Posted in practice on August 25, 2015 9:59 am EDT

3 Ways to Develop Pipelines (Instead of Chasing Leads)

Many architectural practices are set up around "chasing leads," but a better approach is to build pipelines. To do that, you must learn to identify the "builder pastors."











Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter Designer Today to stay up to date with all we do at Designer and with what's going on in the field of house of worship architecture.


TAGS: business, collaboration, philosophy,


By Cathy Hutchison

Landing a pursuit is rarely a one-person endeavor. It includes the many relationships of the team, the brand, the portfolio, the initial contacts, the interviews, the negotiation of the contracts.... There are multiple decision points (and decision makers) that have to be navigated for every win. Winning work is resource-intensive.

Both architects and pastors can be artists who are businessmen of necessity -- a shared experience that can be mutually beneficial and bonding.

Many design firms chase and track leads. But I'm curious if that system of measurement creates a fragmented approach to the way we see work? Attention and effort is poured into a single win—and then we are hunting for the next one. What if a more effective model is in building pipelines? In developing relationships that produce more than a single project?

While it may seem like semantics, focusing on the people rather than focusing on the projects creates a better investment of resources. After all, projects don't make decisions. People do. Here are three ways to shift your business development efforts from chasing leads to developing pipelines:

1. Identify the “builder” pastors. Some pastors are builders. It is in their DNA. No matter which church they are serving, they are the catalyst for creating the facilities that help drive the ministry forward. Take note of the pastors who are builders. If your firm is a good fit for their style of ministry, get to know them and maintain that relationship over time. Design thinking is an asset to builder-pastors even when there is no project on the table, and your ability to share that design thinking can earn you a position as a trusted advisor if you invest in the relationship. Once identified, set up a Google alert, stay connected on LinkedIn or read denominational feeds to be aware of when builder pastors move. To be sure, they will [eventually] begin planning a new project at their new church.

2. Connect at a leadership level. Many pastors of large churches start with a heart for ministry and eventually find themselves the CEO of a large ministry-based corporation. Maybe you can relate (i.e., you started as an intern with a heart for design and wound up a principal trying to keep the lights on). Remember that pastors will have a different relationship with the businessmen in their congregation than they will with someone like you who is outside of that circle. Both architects and pastors can be artists who are businessmen of necessity—a shared experience that can be mutually beneficial and bonding.  continued >>