Compounding Collaboration

Great movements can start with just a little push.

Think of how a flywheel works. It starts as a seemingly immovable object, but with some effort, it starts to rotate slowly. Over time, as consistent force is applied, the wheel moves faster and faster until the slightest nudge sends its spinning rapidly. I have a suspicion that professional relationships can work the same way. Starting with just small investments, over time, the rewards of compounding collaboration can grow exponentially. It’s a theory I’ve applied to our work at Lang Studio and one I believe can have striking results.

Every Monday during our weekly lunch meeting, we invest in our team. Each studio member shares a personal story from the weekend, then shares a current project anecdote. This exercise helps us to humanize each of us, where we recognize our colleagues as people beyond a professional title. We also apply this principle to the builders, clients, and other collaborators with whom we work. It’s an idea that is continually reinforced at our firm. When you are able to acknowledge the unique qualities of a person, that person becomes an invaluable asset, rather than a disposable or interchangeable tool. As you continue to invest in your team and collaborators, their value grows.

Owning stock in a range of worthy collaborators allows you to draw on a wealth of accumulated expertise and experience for each new endeavor. Rather than starting each new project with a blank slate, choosing collaborators based on price or ease, you are able to draw on an ever expanding network of tried and tested relationships. Each project is an investment into the next, and a chance for all involved to prove their worth, create new connections, and keep the wheel of collaboration spinning.

Investing in people and professional relationships requires work and it’s not always intuitive, but the return is worth the effort. As collaboration compounds, the depth and value of relationships accrue over time with an exponential effect. I envision our team at Lang as a microcosm of what compounding collaboration can accomplish. My theory is that each connection can lead to another, and as new work flows in, the quality of work improves. I’m also testing this hypothesis through Brick & Wonder, a membership collective focused on connecting and supporting real estate and design professionals. This network has facilitated the initiation of many successful collaborations, which in turn lead to more successful collaborations. If we’re conscientious about collaboration and committed to making regular investments in our teams, ourselves, and the people with whom we work, I think we can keep the flywheel spinning and create a self perpetuating system where no one is left wondering where their next job will come from. There’s security and joy in being part of a network that has no cap on growth.