November 3, 2022

One Project, One Team: Collaboration Gives More Power to Business Owners

At Miller Valentine Construction, we use a number of delivery methods — but all of our work is grounded in collaborative principles. This four-part series explains what collaboration means in the construction industry and how we pursue it. In part one, we defined collaboration. This article explains how a collaborative approach benefits owners and teams.

The vision for a property comes from the top – usually the owner. But it takes an enormous team to turn ideas into concepts, then plans and physical buildings. How a team operates can have a tremendous impact on the outcome.

Historically, construction teams have followed a “power over” philosophy to get work done. Builders and developers manage (or micro-manage) subcontractors to drive results, without giving their trade partners insight into the bigger picture. The “power over” approach is based on domination and control and relies on fear for motivation.

In construction, “power over” creates an environment where “sub” means “less,” which limits collaboration and degrades trust. When key contributors aren’t given all the information they need, they can’t bring their best work to the job site.

There’s another way.

Power can be shared. A “power with” approach is based on respect and mutual support. All parties agree to work toward a common objective and the best overall result. Getting it right becomes more important than being right.

Miller Valentine Construction builds project teams that it can share “power with.” But that doesn’t mean Miller Valentine (or owners) lose control over the process. In fact, a collaborative approach brings more benefits to owners.

Our collaborations are based on owners’ needs. Is the project cost-driven? Is it schedule-driven? Are there confidentiality considerations? We set the priorities with the owners first, then clearly communicate our objectives to all the partners involved. From the start, everyone understands the goal and how they can contribute to a successful outcome.

For example:

  • When contractors are included in early discussions, they can plan ahead. By monitoring the market, they can order materials when prices are favorable or get ahead of long lead times to avoid delays.
  • Project partners are attuned to potential bottlenecks or hurdles, and come up with solutions together, proactively.
  • Labor, tools, and equipment can be leveraged across the team or scheduled to maximize productivity.

Even small exchanges — like asking a question or speaking up for safety — can have cumulative, positive impacts on a project. Effective collaboration can cut timelines, reduce waste, and lower turnover — and that’s true whether you’re building with either Construction Management, Lean/IPD or Design-Build delivery model.

Every project requires a team. Owners and construction leaders have choices about how they assemble and motivate their crews. However, you decide to build, you can always choose to collaborate.

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Whether you’re looking for a collaborative partner on your next construction project or a rewarding career opportunity, we are here to support and guide you toward future success.