If you surround yourself with people trying to build a career rather than just having a job, you’ll both be mutually served.

Keith Granet

From The Business of Design

The Business of Design book

In Chapter 4 of The Business of Design, Keith explores the important asset of any good design business: the staff. In this “Human Resources” Chapter, Keith emphasizes that a design business is at its core a service business that relies on the quality of its staff more than other enterprises.

The two most important aspects of running a service business are:

  1. Our staff is our number one asset
  2. How we treat people is the most significant part of protecting that asset

Keith believes that treating people well—amongst the staff and with clients—sets a vital standard for a good design practice. He recommends hiring people who are building a career rather than just having a job because it empowers the employee just as much as it helps the business.

In this blog post, we break down the Culture / Skill chart that allows you to assess whether a potential employee will be a good fit for your design business.

First off, it is important to hire first for fit and second for skill. Ideally, your employee is strong with both of these traits. Common sense prioritizes skill over fit but the Culture / Skill chart demonstrates why this may not necessarily be the case. Use this chart to hire a new staff member and evaluate a current staff member.

Culture / Skill Chart

Culture and skill chart

Culture is represented by the x-axis, which assesses how a person fits in your business with his or her personality.

Skill is represented by the y-axis, which measures the skills of a person adjusted by relative experience.

The Culture / Skill chart is divided into four quadrants as explained by the images below.

1. High Skill Level and Low Culture Fit

High skill level and low culture fit chart

2. Low Skill Level and High Culture Fit

Low skill level and high culture fit chart

3. Low Skill Level and Low Culture Fit

Low skill level and low culture fit chart

4. High Skill Level and High Culture Fit

High skill level and high culture fit chart

This is the seventh in an occasional series of blog posts drawing from ideas explored in Keith Granet’s books The Business of Design and The Business of Creativity. To get more detailed insight on best practices for your design business, you are encouraged to read both books and they can be found at your local bookstore or click on each book image to purchase online.

The Business of Design graphic
The Business of Creativity
The Business of Design Creativity book
The Business of Creativity

Alternatively, if you have already read either book and want to share your experiences using its advice, send an email to contact@studiodesigner.com.