Cooperation, Its Many Meanings.

Cooperation can be expanded to a new level using techniques begun in the last decade but not yet widely adopted throughout the construction industry.  The development of increased communication and planning capability through electronics has created an opportunity to integrate knowledge and expand cooperation exponentially. 

 “Cooperation” in this website means coordination, collaboration and knowledge integration.  We use all these meanings. This book proposes an ethos of cooperation.  Such an ethos is guided by taking action in one’s own best interests and in the best interests of the project as a whole.  Cooperation means cooperation in its widest possible meaning. 

Knowledge integration is the successful reduction of divisions along lines of expertise as pointed out by Will Lichtig, a senior executive for Boldt Construction in Sacramento, CA:

Hypothesis: Risk on projects has become so complex and specialization has caused such a disintegration of expertise, that the only real way to truly assess, mange and mitigate risk in the development, design, fabrication and assembly of projects is to “re-integrate” that expertise thru the formation of IPD [Integrated Project Delivery] teams and the development of new processes for design and delivery using BIM [Building Information Modeling] and the project platform.

Specialization, to some degree, must occur.  Each specialty has knowledge unique to its own discipline.  Knowledge integration occurs when salient details are shared, often through an electronic design portal, in the actual design.  My 2016 book, Cooperative Construction will give a Project Manager’s Guide to enabling this kind of interaction in a process called “Design Assist”

For example, the byzantine process of “shop drawings” can now be replaced by allowing the mechanical engineer and the mechanical subcontractor direct access to the design program.  The traditional method of providing the detail of, for example, steel fabrication is to have the fabricator provide drawings after the design is complete and the bid is awarded.  In this old method, the bid is based on a well-educated guess is wasteful.  Months have already been wasted by the time “shop drawings” are approved.  Design collaboration includes developing the details during the design phase.  Off site fabrication of additional project assemblies can be developed far in advance of existing practices. 

Richard Sennett, in his book, Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation and in a Harvard lecture, “The Architecture of Cooperation” posits that there is a craft of cooperation.  This craft has long historical significance and it has been weakened by modern forces in society.  Mr. Sennett is one of my Giants (See "On The Shoulders of Giants").  This skill of cooperation and its modern day use will be extensively covered in the book.