Natural Leaders

Sept. 1, 2003
Lewis Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA

Natural Leaders

As an association leader, I am often asked to list the benefits IIDA offers in membership. While the knowledge, advocacy and community resources provided are many, it is equally important for the design community to remain active in their professional associations. In my address to the membership at IIDA's annual meeting in June, I spoke of what individuals can do for IIDA to get the most out of their membership. Yet firms too have a responsibility for the advancement of the profession and, in turn, are natural leaders in partnership. The individual and collective knowledge, resources and energy found within interior design firms have much to contribute to the industry and profession. In fact, I believe firms have a paramount responsibility for partnership with IIDA because in the end, sharing knowledge is for the betterment of us all. What can we do? As firms practicing interior design, we have the ability to share our experiences and knowledge, which are many. Case studies and post occupancies of projects are an excellent way of sharing experience and knowledge of projects. What worked, what didn't, how-to's and anecdotal stories, whether qualitative or quantitative, is all information of value. If we shared those experiences with IIDA, information could be disseminated to members, clients and others in the industry. Think of the usefulness that would be created, the benefit to the industry and profession, and the marketing benefits to the firm providing the information being positioned as the expert.Firms should participate in industry events such as tradeshows, conferences and seminars to stay on the cutting edge of professional development. This fall, IIDA will provide a spotlight opportunity for firm leaders to get involved in the re-launch of the Principals Roundtables series. Sharing knowledge, whether about the operations of firms, marketing, education, employee issues or other relevant issues affecting firms and the industry, will be the inside information presented at the first roundtable. These experiences make us all better for the knowledge we disseminate and learn, and it elevates the entire profession.Firms should encourage their professionals to become the best they can be. They should advocate passage of the NCIDQ and encourage employees and others to join professional organizations. Some firms require passage and registration for advancement in the profession and some firms reward employees for these efforts. At minimum, encouraging passage of the NCIDQ provides the industry with more qualified interior designers who understand the issues of interior design and their relevance to health, safety and welfare—and this alone raises the bar of the profession.Firms should encourage employees to join and participate in industry events and in organizations like IIDA. Some firms reimburse individual association memberships, while others support time off for association activities or simply lead by example as those in the highest levels of firm leadership remain active in the larger community. Networking, sharing information, educational opportunities and leadership roles all play a part in the development of the individual interior designer and, ultimately, improve and enhance their role in the firm. Active individuals, engaged in the activities of the firm and the profession at large, become the true thought-leaders of the profession. Raising the bar of the profession of interior design benefits everyone. It makes clients think more respectfully about the profession and the value it brings to them. It makes us as individuals more valuable to our clients, society, our firms, and more self-confident in our own decisions. It makes us more intelligent about the recommendations and decisions we make, which is good for business as well as good for design.

IIDA president Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA, is founding principal and CEO of Group Goetz Architects, Washington, DC. IIDA is headquartered in space 13-122 at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL, and can be reached at (888) 799-IIDA; via e-mail: [email protected]; or at

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