Contributed by Marvin Kemp
At CONSTRUCT 2014 in Baltimore, I gave a presentation called "Building A Highly Collaborative Team." At CONSTRUCT 2017 in Providence, I gave a similar presentation called "Symbiosis: The Importance of Collaboration between the Owner, Architect and Contractor." (Editor's Note: This session was teased in this Let's Fix Construction post from August 29, 2017 here)
Both presentations were based on my experiences in construction over the past 20 years and focused on three projects from the past 15 years. In those presentations, I offered 7 strategies for increasing collaboration on construction projects as examples of real world ideas to help the attendees in their jobs. While space won't allow me to give all the background to the stories like I did in the presentations, I think these are still good strategies for anyone involved in team projects, whether in construction or not.
Strategy 1 - It's Sometimes Okay to Work Around Obstinate Team Members
We've all seen them: the one team member who is obstinate or obstructionist and unwilling to compromise. The person who will say the sky is red when the rest of the team says its blue. That's okay. Some people welcome negativity and thrive in that environment. It does not have to bring the whole team down. Work around that person by improving communication with the rest of the team and doing your best to avoid unprofessional situations. As the team gels and everyone does their job and holds each other accountable, the obstinate member will be revealed for the obstructionist which will make the team's success shine more brightly.
Strategy 2 - Communicate More, Email Less
Nearly everyone in our society carries a smartphone in their pocket. The operative part of that title is "phone." Yes, it is a powerful computer that can facilitate messaging in multiple formats - text, email and social media - but it is a phone. All of those other message formats are one-directional: the sender messages someone who can choose to reply or not. Telephones are truly two-way communication, so use it and embrace it. Face to face, two-way communication will always be superior to one-directional email or texting. However, we can't always answer our phones. When you receive someone's outgoing voicemail message, leave a message. Don't rely on them to look at their phone and see that you called in the caller ID. And when you receive a voicemail, return the call. It sounds simple, but many of us simply don't do it. We say we're too busy or we'll get to it tomorrow. Have some common courtesy to return the call, even if it is to say, "can we talk more tomorrow? Your communication with the team members will increase exponentially.
Failure is Not an Option
Contributed by Thad Goodman
This month's post deals with Attitude. Having the right one makes all the difference.
The year was 1999. The company I worked for was involved in a 73-million-dollar capital improvement project.
My position dictated that I would have a part in it, but not until we were past the early stages and in construction.
The initial project team had taken on a theme…
Failure is NOT an option."
I was a little skeptical of the name at first, as it seemed like a negative connotation.
Shouldn't the mantra have been "WE CAN DO IT!" or "THIS WILL BE GREAT!"?
Then I sat in on my first project meeting.
The task presented looked like an insurmountable obstacle.
It was daunting just to go over it in detail.
The lead on the project wrapped up his overview.
The room was quiet, everyone letting the scope of the problem sink in.
Then one of the project managers in the back of the room said
Well, Failure is not an Option, so if we start with..."
The rest of the sentence is not important to this story, but his mindset and the reaction of the team is.
When he said these words, the rest of the project team silently, confidently, nodded their heads.
There was no doubt from anyone in the room they would succeed.
And they did.
The project was completed on time with minimal apparent struggles to be seen from those outside the team.
Construction is destructive by its very nature. Construction is not an exact science. Every site is different. We disrupt the Earth. We alter wind patterns as we impede them with large blocks of cement and sticks erected in its path. We change the flow of water and harness electricity to fit our desires. We test gravity with overhangs, cantilevers and roof lines. We should expect nature to fight back, and it does. We challenge time and manpower constantly to get these structures erected and inhabited safely and prepared for the owner’s purpose.
It can be a new year, a new project, a new job or just a new day.
One important way to fix construction is to have the right attitude.
Technology is Ruining AEC?
Contributed by Jake Ortego
Within the last few months, I have heard each of these statements:
I’m sure that each of these statements is rooted in a truth relative to a certain point in the AEC process. But buried in many of the comments is an increasing feeling that the quality of the design documents themselves are on a downward slope despite the notion that technologies such as BIM should be improving the designs.
Many will admit that the idea of BIM is fantastic. Albeit, a true single building model is a dream that may be unrealistic. These concepts are then quickly countered with criticism that the technology creates nearly as many problems as it fixes. Even the most outspoken BIM supporter would agree that it is not a perfect system. So, should we abandon it for the “old school 2D” model?
Put that thought aside for a minute and set the way-back machine to the 1860s. Back then, chemists figured out a way to duplicate a drawing using ferro-gallate. Construction reprographics was born…with a blue tinge. And with that, an entire profession was eliminated. The once critical job held by tracers and copiers was now a thing of the past.
What does this have to do with BIM?
While drawing reprographics seems like simple technology to us now, imagine how revolutionary it was when it was invented. There were many who undoubtedly thought it created more problems than it solved. Somewhere I recall reading that the design professionals of the time criticized early blueprints for being “…inadequate and free translations of the author’s original lines.” It took 20 to 30 years for the cost of the blueprint to drop low enough to make hand copies and tracing uneconomical. And it wasn’t until the 1940s that someone figured out how to drop the blue and go to the white sheets we see today.
Now, we can’t imagine not having instant reprographics of the drawings. This clunky new technology changed AEC forever. Then there was CAD. This technology got its start in the 1950s and you better believe that it was not an instant hit. CAD was criticized for inhibiting the brainstorming process and viewed as much slower than traditional sketching. But at the same time, it spawned libraries of standard steel shapes, doors, patterns, and that “person” that is put in the drawing for height comparison.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
Once again in 2018, Eric and I are honored to be invited back to participate on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council. CONSTRUCT, which will be held in Long Beach, CA from October 3-5, 2018, is the only dedicated national trade show and educational conference for the commercial building teams that spec, source and purchase building products and coincidentally, is where he and I met in Phoenix in 2011. The Advisory Council is a group of 13 professionals from a variety of disciplines in Architecture, Engineering and Construction that represent a wide range of experience and expertise. We work together to review and select from the submissions to present at CONSTRUCT to help create the best slate of educational content possible. You can read the full press release from Informa immediately below this post.
CONSTRUCT and Let’s Fix Construction share a similar mission. It is a mission of bringing many members of our industry together where we can learn, share and grow as professionals. Not only does this help us do our own job better, but it also increases our awareness and knowledge of how other members of the project team approach the same topics and issues. This fully open lens and view of the challenges we face every day is a game changer.
We would like to personally invite our readers and/or listeners to bring their expertise to the table. CONSTRUCT is looking for a wide range of topics for the event in Long Beach in October. All of the information and the submission form can be found on the Call for Sessions page at the CONSTRUCT website. Proposed presentations are welcome from anyone who works in the built environment are are due by January 31, 2018. We want you!
You can also hear more about CONSTRUCT and the Call for Sessions on our latest podcast, which you can listen to on your favorite podcast player, or here: www.letsfixconstruction.com/podcast/ep-004.
We hope to see you in Long Beach!
Official Press Release - CONSTRUCT Call For Sessions
CONSTRUCT 2018 invites application submissions to present at the 2018 event, taking place on October 3-5 at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach, CA. CONSTRUCT welcomes compelling proposals that address a wide range of topics relevant to the commercial building team and those who design, build, specify, engineer, renovate and operate in the built environment.
With over 40 accredited sessions and non-conflicting exhibit hall hours, the education program is an integral part of the CONSTRUCT event experience for specifiers, architects, designers, product reps, contractors, engineers, project managers, and other industry professionals.
Seeking dynamic speakers with a firm grasp of technical issues, including building scientists, researchers, architects, specifiers, contractors, owners and code experts, sessions are 60 – 120 minutes in length and should contain timely, practical information and solutions that can be immediately implemented in the workplace.
"Our goal for 2018 is to provide unique and engaging educational experiences utilizing a combination of learning formats, from case studies and panel discussions to small group discussions and hands-on learning. Additionally, our participants are hungry for intermediate to expert level content that they can’t get anywhere else" said Jennifer Hughes, Informa Education Manager. "We encourage dynamic professionals from all areas of the industry who can offer solution-based content, to submit a proposal.”
Topic submissions should focus on applications-oriented, real world, problem-solving topics and be free of promotional materials to sell a product or service.
The multi-track educational program includes technical and design oriented sessions, as well as business-related sessions including project management and legal topics.
The deadline for submitting a proposal is January 31, 2018. Session proposals should be submitted via the automated submission form at https://www.constructshow.com/en/education/speaking-opportunities.html. Questions should be directed to Jennifer Hughes, Informa Education Manager, at Jennifer.Hughes@informa.com or 972.536.6388.
For information about CONSTRUCT, please visit www.CONSTRUCTshow.com or call (866) 475-6707 or (972) 536-6450. Additional show information can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/constructshow, Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/constructshow and Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/construct_show. Twitter users can follow the show using #CONSTRUCT
About the Event
CONSTRUCT is your most cost effective strategy for combining educational opportunities with practical, real-world, product and service solutions for your business success. This event is dedicated to the institutional, industrial and commercial building industry. If you design, build, specify, engineer, renovate or operate in the built environment, this is your event. The show is owned and produced by Informa Exhibitions U.S., Construction & Real Estate. For additional information, contact CONSTRUCT at P.O. Box 612128, Dallas, Texas 75261-2128; call the main show line at (866) 475-6707 or (972) 536-6450.
About Informa Exhibitions U.S., Construction & Real Estate
Informa operates at the heart of the Knowledge and Information economy. It is one of the world’s leading business intelligence, knowledge and events businesses with more than 6,000 employees in over 100 offices across 25 countries. The Dallas Exhibitions team produces a portfolio of 15 trade shows in various sectors of the construction and real estate industry. To learn more, visit www.informaexhibitions.com.
Contributed by Roy F. Schauffele
This brief article is directed to architects, specifiers, and consultants. The use and evolution of air barriers is very reminiscent of the growth of single-ply roofing technology. The larger corporate manufacturers are pouring tons of money into marketing and advertising and as I’m fond of saying, “all advertising is completely true but rarely truly complete”.
All too often, architects & specifiers rely heavily on the paid for mass produced specifications or a quick internet search and then dutifully download a set of specifications. This is okay, but they may not contain all the technical or QA items that may be needed for proper air barrier design and performance.
What follows are references (suggestions) that can lead to clarity of specification interpretation, design intent, proper bidding and installation. These are not an endorsement, just references.
After I have the building’s design, function and climatic conditions defined, I include the following in my specifications:
While nothing is perfect, I’ve found the above to serve me well and I hope these items are of good use to you.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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