Written by coreArchitect

Topics: Office management

As small businesses we are all rushing around, making ourselves super productive and efficient, we need to make money or we sink.

The current economic climate has increased the amount of SME’s, so the more of us of are working harder to get ourselves noticed, to get ourselves involved, to be even more astute and financially satisfying to our Clients. As individuals we are turning to new areas of expertise such as networking or now more frequently social media networking, blogging, etc, to keep up with developing trends in business.

We can’t stand still!

Productivity vs Creativity

Now this blog post could discuss the financial implications of fee pricing during a period of recession or growth, it could look at the merits of SM for small businesses, but instead I want to discuss the balance of productivity and creativity, to find which is more important?

The title of this post is SME OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD] is a serious and very debilitating disease and there are OCD Charities that work with people who suffer from it. Whilst not obviously a medical condition [am I in denial] in small business we can find ourselves doing some very obsessive and compulsive things in the production of our work.

I’ve just finished my first proper tender package since going it alone. Now before you start I haven’t been sitting doing nothing, it is just that many jobs have a propensity not to go further than the Planning or Building Regulations stages, so the Tender stage is important and rewarding as it progresses a design that is looking more likely that it will actually get built [subject to the tender price!] and that I will have some control over it.

So, what about this OCD?

Well, when working fundamentally by yourself you have to do everything, make coffee etc, *sip* umm nice drop of freshly brewed cafétiere coffee! Oh yes there are some advantages to working on your own, however, hard on the heels of the advantages are the disadvantages…

Specifically, the project tendering process generates lots of paperwork of which you have to check, print, collate, copy, etc, you have to complete further in-depth research on building materials and technical information; and there is no one else to any of that for you. There will inevitably be changes and amendments to the documentation that is produced and without the possibility of delegation; you’re on your own!

Consequently, why do I find myself producing paperwork that is, in my mind, immaculate. I don’t mean it is totally complete and nothing has been forgotten, or that it will never be changed several times as the design solidifies, I mean I have OCD’d it to death.

For example, in producing a Room Data Sheet I find that I have to make sure the table in the spreadsheet document is perfectly sized – to the last millimetre or pixel! It has to be legible and understandable; I can find myself re-writing some of the text so that it fits better on the page! Spacing’s and border thicknesses have to be correct, text fonts & heights all consistent and in-line with other documents. Now you may say more sizable companies pay people to do this as part of their corporate branding, but I’m only me! Not only that but when I use the document the next time round as a template I may need to tweak it again as some small discrepancy has caught my eye!

Is this a reason to concern myself with?

My counter argument is that I do need, as a professional person, to produce legible, tidy and clear documentation. I need also to be creative and design orientated in my work and this extends through to documentation and drawings [don’t get me started on CAD drawing OCD!].

As with corporate branding, larger firms do have Quality Assurance ISO systems in place, so as you grow your OCD can be replaced by specific departments.

My work is seen by many others and to a degree it is also assessed by others for future work. Notwithstanding human error I strive to produce professional looking work and I am the only producer, at the moment, of my company’s output; so it needs to stand out as correct and eye-catching, just as my architecture needs to; otherwise I will not expand the practice.

What can I do?

SME OCD is a balance of time, versus fees, versus creativity, versus professional correctness!

All are individually important and one should not replace or dominate the others. As with other topics, the successful SME needs to keep a close eye on the balance of all its business affairs. I’m afraid there is no exact formula and it is down to the individual to adjust as they see fit. Hence, obsessions and compulsiveness needs to be addressed or at least checked or reviewed once in a while.

If your SME OCD is unbalanced it could be a time for a check-up!

Now where’s that coffee *sip*, does my font look big in this, just a little tweak then…

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