A Funeral, a Reflection, and a Passion

I recently attended the memorial service of the brother of a friend of mine. Funerals are interesting affairs. On the one hand, we say goodbye and mourn the passing of a beloved person who we no longer have in our everyday midst. On the other hand, we take the time to say hello to those whom we perhaps haven't seen for a while. It becomes a family reunion, a friends reunion, and a time to reflect back a bit, not just upon the life of the one who has passed on, but also our own lives. 

It's when we ask ourselves, does our own moment in time count

Does what I do matter: to me, to my friends and family, to those I work with?  Do I do my best to use my talents to make things a bit better within my own sphere of influence?

In Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life-What On Earth Am I Here For?," Rick proposes that our main purpose in life is to make God happy.  He says that one of the ways we can "make God smile" is to make the most of our aptitudes and "gifts." When I used to teach Sunday school, we'd tell our students not to "hide your light under a basket."

When we take the time to truly collaborate with people, I believe we help them, and ourselves, become the best we can be.  We shine the light on ourselves and others. We bring out talents and aptitudes, and we make improvements within our sphere of influence.

Become a passionate collaborator. Make a difference in someone's life by actively listening to them, respecting them, soliciting ideas, resulting in shared solutions that bring out the best in everyone!

Texas still the hotest spot for capital projects?

Today I had lunch with an engineer friend of mine who does a lot of higher education work. I asked him how his business was going. He said 2007 was his best year, 2008 was slower, and 2009 slower than 2008. What he sees is that the current workload is moving into construction, which means that his engineering work, of course, is reduced.

The University of Texas (UT) is still the largest higher education Owner pushing out construction, and MB Galveston has the lion's share of work. Most of this work is being contracted to Houston-area firms, which makes sense. Still, if you kook at the current UT System Capital Improvement Program (CIP) you will see that many of the project schedules have been pushed WAY down the road, like from 2010 to 2014.

As the current UT projects are completed , what is the prospect for new work in 2011 or 2012? With a renewed interest in community colleges, this may be where future construction dollars are headed...

Can IPD Solve Our Problems?

Yesterday I had a great conversation with an attorney in the construction industry, who said (and I am paraphrasing) that Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a contractual way to MAKE people collaborate. He continued to say that if team members really focused on the good of the project there would be little need for IPD.

As I do my work the most important driver I see around a project having a positive outcome for everyone is first, TRUST, and second, effective COMMUNICATION. Good and effective communication and information sharing follows trust.

I think any tool that can increase these is good. The Partnering process assists this, as can software project management systems such as eBuilder, MySmartPlans, etc.

What IPD, (or any contractual process), BIM, etc. do NOT do, is MAKE people behave in certain ways. They can assist, but not force. If there is one key decision maker that is the bottle neck, that one person can hinder the project.

My point here is that the "next, newest thing" cannot take the place of effective communication, trust-building (and keeping), and personal and group accountability.

Integrated Project Delivery - Total Team Collaboration

What is Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and how does it contribute to total team collaboration? Think what it would be like if key stakeholders on capital projects got together to proactively plan issues in advance, equally sharing risks and rewards for success. Having all the parties involved from project conception can be the difference between project delays that cause a budget nightmare or a smooth, timely venture that stays on task and can even save money.

Why Integrated Project Delivery?

This process uses the insights and talents of the capital project team to process design and construction issues in a collaborative way. The three key project stakeholders, usually the owner, contractor and architect/engineer, are legally connected through a joint contract, becoming joined-at-the-hip, for better or for worse. In this way, each party has a truly vested interest in the performance of the other parties. This new business practice is leading a new wave of sustainable project delivery by avoiding missed communications and misunderstandings that have long marked the industry.

How Does IPD Work?

Using the IPD project delivery method, all parties involved on a project are assembled as early as possible, before anything is designed, to provide their collective expertise to the development of a project. To incentivize the different entities, contracts are established upfront with shared risks and shared rewards, with the understanding that all parties are working together for the good of the project.

This type of integrated project uses innovative business models to support collaboration and efficiency. All project team members must agree to basic principles of collaboration in order to succeed. Most importantly, there must be a high level of mutual trust, with respect, open communication, understood mutual benefits and project-focused goals. To strengthen these elements, the key stakeholders need to have straightforward conversations about project issues and share their experience and knowledge to proactively steer desired, positive outcomes. These discussions bring clarity of management decisions, purpose and team cooperation to build trust from the inception of the project.

Transparent information sharing is extremely important for seamless collaboration to occur. One tool that is frequently used is Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a built project. It serves as a resource of shared knowledge and forms the shared basis for decisions during its lifecycle, from project inception through operation. In addition, programs and tools that help to transparently distribute, mark-up and manage project drawings and documents can be extremely useful to share the same information at the same time.

Most important, however, is the need for reliable and proactive leadership from all key parties that looks for win-win solutions and seeks to understand underlying interests, needs, and positions.

How Does IPD Manage Risk?

For IPD to work, risks should be equitably allocated between the collective parties and balanced with rewards. IPD turns the standard contracting language around through a blending of “transactional” and “relational” contracting.

A “transactional” contract is simply where exchanges are made for goods and services. The structure of a typical transactional design or construction contract can have hidden “costs” by inhibiting coordination, stifling cooperation and innovation, and rewarding individuals for reserving good ideas and optimizing their performance at the expense of others. In contrast, “relational” contracting aligns project objectives with the interests of the key project parties.

By blending both transactional and relational contracts, the parties externally enter a classic transactional contract with the client, some suppliers, and internally, members are bound by a relational contract that is described in a “pact.” By binding the parties together in a partnership for the duration of the project the pact minimizes the hidden costs of transactional contracts.

What Do the Results Look Like?

By collaboratively aligning the team, the project excels through minimizing waste, loss of time and poorly utilized resources. The effectiveness of all the design and construction phases is markedly improved. The integrated team process produces lean logistics, shorter time schedules and better management. Projects are improved from the beginning and green design ideas are better understood within the whole team. The projected results of integrated project delivery are a higher quality project for a lower cost.

Keys to Success

The key to a successful project that uses the Integrated Project Delivery method is to assemble a team that is committed to building trust and using collaborative processes to work together effectively. Thus, the essential skills of leadership and communication are essential. While these skills can be taught, because of the very nature of this process, these skills must be carefully evaluated and selected at the outset. Project stakeholders must be particularly fastidious to consider not just a company’s or individual’s resume, but also call references to get the “real scoop.” With IPD, one bad apple may not just destroy a project, but the entire project team!

North Texas Regional LinCP Opens October Forum Registration


Contact: Carol Warkoczewski

Office: 512-263-5521

Cell: 512-914-1201

Irving, TX, Leadership in Capital Projects (LinCP – pronounced “link-up”) Forum has opened early-bird registration for its October 15-16, 2009 event in Irving, Texas with the focus on project delivery methods.

The mission of the LinCP Forum is to bring together major capital project constituents for collaborative dialog around timely and compelling design and construction industry issues and interests.

Collaboration and cooperation between key parties saves money and precious time by avoiding project delays. LinCP Forum attendees improve their projects as well as the design and construction industry in Texas by sharing best practices and coming up with new ideas and solutions to address industry-focused capital project concerns.

The complete program agenda for the October Forum is in review. Anyone who is interested in becoming a speaker or presenter at this or future events is welcome to contact the LinCP Forum.

Corporate sponsorships at various levels are still available.

The October forum will be held at the beautiful Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas, in Irving, Texas. For more information on the LinCP Forums, contact Carol Warkoczewski at 512-263-5521 or visit the LinCP Forum website: www.lincp.com.

An informal lunch will begin the first day of the Forum, ending with a social in the evening. The second day starts with an informal breakfast and concludes with an optional lunch and on-going table discussions.

The Second Annual LinCP Forum is slated for February 24-26, 2010, in Austin, Texas.