Necessary change often doesn’t come fast enough in organizations today. As a company, we’ve faced this challenge head-on by creating the NEXT Council — a group of empowered change agents that provide the firm with leadership, innovative ideas, and actionable solutions to meet our current and future strategic initiatives.

The first group of individuals inducted into the NEXT Council include a varied cross-section of CannonDesigners across geographies, disciplines and ages. Over the past year, nine NEXT Council members — including architects, engineers, marketers, business developers, and even a lawyer — have been working with leadership to implement actionable change. At the beginning of their journey, they wrote their own charter, a “Call to Action,” and in it they defined their goal:

To be a catalyst for needed change in our practice, a think tank for innovation to better the firm, and a representation of the voice of the staff as a whole.

They are accomplishing this through three areas of focus:

  • Building a gratifying firm culture
  • Empowering our employees
  • Fortifying our business practices

To date, the NEXT Council has been working to implement over a dozen targeted initiatives that contribute to these focus areas. Here’s a look at a few of their accomplishments:

Summer Hours

NEXT piloted a summer hours program in our North American offices this past summer where our offices closed at 1 p.m. on Fridays. The results of a follow-up survey were overwhelmingly positive, and summer hours will be back (and extended even longer!) in 2017.

2016-12-19_0911Promoting Design Excellence

In collaboration with our communications team, NEXT launched CDStream — an internal image sharing platform. It functions as a virtual pinup wall – a place to share images of in-process work, photos of projects, and images that highlight our studio culture. Since its launch in May, the internal site has been viewed over 10,000 times with almost 500 images uploaded to the stream.

Our current NEXT council class will continue acting as change agents until the summer of 2017, whereas the nomination process will begin to bring a new group of talented people together to propel our firm forward.

Celebrating 15 Years of Sharing Smart Ideas on Sustainability

Every year, for the past 15 years, we organize Environmental Awareness Week (EAW) — a celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice. Our goal and motivation for EAW is to immerse our staff, clients, and the building industry in a week-long conversation about the importance of sustainability.

EAW started small in our Chicago office in 2003, but has since expanded to all of our locations in North America and abroad. Every year, we bring in three renowned keynote speakers that we live-broadcast to all our offices, and we host office-level events where we invite local speakers and community groups to participate in the dialogue. And best yet, since 2011, we’ve used the event as an opportunity to donate more than $90,000 to non-profit organizations dedicated to environmental causes.

team GGG

For this year’s event, our keynote speakers were Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group, Inc; Andrew Winston, Author, Sustainable Business Adviser; and Leith Sharp, Director, Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership at Harvard University. We also had over 70 sponsors who took part in local office tradeshows where they set up their sustainable product options and educate our employees on their use.  Additionally, for the first time, we held a firm-wide sustainability competition. The competition attracted 53 teams — representing more than 400 employees across 14 offices — that battled to be the “most sustainable” by participating in tasks like biking to work, composting, eliminating printing, donating, recycling, etc.

Learn more about our past EAW events here, and gain a better understanding of what goes into planning each year’s event in this BuiltWorlds article.

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