Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Big Lizard Speaks

One of my favorite bloggers posted a piece earlier that I want to share with advocates of IPD, BIM and Lean. In the post he argues we need to more closely integrated labor and management in a way the brings principles of capitalism to bear on the employer-employee relationship. His detailed and insightful discussion deserves attention. As you read his description of the decentralization, integration and coordination of battlefield operations think of the operations necessary to construct complex facilities and infrastructure. The ideas inherent in BIM - coordination of design and construction in 3D - Lean Construction methods and processes - decentralization and field level decision making - and Collaborative Agreements - requiring integration of processes, materials, services providers and highly informed decision makers - which are all necessary to achieve Integrated Project Delivery are matched in the decentralized, integrated, and coordinated approach to the battlefield the Big Lizard argues must be brought to bear on our approach to acquisition of planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance services in the built environment. The ideas he presents should provide food for thought for those of us drafting pain-share gain-share agreements intended to align economic interests and incentivize collaborative action.

Below is an excerpt mentioning the military model, but there is way more to the post.

The military model of decentralization (?!)

Here I'll drag Donald Rumsfeld, willy-nilly, into the debate (probably against his will). Besides winning two wars (and almost losing two peaces), Rumsfeld will be best remembered, at least by military historians, for his reform of the American military. Boiled down to its essentials, he sought to do three things:

1. Decentralize control of the troops to put as much responsibility and accountability as possible in the smallest units -- squads -- shifting power from the standard divisional structure to men with stripes on their sleeves, the actual war-fighters. Officers would set the goals, keep track of progress, and ensure that the units in contact with the enemy (or containing the enemy) have all the resources they needed to do their jobs.

2. Break down the barriers between types of units, so that small, almost voluntary collectives of soldiers (I'm using the word "soldier" generically) with disparate specialities can integrate into a powerful, self-sustaining, and self-directed team. Thus, instead of having an infantry unit that depends upon a separate and not-very-well coordinated artillery unit -- controlled by a colonel "somewhere else" who is not necessarily even in communication with the general in command of the infantry brigade -- to bombard the enemy prior to a firefight, under the Rumsfeld reforms, small units could themselves call in airstrikes or artillery as needed from individual air-support or artillery squads, without waiting for the bird and the star to have a sit-down with each other.

3. Uplink each soldier (ideally), or at least each squad-level unit, with a coordinated, networked virtual battlefield, allowing the brass to follow the entire conflict in a way that Napoleon could only dream of doing. As in Robert A. Heinlein's seminal novel Starship Troopers, the battle can now be mapped almost as a problem in fluid-flow. Commanders can zoom in on hot spots or widen the view to catch opportunities missed by the men on the ground -- or catch potential threats before they coalesce into devastation.

The decentralized, integrated, coordinated battlefield of today and tomorrow revolutionizes warfare as thoroughly as did air power, repeating arms, or even gunpowder itself. And this same model can revolutionize Work -- to the point where it may become unrecognizable.

Link to BIG Lizard Post

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Skype: JameswithCCR

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