Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
One of the goals of Let’s Fix Construction is to bring common problems in Architecture, Engineering and Construction to the table for positive and collaborative discussion and solutions. We have complained long enough. It’s time to start fixing things.
In my humble opinion, the best way to fix something is to learn what you don’t know. Often problems are perpetuated simply because we lack a piece of the puzzle and, because nobody tells us, we keep repeating the same mistakes.
The issue that I would like to address today has driven me crazy for years. What’s worse is that it is a relatively easy fix. But, we are not fixing it.
If you don’t already know me, a quick background: I have worked in AEC for 30 years – In Architecture, Engineering AND Construction. This wide-ranging experience in our industry has been a gift in that I have been able to see the process from many different sides. Add to that a heavy involvement in the Construction Specifications Institute (No, they are not only about specs!) and I feel uniquely qualified to write this blog.
There is a commonality in AEC, no matter what discipline in which you work. Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Manufacturing, Product Reps, Owners, etc. That commonality is project delivery processes and contract administration. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to know the project requirements, risks, roles and responsibilities. Period. No question about it. No brainer.
But, guess what? Very few in relation to the whole of our industry have this knowledge. WHAAAAAT? How in the world do you work on a project and not know this? Ummmm, we are all over the place.
Let me ask you a few questions:
Can you answer these questions? Seriously, I could go on for hours listing the things that many don’t know.
The important point here is that the items above and many more affect every one of you on a project, I don’t care who you are. You can’t possibly efficiently and effectively do your job without having this knowledge. Your level of risk skyrockets if you don’t know the contractual requirements of your project (or at a minimum where to look for them) and your efficiency plummets. In a “time is money” business, this is unacceptable.
Now, you might be thinking something like ‘This if for the powers-that-be to understand.’ That is flawed thinking. Very, very flawed.
Do you want to be the one that makes the mistake on the project that somebody didn’t spot because you don’t have this basic knowledge? Do you want to be the one that wastes a boatload of unnecessary hours on your project because you don’t know or understand the rules of the game? Personally, I am not fond of a trial-by-fire education. I would much rather be proactive. I would much rather know what my peers do not and share that knowledge.
The worst part? This education is not happening in colleges, the trades or by most manufacturers for their Product Reps. People in AEC are getting out of school or training believing they are armed with what they need to productively enter the workplace. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
When do these people figure out that they are missing a major piece of their education and training? It is typically when something goes wrong or when someone ‘in the know’ sets them straight.
Now I am not faulting anybody here. Nobody is getting this education. How in the world are you supposed to know what you don’t know?
Well, let me tell you.
There are a lot of industry organizations that will teach bits and pieces of this education. Unfortunately, most of them are discipline focused and don’t really give you the entire picture. This is a ‘Team’ industry. You absolutely cannot work in a bubble and do your job well. I personally have only found one organization that teaches Project Delivery Education, cradle-to-grave, in a way that ANY member of ANY discipline will come away with valuable knowledge that will set you apart and will change the way you work immediately.
That organization is CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) and that education is CDT (Construction Document Technologist). Go look it up here: http://www.csiresources.org/certification/cdt
The education is invaluable, very cost effective and the Certificate will set you apart as an industry professional who truly understands how the entire project process is supposed to work. You will make far less mistakes, know how to find the information you need, understand the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved and reduce risk on your projects.
I have been teaching CDT, on my own time, for about four years now. I have taught everyone from emerging to seasoned professionals in every single discipline in AEC. I have lost count of how many have attended my classes but I know it is not nearly enough. I do this because it matters. A lot.
It almost hurt when an Architect in one of my classes with 40 years of experience said to me “I am about to retire. I wish I would have known these things.” Or the time an Engineer said “What’s Division 01?” Or maybe the time the Subcontractor said “I didn’t know these requirements were part of the CONTRACT. I thought I just had to look at my section.” Or the Product Rep who didn’t understand that a design professional can’t use manufacturer language that dictates means and methods.
I could go on for days.
The bottom line:
AEC Industry professionals, in all disciplines, are not getting holistic project delivery education which is creating risk and inefficiencies.
THE SOLUTION, AT LEAST A START
Get your CDT from CSI.
The last five lines are all you need to know. Your schools and training programs are not giving you what you need. Until they figure it out, be smart and get it yourself. Everyone you work with will thank you!
Let's Fix Construction is a collective group of construction professionals who want to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating and encouraging collaboration.
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