Thursday, October 1, 2009

Benefits of Collaborative Construction (Adaptation)

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

This post is adapted from a comment I posted on a LinkedIn discussion.

Integrated or Collaborative Agreements, i.e. the one's required to achieve IPD, cannot be drafted in a vacuum and cannot be executed by parties who do not trust one another. That is a key difference between an Integrated or Collaborative Agreement and a traditional or transactional agreement.

Integrated or Collaborative Agreements ARISE out of trusted business relationships. Crafting, drafting, negotiating and ultimately executing an Integrated or Collaborative Agreement is a process - and a rather involved one at that - that cannot be successful unless the parties at the negotiating table trust one another. Building trust among business partners is a very difficult thing, especially in the construction industry where mistrust and mis-communication are the norm.

By contrast, traditional transactional agreement CREATE legal relationships with the stroke of a pen. The parties to a traditional agreement need not have any relationship with one another, and, in fact, parties to such agreements are often total strangers. Those agreements are crafted with an eye towards how the parties relationship should be adjusted when one or the other breaches the agreement, rather than with an eye on the question of how the parties can collaborate and achieve win-win solutions to the inevitable problems that arise.

I tell my clients that Collaborative and Integrated Agreements are NOT for everyone and you should only enter into a Collaborative or Integrated Agreement if you - and the other parties - are willing to invest the time and energy necessary to build the level of trust required to achieve success. Unfortunately, as Carol points out, a bad apple can spoil the whole process.

Further, the Integrated and Collaborative, i.e. "trusting" nature of the relationship between the owner, contractor and designer - in perfect IPD world - does not necessarily extend to the subcontractors, consultants, suppliers and others involved in the project. Accordingly, the benefits associated with an Integrated or Collaborative Agreement may not always manifest themselves until the Collaborative Spirit of the process is handed off to others.

The key, in my experience, is to engage as many of the key stakeholders in the processes as possible - and as early as possible - and to let those key stakeholders begin building "trust" among themselves via OPEN AND HONEST communications about what they expect from the project, what their interests are, what their concerns are, etc. etc. In addition, it helps to have all the key stakeholders put real skin in the game in exchange for a shoot at real and quantifiable economic rewards. One easy way to do that in the early stages of an IPD project is for all the key stakeholders to share the cost of crafting, drafting, negotiating and ultimately executing an Integrated or Collaborative Agreement.

That process, which should be filled with open and BRUTALLY honest communication can forge - or destroy - trust more quickly that any series of Kumbaya Sessions. If the parties forge strong trusting relationships then the IPD project will likely be a great success. If, on the other hand, the parties find they cannot trust one another they should go there separate ways.

Again, sharing the cost of crafting, drafting, negotiating and ultimately executing an Integrated or Collaborative Agreement is the best way to approach the process, as it depends on OPEN AND HONEST communication to build TRUST among the key stakeholders.

Phone: 512-879-5050
Cell: 859-912-7747
Skype: JameswithCCR


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