forth—all with the objective of maximizing the project-first effort of
the project teams.
With the project for UCSD being Construction Management at Risk,
with design-assist for the major subcontractors, the team handled the
project through an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach. Lean
construction theory also informed the team’s processes so that it was
able to design new, more collaborative and reliable partnering models.
With high-performance teaming, the team incorporated techniques and
strategies learned from IPD and design-build to implement these five
principles, which are promoted in the collaborative models:
1. Real project collaboration : “Projects are built by people.” Therefore,
collaboration of all job participants working on all aspects of the project was crucial to the timely, cost-effective delivery. High-performance
teaming at UCSD led participants to regularly focus their collaborative
discussions on intermediate priorities and forecast risks (to mitigate
them) and opportunities (to enhance them).
2. Increase the relatedness of project participants : Traditional approaches
to construction can develop adversarial relationships; however, the team
changed that paradigm on the UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Research
Facility by developing project relationships founded on trust and sustained by
reliable performance. When conflicts and disputes arose, they were resolved
quickly in an atmosphere of trust and openness, with conscious processes
that allowed resolution at the lowest horizontal cross-organizational level.
3. Projects are networks of commitments : The fundamental building
blocks of design and construction are commitments. Productivity in
every industry, except construction, has improved 100% since 1960.
One of the most common reasons construction productivity has actually decreased in that period of time is the lack of reliable commitments.
Industry studies reveal that only 56% of what people say they will do in
any week is actually performed. The team’s focus at UCSD was to increase
the performance of people’s commitments in order to increase the productivity on the project while maintaining costs and the project schedule.
4. Project-first thinking: Rather than optimizing the parts of the project, the participants on this project optimized the whole project. The
team found that high-performance teaming drove project participants
to think about people first, enabling the project leaders to think in
terms of the project’s best interests rather than the legalistic “rights” of
the parties. Cross-organizational, horizontal teams were taught to work
in unity and to elevate issues upward to obtain authority to solve problems and keep the project first.
5. Couple learning with action : What the team learned from the
project every week was communicated to all participants so that any
mistakes were not made again. Project success can be learned from
a best-practices/lesson-learned scenario. Team members found that
high-performance teaming fosters a robust feedback system that
enabled continuous reflection and action on lessons learned.
Through the use of high-performance teaming, the UCSD facility
garnered quantitative results on all aspects of the project—from performance enhancements and delivery of a high-quality project to accommodation of a fast-track schedule, maintenance of a safe jobsite and fostering of camaraderie amongst all team members. Given the success of
this approach, high-performance teaming is a concept McCarthy looks
forward to replicating on future lab construction projects in the region.
Craig Swenson is a Project Director for McCarthy Building Companies
Inc., the country’s 8th largest domestic general contractor (Engineering
News-Record, May 2013) and the largest general contractor in California.
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