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Trends & Insights

The Designer’s Triangle

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As we head into the holiday season during what is hopefully a once in a lifetime pandemic, I took a few minutes to reflect on the past year. With the contraction and expansion of various commercial real estate sectors, I searched for ways to hone our edge as a first-class property management team. My work guided much of my thinking in UNC Greensboro’s MBA program, known for its solid foundation in Supply Chain Management and Operations Strategy. I asked myself how my team can apply these principles to improve.

Inevitably as I worked through these mental gymnastics, I am pulled back to reality by my cell phone ringing or a LinkedIn message. On the other end, the person is usually a polite but forward salesperson seeking the opportunity to bid our next contract or offer to sell me a new product. Unlike some, I almost always take these calls. My first question to each person is the same, “How can you help us be better?”

The answers vary but almost always come down to a single word: unique. The product is one-of-a-kind due to its price, quality, or timeliness (fast). Some of you see where I am headed, the adage that you can have two of these qualities, but not all three. This dilemma is often referred to as the Designer’s Triangle and has been applied to numerous industries, from manufacturing to web design to soft services. Almost inevitably, the person on the other end of the call parrots this back to me somehow. If it is fast and cheap, then it is not good, etc. My calls usually do not proceed past this point.

I am tired of this way of thinking. A sound Operations Strategy allows the reworking of the Designer’s Triangle. We cannot be perfect, instant and have zero cost. However, we can be better, cheaper and faster than the competition and we can do all three at once. We strive to partner with vendors who reject the above-mentioned tradeoffs, and you should, too. And with technology proceeding at a breakneck pace, now is the perfect time to establish and hone your competitive edge.

Henry Ford did not revolutionize the automobile industry by accepting the common thinking of the day. He did it by creating the assembly line which produced quality vehicles cheaply and quickly, Designer’s Triangle be damned. This is the goal of our property management team.

Property Management may not be as flashy as the latest smartphone or self-driving car, but we seek to replicate both technologies’ impact within our industry.

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