Think Like An Architect, Triumph In Business

Over the course of the last year I’ve been lucky enough to visit the work of some of America’s most renowned architects. Experiencing these buildings got me thinking about how phenomenal the mind of an architect would be in business.

With simultaneously active left and right brains, architects are the kind of people that can tread the line of artist and analytical. They are exceedingly creative, but unlike painters, architects must operate within the strict confines of structure and function.

Here’s how you can put the architect mindset to work in business:

Screw the competition
Great architects don’t copy each other. Sure, they abide by the same principals of construction, but groundbreaking architects see buildings differently than those around them. Use the fundamental principles of business to guide your company, but create a product, company and identity that defies what everyone else is doing.

Focus on the product
I’m not cut from the “create a great product and customers will come” cloth that discards marketing, but let’s be honest: If your product isn’t exponentially more compelling than what’s out there, it probably isn’t worth pursuing. So like a great architect, create a phenomenal product that is worth experiencing. Your ability to market, grow revenues and succeed in business will be greatly enhanced if your product is supported by a game changing idea.

Be conservatively creative
Work with a solid foundation to keep your business in check, but bend the rules in your favor. Measure your business, keep a pulse on the metrics, and don’t be afraid to operate differently than those before (or beside) you.

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Recognize your constraints, but don’t be bound by them
Every endeavor has constraints. An architect must abide by the strict limitations of physics and engineering. In business these constraints are usually money, people and time. Do more with what you have and be creative with how you view and utilize your resources.

Have an eye for structure
Every good architect has a mind for geometry. They understand how the underlying creative vision of their work is supported by the structure and utility of their buildings. As an entrepreneur it is incredibly important to map your business and understand how its overall financial and organizational framework relates to your vision. Every business has a structure; build one that supports what you are trying to achieve.

Create emotion in your work
I’ve always lived by the cliche that if you aren’t the best at what you are doing, and if you aren’t doing something different, you are doing the wrong thing. There are a lot of smart entrepreneurs out there, and even more “wannabes”, so know what you are good at and focus your attention on building an idea of value that no one else can sustain. Put your heart into your work and those who experience it on the other end will feel that emotion.

(Thanks to Frank Gehry and Louis Kahn for the inspiration.)

  • mike


    I think the work of great architects shows us all how we can be great. Wonderful analogy!


  • Rob

    I’ll also point out that type INTP on Myers Briggs is called “The Architect”… and that I am an INTP. This post echoes much of my business philosophy.

  • Adam


    Ironic tidbit…thanks for that. Maybe you should be constructing buildings not businesses:)

  • Ryan

    Rob “The Architect” May -> I can see it now -> you’ve got the perfect name to be the WWE’s first introverted rastler;-)

  • mike

    Okay Ryan, you’ve got the name, but you also need to design him an outfit and give him a shtick!