Contributed by Neil O’Connor
Today I read a great blog titled “Let’s Fix Construction” authored by Cherise Lakeside. The Blog dealt with some of the excuses and sometimes valid reasons we encounter issues on projects and introduced an organization named “Let's Fix Construction. Their Website is LetsFixConstruction.com and I would encourage you to read it. This Let's Fix Construction blog shows that other sectors of our industry, specifically the design sector, are also embracing the need to adapt to a new and improved model. This is something that from a Contractor’s point of view I am excited to hear.
In the blog, Ms. Lakeside has opened what some might consider a Pandora’s Box. However, those with the ability to look at the big picture will see a path to a brighter future. Many of the phrases she opened her blog with are the result of the teaching methods of the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers. Boomers often when given a new task were basically put into sink or swim situations, thus it was easier and safer once you learned how to do something to not vary from it. We were often told “you are not getting paid to think.” Mentoring was a rare, if not nonexistent, concept for Boomers to learn by.
Today there is a brighter future for our industry, as some Boomers have had the foresight to break out of that mold and realize there are different and often better ways to accomplish a common goal and that with some training and mentoring the new generation coming up can have a higher success rate when given new tasks and roles. Those with the foresight are teaching that improved communication and out of the box thinking can often lead to Win-Win solutions.
The upcoming Millennial Generation has an opportunity to totally refashion the Construction Industry for the better with their innate desire to be part of a team. Many of our current issues with designing and building a project are often the result of one or more individuals or companies with a “my way is the only way” attitude. Please note this is a Boomer that is excited about the potential of the Millennials.
One of the primary concepts Ms. Lakeside promotes is learning about other facets of this industry. Expanding our understanding of how the work and thoughts of others may interact with the issues of our particular part of a project. Since time and resource limitations affect our ability to individually understand, all such possible interactions forming teams with a broad variety of experiences would appear to offer a viable opportunity to expand everyone’s view while reducing the anxiety of everyone trying to protect their “turf”.
Within the context of such teamwork below are a few concepts, which if implemented, could radically change our industry:
1. More time to work together will result in less cost.
It is said “time is money”. In our industry it is the lack of time that will always cost everyone more money. When a Design Team and a Construction Team (including Subcontractors) are given time to work together, especially with the advent of BIM modeling, the results tend to be far different and better than some projects of old. Fewer clashes, problems, arguments, workflow stoppages, and claims which will result in more savings for everyone including the owners.
2. Creative solutions that work will give rise to more creative input when issues do arise.
As noted above, one of the primary reasons Boomers tend to fall back on “we have always done it this way” is because creative thinking was not exactly a valued commodity. Standardization was always the easier and safer way. When multiple options to resolve a problem become available and are analyzed by the Team, we are far more likely to find the “best solution available”. Such successes will encourage seeking out more out of the box ideas. Success breeds success.
3.The cheapest bid is rarely the best value.
There is always a real cost to achieve or build anything and if someone says they can do it for much less than anyone else be very careful. Every company that bids projects has a single goal and that is to be profitable. In order to do so, they must cover all their direct cost plus the overhead costs and (not or) some profit. Generally there are three primary business models in this industry.
This is an Industry that regardless of the technological advancements will always have at its core, success based on our interactions and relationships. We each will have opportunities to add to that level of success or to take it down so to speak. Please be open to adaptation and work to achieve the former rather than the latter.
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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