Contributed by Justin Havre
The blockchain is a type of decentralized public ledger that makes it easier to organize, verify, and protect information. While it's mainly been associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the technology has much more potential than that. It's been theoretically applied to almost every sector of the economy and is slowly transitioning from the possible to the practical.
Blockchain may be able to tighten up construction deadlines, prevent fraud, and cut out the middlemen all while encouraging new ideas and partnerships.
What the Blockchain Does
The blockchain is a revolutionary way to input information and secure it from anyone who shouldn't have access to it. Not only can it keep financial transactions safe from prying eyes, but it can also streamline construction projects with multiple moving parts. Between investors, developers, and construction workers, it's easy for information to slip through the cracks. But the blockchain isn't like any other project management tool anyone's ever used before.
Using Smart Contracts
A smart contract is a series of if/then statements that are set up according to the rules of each project. The blockchain is dominated by the logistics of the programmer, so it can be adapted to small and large projects alike. Construction companies can use these smart contracts to essentially control every aspect of the project. So, if a painter needs to wait for an inspector to first check the drywall before painting, there will be an unhackable log where they can plainly see whether or not an inspector has held up their end of the bargain.
The blockchain makes it easier than ever for construction crews to keep up with new technology on the scene. For example, Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools may have helped to improve precision during construction, but it's also led to a lot of confusion on the actual job site. When changes can be made faster than ever, workers need a single source to receive updates in real-time. The blockchain can update everyone that the developers want a new color of paint in the bathroom or slightly different dimensions in the master bathroom.
Finding the Right People
There is a lot of segregation in construction, which leads to the isolation of ideas and talent. This separation is (in part) due to the fact that it's difficult to both find and coordinate with the right partners. Much like with picking the right real estate agent to work with, if there isn't an easy way to assess a company's reputation, it can lead to undue competition. The blockchain can both facilitate coordination and inspire partnerships between companies with different specialties. This type of cross-pollination of skills can lead to some truly innovative results in the industry.
Contributed by Marvin Kemp
Long time friends and readers know that mentoring the next generation of professionals is very important to me. In recent presentations I've given on mentoring, I've drawn a strong distinction between the mentor and the coach. In short, the coach helps you do your current job better and the mentor helps prepare you for your next job.
While out for a run the other day, I listened to NPR's "Marketplace" podcast (the specific episode can be found here). In one piece for this episode, several people involved in corporate coaching were interviewed: both coaches and the professionals utilizing their services. It is a growing trend for busy professionals, usually upper management or sole proprietors, to spend some time each week with a coach to help them organize themselves, tackle important issues in the appropriate order and generally do their jobs better.
For the past few years, I have co-led one of our four architecture studios in our firm. That means working with the project managers and anywhere from 10 to 14 architectural staff to ensure projects are staffed, deadlines are met, and our employees have what they need to be successful. As our firm goes through a leadership transition, we are asking junior leaders to step into new roles within the office. A group of us were promoted to principal and are working on strategic initiatives and need others to step in to day to day management roles. In that vein, a group of our associates, senior associates and principals met recently to review an initiative that will be presented to the senior principals. The idea was that a small group of associates had created this initiative and they were looking for buy in from the principals before presenting it to the senior principals. While listening to the podcast yesterday, I realized that what the associates really needed was coaching in what and how to present that information to the senior principals.
For a number of years, our firm has had a formal mentoring program. We pair volunteer mentees and volunteer mentors for a year of goal-setting, reflection and growth. It has been highly successful and we enjoy broad involvement through most portions of the firm. I'm wondering now if there is benefit to a formal coaching program. Historically, coaching has only existed between project manager or project architect and the younger staff or through our QA/QC processes. As we ask junior leaders to take on larger leadership roles, perhaps there should be some coaching, even if it is just one hour per week or less, but a formal time when junior and more senior leaders can meet to discuss expectations, goals and priorities to make the transition these junior leaders are going through smoother and more meaningful.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard ‘I’m too busy’ in my 30 years in the AEC Industry, I would be a very rich woman. Very rich!
According to AIA Best Practices “Quality Control: Managing the Top 5 Risks”
“No matter how desirable a program of in-house loss prevention might be, such a program will not function if it imposes unrealistic burdens or unobtainable goals. It must, therefore, be implemented with little or no increase in general overhead expenses.”
This original article was published by Schinnerer & Co. in 1973. Since that time, the five areas within architecture practice that most frequently give rise to claims have remained the same.
Seriously? 45 YEARS and we still haven’t found a way to knock these items off the list. Why? Because we are too busy! Sorry, sounds like an excuse (and a poor one) to me.
In my humble opinion, we have to make the time. We can’t afford not to. In the long run we make it up tenfold in the often challenging construction phase of the project.
In my experience, most design contracts are front loaded. Most of the fees are received by the design team by the end of construction documents. The construction phase portion of the fee (typically 20% to 25%) is spread over the length of the construction period. This can be a long time to break up a very small portion of the fee. Most design firms can’t financially survive unless they have projects in design at the same time they have projects in construction. There is just not enough money coming in during construction to pay the bills.
Anyone in this business who has been around for a while will know this. Yet, we continue to operate in way that expose us to this risk. Why? I will go out on a limb with this one and say it is because it is easier to do what we have always done rather than find new methods. Change is hard, it takes work and nobody has time to learn to do it a different way. At least that is the excuse I hear.
If you haven’t read a blog from me before, you should know I have worked for a general contractor, an MEP engineering firm and now for an architecture firm. The short story is that I have seen these issues from multiple viewpoints.
Some of my personal observations on these items of risk:
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
As I stated on the Young Architect podcast with Michael Riscica back in October, “Let’s Fix Construction is not about Cherise and I; it’s about the industry. It’s about taking good pieces of knowledge and information and sharing it with the world.”
Over the last eighteen months, we have done our absolute best to bring our voices, as well as two dozen additional contributors from across the AEC industry, and provide an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
We continue to look to add to our collective voice on this blog and our podcast and encourage you to share your voice. We offer a platform, an audience and a desire to share your knowledge with others. This outlet is free, and we encourage you to speak out and let your view be known. Please visit the submit page on our website to learn more.
Another AEC-based website offering knowledge sharing is Construction Marketing Ideas (CMI), which shares free information and resources for architectural, engineering and construction businesses. Mark Buckshon, the founder of CMI, set out to learn everything he could about marketing for AEC and share it with the rest of the industry.
Annually, CMI holds a competition for the Best Construction Blog of the year. In Let’s Fix Construction’s first year, we were nominated (you can read our profile from 2017 on the CMI blog here) and we’re very happy to announce that as we celebrate our 18-month anniversary, we are once again nominated in 2018, among a field of 17 industry bloggers. From now until Saturday, March 31st you can vote for your favorite AEC industry bloggers.
We are truly honored to be nominated among many other industry voices and well-respected blogs and encourage you to read all of them out for a wealth of education and knowledge, including one of Let’s Fix Construction’s most frequent and esteemed contributors, Mr. Sheldon Wolfe, whose 'Constructive Thoughts' is also nominated.
Please consider taking the time to vote for ‘Let’s Fix Construction’ and ‘Constructive Thoughts’ on the CMI website (as you can select one or more blogs on the ballot, but can only vote once), which you may do here: http://constructionmarketingideas.com/best-construction-blog-2018-voting-booth/
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Eighteen months ago, a random conversation on a Tuesday afternoon between Cherise Lakeside and myself went like this:
Me: "Seemingly few are committed to speak their mind or try to fix the broken system that is construction. You do a damn fine job of breaking that mold and trying to help this industry."
Cherise: "Thank you. The key, I think, is speaking your mind in a productive and positive way with some solutions in hand. Everyone just wants to be negative and bitch about things. I try to only stir the pots that need stirring."
Me: "You are so right. A problem is everyone acts like their own island and the destination rescue is each their own issue and not working together on being rescued. I pretty much just 'Survivored' the construction industry."
Cherise: "Ha, ha! Exactly. We need to pull people out of their comfort zones and make them open their eyes. This is way too much of a "me" society as it is."
Me: "So, perhaps a member from each seat at the table who can feature their respective perception and potential solutions. We can register a domain like letsfixconstruction.com"
That's the truth. I have the actual conversation and those are exact quotes.
It struck me this past Friday, February 16th, that Let's Fix Construction was a year & a half old. If you had told me eighteen months ago what the last 550 days were going to be like, I would have laughed out loud.
As a way to look back on these first months of Let's Fix Construction, we're going to take the next week to share and revisit every article that we've posted along the way, starting at number one. We'll be sharing these posts on social media. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
We've gained dozens of contributors, thousands of readers and now listeners, thanks to the Let's Fix Construction podcast, and didn't want to lose sight at what we started with and shared in the last year and a half.
As always, if you would like to share your knowledge and contribute a forward-thinking concept to a construction-related issue, dispel a myth or just provide a solution for a better built environment, please contact us and let us know.
And without further ado, our very first post on the Let's Fix Construction blog, written by yours truly, 'The Fifth C of CSI: Collaboration'
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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