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The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

1. Advocate for small firms within the AIA and in outside organizations and agencies.
2. Promote leadership in Small Firm professional development and practice; and
3. Facilitate and support the local component round tables and small firm networks.

Associate Principal Firm Model

  • 1.  Associate Principal Firm Model

    Posted 04-15-2014 17:48
    This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Small Firm Round Table and Practice Management Member Conversations .

    I have discussed transition plans with many firms across the country and there tends to be three overlapping considerations: ownership, governance and leadership.  You have great latitude in elevating someone to a leadership position with or without ownership and/or a say in the overall governance of the firm.

    Relative to your question about titles and what distinguishes the positions, there are various models, with most Associate, Sr. Associate, Associate Principal, and Principal titles taking on different levels of firm-wide responsibility and governance.  Among the criteria some firms use for determining eligibility for these positions:

    • Ability to think strategically about the future
    • Client-centric focus and ability to nurture client relationships
    • Industry thought leader
    • Design, technical and/or management capabilities
    • Passion for delivering high quality services
    • Commitment to assume broad firm-wide initiatives and leadership responsibilities
    • Leadership, delegation and team building skills
    • Interpersonal skills (collaboration skills, ability to listen, ability to conduct difficult conversations and act on constructive feedback)
    • Tolerance for and willingness to assume significant risks
    • Trust and integrity,
    • Ability to market services and close sales
    • Contributions toward ongoing (short- and long-term) profitability
    It is key in these positions that the person is able to make decisions based on what is best for the ongoing success of the firm and is willing to place higher value on this than what is best for any specific individual.

    BTW, the new edition of the AIA's Architect's Handbook on Professional Practice contains some great resource material on leadership, ownership and career advancement.

    Hope this helps.

    Michael Strogoff, FAIA
    President, Strogoff Consulting
    Mill Valley, CA