We all know people build buildings, not software or work processes. Why, then, is the industry primarily focused on developing software tools such as building information modeling (BIM) and adapting work processes such as lean building (LEAN) to enable team members to work together more effectively? BIM and LEAN are important, but will they change people’s behavior? Remember, people build buildings. People who know how to work together as a team build better buildings.

What does the behavior of “working together as a team” look like? Integrated project delivery (IPD) is that behavior standard. The problem is, IPD is not fully agreed upon or captured on paper yet. Right now, IPD means different things to different people. Many firms claim to be doing IPD, but what exactly is IPD? Think of IPD as a mindset where everyone collaborates to find and implement a solution to a problem, regardless of who (owner, architect, engineer or contractor) is at fault. Nobody passes the blame. All parties work on a project together as if they were on the same team, and as a result, because they are on the same team, there is less waste and lower project cost.

Unfortunately, human beings are not hard-wired for IPD. That’s why either relying on an “IPD agreement” or “partnering” to enforce a behavior standard doesn’t work.

First, someone has to show everyone what IPD looks like in practice. For example, Colleen Barrett, former president and COO of Southwest Airlines, crafted a unique culture that defines the organization. You can see it in their famous Halloween party all the way down to how they treat their customers. If someone behaves in a less than heartfelt way, they are immediately set straight. Heartfelt. If one word defines Barrett and the culture she worked to create at Southwest, that’s it. We are on the same team. If one phrase defines the “how” of what IPD looks like in practice, that’s it. So, if someone does not behave like a team player, the Colleen Barrett in your organization needs to set them straight.

Second, you need collaboration training to reach and sustain that behavior standard. IPD flies in the face of the ages old divisive behavior prevalent among project team members. What makes us think an agreement on paper or a partnering kick-off meeting will magically create permanent behavior change? You can’t just tell someone to suddenly change their behavior and expect it to stick without some sort of support to make a permanent change over time. That’s why, regardless of the best of intentions to partner, the first time things get tough, everyone reverts to their old CYA behavior. This is where disillusionment and pessimism set in. This is also why collaboration training is needed. Initiatives like the IPDAssured Program (www.cimastrategic.com/forums/ipdacademy) are beginning to enable organizations to create permanent behavior change.

While IPD is a common-sense behavior standard that the industry seems to be adopting, a fog still seems to surround it. This fog is created by: 1) lack of a clear distinction between IPD and LEAN; 2) knowledge of where the communication intersections of IPD are located; and 3) uncertainty regarding how to “start” IPD.

1) The Distinction between IPD and LEAN – dissipating the fog

Professionals in the industry tend to confuse IPD and LEAN. The common reaction in conversations is, “Well, they’re about the same or they’re similar.” In reality they are not similar.

LEAN is about deleting wasted movement from a process. For example, when swimming freestyle, you could turn your head as far as possible out of the water to take a breath. Another option is to only turn your head slightly until your lips are just above the water line. Choosing the second option deletes wasted movement from the process of taking a breath while swimming freestyle.

2. The communication intersections where IPD occurs – shedding additional light

The communication intersections materialize in the form of enabling technologies such as:

•advanced project planning

•building information modeling (BIM)

•direct digital exchange


•team collaboration systems.

Using the 80/20 principle, these are the five intersections where the majority of situations occur where IPD could help. Now, taking the 80/20 principle one step further, what are the small number of situations at each intersection that produce the majority of opportunities where IPD can help?

To create some perspective, think of the roads and intersections in your town. You know which roads and intersections are responsible for a majority of the traffic jams and accidents (~20 percent of all roads and intersections). Now, think about how you might reduce the frequency and duration of traffic jams and the number of accidents on those roads. Next, take into consideration that you don’t have unlimited resources, so you probably only have the ability to address the most problematic roads and intersections some of the time. When would that be? The time of the day when most of the traffic jams and accidents occur is during the morning and evening rush hours. What specifically could you do during the morning rush hour? What about deploying a police officer and crossing guard to a busy urban intersection near a large school where children are being dropped-off for the school day?

How could we map this thought process over to the communication intersections on a construction project? For example, could we look for opportunities to utilize IPD in advanced project planning? Would it be better to identify the top two or three situations that represent the best opportunities to realize the benefit of IPD before actually utilizing IPD?

3. How do you “start” IPD in your organization? – map the new territory

Consider this: When there is a change, people go through four stages – denial, resistance, exploration and commitment. Sound familiar? This is also the grief model people go through when they experience someone’s death. In both cases, something is lost, left behind or “dies.” If your organization decides to leave its old culture behind to embrace IPD as its behavior standard, your people fall into one of four categories – deniers, resistors, explorers or fully committed.

The majority of the time deniers are visibly recognizable, while resistors are not. Resistors are those whose words do not match their actions. For example, they may or may not resist verbally, don’t visibly do anything to support change or are passive-aggressive in their behavior. Explorers are open to change and need to be met where they are with education and support. Finally, those committed “get it” early and should be recognized as well as enlisted to help with the change.

It is up to you to look at everyone in your organization and map them over to one of the four stages in regards to IPD. If you want to move your organization toward an IPD culture, with who should you spend the most time during the change process? The explorers. Why? It is critical to win this group over before the deniers and resistors do. If you are able to do so, you will have achieved critical-mass and the organization can move forward and embrace change. Over time, the number of deniers and resistors decreases because of attrition/conversion of one sort or another and new hire criteria includes the ability to embrace change.

Change is a two-year process. It starts with the senior executives in your organization and continues in phases.

How to begin change inside your organization:

•You start by observing how the rest of the business world is moving toward collaboration out of necessity

•Install a collaborative culture inside your four walls with the support of an IPDAssured collaboration consultant

•Map everyone in your organization to one of the four stages of the change process

•Make a plan (educational, experiential and peer-group based) on how to move each person forward to commitment

•Decide which actions on the plan need to happen now, soon or later

•Form an IPD team with your most trusted partners and begin to select and pursue projects together based on your strengths. Internally, the team behaves in an IPD manner regardless of the project delivery method.

•After every like project you complete with your IPD team partners, you will “gain speed” and realize more and more efficiency/profit for each team member.

•After the third like project you will begin to win based on price, regardless of requested delivery method. As a result, you will make more money than you were used to making and the owner will realize better value.

What can you do to aid change outside your organization?

•Concurrent to your internal IPD evolution, externally, you can proactively educate owners, lenders and insurers on IPD

•Serve as an exemplar to others in the industry on the integration of IPD into your organization’s culture

•Tangibly exhibit the highest levels of integrity, ethics and accountability in your claims about your expertise with IPD

•Make useful contributions of IPD intellectual capital to the industry

•Invest in continual, challenging, IPD-related professional development

•Be open to risk taking and be resilient

There are many deniers in the industry. Deniers don’t see a problem or they say “it’s just partnering” or “we’ve been doing this for 20 years.” When someone says this, in most cases it tips you off that they do not really understand IPD. We have to learn how to defend our faith in IPD and it starts here, by educating individuals and firms like these.

Small victories and small efforts in the right direction will build the momentum and commitment to support you in the long-haul. Most plans sit in binders on shelves. Constructive actions are seen in the streets and remain on people’s minds.

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