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07.04.2021

MORROW Insights – Our Business Development Philosophy

Daniel Liu

Welcome to MORROW’s new bi-weekly industry insights column! Over the coming weeks and months, my colleagues will share technical insights on a wide range of urban planning and architectural topics. As a boutique firm with a strong track record of completed projects worldwide, MORROW has its unique perspective on delivering quality master plans, urban design and architectural projects in a sustainable way.

Alas, full disclosure, I am not an architect nor a planner. But as the firm’s business director, I thought it would be interesting to kick this series off by sharing our unique business development philosophy. And how this approach has helped us grow over the last three years. And where it sometimes hinders us.

The firm was just nine months old when I joined in August 2018. However, the team had already secured many large planning B2G and B2B projects in places like China, Myanmar and, soon after, Fiji. It was remarkable that such a young firm, without an official business development or sales unit, could garner this level of business.

Why the early success? MORROW’s founder, Dr Liu Thai Ker, and his team of experienced planners and architects had developed a strong reputation, especially with city and commercial leaders in Asia and beyond. Rather than using over-the-top sales pitches to “excite” potential clients into commissioning the projects to them, MORROW’s team focused on common sense and the hard truths of city planning. While a hard sell at first, over time, city leaders and developers realized that this approach meant a better environment for their residents.  

Even though unplanned, MORROW had developed a unique approach to selling itself that can be distilled into three fundamental principles.

Substance Before Style

Many city leaders or developers start their city rejuvenation projects by anchoring their vision in a marquee or iconic project. Usually, this is a masterpiece building or public square – think Marina Bay Sands or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. But anchoring city development in iconic projects ignores many of the physical and social inequities inherent in unplanned cities. Why should only tourists or the wealthy get to enjoy the benefits of urban renewal?

At MORROW, we preach anchoring renewal from the ground up by applying our own scientific methodology that considers the city as a living organism. From the CBD to precincts and neighbourhoods, each district is a vital organ of that organism. Our planners pay as much attention to ensuring that residents can get good jobs, live in good quality housing and travel conveniently in a city as we do to the city’s aesthetics.

Quality Before Cash

MORROW takes quality very seriously. So much so that when we can’t convince a client of our approach, we would rather not be part of a project than do something that we think won’t make sense to its residents. This is true even if it means pulling out of or cancelling a potentially lucrative contract. We don’t take this lightly, but it is important to everyone at the firm that we can fully stand behind work.

Integrity Before Expediency

If you engage MORROW for planning or architecture, your single point of contact will always be the project lead. All our team leads have over a decade of experience working and learning from each other and have as much experience in leading big projects. This is not something that was planned for specifically, but it was essential for our founder, Dr Liu, that our clients had a single point of contact that could answer all their technical queries clearly and definitively.

At MORROW, we firmly believe that our approach to planning and design delivers better outcomes. Yes, we do lose out when leaders or developers do not understand this vision. But we are resolute in our belief that urban planning is about maximizing liveability for all residents, not just for a few at the top.

About the Author

You may read more about Daniel here, and follow him on LinkedIn here.