Walking the Line Between Form and Function in Business

Joseph Stubblebine
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Business owners, executives, and managers constantly evaluate the effects of form vs. function in their organizations. From initial business startup to continuing operations, determining which tools and methods are necessary for success and which expenses are unneeded drains on company resources is critical. Form vs. function is also an important consideration when you're setting up an office for the first time or renovating your meeting space and client waiting areas. The solution is rarely to pick one over the other, but viewing choices on a sliding scale can help you create a workplace that's effective, stylish, and comfortable.

Traditional wisdom holds that form follows function, and that is often true when it comes to business setup and preparation. Lean company startup plans can help prevent haphazard spending of your initial funds. Conserve funds during business planning and initial setup—this is especially important since many businesses fail due to underfunding. Making the right decisions on the matter of form vs. function at this stage can set the tone of your business for years to come. This not the time for fancy letterheads, gilded business cards, or expensive downtown offices, but those may be important at later stages in the life of your business. Keep things simple but effective at the start.

The balance of form vs. function also applies when you select office furniture for renovations or the creation of your new work space. While form may also follow function in this setting, keep in mind that the comfort of your employees will have a large impact on their productivity. Solicit input from workers, and plan for visits from important business guests. Taking their considerations to heart may help you realize the benefits of a customized workspace and avoid the dreary cubicle-farm effect that plagues so many modern business settings.

Some of the trickiest battles of form vs. function will emerge as you attempt to keep your continuing operations as efficient as your lean company startup designs. As your business grows and begins to attract new and larger clients, you'll need to spend money on advertising, public relations, and other forms of expert assistance that may have initially seemed to be wasted expenditures. When dealing with these situations, focus on efficiency and return on investment. While the thirty-second Super Bowl ad may seem like a great idea, a savvy business owner or manager should consider how many sales it may actually generate. Similarly, a fleet of company vehicles can help get the word out locally but drain your coffers at the same time.

Business owners and leaders have much to consider from the day they sit down to create their business plans until they hand over the reins to the next generation. Form vs. function lies at the heart of these considerations, and making the right choices can generate exceptional results for companies of all sizes.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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