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The recent introduction of Building Information Modeling to design and construction has challenged teams to adjust work at all levels from project delivery strategies to day-to-day work practices. In this paper, we use ethnographic methods to study teamwork routines and practices as they adapt to new Building Information technologies. This paper leverages our understanding of conflicting obligations on construction project teams and the need for joint-problem solving messy talk to extend theories of routine adaptations and practice work-arounds, collectively called reconfiguration when team needs are misaligned with technology affordances. In this analysis, leadership that provides flexibility and distributed authority enables teams to reconfigure routines and practices and hack their tools. This reconfiguration processes itself has both direct and broad social outcomes: 1) the immediate team buy-in on new work processes as well as 2) longer term team culture building that enables messy talk engagement and orientation to project goals.
Neff, Gina and Carrie Sturts Dossick. “Constructing Teams: Adapting Practices and Routines for Collaboration Through BIM,” Proceedings of the Engineering Project Organizations Conference, Winter Park, CO, July, 15pp.
Proponents claim that the adoption of building information modeling BIM will lead to greater efﬁciencies through increased collaboration. In this paper, we present research that examines the use of BIM technologies for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and ﬁre life safety systems often referred to as MEP coordination and how the introduction of BIM inﬂuences collaboration and communication. Using data from over 12 months of ethnographic observations of the MEP coordination process for two commercial construction projects and interviews with 65 industry leaders across the United States, we ﬁnd that BIM-enabled projects are often tightly coupled technologically, but divided organizationally. This means that while BIM makes visible the connections among project members, it is not fostering closer collaboration across different companies. We outline the competing obligations to scope, project, and company as one cause for this
division. Obligations to an individual scope of work or to a particular company can conﬂict with project goals. Individual leadership, especially that of the MEP coordinator in the teams we studied, often substitutes for stronger project cohesion and organization. Organizational forces and structures must be accounted for in order for BIM to be implemented successfully.