November 2015

Best for NYC: Best Practices

by Don Friedman on November 30, 2015

Old Structures has grown at a pace of roughly one added employee per year for the last nine years, from two people at the beginning of 2007 to ten at the beginning of 2015. When we were very small, we were relatively casual about annual reviews, in part because there were so few to be performed and in part because we tried to give immediate feedback to employees, both good and bad.

We still try to give immediate feedback (after all, ten people is still not very big) but we have in place a formal review program for the year end. It’s represented by a printed form that all three principals work on together for each employee, but that form only has three items on it. The principals ask ourselves, and then pass on to our employees (1) what are they doing that they should stop doing? (2) what are they not doing that they should start doing? and (3) what are they doing that they should keep doing? These broad questions allow us to look at not just daily performance but the bigger picture of each employee’s career and how they fit in at OSE. Finally, since feedback always need to work in both directions, they have the opportunity to address those same three questions with regard to the company.

Fair reviews and advice on overall goals are things we owe our employees, and therefore part of how we answer the Best for NYC Challenge.

It Takes Me Back

November 25, 2015

It’s possible to forget that historic preservation can be a joy in itself. The article in today’s New York Times about the wood escalates at Macy’s is a good example of that joy. My earliest memories of Macy’s, from when I was five or six, include those escalators. (The half-inch-wide wood cleats on the treads […]

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Revisionist History

November 24, 2015

As I mentioned, I was in Kansas City for the APTI conference at the beginning of November. I did a bit of sight-seeing, and felt it was important to post a picture of the 1888 New York Life Building. This is a beautiful building by a prominent architecture firm, recently restored, but that’s not why […]

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I’m Torn

November 23, 2015

The view out our office windows last Friday (click on the picture to expand): In the foreground is a new residential tower got up at the corner of Thames and Greenwich, with its back lot-line facade facing us. That facade is solid concrete, a structural shear wall. (We don’t officially know anything about the building, […]

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Best for NYC: Best Practices

November 20, 2015

I had mentioned that we look for businesses that work towards community and environmental goals. We also look for small and local businesses whenever possible. We are a small business with more than 90% of our projects located in our home city; we like dealing with our equals. There are different ways of engage one’s community, […]

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Best for NYC: Other Companies

November 19, 2015

I mentioned Etsy as an example of a certified B Corp with a large influence. Here is a video where we learn a bit about why they went through the process. The ideas presented are basically the same ideas that led to the Best for NYC Challenge: trying to focus on the meaning of our businesses beyond […]

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Best for NYC: Brooklyn, with Drinks

November 18, 2015

Another event to introduce people to the B Corp/Best for NYC ideas, run by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and with drinks provided by Brooklyn-based Six Point Brewery and Brooklyn Winery.

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Best for NYC: Best Practices

November 17, 2015

I’ve discussed how we see the preservation of existing buildings (whether they are designated as “historic” or not) as related to the preservation of communities. I make no claim that this is a particularly original idea – we didn’t invent it, but we are trying to put it into practice thorough our work. Here is an interesting […]

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Best for NYC: Other Companies

November 16, 2015

I previously mentioned Kickstarter  and the New York Times article describing how that rapidly-growing company is trying to meet its goals. Here is Perry Chen of Kickstarter at the recent B Corp Champions Retreat in Portland OR, talking about the philosophy behind the company’s foundation and management. Food for thought regarding the Best for NYC Challenge. […]

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Best for NYC: Press

November 13, 2015

Some articles from big-name press on B Corps, to help explain why the Best for NYC Challenge makes sense: a nice short piece from the New Yorker on B Corps, a piece from the Wall Street Journal on B Corps and hiring with some skeptical commenters, and a piece from the New York Times, published a month after OSE […]

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