Yesterday I took my kids to their swim meet.

It was cool outside with a nice breeze blowing. I stood in the stands so I could watch my kids swim and record their times.

In my down time, I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a post by one of my business mentors who recommended 3 books, The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business by Keith Cunningham, and How Finance Works and The Wisdom of Finance by Mihir Desai.

I pulled out my Android phone and whipped up Google Keep so I could write these books down and read them later.

But when I tried writing in my Google Keep note app, nothing happened. I tried pressing enter to go to a new line and it was like my on-screen keyboard wasn't working.

I tried typing some letters … nothing appeared.

I got frustrated.

“Damn you Google!”

I tried again, nothing.

I thought of what could be the matter. Perhaps it was my phone.

Damn Google phone.

I restarted my phone and tried the app again.

It still didn't work.

I thought, “I guess it's time to buy a new phone.”

And then it dawned on me.

Google Keep has a character limit for notes, and I had reached the character limit for this particular note I was taking.

Here I was, ready to throw my phone to the curb, when I was mistaken about the root of my problem. I was on a wild goose chase fixing something that wasn't broken.

So here's today's parable – where in your architecture firm are you experiencing a symptom, and you haven't identified the root cause?

For instance, maybe clients are complaining about the level of your fees.

What does this mean?

Does it mean that you're charging too much? Should you lower your fees to be more competitive?

It could mean that you're in the wrong market – all the clients are cost focused.

Or it could mean that you aren't explaining your value well.

Or it could mean that you aren't doing enough activities to generate inquiries and interest in your firm.

All of these are problems, but they all have different solutions.

Do you see the problem here?

If you blindly try to fix the symptom without correctly identifying the underlying problem, you're doomed to waste time and money.

Let's take our previous example – say clients frequently question your fees or you get undercut by other firms.

You assume that clients don't see the value of what you offer because your website isn't nice enough.

So you spend $20k on a new website.

But nothing changes. You still lose projects because you are “too expensive” even though you now have a sexy website.

Accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of a symptom is key to growing in your business and personal life.

So my question for you today is: where in your firm is something happening that you want to avoid, but you haven't identified the underlying root cause of this problem?

Take time know to think about this problem and the underlying cause. Share your insights and revelation below.



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

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