Post #10- Do You Want a Happy Ending of Your Next Construction Project?

photo credit: unsplash- Matthew Henry

You had a happy beginning of your construction project; you were exited and you thought you would have a happy ending too.

Like it or not, most likely you will find yourself in an unhappy ending!

Then, you will be wondering: what happened? Before you find someone to explain the matter to you, you will jump into the next project and the vicious cycle will keep repeating itself.

You will then stop asking the question and comfort yourself, well, that’s how construction is!

It’s the biggest puzzle about construction no one ever tried to solve!

Did you guess why? The answer lies in quality, a mysterious subject to us. We love quality projects but hardly we think about the broader aspects of quality beyond inspections and checklists.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for inspections and checklists; However, quality has to offer much more than that. That’s what I will elaborate in this post.

If you disagree, please drop me a note below and we can discuss further.

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

A clear vision for high quality provides a common ground for partnership

A great partnership environment from day one is a basic need for a successful project, but that hardly ever happens.

It is an extraordinary moment when the Owner dreams about a construction project to fulfil his or her personal or business goals. However, the goal of the Owner often gets misaligned with those of the Architect and Contractor. This misalignment is a result of poor communication between these parties.

Simply put, if the Owner is dreaming of a building to last for 50 years and that has not been communicated to the architect and contractor effectively, the building will not last as long.

The Owner may think, oh the architect should have known it by default! What this Owner does not know is many buildings are designed to last for just 10 years. So it is imperative for the Owner to communicate his or her desires timely and effectively.

The best way to communicate the desire effectively is to write down a vision for quality of the project. Let’s see what a vision may look like. “Design and build building #10 to last for 50 years using $20,000 per year in maintenance expenses with 3% escalation.” This vision is very simple but very strong to touch the heart of the issue.

This would be a great starting point! It will be then the Architects job to convey the message to the Contractor and render in the documents in a way that is idiot proof.

When things are idiot proof, partnership among the Owner, Architect and Contractor becomes easy. When vague documents are produced, seeds for an adversarial environment are sown.

This approach is going to be an additional service provided by the architect and his/ her specialty consultants, who have expertise in building, life cycle, cost, risk management and quality.

Many Owners actually spend the money to purchase additional services and fully delegate the duty to the Architect or assume that that’s Architect’s job anyways. The Owners do not follow through with the Architect from day one about how the grand dream will come true.

Some Owners know that the partnership is important for their project, so they think that they can purchase partnership by hiring a partnership consultant. Unfortunately, partnership is not a service that can be purchased. It is a result of deliberate attempts to achieve it using the right tools, e.g. vision for quality and missions to execute it.

To recap, a clear vision of quality and constant follow through will surely provide a provide a common ground for effective partnership.

It helps avoid scope creep, schedule slip and cost overrun during design and construction

Experts have always separated quality from scope, schedule and cost. It is also said that high quality can be achieved only at higher cost or with a longer schedule.

That’s a long held wrong view!

They assume that its the Contractor’s job to deliver quality, no matter how sloppy the document is or how unrealistic the schedule is or how low the bid is.

The quality of the completeness of program or project requirements is the foundation for the quality of the project, because that is what the Contractor bids on.

The Owner and the Architect have a choice to dump all the details of the requirements in the contract documents before going for a bid, or trickle down the requirements in small bites throughout construction.

The latter is a warranty for scope creep, schedule slip and cost overrun.

If the Owner and Architect ensure a set of high quality contract document focused on quality, the project will have a much better chance avoiding scope creep, schedule slip and cost overrun.

Again, understanding of quality in the perspective of life cycle and risk analysis is going take a project extra miles on the performance and happiness of the Owners.

It helps avoid burdening FMs with unforeseen cost to fix design and construction mistakes

I often hear this question- why don’t the new facilities last as long anymore?

I have real life example of a brand new facility, completed a year ago, a state of the art, LEED Gold certified green building that won numerous prestigious prizes, was on the news, and was published and republished many times.

The Owner, the Architect and the Contractor were all proud of it, but it was the worst nightmare ever for the Operations and Maintenance guys.

The brand new building was already generating ten times more work orders than any older building was doing. Literally, that fancy building was burning out the budget for other buildings.

How green or sustainable is that?

So I did some digging into the history of work orders of a 10 years old facility and compared them to those of the new facility. When I printed them out I was shocked- the 10 year old facility printed 3 pages of work orders and the 1 year old facility printed 30 pages of work order.

Wow!

When the matters of scope, schedule and cost die down at the projects closing, then quality opens its eyes. Quality then lives throughout the life cycle of the building.

Who will be there to fix the low quality of construction created by low quality of program, drawing, and specifications that failed to provide clear directions to the Contractor on quality? The poor facility managers and the operations and maintenance staff.

It helps protect the construction industry and the national interest

So, how does the aspect of quality play out at the national level?

According to an article in Journal of Construction Engineering and Management published in 2009, “Construction projects often experience cost and schedule overruns and rework is a significant factor that directly contributes to these overruns. Research by the Construction Industry Institute reveals that direct costs caused by rework average 5% of total construction costs (CII 2005). Considering that the U.S. construction industry expended $1,502 billion in 2004 for total installed costs (Bureau of Economic Analysis 2006), almost $75 bIllion was wasted on direct costs caused by rework in that year alone. Therefore, rework must be considered a significant factor affecting cost performance in the construction industry.” (Bon-Gang Hwang; Stephen R. Thomas; Carl T. Haas; and Carlos H. Caldas)

That’s a huge loss annually for the country!

Consider that you can build one mile of an 8 lanes highway in New Jersey for $2 million. How much of roadwork would you do per year if a fraction of $75 billion could be saved?

If you are in design or construction business, you may be shaking your head by now.

If you would like to be a leader and change the status quo in favor of a happy ending of your next construction project, then you are welcome to subscribe to my email list.

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

To help the industry I have decided to write a new book titled – OWNER’S, ARCHITECT’S AND CONTRACTOR’S GUIDE FOR LEADING HIGH QUALITY PROJECTS. This post is the introduction of the book.

A series of posts and interviews will follow this post and will become part of the book.

Would you like to join the discussion? Please drop a note and I will respond happily.

Post #9- Kyle Majchrowski Shares His Thoughts on Leadership and Quality

It is my pleasure to present Kyle Majchrowski, a Senior Project Executive with Banner Health. Kyle supports the team that manages renovations and new construction throughout the Western Division. He is also a founding member of Seek Change, a non-profit group which organizes built environment events focused on improving people’s experiences. His teams continue to improve the project delivery experience, implementing collaborative efforts.

Kyle shared in invaluable thoughts on the key issues related to leadership and quality .

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Zul– Consultants mostly do not follow a schedule the way Contractors do and before they realize the design team eats up most of the billable hours and not much is left for construction drawings and spec. Why sometimes the Consultants do not realize the value of allocating enough time to produce good quality drawings and spec which are essential for quality of construction and protecting their business from liability exposures?

Kyle– The question is interesting in that it assumes that designers and consultants are ignorant of their fees. In my experience, I have found that consultants are indeed very aware of their fees (i.e. time) both forecasted and spent on a project. The challenge is that project teams do not openly discuss regularly where they  in regards to effort, cost, and financial performance -what was forecasted to be spent, what is being spent, what was spent etc. Therefore, they are missing a great opportunity to regularly have the conversations in regards to who is spending their time where. If project teams were more open in regards to their contract amounts, spend, and forecasted spend of their own time, then there exists a higher chance of success when it comes to allocating the right amount of time to documentation.

Zul– Construction QAQC procedures can reduce a lot re-work and increase profitability for the Contractor. Why sometimes the Contractor resists having a QAQC procedure unless explicitly required by the spec and why QAQC is seen as intrusion into the Contractor’s comfort zone?

Kyle– I have seen many field QAQC programs, including when I started my career as a subcontractor. The majority of these efforts are simply people watching people. Checklists, check offs, inspections, spot measurements, random sampling – all of these efforts are based in finding faults in the work and then prescribing corrective measures.

What I have seen work is that when you empower and engage the people doing the work, the quality increases. People fundamentally want to do good work – by our nature, we despise rework, doing things twice, and having other people tell us what we did wrong and how to fix it. When the project connects a why, a purpose, a genuine care for those working on the project, the engagement increases which directly impact the quality of work done by the individuals on the job.

Zul– Please share your thoughts and examples of your own concept of courage, collaboration and  leadership that can create leaders and what works or doesn’t work.

Kyle– Leadership has evolved and will continue to evolve in the way we work together. Authenticity, transparency, stumbling, seeking help, and actually working with others are staples of leadership in today’s business environment. People emulate our leaders, or despise and criticize them. We are in a transformational period where organizations that approach work top-down, do as I say, and view leadership as making decisions are going to lose out in a big way. The reason being that true collaboration is difficult, messy, risky, and tremendously engaging. Employees are seeking environments where these attributes exist, and command and control organizations are definitely not delivering.

Zul– Please share your thoughts on how to inject leadership culture into the process from beginning of programming to end of construction so that everyone feels that quality is everyone’s job?

Kyle– My work through our Symposiums in Denver, Phoenix, and Portland have explored the question of leadership within projects. We often speak of order takers versus value creators, how we as people display leadership attributes and characteristics, and spend a lot of time self reflecting and sharing with others in a safe environment the difficulties we all face on projects. This community aspect of improving the industry is helping shape what it means to demonstrate leadership at all levels of the project team, throughout the entire project.

Zul– What else can help eliminate/ reduce risks from construction and improve quality?

Kyle– Quality is a direct indicator of the culture of a project team. When the culture is strong, articulated, and healthy, people are engaged, focused, passionate, and care about the work they do. When people care about the work and each other, quality naturally goes up. Without forms. Without checklists.

The interview ended here. There is so much we can learn from Kyle’s style of collaborative practice in the industry. Kyle focuses on building a strong culture of trust and vulnerability in order to deliver successful projects. Driven to substantially impact workplace engagement, his group explores new opportunities in delivery means, methods, and relationships.

According to Kyle- PMs for any type of project (construction, IT, new business service line, etc.) think they have control over many aspects of the project. Schedule, scope, budget, and plan all come to mind. He adds- where PMs don’t actually have control, they seek to invent it through various tools such as meeting minutes and documentation, so they always have at their fingertips a “so and so told me on this date” which creates the illusion of control.

Kyle will be conducting a webinar with James Pease that is titled- The One Thing a PM Can Actually Control Yet Often Ignores.” on June 27th, 2018, at 9AM Pacific :12PM Eastern. You may register for the webinar by clicking on the title.

Would you like to share your thoughts? Please do so in the comment box below.

This post has been edited for clarity and vetted by Kyle Majchrowski. If you would like to find out more about him, you may visit his website at http://seek-change.org

Post #8- Interview of Jason Smith- Does Front End Planning Pay Back in Construction?

The way our the 1.5 trillion dollar construction industry is set up is that it offers the owner, designer and contractor a lose-lose scenario. Every project that goes out for bid everyday is destined for the same fate. Still we wake up every morning anxious to go to work only to be thrown into the vicious cycle of losing. At least there are a few great souls, like Jason Smith from southern California, who passionately work to be a part of the solution and always determined to defeat the problem using effective front end planning.

Jason has been performing Constructability Reviews for 11 years now, and prior to that he worked for Swinerton, Clark and a couple other GC’s throughout his career. He has also authored 3 books, published some training videos and, most recently, partnered with a Scopes Database software program called Bid Scaler.

Recently I had an opportunity to ask Jason a few questions on this topic and he kindly shared his thoughts with me that I am going to share with you. Let me know if you agree or disagree with Jason’s thoughts!

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Zul: How does program quality affect design and documents quality and results in redesign that affects designer’s business goals?

Jason: A good architect can design anything, so this really boils down to an Owner’s ability to know what they want, make decisions and stick to them. Changes never seem like much at face value, but the reality is that every change creates a chain reaction that causes the design team to change track. This takes time and money, which isn’t planned for. In the end, the reality is that design team’s have “X” amount of dollars in their budgets and that’s how much effort they’re going to put into the construction documents. So the more time they spend dealing with changes and inefficiencies = the less time they spend cranking out details.

Zul: What can a owner do to write a clear and detailed program and help the designer and contractor avoid redesign, rework, and lower project cost?

Jason: Know what they want, make decisions and stick to the decisions. Writing the program is something that really needs to get into the intricacies of the project. Programs are often very thick with a lot of language, but they don’t get into the intricacies of the project. I’m trying to help fix this problem with what I call my Baseline Program, which is a spreadsheet that scopes every material and system on the project. Not only does this provide the Architect with clear direction on the Owner’s desires, but it also helps the Owner maintain control over cost.

Zul: How does drawing and specification quality affect construction quality and results in rework that affects contractor’s business goals?

Jason: There is a common misconception that if a GC has something covered in their budget, then it’s good and the design team doesn’t need to draw it. There are 100+ Subcontractors on a project and an exponential number of lower tier subcontractors, manufacturers and suppliers. Direction needs to be coordinated and disseminated to all of them and the only efficient manner of doing this is with the drawings and specs. When this info isn’t in the drawings and specs, it is issued as ASIs, RFIs, submittal comments, etc. All those extraneous pieces of paper make it incredibly difficult to get all those 100’s of companies on the same page.

Another common misconception is that we can prevent change orders by covering items of work with an allowance and figuring them out later. But allowances do not prevent change orders. Allowances are simply budgetary placeholders for anticipated change orders. Allowances are still billed against with “change order pricing”.

Zul: How can a designer do to avoid redesign and ensure high quality of documents?

Jason: This is a double edged sword and a problem that is industry driven. If a design team includes enough money in their proposal to provide a complete, solid, great set of drawings = they’re going to be way more expensive than their competitors and they’re not going to win the job. In order to win jobs and stay in business, design teams need to play the game. GC’s are always saying “this architect is awful” about every architect, but the reality is that every architect isn’t awful. The reality is that they only have enough money in their contract to provide a bare minimum permit set of documents, which is typically about 85% CD’s.

What I propose to combat this is to tell architects in the RFP that a constructability review will be performed and that all comments must be incorporated into the drawings during the CD stage of the design. I.e., in their lump sum for the CD’s, not during their cost-plus CA work. This will ensure that all architect’s include a complete construction set in their base proposals.

Zul: What a contractor can do to avoid rework when the documents are good quality and when they are not so good quality?

Jason: The GC needs to plan the project and stay ahead of it. During the structural phase the GC needs to be neck deep in planning the skin. But we have a similar industry driven problem here, in that GC’s don’t include enough staff in their projects to efficiently and effectively manage a project. If a GC includes a sufficient staff, they’re going to be way more expensive than their competitors and they won’t win the job. They have to play the game, or they won’t stay in business. The reality is that these “lean” staffs can barely keep up with a project and can only react to problems after they occur.

What I propose to combat this is that the Owner and architect to prepare a planning schedule for MEP coordination, Ext Skin Coord, Submittals, etc. and hold the GC accountable to it. If a GC falls behind, their payments are held up. This needs to be made abundantly clear to all bidders, so they all include it in their estimate.

Zul: Would you like to add something from your thoughts?

Jason: So what I’m saying is that an Owner needs to actively seek an architect who is going to be a lot more expensive than the current norm, and then encourage the GC to increase their general conditions significantly. This is a pretty tough financial pill for an Owner to swallow. In hindsight, at the end of a project, after all the change orders have been paid, an Owner will think this is a great idea. But at the front end of a project when an Owner is trying to make their pro forma work, this never seems like a good idea.

What I’m also saying is that our industry has evolved such that architects can’t provide a complete set of documents and contractors can’t effectively manage a project. There’s a big hole there that we as an industry need to work together to fill.

The problems we’re seeing are industry driven. Individual architects are not to blame and individual GC’s are not to blame. We have a lot of great designers and a lot of great contractors. But the current industry standard practices are hobbling them all.

The discussion with Jason ends here- and it sounds like the construction industry needs a shake up! Owner, architect and contractor- all need to spend a few buck for front end planning that will payback in multiples at the end, if it is done right as suggested by Jason!

Do you have any suggestions? Please feel free to share it in the comments box below.

This post has been edited for clarity and vetted by Jason Smith. If you would like to find out more about him, you may visit his website at http://www.constructabilityanalysis.com

 

Post #7- Friendship in Construction? – James Pease talks on IPD (Part 2)

Zul- Is soft cost for IPD much higher than design-bid-build? Does the savings in rework or hard cost able to pay off the added soft cost?  

James– There is not a black and white answer to this question. The biggest difference I think is that you are spending more of your soft cost upfront. When you are hiring the contractor early, you are investing in your RFI process during design instead of doing it later. So, you are spending more money upfront, from a cash flow point of view and you are also making a lot of detailed decisions much earlier than you typically would. One thing that we have learned that CA cost is not dropping off though, we are still paying for CA and in many cases for more CA because it benefits the construction to have more people on staff to answer questions really quickly. We are co-locating our CA staff, we are having them on site with dedicated chunks of time throughout the week to answer questions. In design-bid-build you try not to pay as much for CA and having them stay in their offices to answer RFI’s through emails.

Does the cost pay off? My belief is that it does.

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

On our big projects what we had seen is before going with IPD, anything over a $100m we delivered significantly over budget and significantly late. Since adopting IPD we have delivered $1.9B projects collectively 3% under budget. One of the projects went over but the whole program was under. We currently have $2.9B projects that are 75% through construction right now and tracking at 4% under. So what we are finding now is that if we give our board a number, we can actually make it happen. Then it’s up to the board to decide whether they want to fund that project or not. The problem before was that we would take something to the board and they would say yes we want to do that and then halfway through we would say you know what we can’t actually do it for that much and it’s gonna be late and you can’t stop at that point- you’re stuck. In IPD a lot of times we find out early that its going cost a lot more than what we thought it would and the board would say we are not going to fund that project if it costs that much- in a way that is an acceptable outcome.

In order to maintain affordable care for our patients yet grow access, we need to maximize the quality and quantity of facilities that we can build within the capital that we have available for investment.

Zul- Do you see less RFIs in IPD?

James– Yes, we have streamlined RFI processes by letting the team discuss a solution first then document it rather than shooting RFIs as soon as the issue is raised for every little thing.

Zul- What are the specific challenges for the owner, designer and contractor in IPD compared to design-bid-build?

James– For the Owner- a lot of our users, our doctors, nurses, executives are pushed to make decisions much earlier because we want to design every little drawer before we submit for permit as everyone wants certainty on cost. But they are used to waiting, saying I don’t want to make that decision until right before I move in. We’re asking them 3 or 4 years ahead of time to make decisions. That is a challenge for us and we’re figuring out how to work through that.

There are also challenges like benchmarking cost because you are not bidding the project. We get questioned a lot about how do you know that is the right number- it seems too expensive!  So we’re working on better benchmarking and better conceptual estimating so we can know roughly how much the project should cost. That way we can be more comfortable with our team setting the target value- we’ll say this is what it should cost and we’ll make it work for less than that.

For the designer- I think the big piece for them is they are not accustomed to having good trade input upfront, so they are not totally sure how to use it yet. I find they still end up drawing things that eventually get redrawn and we’re constantly reminding them just call the trades and ask them for the real info.

I also see that a lot of architects who have been around in hard bid environments try to control quality of work by putting in a lot of stuff on the drawings.  We are telling them you don’t need to draw that stuff, we already got the people on board, just tell them what your expectations are so that they can draw and price it appropriately. We’re telling the engineers don’t draw the framing details, just ask the framer and give him your design criteria and he’ll draw it for you.

Its changing the way the designers work with the contractors and I find they still very much want to say “give us three months we’ll go away and we’ll figure it out and then come back and show you.” We say- no you need to be more iterative and open book.

On the contractor side- one big thing that we need is conceptual estimating. We are bringing people in early and we’re saying things like “how much should this hospital cost?” And they are say okay, “give us the drawings and we’ll price it.” But we don’t have any drawings yet. We just want to know how much should it cost? There are a lot more of rules of thumbs like cost per sqft vs linear ft, this kind of skin system vs that kind, because we are using cost as a part of our design criteria. So before you draw anything, tell us what we can afford to buy. That’s challenging for the contractor.

Zul- To what extent do the designers need to use BIM?

James– They don’t have to use BIM. If it is a smaller project- it may not make sense to use BIM. If it larger than 20,000 sq ft ground up building then it works.

BIM is used as a natural risk mitigation tool. The team may say our profit is at risk, we’re going to need to model the thing so we can make sure that it would all fit. We ask the team to develop a BIM plan at the beginning of the project. This way they don’t say you haven’t told us that we had to model that project. We say, we are not going to tell you what to model, you look at what your risks are and come up with a way to mitigate that risk and if BIM is a way for mitigation then we’re willing to pay for it.

Zul- How do you see leadership fit into IPD?

James– leadership is hugely important. This model is not about telling people what to do, it’s about figuring things out as a team. It does take people stepping up and proposing solutions and then taking actions. A lot of people think that IPD is a way for the owner to do less work and transferring a lot of risk to the contractor and the designer. Our finding is it is actually more work for the owner. Owners needs to roll up their sleeves and be more involved. I think where people in IPD get into trouble is when they tell the team to collaborate and they don’t show up. Then the project fails and then they say- IPD doesn’t work!

That’s what I’m going to discuss in my upcoming webinar on Feb 8, 2018.

Again, for the owner- if you are going to go with this model then you need to be not only a leader like you need to know how to lead the team, but you also need to do your equal part. Show the team that you are also vulnerable and transparent. If you want them to be transparent, you need to show them your budget, you need to show what your constraints are, explain why sometime you may not have an answer. A leader doing that- that’s a good tone for the rest of the team. It is about both recognizing top down leadership and encouraging bottom up leadership.

When you see someone stepping up, say loudly- that was awesome, do it again!

We continually allow people with junior titles to take ownership of things. And then you are amazed, because they get really good results! For me that part is really rewarding when you see people on your team promoted within their own company through the project team advocating for them.

The first IPD project I did was 9 years ago after a lot of lump sum work.  When I finished, I thought “that was awesome! I want to do that again!!” I’m still friends with people I worked with on that job!!!

Zul- Would you like to add anything?

James– It all sounds too good to be true. I want to make sure that people understand that it is hard work and it takes a long time. We find building a big collaborative team, like if you are building a hospital, it takes between 12 to 18 months to get the culture to a really collaborative point.

The other thing that is really hard for contractors, owners and architects is to say no I can’t do that. There is a tendency in the industry to say yes to everything even if you know you can’t do it. We would much rather people say they can’t do that or you can do that but there are all these constraints that you need to be aware of. Then you can make realistic decisions.

It’s hard, not easy- but if you are willing to do the work then you get pretty awesome outcomes!

That’s where we ended the interview by thanking James Pease.

More about James- Besides representing the owner at Sutter Health, James blogs at www.leanipd.com to share his knowledge and provides link to IPD resources. He is conducting a webinar on IPD Contracts on Feb 8, 2018 from 8am to 9am PST. If you have read this interview up to this point, you may want to register for the webinar at http://leanipd.com/webinars/

This post is edited for clarity and vetted by James Pease. He can be reached at james@leanipd.com

Post #6- Friendship in Construction? – James Pease talks on IPD (Part 1)

 

You need to pick your battles at every step whether you are an owner, a designer or a contractor in construction. Depending if you win or lose the battles affects your bottom line. That’s the adversarial relationship among these parties which plagues the industry so deeply that while the non-farm industries raked high productivity and quality since 1960, construction industry suffered a decline.

Various delivery models have been tried out but none of them made any headway through the productivity crisis in construction. The most recent experiment has been IPD or Integrated Project Delivery that seems to show a silver lining. The model has been developed by borrowing ideas from Toyota production system. It uses a new single contract to bind the owner, designer and contractor to work through open book accounting, sharing risk and reward in a friendly and supportive work environment. So far the success rate is very promising in delivering highly productive and quality projects.

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

One of the pioneers in IPD is James Pease, Regional Manager of Integrated Project Delivery at Sutter Health, an integrated healthcare provider in Northern California. I reached out to him to tap into his IPD experience that relates to leadership and quality. James has been deeply involved in delivering capital projects using IPD for more than 10 years and worth over $650M.

Zul- How can IPD lower project cost, shorten time, avoid scope creep and ensure high quality?

James– With IPD we are onboarding the designer and the builder very early, even prior to a completed business case. The biggest thing here is that we make sure we adequately priced and estimated what we want to build so that we fund the right project. Then we use Target Value Design for continual updating of the budget throughout the design phase and make sure we don’t deviate from the budget that we funded.  With this process, our goal is to provide high value facilities at an affordable cost to provide amazing care for our patients.

So much waste can be eliminated from designing and redesigning when the detailed design is handed off to the trades. We can get our design to a shop drawing level before we submit for permit with the people that are actually going to build it. We eliminate a lot of redesigning during the construction phase. The goal of doing all this work is to  lower project cost, shorten time and avoid scope creep while achieving high quality.

Zul- How do you engage these people early before the project is funded?

James– For projects over $10m, we request for a small amount of seed money, maybe 1%- 2% of the expected project budget and hire a team of contractors and consultants. They will help us develop the budget and the schedule to go into the program. Ideally the actual contract is signed as soon as the project is funded.

Also at Sutter Health we use a single contract, for a single dollar value, between owner, designer and contractor with the goal of delivering the project scope. So it’s not based on a set of drawings, it’s based on meeting the owner’s intent within a set budget and schedule. We guarantee the cost by having the designer and the builder risking their profit if the project goes over budget in exchange for shared reward if the project comes in under. If the project goes over budget they will complete the project at their cost but won’t lose money. The key here is everyone trying to collectively come under budget. If one party didn’t come under but if they helped others to come under then everyone get a share of the bonus.

An important note- the contract budget is usually set slightly below the funding to encourage the team to drive the cost down.

Zul- Currently IPD is being used for about 1% of $1.5T construction industry but IPD has started a revolution in the industry. Which sector of the industry is leading the revolution? And who is following?

James– The healthcare industry has been the pioneer, e.g. Sutter Health and UHS (Universal Health Services) have done a number of projects. Kaiser is also moving in this direction. Outside of healthcare there are several biotech firms that are piloting their first IPD projects. Proctor and Gamble announced last October that they would use IPD for some of their major projects. Intel experimented with it already. I think the next wave you will see coming from the big biotech companies.

These companies are trying to solve their unique challenges through IPD that traditional delivery models are unable to solve. For example, Intel thinks about expanding their facility about 5 years before they know what product will be produced in that facility. That is a very unique challenge and everyone has a challenge like that either that is about their product, their budget or something else.

Zul- Who facilitates the IPD process from beginning to end?

James– Owner, architect and contractor form a core group to lead and facilitate and they take turns as appropriate.

Zul- Is there any new set of project management skills required for success?

James– This is something new that needs learning. There are definite skill sets that we haven’t had before that we need, and it’s about being able to lead teams and facilitate discussions and conversations as opposed to the people who just know all the answers. Because everyone is coming onboard earlier and the traditional work structuring is all up for grabs. We are finding that the new role is, as some call it, the project integrator. It can be a consultant or someone from the core group may be found to have the knack for facilitating conversations.

Zul- Do you take the project integrator role in your projects?

James– In my projects I only lead those discussions where I can contribute the most or have vested interest. Then others take over based on their individual expertise that I have no expertise on and I would just participate in the conversation. The most successful teams I’ve seen where you actually try to break down the traditional hierarchy to allow people to step up within their niche.

Part 1 of the interview ends here. Part 2 will be posted soon.

More about James Pease– Besides representing the owner at Sutter Health, James blogs at www.leanipd.com to share his knowledge and provides link to IPD resources. He is conducting a webinar on IPD Contracts on Feb 8, 2018 from 8am to 9am PST. If you have read this interview up to this point, you may want to register for the webinar at http://leanipd.com/webinars/

This post is edited for clarity and vetted by James Pease. He can be reached at james@leanipd.com

Post #5- Interview of Wayne Whitzell: Why and How to Engage Architects with FMs?

I had an opportunity to meet Wayne Whitzell and ask him two key questions related to leadership and quality– First: why architects need leadership to engage facility managers for high quality buildings? Second: how to promote this leadership among the architects and professionals in the industry?

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Whitzell is the President of IFMA East Bay Chapter and the Vice President of DFS Green and commercial interiors maintenance company in Silicon Valley, California. Through IFMA activities, Whitzell rubs shoulders with many high profile facility managers in high tech, healthcare and retail sectors and knows that their grievances stem from the lack of quality in design and construction.

Before we jumped into the key questions, I asked Whitzell what quality meant for him. He answered that quality was the level of fulfillment of aligned expectations of various parties involved in a project. If the expectations of the parties are not aligned, then that’s a recipe for disaster, especially if the expectations of a capital team are disconnected from that of the operations team.

Whitzell also noted that this disconnect results in a fantastic looking facility turn into a white elephant with costly operations and maintenance needs with no extra budget to keep it up to snuff through its life cycle. And that’s the biggest frustration the facility managers have.

Question 1: Why architects leadership is needed to engage facility managers for high quality buildings?

When I asked him why architects needed to be involved in this game, Whitzell said that architects were in unique position to be a leader and help. He continued that the reason for the disconnect may lie in the way we do facilities accounting. There is a cap-ex (capital expenditure) side of the house and an op-ex (operational expenditure) side of the house. You can build a shiny gold plated pyramid with the cap-ex money but op-ex does not get enough to polish everyday and keep it shiny. There is huge lacking in allocation of op-ex dollars for operations and training.

Whitzell continued, it would be helpful if, before designing the building, architects posed the million dollar question to the cap-ex team: how much op-ex fund is allocated for this project? Based on the answer, the architect can either design the building to suit the op-ex funding or make it clear that the fund wasn’t enough.

Essentially, Whitzell said that architects should assume responsibility not only to envision an innovative design to serve the user’s needs in the best possible ways, but also to account for the ease or burden of operations offered by their master piece innovation.

I commented that assessing operational cost would be an additional service that either can offer or the architect may advise to hire another expert for help.  Whitzell agreed and added that the owners should be given that choice to make and architects are in the best position to lead the process should the owner decides to go ahead.

Whitzell believes that the oversight of this matter by the cap-ex team and the architects are totally unintentional because that’s how the industry practices are currently set up.

An anecdote was brought up by Whitzell to illustrate the situation- the architecture and development stage of the project is like a honeymoon, it’s beautiful and lovely because the architect has created some amazing stuff and the contractor is building it and there is no shortage of funds. When honeymoon is over, there comes time for operations- two kids in diapers, a minimum wage and a crammed apartment!

If you work on the op-ex side you will find this metaphor to be accurate, because you may have been complaining about it all your life. But if you are on the other side with cap-ex and architects, you might not have had any experience with this at all.

After having a long discussion, Whitzell and I concluded that both the op-ex and cap-ex sides need to work with the architects and designer to overcome the situation. Facility managers in op-ex need to come up with strategies to voice the issues to cap-ex and architects in order to get engaged early in the project. At the same time cap-ex team and architects need to listen carefully to find a way make the engagement successful.

However, this is easier said than done. They couldn’t do it during last 100 years, how can they do it now? The answer is leadership. Whitzell agreed that the problem has persisted for a long time, not because there is a lack of technical expertise among the architects, cap-ex or op-ex, but because of the lack of leadership among these parties that come forward and deal with it.

Question 2: How to promote this leadership among the architects and professionals in the industry?

Whitzell offered a novel idea when I asked him the second key question- how can we promote leadership among the professionals using training or guides? He said that the design and construction industry is set up on the apprentice based model. We learn from our mentors and the practice we see today is a result of the status quo and no one wants to break the cycle.

So how do you disrupt the status quo and foster new leadership?

Whitzell suggested focusing on the millennials. They have the energy and courage to disrupt. What we should do is create training materials to guide the new generation and offer them at schools of architecture, engineering, construction management and facilities management. The new generation is more open to learn new things.

Conclusion:

An interesting question is being spun in my mind: a building is born after the construction is complete; who’s ready to be the foster parent? Not the cap-ex, team and definitely not the architect– it’s the op-ex team. So how can we make this parenthood a great experience?

What we learned from Whitzell are: one, the op-ex team really deserve to be included in the building creation process because they are the one to take care of it for next 50 years or so, and two, educate the millennials to take the leadership and disrupt the status quo.

That was an awesome interview of Wayne Whitzell– Thank you!

This post is edited for clarity and vetted by Wayne Whitzell. He can be reached at waynew@dfsgreen.com

Post #4- The Launching of ‘Quality is My Job’ Project

tools1Dear Reader,
I am launching a project with the following draft project charter and I will need your feedback to refine it in order to move forward. This action is a follow up from my first three posts. I sincerely hope that we can make a significant contribution to the construction industry and initiate a positive change for delivering quality.

 

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Draft Project Charter:

1) Working title- ‘Quality is my job- promoting leadership for quality in construction’

2) Working PM- Zul Helal

3) Vision- To reduce waste of $75 billion national resources through by improving construction quality.

4) Mission- To engage the industry to adopt leadership tools for delivering quality.

5) Constraints- It will need significant efforts to achieve buy-ins from the industry, will not happen overnight and various stakeholders need to be involved.

6) Stakeholders- Owners, Consultants and Contractors and related associations, e.g. BOMA, IFMA, AIA, ASCE, CMAA, AGC.

7) High level schedule- 2 years (Jan- Dec, 2018) 8) Phases- The project will have four phases: initiation, planning, execution, and closing.

9) High level budget- Will be worked out as project moves forward.

10) Potential risks and mitigation- Existence of unknowns will need research, gathering and keeping stakeholder support will need motivational efforts, lack of fund may trigger other ideas for moving forward.

11) High level scope- Drafting guides for Owners, Consultants and Contractors regarding construction quality.

12) Team- Will be worked out as project moves forward.

13) Mode of communication- www.leadershipforquality.org; www.linkedin.com; www.surveymonkey.com

This project charter is a living document throughout the project and will be updated as needed using your feedback.

Thank you.
Zul

 

Post #3- How Quick Leadership Tools Can Put You on Top of Quality?

penguins1Quick leadership tools or QLT can help you demystify construction quality and make it the top priority. In the previous post I explained what makes quality mysterious and in this post I will tell you how to move forward.

 

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Looking back:

Construction quality is unique for one reason: the Owner, the Designer, and the Contractor, are running sprint race and trying to outsmart each other in managing quality of one project by using incompatible systems, e.g., ISO 9001, Total Quality Management or something else.  In an ideal case, the construction project quality ought to be a relay race among the three partners by sharing a common baton, which is rarely happening. That’s why you will see the checklists used in construction quality control program are not able to prevent the risk-triplet scope creep, schedule slip and cost overruns. If the vision for delivering quality was not on the agenda during program stage, having hundreds of checklists during construction may look very smart, but they cannot deliver fitness for use or a quality that the Owner needs.

How quick leadership tools help?

Because the current situation in construction is not conducive for delivering quality, we need to introduce a big change in the practice of how the Owner, the  Consultant and the Contractor engage with each other early on. But, when people smell change, the tendency is to either run away or create roadblocks. That’s why we need leadership tools to inspire and bring people back to join the relay race for quality. It’s not hard, believe me- it’s fun! And you can do it.

Keep in mind that the leadership we are talking about here is not a position; it’s a set of tools. This is how you can check if you are a leader- if you have the courage to enjoy collaboration, you’ve made it, regardless of where you stand on the corporate ladder. You may read my post #1 to get an idea how I used courage and collaboration in a particular situation.

There is good explanation why leadership tools work for quality. Bill George argues in his article The New 21st Century Leaders published on Harvard Business Review that the top down hierarchical model of leadership is obsolete and it is now replaced by knowledge workers who seek bottom up leadership.  These people search for genuine satisfaction and meaning from their work, not just money. The quick leadership tools do the magic and provide people pride of what they do and there comes the satisfaction.

You may think we can’t do anything big without the support from high positions. It’s true, but nothing to worry about it. Support from high positions will come automatically if they see you have A) leadership tools in your back pocket and B) a business case. The business case for quality is simple- when quality goes high, risk goes low.

Structure of QLT (quick leadership tools):

I compare practice of leadership to riding a bike. It runs on two wheels and you need to ride it regularly to maximize the benefits.

The courage wheel:

The wheel at the front is the courage wheel, which will inject confidence in you to stand up for the cause. Too many of us are afraid to be on the spot.  Too many times we see things going sideways and walk by the other side, because that is someone else’s job. A lot of time we do not stand up because no one listens. Also a lot times we don’t do that because it’s convenient to avoid. So long as we get our paychecks and the retirement is ensured, we chug along with why bother attitude. All it needs is a little courage to come out of that mind-set and stand up for the cause. You may visit the site of Stanford professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D to get a few handy tip on how to change mind-set.

There are three tools in the front wheel that will help you build courage: 1) visioning, 2) communication, and 3) creativity. The visioning tool allows you to bring people together to a common cause. The communication tool allows you to connect with people actively with clarity, empathy, respect and open mind.  And creativity tool will help you draw new ideas out of the people.

bike2

The collaboration wheel:

The wheel at the back is the collaboration wheel. If you engage collaboration with courage, your team will be in motion and will put quality on auto-pilot for your project. You will make people feel important and they will be happy to work with you and deliver quality without you pushing them around with checklists so much.

There are three tools in the back wheel that will help you get into action of collaboration: 4) critical thinking, 5) leading, and 6) following. The critical thinking tool will help you analyze the creative ideas and compare them. Leading tool will allow you to use your judgment to make preliminary decisions. The following tool will allow bounce your decisions back and forth with your team and come to conclusions or lead to the right actions.

Once you master these two wheels with six quick leadership tools, you can add or replace tools as you feel necessary and build you own bike. Also note that when you pedal the bike, back wheel is the one that drives it and the front wheel acts to steer the way.

The change needed for quality:

Using the QLTs, the Owner, the Consultant and the           Contractor can make the following changes in practice happen:

During programming:

  1. Through partnerships, establish a vision around quality and fitness for use
  2. Outline a clear path on how the vision will be carried through from beginning to end of the project life cycle

During design and documentation:

  1. Through partnerships, follow through the vision to ensure high quality design and documents that translates the fitness for use into accurate requirements
  2. Outline a clear path for roles and responsibilities to achieve conformance to the requirements for all three parties

During construction:

  1. Through partnerships, analyze the vision, fitness for use and conformance to requirements
  2. Prepare and enforce a quality management program throughout construction.

Take away:

Leadership sounds like a lot of work but actually when you try it out you will find that its much less work! QLTs may take a few hours upfront but saves hundreds down the road. It has the power to prevent the risk-triplet, scope creep, schedule slip and cost overrun, and save a lot of agonizing time down the road. When you will see your courage and collaboration in action, you will never want to go back to the old ways. All you need to move forward is switch to your mind-set that you can do it and you are good to go!

In the next post I will launch the project I have been talking about- “Quality is My Job”. Until then- thank you for reading and by the way- please send your feedback- long or short.

Post #2- Why Quality is Bigger Than What We Think it is?

instruments1Construction quality is a mystery and typically referred to as the level of workmanship. But if you look into it deeply,  you will see that it also includes the project’s scope, schedule and cost- the risk triplet and I will tell you in this post how it works.

 

 

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Looking back:

According to an article in Journal of Construction Engineering and Management published in 2009, “Construction projects often experience cost and schedule overruns and rework is a significant factor that directly contributes to these overruns. Research by the Construction Industry Institute reveals that direct costs caused by rework average 5% of total construction costs (CII 2005). Considering that the U.S. construction industry expended $1,502 billion in 2004 for total installed costs (Bureau of Economic Analysis 2006), almost $75b was wasted on direct costs caused by rework in that year alone. Therefore, rework must be considered a significant factor affecting cost performance in the construction industry.” (Bon-Gang Hwang; Stephen R. Thomas; Carl T. Haas; and Carlos H. Caldas)

In another study, Philip Barlow (Professor of Construction Management at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, CA) identified that besides the Contractor, the Owner responsible for programming and Designer responsible for documentation both contribute to construction rework.

Everyone wants quality, but because it is glued with the risk-triplet, hardly anyone wants to deal with it. Perhaps the story of anybody, somebody and nobody is a good analogy to the topic. In this story everyone assumed the work in hand would be done by others but at the end it didn’t get done.  Similarly, most of the time the Owner assumes that the Consultant is hired to ensure quality and the Consultants assign the Contractor to deliver it. When on board, the Contractor looks clueless and says, “what do you mean?”

What is quality?

One pioneer of quality Juran promoted that quality was fitness for use. The other pioneer Crosby touted quality was conformance to requirements. Both are very appropriate definitions. The Owner wants fitness for use and the Contractor delivers conformance to requirements. The Consultant is in the middle to translate the Owner’s use thing into requirements for the Contractor via drawings and specifications.

When the requirements are inadequately presented, you need to initiate the Change Order to make it adequate so that fitness for use is achieved. If we draw an equation of quality it may look like this:

Fitness for use (Owner needs) – Conformance to requirements (Contract) = Lack of quality = Rework and change orders

Let me tell you a fictitious story to explain it further. A customer ordered a special holiday party dress for $1000 to be delivered 3 days before the holiday. The customer provided all the ideas and sizes to the designer but didn’t mention the length. The designer sent the design to the tailor without specifying the length. To be safe, the tailor made the dress extra long and delivered to the customer. When the customer realized that it does not fit properly, the dress was sent back to the tailor for length adjustments. The tailor normally does this kind of adjustments for free, but this was a wrong time because the staff was leaving for the holiday. One of the staff agreed to fix it for $125 overtime charge and the dress was delivered to the customer on the holiday evening.

You can see the scope creep, schedule slip and cost overrun in action in the story above. $125 is the value of the Change Order or the cost for lack of quality as well as the difference between fitness for use and conformance to requirements. Change Order does not make anyone happy and it is rampant in construction projects.

What we learn is that, in theory, quality can be free if the requirements are matched to the intended use. That way the Contractor can conform to requirements at no extra cost and fitness for use will be automatic. The reality though is different!

Today’s reality in construction quality:

The first step in quality lies with the Owner.  The Owner is in a position to rally the Consultant and the Contractor around a vision to deliver quality. The seed of risk-triplet is planted when the vision is missing in the project’s program which contains the Owner’s wish list among other things. Most of the programs, if you are lucky to have one, never outlines expectations on quality of design and construction and a great opportunity is missed. I am curious to know what stops the program writers to say that the Owner needs a building that will last 10 years or 100 years using minimum possible operating budget and built with easily maintainable building systems and equipment; whole building commissioning will start before design; the design, drawings, and specifications will be peer reviewed to eliminate discrepancies to ensure fitness for use; the construction process will have rigorous quality control program, all at the Owner’s expense? All of these may cost 2-3% extra but that is much less than 10-15% cost of change orders for not doing so. But the Owners feel that there is no reason to spend that money, the Consultants and the Contractors are hired to do it anyways. But the Consultants and the Contractors feel differently. At this stage the cost is minimal to change and rewrite the program around a vision for quality.

graph2

The second step in quality lies with the Consultants when they come on board. Consultants work hard to come up with new ideas for high performance buildings. A lot of time this noble intention turns into self defeating practices. First, the building would be given a slick look using exorbitant amount of glazing making it extremely low performance in energy. Then, very expensive and very complex technologies which are often incompatible to each other will be introduced to compensate for the lost energy. This kind of the building is inherently very difficult to build with high quality. With all good intentions and purposes the Consultants get bogged down in time management. The lion share of the time budget gets taken away by the design team and drawings and specifications are produced in a hurry. You know what happens when you do thing in a hurry- lack of quality that leads to design changes, drawings errors, and inconsistent specifications. If there is no budget allowed for peer reviews, no one will ever catch the discrepancies until the bid is closed. Cost for making changes and producing high quality documents is still low before rubber hits the road when the contractor is on board.

The third and final step in quality lies with the Contractor. Burdened with a lack of vision for quality and poor quality of documents, the Contractor doesn’t know where to start on this mysterious matter. On top of that the project seems to be behind schedule and over budget before it even started. So there is a tendency to move fast and catch up without adequate discussions and good planning- the so called time wasters. Then the question of quality control program comes up which is either not mentioned or partially mentioned in the documents. So the Contractor may or may not have allowed adequate budget for quality control program.  Without a quality control program in place, you cannot expect high quality of construction. What the Contractor needed to do is to pause and be upfront with the Owner and the Consultant if the documents are not clear on who pays for the quality control program and come up with a common understanding before construction starts. Most of the time, in a hurry, the initial opportunity is lost for making things straight on quality and it becomes too late when they become big issues. At this stage any change means very high cost associated with it.

So, the three things- a lack of vision for quality from the Owner, poor quality documents from the Consultants and a lack of quality control program from the Contractor, come together to cause and grow scope creep, schedule sleep and cost overrun until they become unmanageable. This is how the cost for making changes in order to bring back the project to fitness for use goes through the roof.

Take away:

The relationship between quality and the risk-triplet is obvious and they are mutually exclusive. So when quality goes high, the risk goes low. But why in construction we always have low quality and high risk making the issue so mysterious? It’s because the industry has chosen not to make the connection between these two. That’s why everyone is afraid to talk about the mystery too early and you won’t see quality on the meeting agenda until it’s already too late.

The question is- how to make quality the top priority for the Owner, the Consultant and the Contractor? Short answer is- using your leadership tools. Next post will explain how that works. Until then- thank you for reading and by the way- please send your feedback- long or short.

Post #1- My Story on Leadership for Quality

dreamstimefree_6897995I worked as a designer for many years and I used to deliver quality for my construction projects the hard way- using bullying tactics. When I took a job as the Owner’s rep I figured a smart way- using leadership tools. I did not realize the power of leadership tools before. I also discovered that along with the Consultant and the Contractor, the Owner can play a powerful role in construction quality when leadership tools are employed.

You may subscribe for new post notifications here:

Looking back:

After I was hired as a capital project manager for an Owner of 50 facilities, I found my office located in the Operations and Maintenance building. The location provided me a great opportunity to mingle with the facility managers and the trade staff. They used to share a lot of stories about their experiences with existing buildings and new projects and their frustrations about the quality of construction.  They told me that my predecessors never valued their concerns and they were surprised that I did. I used to empathize with them because, ultimately my job was to have a new facility in place or retrofit an existing one within a few years or less and their job was to operate and maintain it for next 50 or more years! So my short term work had a long term impact on their work

The big issue:

One question they used to ask me often- why the new facilities don’t long anymore? They had real life example of a brand new facility, completed a year ago, state of the art, LEED Gold certified green building, won numerous prestigious prizes, was on the news, and was published and republished many times. Obviously the Owner, the Architect and the Contractor were all proud of it, but it was the worst nightmare ever for the Operations and Maintenance guys. The brand new building was already generating ten times more work orders than any older building was doing. Literally that fancy building was burning them and their budget out. How green or sustainable was that? So I did a little research by digging into the history of work orders of a 10 years old facility and compared to the new facility. When I printed them out I was shocked! The guys were right- the 10 years old facility printed 3 pages of work orders and the 1 year old facility printed 30 pages of work order- wow!

This is a classic example of ruining quality, get rewarded for it and make the Owner go crazy. No wonder the guys were so frustrated! When I asked them, “why are you complaining now, why didn’t you tell the Architect and the Contractor that you wanted building that must last long?” The answer was quick- “no one cared about us!”

A solution without the leadership tools:

Shortly, I found that there was a mechanism in place to get their input through documents review but the motivation was missing. To make sure they could not complain later, the documents would be distributed to them for a quick review without sufficient briefing or guidance. After a few reminders, the documents would come back without any input or with haphazard input, if any. The Architect would be finalizing the documents by then. As a result, the staff would stay away during construction, but after handover, they would start changing things to suit their needs. In short, the bullying tactics for collecting input wasn’t working.

A different solution using the leadership tools:

I realized that I needed a different mechanism to motivate them for providing input. I got lucky- my employer offered a training for a bunch of managers titled “21st Century Leadership and Learning.” I was able to discover my leadership tools during the training. later I came across a book titled ‘Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making’ by Sam Kaner. These two things changed my mind-set and showed me the way to engage these people effectively with courage and collaboration.

I offered the facility managers and the trades staff a half a day workshop on how the District can help improve construction quality in capital projects. They came and we had a lot of fun together.

plane2

Here is what we did before and during the workshop:

Courage phase:

  1. Vision: I consulted privately with the facility managers and the trades staff back and forth to set the vision that quality was everyone’s job. They agreed on the idea and supported me to move my mission forward.
  2. Communication: The idea was to let people communicate their view without being challenged by their peer or superiors. About 20 managers and trades staff met in a large meeting room and pushed the desks to create an open space. I divided the group into two, stood them at the two ends of the room and provided a blank piece of paper and a pen to each. I showed them how to make paper planes; most of them knew it anyways. The environment for fearless communication was ready.
  3. Creativity: Everyone anonymously wrote his or her own creative ideas on the topic, folded into a plane and flew across the room. Each person picked up a plane came from the other side and continued expanding on the idea already written on it. We did this exercise three times. People aged from 30 years to 60 years enjoyed the game like kids do.

Collaboration phase:

  1. Critical Thinking: Then we collected the planes and read them out loud. A bunch of great ideas came out supported by their peers! We dissected and analyzed every idea and then sorted and compared them.
  2. Leading: At this point I took on dual role of being a facilitator and a contributor. I started drawing a mind map on the white board and offering my suggestions for actions based on the mind map.
  3. Following: At the same time of offering suggestions, I kept my ears open for counter suggestions and discarding mine without prejudice. It made people feel that I was following them as well while I was leading them.

What came out of the workshop?

This is what we got as the top action- in next 60 days we will come up with a guide titled ‘the Capital Projects’ Requirements’ or the CPR. The CPR to include quality needs for civil work, landscape work, building materials, mechanical, plumbing, electrical work and commissioning. This will be a living document and updated on as needed basis. It will be handed to the design team at the beginning of the project. When the 50% and 90% drawings and specifications come in for review the staff will have the CPR as a reference.

The CPR was drafted, edited, vetted and used for the next project. It was a grand success! I did not hear complaints during documents review that they were too busy. During construction they were very supportive and after construction they didn’t have to start changing things anymore.

What changed? Two things- they owned the decision that they had to spend time during design stage and that they had the CPR as a guide to make that time meaningful.

Take away:

You can see with the right mind-set you can pick up your leadership tools and change the world, obviously construction quality is one of those things. Keep in mind that you don’t always need a lot of people around to use your leadership tools. The tools work as good for even when you are dealing with an individual or two privately.

When you need people on your side for a change, always look in your back pocket full of leadership tools. If you are a Capital Project Manager it’s even easier for you!