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Structural Integrity; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Many of the topics that we discuss in this blog are related to three basic themes;

 

1.       The Industry is broken and in need of a major overhaul.

2.       As our product becomes increasingly complex, the skill set of the developer has diminished.

3.       It is within our power to reclaim the glory of our profession.

 

For those of us dedicated to the betterment of the profession, one of the major challenges that we face is that our firm’s lack integrity. Now by that I don’t mean that they are liars. Nor do I mean that they are out polluting our rivers and streams, etc. I use ‘integrity’ in a broader and more exact sense. Integrity is achieved when each of our members is working in concert with the whole. In other words, when our highest ideas and values can be witnessed in even the simplest of our work and projects, there is integrity.

 

Let’s begin with the following principles; Each of us is made up of three primary components; the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual. We, as individuals, operate more happily and effectively when those three aspects act in unison. Put another way, when our actions operate in concert with our values, we achieve harmony. There are also three primary aspects of our lives; work effort, personal effort and sleep. If we live in accordance with our values in only two of the three, then our quality of life and greatness of achievement will be lessened.

 

So how can I say that our firms have lost integrity?

 

The answer is simple; when you read your firm’s Mission Statement (this is the place where we exclaim to the world, exactly what it is, that we as an organization believe);

 

1.       Does it reflect the complexity of our goals and responsibilities as developers?

2.       Does your firm act in accordance with those values in everything that it does?

 

If the answer to those two questions is ‘yes,’ then you are extremely lucky. If on the other hand, your Mission Statement says something along the lines of ‘maximizing shareholder value,’ then you more than likely work at one of the other 95% of the firms out there, which are in need of a major overhaul. Now of course profitability and fiscal responsibility are key ingredients in a firm’s perpetuation, but they are neither comprehensive, nor inspirational. There is no call to greatness in maximizing shareholder value.

 

Because our work affects so many aspects of society, we cannot be just one thing- as the maximization of shareholder value would suggest. Our projects inform how millions of people work, play, drive, worship, etc. and therefore our responsibilities are greater than simply sending the most money to insurance company executives in Connecticut. Our Mission Statements must be equally complex.

 

Now as individuals working at firm’s there is another level of complexity in the search for integrity. Are your values compatible with those of the firm in which you work? It all has to gel together for there to be harmony. Otherwise it is just a paycheck.

 

So why do I keep harping on these tangentially related topics? I do so because we are at a unique fork in the road with the profession real estate development. We can use these catastrophic times to wait and complain and eventually resume our previous path, or we reflect upon our failings and resolve to change them. I vote for the latter.


So how would you change our industry?

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