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Awards & Press

FENNIE+MEHL founding partners Doug Mehl, left, and Ned Fennie. Photography: Todd Johnson, San Francisco Business Times

01 Sep

Awards & Press

How F+M Embraces Entrepreneurship

The San Francisco Business Times profiled F+M to get a flavor of how we adopt the tenants of entrepreneurship in the work that we do. Now surrounded by a booming tech sector and hired by many of our neighbors to turn their offices into something special to retain the best employees, F+M also makes sure to pay attention to our own.

SFBT: What is the biggest business or cultural shift at your company?

F+M: Frankly, we started the first 10 years with a top-down model and realized it wasn’t delivering the success we expected. We asked: What really made our company work? Our collective experience and collective passions. We really needed people who are driven by those same things. So we revamped our compensation program. It is focused on individual goals for each member to take the firm to the next level every year. That is a program that very few firms use and if they do, they reserve it for principal level people. The typical person who works for us, they are No. 1 creative, but No. 2 they’re entrepreneurial. We don’t hire anyone that we don’t feel would one day want to run their own firm.

SFBT: What trends are you seeing?

F+M: Design in general has moved from, “We need a space, so go find an architect who’s cheapest,” to “This is a value proposition that is important for our business success.” So we’ve become business partners to our clients. Their success is part and parcel to developing a culture that attracts the right talent and moving it to the center of their mission. We’ve found that where we have a unique niche is because we are entrepreneurs. We understand the business goal side just as much as we understand the design side.

SFBT: What questions do you ask clients to understand what kind of design would work for them?

F+M: Our process is that before we put pen to paper, we do a deep-dive visioning session for our clients. We get all the key stakeholders for our clients in one room at one time and then we spend about two hours asking them about their business. When we come out of that meeting, we have this constellation of every aspect of their organization.

Read the full post on San Francisco Business Times.

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