031: Balancing Operations Management & Firm Culture

Episode 031: Balancing Operations Management & Firm Culture

What is operations management in a studio environment, and how does firm culture relate?

We interview Michael Bernard, an architect, and management consultant who works with design-first architecture firms in the Bay Area. Michael shares his perspective on operations management and the evolving business model of architecture.

Through his company, Virtual Practice, Michael works with firm leaders to develop revenue models that reflect current capacity and projected growth. He mentors key staff to develop and monitor fee projections; to review and to prepare contracts; and to facilitate the integration of constructive project management practices. Michael’s range of clients includes architects, landscape architects, interior designers, lighting designers and general contractors. 


Michael Bernard places his focus on the culture and operation of design practices. As principal of Virtual Practice, he has advised nearly 200 Bay Area design firms that neither have nor need a full-time managing principal. Michael addresses firm culture, management and operations: the foundational elements of effective everyday function of the small design practice.

Michael believes that education is a two-way street. For more than a decade, Michael held the position of adjunct professor in the architecture department at The California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he gained insight from students who will eventually lead and change the profession of architecture.

Key to his success is a highly developed ability to work closely with all of the people that contribute to the success of both firms and projects. He understands the value of mentoring the diverse groups of people that work together. He places high importance on clear and mutual understanding of a firm’s core values and goals – both those of the principals of the firms with which he works, as well as those of their employees.

Show Links:

Virtual Practice

Michael’s Recommended Resources