A champagne toast

Jan 16, 2017

Recognizing hard work and celebrating a job well done is common practice at HED. Whether it’s a thank you note or another form of congratulations, success is celebrated.

As a firm that’s been around for more than 100 years, HED (Hot Firm #23 for 2016) recognizes that a strong culture is vital to the success of our practice. Over time our brand has evolved – we have learned new technologies, adapted to change, and grown in size and scale – but our core values and beliefs remain the same.

We recently embarked on a project to reassess and reaffirm our values and brand identity. Following months of diving deeper into our culture and our belief system to get at the heart of who we are, we put our beliefs into words and created our four guiding principles.

Advancing your world, critical thinking, integrated practice, and design excellence – these four principles are fundamental to the culture of HED – guiding our thinking, our behavior, our belief system, our mindset. They are the guideposts for our collective and individual decisions and actions and our relationships with clients, partners, our colleagues, and the community at large.

Today, our guiding principles are visible in every aspect of our organization’s daily life. In a recent video project, we asked our people to reflect on what the guiding principles mean to them, and what it’s like to be part of the HED family. Here’s what they had to say.

  • Everyone has a voice. We pride ourselves on a culture where leadership is a participatory practice – everyone has a voice. Whether you are a junior staff member, or the lead designer on a project, we listen to each other, share ideas and collaborate to cultivate breakthroughs. When asked about advice for a new staff member, Max Garland, an interior architect in our Chicago office said don’t be afraid to be vocal. “We have an open office plan, so whether you are a junior architect or senior staffer, you are sitting next to the managing principal or next to the design leads on projects. There are no doors, no walls, so it’s really easy to go up and talk to them and voice your ideas.” “Come in and grab the reins,” says Tracy Sweeney, an associate and architect in our Detroit office. “Because what’s great about the culture is the flat hierarchy. You’re able to get your ideas heard and make a difference on a project team. Don’t be afraid to come in a get your hands dirty right away.”
  • We celebrate each other. Recognizing hard work and celebrating a job well done is common practice at HED. Whether it’s a thank you note from a project lead, a post on the intranet with congratulations or a champagne toast to celebrate a new project win, we all celebrate each other’s success. During a recent client presentation, Ying Lin, architectural designer in our Los Angeles office, saw first-hand how leaders recognize and celebrate our success. “I recently sat in on a client presentation and I remember there was so much praise from the client for our work. During the presentation, the project lead at HED asked the client to turn around and congratulate the team that was working on it. It was nice to have recognition from a senior colleague and see the client appreciate the hard work that was put into it.”
  • We add value. Because everything we do and touch has an effect on the world around us, we believe we have a responsibility to make contributions that enhance the world and the communities around us. Through design, we can add value and make the world a better place. Katherine Simson, architectural designer in our Chicago office, shared how she’s helping add value to the homeless population in Gary, Indiana, through a permanent supportive housing development she’s designing. “We are designing a home for the residents to feel safe in and bringing a level of design to people who really need it to progress in life. For that it is very rewarding.” Garland notes, “When we design, we are physically creating an experience for the end-user. It’s like art on a completely different scale and to me that’s really powerful to be involved in.”
  • We are family. When you join HED, you become part of the family. As a member of the HED family for the last 14 years, Rafael Noriega, an electrical engineer in our Los Angeles office, has made friends for life. He shared that the moment he arrives at the office, he greets his friends and loves to hear their stories. “I have friends at the office that I go cycling with on the weekends, salsa dancing, and out to eat.”

View our entire video project on our YouTube channel.

Emma Real is in corporate communications at HED. She can be reached at ereal@hed.design.

About Zweig Group

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