Brock Carmichael

The Social Process of Construction

7 June 2018

Clients, consultants and constructors come together at a specific time and place to build something of sustainable, enhanced value. Technology, BIM, modern methods of construction and offsite manufacturing can certainly facilitate the process and advance and speed technical performance. But it is inherently a social, collaborative process.

One idea of how aligned teams across construction project disciplines can work better in a BIM process is called collaborative pairing. The idea is simple:

  1. Team members are matched with their counterparts,
  2. Roles and responsibilities are clarified,
  3. Relationships develop and,
  4. People feel responsible for the workflow up and down the supply chain.

It worked for us on a £70 Million project built in 84 weeks using elements of offsite manufacturing. The receipt and delivery of information becomes personal – no one wants to let down their counterpart!

The core management group act together as a unit across disciplines and contractual boundaries. They sit below the team, supporting and encouraging people from bottom up.

Lean thinking gurus Greg Howell and Will Lichtig describe ‘assembling and empowering all resources to collaborate, really collaborate’ and advocate the ‘Core Group’ of Client, Contractor and Architect to be at the centre of an integrated team, facilitating the processes. Simple ideas to improve project delivery:

  1. Establish the right environment for communicating understanding of what is required and design the process to achieve it.
  2. Develop levels of paired collaboration within the team from bottom to top; empower people, don’t leave anyone out!
  3. Ensure managers can step outside and into their counterpart’s shoes. Problems will look different from 360 degrees and the solutions we found can be better and benefit everyone long term.

It’s as much about the people as it is about technology!

Michael Cosser