‘Evolution, not revolution’: How Harley Ellis Devereaux manages changes in leadership

When you’re a longstanding company, change is inevitable — and often painful. The leadership at Harley Ellis Devereaux, however, has become adept at managing change over the company’s long history.

The architecture firm’s Detroit office has recently seen much of its baby boomer leadership head off to retirement, so it has installed new leaders in its Science + Technology, Higher Education, and Healthcare studios in Southfield.

“We really look to create an orderly succession plan,” says Michael Cooper, president and managing principal of the Detroit office of Harley Ellis Devereaux.

He adds that providing leadership continuity in its studios over a period of time helps its customers maintain faith in the firm. Rapid change can not only throw a firm off track but scare away customers who appreciate evolution more than revolution.

“We really want our firm to feel like an evolution,” Cooper says.

And it’s working. Harley Ellis Devereaux has grown its revenue by 10 percent over the last year. That has allowed it to hire a dozen people, primarily technicians, and expand its Detroit staff to 125 employees. Which is exactly what Cooper wants, and wants his customers to see.

“Slow and steady growth,” Cooper says.

Source: Michael Cooper, president and managing principal of the Detroit office of Harley Ellis Devereaux
Writer: Jon Zemke

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