Erin Carraher, AIA, is a licensed architect and assistant professor at the University of Utah's School of Architecture.
Ryan E. Smith is an associate professor and director of the Integrated Technology & Architecture Collaborative (ITAC) at the University of Utah. He is author of Prefab Architecture and co-editor of Building Systems and Offsite Architecture.
Peter DeLisle, PhD, served as the Leslie B. Crane Chair of Leadership Studies and director of The Posey Leadership Institute at Austin College until his recent retirement.
Leadership and Collaboration
In a world where technology, project structures, contracts, and construction processes are becoming ever more complex, teams helmed by collaborative leaders are emerging as an alternative to separate parties who guard their individual interests. The teams themselves must be carefully structured in order to support effective behavior, develop innovative solutions, and deliver successful outcomes. To do so requires leadership-collaborative leadership-from architects and other project stakeholders.
Leadership and collaboration may at first seem to be contradictory terms. How can architects and design professionals lead and collaborate at the same time? The traditional concept of leadership as a top-down, authoritative structure is re-examined in this book relative to today's evolving collaborative project delivery models and innovative forms of practice.
- Who leads project teams when architects, contractors, and owners equally share risks and rewards?
- What role do leaders play in championing change and innovation?
- How can leaders and team members learn to better understand and communicate with one another?
As leadership is reexamined to allow for a more situational approach, so too does the book question the concept of collaboration as it may typically be used in practice. Beyond merely "working together," collaboration as defined in this book is a much deeper commitment to a respectful, co-creative process that includes a multiplicity of people, processes, and tools that allow for each project team to more effectively, efficiently, and elegantly respond to the changing needs of today's practice environment.
Though every project, firm, and designer is unique, Leading Collaborative Architectural Practice aims to provide the first comprehensive resource for design professionals currently engaged in collaborative practice as well as those interested in doing so. Leadership and collaboration are explored at a fundamental level, best practices from other fields are translated into practical tools and tactics that design professionals can use, and successful collaborative projects illustrate the challenges and rewards of applying these principles in practice.
The authors are licensed architects, academics, researchers, and leadership consultants who collectively bring their diverse perspectives to each topic. Additionally, unique case studies and interviews with thought leaders in the field are interwoven through the book and are available in their full form in the supplemental resources.
This book takes as a fundamental principle that regardless of the delivery method and technologies used on a project, architects must develop the interpersonal skills that define influential leaders in other industries. Today's ever increasing economic, social, and environmental pressures on projects demand that architects lead collaborative teams in order to address the complex programs, specialized project types, and social conditions that are prevalent in today's world.
The lessons contained herein aim to codify existing models of leadership theory, interpersonal skills, and communication techniques from other disciplines, distil best practices from successful precedents, and re-examine status quo processes through the lens of the social and behavioral sciences. In short, Convergence aims at having a calibrated depth across a breadth of subjects focusing on leadership and collaboration. These topics are applicable to leaders, team members, and practices of all sizes working across a variety of new construction and major renovation project types who are interested in joining the movement toward more collaborative practices.
There are many models of leadership and collaboration theory on the market today often differentiated by catchy names and relatable metaphors-all one needs to do is pass by an airport bookstore or browse the headlines of any business blog to find them. Rather than ascribe to one model, the authors have chosen to structure this resource around the commonly held, fundamental principles of leadership and collaboration as well as their application to the building industry.
Collaborative teams almost always contribute to successful project outcomes and innovation. Those that do not fail to do so because of one or more dysfunctional behaviors that are easily remedied.
Our research has shown that having multiple eyes on a project solution helps teams avoid major errors. Collaborative teams offer more opportunities for new ideas that advance innovation. This is due to the diversity of members' backgrounds and prior experiences before joining the team. Finally, collaborative work environments encourage people to be self-motivated, self-assured, and satisfied with their jobs.
If collaboration is so valuable, why then are all teams not structured this way? Because it takes adaptive leadership to promote and support collaboration as a viable alternative to the status quo who are willing to invest in shaping a new culture within practice.
Contemporary leaders must be collaborative leaders rather than the authoritative or dictatorial leaders that helmed companies of the past. A collaborative leader has an ability, awareness, and commitment to lead project teams to work together to accomplish their goals. A collaborative leader may in fact not even be just one person but rather a collective of influencers from various firms who work together to fulfill project and organizational objectives and assume leadership responsibilities at appropriate points in the process.
This book builds off of a multi-year research and development project as well as an associated conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah in the fall of 2013 sponsored by and produced for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to educate its members on collaborative project teams working in integrated models of practice. It joins other resources in documenting existing projects that model successful collaboration practices and providing translatable frameworks for those who believe that collaboration is a valuable resource in the design process.
How This Book Is Structured
The book is organized in five parts that present the history and contemporary conditions that shape today's building industry, the tools and tactics needed to develop and foster collaboration amongst various project stakeholders, and an exploration of the changing nature of the workforce, emerging technologies, and innovative business models that will impact the future of our practice. Each of the parts is briefly outlined below.
Part 1: Collaboration in Context
Part 1 provides the historical and contextual factors that contributed to the expedited rise of collaborative practice and Building Information Modeling (BIM). Additionally, common project delivery types are explored relative to the roles and responsibilities of each team member as well as strategies for making these processes more collaborative. Finally, the steps needed to create a physical environment that fosters collaboration and innovation are presented with an emphasis on structuring and sizing teams appropriately for the task at hand.
This part will also review the strategies, tactics, and best practices associated with collaborative project delivery in the building industry such as Integrated Project Delivery, BIM, and lean construction techniques. Guidelines will be presented for when, why, and how to use these strategies for collaborative project delivery.
Part 2: Collaboration Tools and Tactics
Part 2 discusses team culture as a factor of each member's unique problem-solving style (i.e., cognitive style), which is critical to bridging between disparate working styles that invariably occur on any team.
Once established, all teams progress through a number of stages of development. A better understanding of how to constructively navigate these stages and address team dysfunctions that may arise along the way. With this understanding, architects will be better able to determine how their project team is currently operating and what is required to achieve greater success.
Part 3: Leadership Effectiveness
This section is concerned with the effectiveness of architects as leaders in project teams. It will introduce the three primary concepts of leadership-ability, awareness, and commitment-and allow readers to explore their own leadership traits (or lack thereof). Leadership styles will be outlined in order to allow readers to reflect upon their own approach and to understand what skills they need to develop to increase their influence on project teams.
Additionally, this section will review the developmental stages of design professionals and the associated interpersonal and leadership skills they should have in each range. Once understood, this information will help designers advance themselves and others by responding uniquely to the person or project at hand.
Part 4: Communication and Conflict
Part 4 discusses communication strategies and tactics that can aid leaders in influencing project delivery teams, including verbal and nonverbal methods of communication as well as ways of providing effective feedback. Feedback strategies, along with their methods and tactics, will be presented to identify and address...