Collaboration in construction – The low hanging fruit that most fail to value and appreciate

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By Gianluca Pascale

Special to Ontario Construction Report

Pre-pandemic, we were gaining strides when it came to bringing resolutions to the construction industry. Among those, the top two would have to be the revisions to the Ontario Construction Act (OCA) (the introduction of prompt payment and adjudication as a means of dispute resolution) as well as the changes to the CCDC2 to include the OCA amendments and insurance coverage increases among others amendments.

Although great leaps forward, you can distinctly tell that there is a common theme among them. How to protect those entering into prime contracts and make it so that things are clear and transparent, therefore, dealing with (post) problems. Or dealing with the problem and not the symptom. Although the aforementioned changes and amendments did in fact attempt to address these, they are not foolproof. By that I am specifically implying that there is more work to be done in order to ensure these changes and amendments are polished to a degree where they work well and that there is unanimous approval of them in our industry.

This article will outline for you the low hanging fruit that is commonly overlooked, undervalued and under-appreciated for the massive impact and potential it has to provide all team members on a construction project — collaboration. You will also be informed as to what you and each of your projects have at its disposition in order to achieve increased success. And the takeaway is for you to experience increased confidence that you do have a choice when it comes to preparing for your next construction project.

Although our industry is seemingly synonymous with collaboration – we give the innate impression of it having to be part and parcel of the experience. However, let’s be honest with each other; that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Although the premise of this article is to foster and encourage collaboration between owner and contractor (and every other construction team member) and it being the biggest and juiciest of all low hanging fruit our industry has available to everyone.

A secret ingredient to increasing the likelihood of massive success is if you adopt relationship building at the infancy stages of your project. Let’s face it, the majority of all construction projects start with both prime contract entities not knowing each other, which is alarming considering the size of financial investment required to get your project done.

The analogy I like to use to describe this is that a construction project is much like a marriage and to my knowledge, very few in the world would ever go straight to the alter and say “I do” without first getting to know the individual to whom they are about to commit. Without involvement, there is no commitment.

Getting to know each other is invaluable. It allows you (owner) to transparently share with your contractor topics such as; your business (who, how, what, where, culture, etc); past mistakes, pain points, and horror stories; dangers, opportunities, and strengths (that must be avoided, utilized, and leveraged); and finally describing your vision and expectations. You can start seeing these conversations are client-first and rightfully so as you, the client, are the most important (in my opinion) team member and therefore hold the key to success.

As a great contractor, you’ve been paying attention throughout this valuable sharing and you devise a way to incorporate ways to include this in your execution and delivery. Hint: listening is extremely valuable, but making the client feel understood is priceless. Reciprocally, it is crucial that you establish what’s important for you/your firm and establish what your expectations are of them in return. Although the client is your reason for being, you are the reasons why (expertise, knowledge, and resources) the client hired you in the first place.

Hence, the reason why it’s important to not miss this opportunity to communicate what is important to you. Failing to do so severely diminishes the likelihood of success in the eyes of your client and is also a huge injustice to your firm, your trades, and suppliers that form part of your build team. Doing so allows you to be the solution your client needs you to be.

Warren Buffet says: “Communication is the one skill to improve in order to double your value in the marketplace”. Therefore, communication is also a pillar to ensuring optimal collaboration. Make it concise, establish a suitable frequency, and document it.

By now we’ve established some crucial parts of collaboration; the relationship, and communication, both of which increase the deposits of trust required between the project’s two prime entities. By investing all of that effort, you are making large sum deposits of trust into an equal trust account. The more you replenish and fill that trust account, the greater the confidence and results you’ll have with yourself and the team overall.

Collaboration now enables us to pool our collective super-powers and unique abilities of all construction team members – by all, I mean each and every one of them (consultants, trades, and suppliers alike). In order for collaboration to work like a well-oiled machine, it is crucial to establish the following “rules of engagement”: transparency, accountability, and high-integrity. In construction, all things are created twice.

There is the mental creation, followed by the physical creation, together we can create it in every detail before the shovel even hits the ground. That takes collaboration and the buy in of everyone which means you’ve surrounded yourself with like-minded right fit team members

GinalucaIf you want things to be better, things are going to have to change. With the abundance-based model of collaboration, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Gianluca Pascale is the founder, CEO and author of Centrecon Inc.

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