The cultural headwinds have long been on the bow of the so-called design-build movement. It took nearly 50 years of cultural warfare for the various participants to see their integrative potential. It is easy to see how the cultural divide is built into the DNA of the various designers, engineers, builders, salespeople, financial engineers, and business managers; they are all different people with different worldviews and ways of behaving. The marketplace finally demanded cooperation and collaboration. By the 1990’s, the acceptance of the design-build approach was no longer in dispute.
Unfortunately, as in work and in greater life, people have an affinity for their group. Even if the prospective workgroup is able to conquer its interpersonal differences, there are additional hurdles with respect to standards of practice:
- Inductive thinking versus deductive thinking
- Mixed up levels of abstraction at various stages of the problem-solving process
- Different ways of expression (e.g. graphical vs. text)
- Different vocabulary
Old habits change slowly and it is up to the entity spending the money (the “Owner”) to demand alignment of all participants to the tasks at hand. The measurable results of an effective design-build process are early efficiency and creative problem solving followed by execution within an agreed to budget and schedule.
The phrase “design-build” signals the common sense nature of the process: in order to get the best outcome, both design and construction must be on the table. The combined professional judgement of both the designers and builder are logically inseparable. It makes no sense to design a project and then discover if a project is buildable or affordable. Seldom does an individual possess all of the required skills and knowledge.
Cooperation and collaboration seldom come easily, particularly in pressure-packed business settings. Thjs writer’s advice to Owners is to seek and hire a design-builder who has a successful record of performance: on time, on schedule, the required quality, and the intended design.