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There is a third option that empowers leaders at all levels, provides a foundation for growth, and offers a sound path forward. Centralize, decentralize, or neither?

O rganizations that grow by making acquisitions and opening offices in new locations often find themselves struggling with a two-sided dilemma: Should they centralize the expanding organization’s leadership and operations, or decentralize and give individual locations the autonomy to operate almost as individual firms?

Tim Spence

Having wrestled with this challenge over the last two decades, BSA LifeStructures recently recognized a third way: One firm, with leaders throughout the organization. I think our experience could help others facing the same challenge. CONTEXT. In its nearly 50-year history, BSA LifeStructures has worked through both sides of the centralized versus decentralized debate. Founded by an engineer named Dwight Boyd and an architect named Richard Sobieray, the firm enjoyed decades of strong growth and, by 2000, had emerged as a substantial firm doing regional and national work from a single office. The board wisely recognized that the firm had outgrown this structure and pursued geographic diversification. As a result of that vision, today BSA has seven

offices that – thanks in large part to a traditional regional director structure – generally have operated like businesses within the business. While that approach served us well in some ways, over time it also led to inconsistent performance and anemic growth. The problem? The firm was operating in silos rather than, as our new vision asserts, as “OneBSA.” To address this challenge, our leadership team took a hard look at the current firm and its future vision and sought the best way to get from one to the other. That process involved four steps: assess, plan, execute, and sustain and grow. ❚ ❚ Assess. While we already were looking for a better way forward, the pandemic provided a perfect catalyst for change by further highlighting the

See TIM SPENCE, page 4


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