequate infrastructure, income inequality, and, particularly, low trust in government as bigger problems than cities do. And while 78 percent of cities believe they are well prepared to overcome these challenges in the future, only 39 percent of citizens agree. The study identified the main mechanisms that cities are using to implement their future-ready city strategies and achieve better results, but for many cities, becoming future-ready is easier said than done. Cities face resource challenges around unclear returns on investment, shortage of skills, and budget constraints; technology headaches around finding the right suppliers and the pace of technology change; and political pain points around governance complexity and administration transition. Despite the hurdles, the study shows that cities are ramping up their technology investments across all key urban domains. Cities intend to spend $422 million on average cumulatively over the next five years, or about $570 per citizen.

be productive; is it something you would want to hear if you were in their situation? When completing project post-mortems, the number one cause given for project failures is lack of proactive communication. Strong connections lead to strong communications lead to successful outcomes. “Connections begin by reaching out, building a team, asking for In conclusion, maintaining connections in the workplace relies on our ability to listen, understand, and respond in a supportive and respectful manner. And building or maintaining those connections starts with each and every one of us. Kevin Bertrand is a project controls manager at SCS Engineers. Contact him at help, researching, and analyzing the possibilities presented. It’s what we do as we journey through life that can lead to enduring connections.”

KEVIN BERTRAND, from page 9

Share an experience you’ve had that shows some vulnerability and understanding of their situation. Nothing builds trust more than demonstrating empathy toward others. 3. Offer support. As consultants, we should always listen for ways we can support our colleagues and clients. With colleagues, is there a way we can help with something, or offer a different perspective without judgement? With clients, can we offer examples of similar situations and how a successful outcome was achieved? Each situation will offer opportunities to serve and support others. 4. Self-care. It is important that we come as our best self to each interaction. That means that we are taking steps to care for ourselves physically and mentally. When we feel good, it’s evident to the people around us and leaves a favorable impression on them about our character. 5. Respect. It is important to think before we speak. What pressure has this colleague/client been under, what are they really asking of us? They may just need a listening ear. Think about your response. Is it framed in a way that will

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None of these questions may seem profound, but they all merit asking and honestly answering. Questions that need to be answered

A s this year wraps up (where did the time go?), and we are seeing some signs of an economic slowdown, now is a good time for AEC firm owners to be sure they are heading into the new year in a strong position.

These are some questions I would be asking and things I would be doing: 1. Business plan for the new year. Is it done? Does it clearly spell out your mission (purpose) and vision (what you are trying to become by some point in time)? Do people actually know what that is? Are your basic strategies (philosophies) about how you will do everything you do defined? Do they differentiate you from all the other firms you compete with? Do you have clear, measurable goals for the 12 months ahead, and do you have a list of action items clearly spelled out? And does everyone in the business have a copy of the plan and understand what it is? 2. Working capital. Have you done everything you can to clear out all unbilled work in progress? How about collection of accounts receivable?

You aren’t blindly carrying old AR into the new year that should be written off, are you? How about your lines of credit? Have you gone to your bank to get those increased as much as they will allow? There is nothing that says you have to use any of this credit but you may need it at some point, and now is when you should be arranging for it – before it’s needed. 3. Unnecessary time wasters. Have you really looked at all of your processes and procedures – things such as timesheet reviews, time off requests, purchasing, travel approvals, and other things – to see if they are necessary? What can be streamlined? How about meetings? Can any of them be eliminated or shortened? Or can anyone be taken off the meeting list so they can go back

Mark Zweig

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS BRADLEY-BLEWSTER & ASSOCIATES JOIN STANTEC’S GROWING BUILDINGS PRACTICE Global integrated design leader Stantec announces the team from Bradley-Blewster & Associates joined the firm’s Buildings practice. Founded in 1980, Bradley-Blewster & Associates offer healthcare planning and design services for hospitals, medical office buildings, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, and residential care facilities. The firm’s clients include Franklin Medical Center, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Lane Regional Medical Center, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, P&S Surgical Hospital, Pt. Coupee General Hospital, St. Elizabeth Hospital, and St. Francis Medical Center & Woman’s Hospital. “For more than 40 years, we’ve taken great pride in designing care environments that prioritize the patient experience and support clinicians in their service to communities throughout Louisiana,” said Carroll Blewster, architect and co-founder of Bradley-Blewster & Associates. “Joining Stantec’s Buildings practice allows our team to build on our record of success by bringing the

resources of a global firm to our clients, as we continue to deliver best-in-class design services.” Stantec and Bradley-Blewster have a positive and long-standing partnership, delivering projects like the Heart & Vascular Institute, Level 1 Trauma Center, LSU Medical Education and Innovation Center, Livingston Healthplex, among others for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. Currently the team continues to work on additional health care projects within the Baton Rouge community. The Louisiana-based group also provides architectural and interior design services to commercial, education, and institutional clients. “The collaborative and client focused team from Bradley-Blewster bring professional acumen along with relationship-based service, and we are proud to welcome them to Stantec,” said Brenda Bush-Moline, vice president, global health sector leader for Stantec. “Together, we share a commitment to imagining and delivering advanced health facilities that offer care and comfort to the local community.”

Stantec’s Health Sector is improving health worldwide through the power of design. Their award-winning innovative spaces address the physical, mental, and emotional health of patients, their families, and care teams. With architects, medical planners, engineers, designers, project managers, and scientists in six countries share knowledge to position their clients at the forefront of best practice, technology innovation, and high-performance healthcare delivery. To learn more about Stantec’s health sector click here. Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That’s why the people at Stantec always design with community in mind. Stantec is made up of designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, who innovate together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

estimating and contracting procedures and processes working to get profitable projects? If not, what will you change? What can you do to be more profitable? How is the quality of the work you are putting out? If you aren’t happy with it, what will you change to ensure that you are getting better? “As this year wraps up (where did the time go?), and we are seeing some signs of an economic slowdown, now is a good time for AEC firm owners to be sure they are heading into the new year in a strong position.” Questions, questions, and more questions. None of these may seem profound, but they all merit asking and honestly answering. Who knows if things are going to be better or worse in 2023? I don’t. I’m still not convinced that our industry is going to be seriously impacted by rising interest rates, but who wants to take that chance? There are clouds on the horizon. Let’s get out our raincoats and galoshes, and be ready for whatever lies ahead, NOW – before the storm hits! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

to doing something more productive? Meetings waste a lot of time in AEC firms. 4. Staffing. Are you ignoring performance and morale problems caused by certain people and carrying those into the new year? If so, why? Have you thought about how you can ramp up the supply line of qualified people who want to work for your firm? What are you doing to make your company a better place to work for the kinds of highly motivated and skilled people you need? Have you got the right people in the roles they are best suited for? If not, why not? Now is the time to fix these problems. 5. Marketing. Have you gotten everyone using your client and potential client database? What are you doing to add to that database? What new approaches will you be using this year to market your company and its services? Have you reviewed the list of project possibilities and deleted everything that is dead? What can you do to accelerate the closing of the real opportunities you do have? Are your ramping up your PR efforts? How large is your press list and how often are you using it? What training do your people need to be better sellers and how will you be providing that to them? 6. Operations. Have you raised your billing rates and informed all of your clients of doing so? Are your fee

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