Blog

Continuum: Changing the Way We Collaborate

D/P/S employees gather for a Friday Focus dialogue

Posted by D/P/S Continuum

As lifelong learners, we are driven by a desire to share information—freely and continuously. Continuum brings D/P/S employees together to talk about design, ask questions, and share the things that inspire them.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement. A familiar topic to any organization. How do you keep people excited about their work, make them feel part of the team, find fulfillment, and have a sense of ownership in the company's mission?

D/P/S, like many organizations, has grappled with these questions as the company has grown from a small family architecture firm, to a thriving small business of close-knit collaborators and designers, to one of the largest, most recognizable multidisciplinary design firms in the Southwest.

This growth has provided everyone at D/P/S with the opportunity to work with a diverse clientele, contribute to exceptional projects, and support the Southwest's vibrant, quirky, resilient, beautiful communities of which we're proud to be a part.

So how is D/P/S's culture keeping up with our growth and successes?

Fortunately for us, we have leaders at every level who are relentless in their pursuits to keep us strong, engaged, and moving forward in our commitment to provide the highest quality professional design services.

"I consistently hear from outsiders about the wonderfully caring, talented, and friendly people that work at D/P/S. I believe that as long as we stay strong internally we can overcome whatever external challenges arise. For the size of the company, it's extraordinary."

~Steve Perich, Principal

Continuous Learning

Continuum—a group formed by D/P/S employees aspiring to know more and do more with our collective knowledge—began as an internal Lunch & Learn series to help people strengthen their skills. But because it put presenters and attendees in traditional speaking and listening roles, it lacked the collaboration and discussion Continuum was craving. Like day-old sandwich bread, the format became stale. Continuum restructured.

Rethinking the one-hour podium presentation approach, Continuum developed Friday Focus—a half-hour, informal, bi-weekly group discussion with morning coffee and treats. The 30-minute time slot still features a facilitator, but is made up of 50% prepared content and 50% interactive discussion.

Promoting the exchange of ideas, the new Friday Focus structure engages more employees, fosters a culture of knowledge sharing, and brings together many voices.

“The goal is to support casual, consistent, and inspiring dialogue to contribute to D/P/S's culture,” said Kate Dimock from Continuum. "We want everyone to feel engaged, and so far Friday Focus is proving to be a great way to get people talking and caring about the things that affect our design, our business, and our communities."

Friday Focus discussions have ranged from "Ask Me Anything" circle time with Bill Sabatini to discussions about Facade and Enclosure design and trends in interior design. People also use Friday Focus to share topics they've presented at conferences, which has been particularly helpful in shining a spotlight on the work people are doing and how they're doing it—not always an easy task in a larger firm.

"Most architectural endeavors are of long duration—often lasting years," explained architect Wayne Jenski, who has led talks on building enclosures and the architecture of carnivorous plants (a fan favorite). "Friday Focus is a welcome invitation to both facilitators and attendees to step into a different project or topic for a morning. It helps keep staff engaged with one another despite often not directly working together, and is a regular venue for churning ideas."
"Friday continuum brings our company of creative and analytical minds together to participate in a room full of inspiration," said Mark Baczek, Associate / Architect. "Inspiration that comes not just from the Sujet du jour, but from the reactions and discussions that come about. It gives us a moment to hear each other’s voices and to better understand each other and what we each bring to the collective energy of this business."

In addition to Friday Focus, D/P/S offers employees a wide range of training, seminars, and community events that inform and elevate our collective knowledge, and Continuum continues to push into new territory to engage people in different ways and infuse the firm with new ideas.