Long-Term vs. Short-Term Focus

Posted on September 17, 2010


I am surprised how many hospitals and healthcare systems still rely on the design-bid-build (DBB) model because of its implicit support of architects, engineers and builders (A/E/C) as short-term-focused service providers.

What do I mean?  DBB is the ultimate tool in price shopping, but it provides a risky mix-and-match approach to a project team.

DBB participants live for RFPs.  Their business success is based on “pre-positioning”, aka learning about a project a few months before the RFP comes out—how sly!  They employ a phalanx of marketers to crank out proposals no one reads.  The only drama is whether the selection committee reads the intro letter or executive summary.  DBBers live for short lists and track their conversion percentages.

Glossy card stock, numbered tabs, lamination…so much waste.  File it on the shelf.  Win or lose, sprinting onto the next one, with eyes focused on feet running on pavement. Short-term.

Shouldn’t professional services be selected on comfort of relationships? Are you going to base a selection on a couple cordial conversations a couple months before an RFP and a 45-minute short-list presentation? Are you going to put millions at risk on this charade?

DBBers and RFP chasers are project-focused, which is inherently a transaction.  It is all they can do to scour an RFP and “strategize” about how best to answer questions within a given page limit.

Long-term focus is a client partnership based on years of familiarity and knowledge.  It is a comfort-based practice, not simply only showing up when there is a project around, or cherry-picking the lucrative projects while letting the local schmuck team take the messy renovations and underfunded additions.  A long-term focus helps a hospital by being at an administrator’s side through thick and thin.

Long-term focus is being around well after projects are complete to hear the good and bad about design decisions.  It is understanding how each project, well before it is conceived, fits into the business goals of the facility.  Long-term focus is knowing you are not the only A/E/C person a given facility knows, but that you can provide superior service because of your knowledge of that facility or client. 

Project or not, you learn a little more about the client, focused on the horizon of how a change might improve the hospital or clinic at some point in the future.  Long-term.