Collaboration 2025 – Worst and best case scenarios

constructing excellenceIn a piece of action research, Constructing Excellence’s collaborative working champions (CWCs – I have been a CWC for 10+ years) recently collaborated on some future-gazing, developing two differing views of the state of collaborative working in ten years time.

Building a discussion

At a 10 September meeting, we used the UK government/ industry strategy Construction 2025 (downloadable here) to provide some context. Broadly, this sets three strategic aims:

  1. Smart construction and digital design.
  2. Low carbon and sustainable construction.
  3. Improved trade performance

… and suggests six drivers of change:

  1. Improved image of the industry [again].
  2. Increased capability in the workforce.
  3. A clear view of future work opportunities.
  4. Improvement in client capability and procurement.
  5. A strong and resilient supply chain.
  6. Effective research and innovation.

The CWCs extended their discussion via a series of questions shared on Twitter, with the resulting ‘tweetchat’ captured in Storify. With Martin Brown, I then sketched out two contrasting scenarios which we posted on Google Docs for comment. We got some feedback, and tabled updated versions at Constructing Excellence’s members’ forum on 14 October.

Currently, use/misuse of terms such as ‘collaboration’ and ‘sustainability’ feature strongly; the optimistists considered ‘whole life costing’ and social cohesion, but pessimists feared continuation of short-termist, lowest price, adversarial approaches, partly because clients rarely measure value other than financially. From a technology point of view, BIM gets a grudging mention in the pessimistic forecast, while the optimistic view sees data (not files) as core to how we work….

We are now opening up the conversation even wider. You can either:

Depending on the scenario, please be as appropriately pessimistic or optimistic as you can. The CWCs will be meeting again in early December, so we will review the responses then.

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  1. Hi

    I’m very keen to contribute to this post. I’ve reviewed the google docs file and made a few comments. I will aim to add more later this evening.

    My initial thoughts are around the relationship with BIM and collaboration in the supply chain. I have been concerned for a long time that our focus in documents like PAS 1192 seem to be primarily on provisioning and definition of data rich models and how we communicate or federate that data. Collaboration, in the supply chain, seems to be secondary, to data rich models. I’m wondering how this, in the “worst-case” could play out. It seems to me that core supply chain functions such as product management (PLM/PDM) are pushed back further than they need to be.

    Open to discussion on all of the above and more!

    Matthew Egan

    1. Thanks, Matthew. In my view, There is (or at least, has been) a strong focus on the technology and on the data-sharing processes, and not enough about industrial culture and behavioural aspects of collaboration. Only this morning, I saw an article (shared on LinkedIn) outlining the key requirements for effective collaboration (applying learning from the military to construction) – I commented:

      Too often … construction businesses fail at the first step: “Their critical first step was to share their information widely and generously share their own resources as part of trust building. Without trust, true collaboration cannot occur.” An often-adversarial mindset based on “knowledge is power” is not going to build teams or promote collaboration in construction.

      1. Hi Paul

        Interestingly I see this knowledge and data safeguarding by clients a lot. We work in offsite construction. When you consider offsite construction is really less than 5% of overall construction then I can’t understand why offsite construction companies don’t collaborate more in order to take more of the overall (traditional construction) market share.

        Maybe there’s a way in there somewhere between offsite and provoking more collaboration?



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