Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 8

BEST PRACTICES

Be True to Yourself
My company believes that we can work
smarter if we bring in some outside perspective. So we created the Industry Advisory
Board - the first advisory group of its kind for
construction estimating software - to help us
define, validate, prioritize and test realistic,
efficient technology solutions. The group is
comprised of select general contractors from
the ENR Top 400 General Contractors in the
United States, and although they're competitors in the outside world, inside the council
they're collaborators focused on solving
urgent industry problems.
These advisors share freely, openly and
honestly. Some are not our customers. All of
them want the construction industry to be
better. They bring a wealth of knowledge,
experiences, and ideas to discussions and
are not bogged down by an "us versus them"
mentality. The advisors know we are genuinely seeking their input because we cannot
innovate in a bubble. As we collaborate with
them, they also are diving into new ideas on
better workflows and get a glimpse of the
future of construction estimating.
Most companies don't do things this way,
and that's a shame, because diversity of
thought and experience is a wellspring of
innovation. Some companies will tell you
that innovation is one of their core values,
but deep down, they're really all about the
revenue, and they jealously guard their
secrets. That's like reading someone's online
dating profile, and then meeting them in
person and realizing they aren't the person
they said they were, and don't even look
like their profile picture. In dating and in
business, if you're misrepresenting who you

8

CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM VOLUME 16, ISSUE 1

really are, people will see right through you. Relationships are built
on trust. And trusting someone is a leap of faith. You have to let your
guard down. You can't get defensive. If you refuse to collaborate
with people who work for a competitor's company, you're limiting
yourself. When you learn to trust people, you'll find that others have
great things to offer you.
If you decide to keep what you know close to the vest, and only
talk to people within the walls of your own company or even your
own office, you're stifling the ability to grow. If your mission or vision statement talks about how you're revolutionizing the industry,
it's important to recognize that unless you seek outside knowledge
and test out your own ideas on other experts, your innovation will
be limited to the brainpower that exists within your own silo. You
might be able to solve problems with just your own inner circle, but
you probably won't be making any big-impact changes.

Get Out There
Obviously, there's no matchmaker service for meeting other AEC
professionals. But, there are many professional organizations you
can not only join, but take an active role in. If there's a company
doing work you're interested in, find out if they are fostering a collaborative group, educational event or advisory board.
At the 2017 Advancing Building Estimation Conference in Houston, for example, there may have been just one or a few companies
leading each presentation, but a lot of friendly competitors in the
room were busy having their own conversations about things like
how to make costing more accurate. For that brief period of time,
the walls came down, nobody cared who worked for whom, and
everyone was focused on solving shared problems and helping each
other avoid common pitfalls. Don't rule out a new collaboration just
because someone's name tag has a different company name on it.
That person you hesitated to introduce yourself to just might have
the idea or approach that will solve your most vexing problem.
You also can learn a lot from people who aren't even in your
industry. Stanford University hosts Center for Integrated Facility
Engineering, an academic research center for virtual design and
construction of AEC industry projects. It's not just construction experts sharing their expertise, though - there's also brainpower from
companies such as Microsoft and Google, as well as faculty members,
researchers, students and experts in civil engineering, architecture,
computer science, business and law. They're all working together to
find new ways to deliver high-value projects and achieve breakthroughs that will lead to more sustainable facilities.
The last time I was fortunate enough to attend a CIFE event,
the group was working on using the Internet of Things to manage energy consumption within facilities - technology that could
benefit everybody in the room. This spring, they were developing a
data-driven feedback loop system for construction planning. That's


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1

Contents
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Cover1
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Cover2
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 1
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Contents
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 3
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 4
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 5
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