Sunday, August 21, 2016

Let’s Fix Construction


I’ve said it before: Change is a constant in architecture and construction. If anything, the pace of this change is accelerating. We all struggle to keep up with the latest developments in an effort to remain competitive. Our success is contingent upon how quickly we adapt in an environment buffeted by forces largely beyond our control. Survival of the fittest is a maxim always in play. And as I’ve also expressed previously, the ability to communicate effectively is increasingly a valued commodity in the business world. This is especially true in the fast-changing construction industry where so much is typically at stake and placed at risk. 

The pace of change and the industry’s struggles to keep up with and address the problems it must confront have brought us to what may be seen years from now as a watershed moment: Do we resist this change or do we embrace and leverage it to fix what ails design and construction? How will those of us who will help shape its future—architects, engineers, specifiers, contractors, subcontractors, facility managers, building products manufacturers, building officials, and others—respond? 

One person who’s decided to take the bull by the horns and act is Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT. Eric is the current president of the Construction Specifications Institute – Vermont Chapter and a trusted advisor with Precision Athletic Surfaces. He recognized the construction industry is, in many respects, “broken” and in need of repair. He’d heard the same stories and seen the same disappointing outcomes time after time. Channeling his inner Albert Einstein, I imagine he invoked the famed physicist’s dictum: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Eric pledged to do something different. 

The new website letsfixconstruction.com is Eric’s response. It is a page where positive, forward-thinking, collaborative problem solvers from all disciplines can come together to share information, experiences, and solutions to the problems we face in architecture, engineering, and construction. Eric’s premise is that we cannot fix construction if we fail to talk candidly about our concerns. He firmly believes (as I do) it is by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating and encouraging collaboration that we clearly identify the root causes of problems in our industry and work toward solving them. We both also believe healthy communication starts when everyone has an equal seat at the table, such as the one set by CSI.

Eric wisely enlisted the help of none other than the queen of the CSI Kraken, Cherise Lakeside, CSI, CDT, immediate past-president for CSI Portland and current national chair of the institute’s Practice Area Curriculum Committee. Cherise in turn called upon Kraken Nation to rally around Eric and support his project. I heeded the call and am now a Let’s Fix Construction contributor. Others who have done likewise so far include Cherise, Keith Robinson, Elias Saltz, and Vivian Volz; I expect many more will join the movement. So far, the topics discussed have ranged widely, from what product manufacturers are doing (or not doing) right, to whether subcontractors are being heard, to the importance of providing feedback on project specifications. The content is thoughtful and born of many cumulative years of experience and frustration. 

While still in its infancy, it’s clear the website is already generating a buzz. During the first four days after its inception, over 500 unique visitors viewed Let’s Fix Construction. I’m sure this number has only grown exponentially since then. Those of us who have and will be contributing content recognize a groundswell of interest and are hopeful it truly will become a go-to forum for everyone in the architecture-engineering-construction industry to discuss the most intransigent problems we face and their possible solutions. 

Would you like to contribute a post for the Let’s Fix Construction blog? If so, let Eric know by emailing him at letsfixconstruction@gmail.com. He’s looking for content that speaks to experiences, ideas, and solutions—not merely a litany of complaints. He wants knowledge contributors. Being positive and forward-thinking is a plus. Case studies detailing issues and how they were resolved would be excellent. If you do furnish content, you will be credited and listed on the site’s Contributor Page. Once the list of contributors has grown beyond a certain number, Eric will issue specific topics for all to speak to. 

Are you a writer in the construction industry? Speak your mind, share your wisdom, and help mend our flawed systems. As Cherise always says “Go Big or Go Home!” Now’s the time folks. Let’s come together and #FixConstruction!  

3 comments:

Cherise Schacter said...

OMG Randy, this is awesome! Thank you so very much. This is much needed and the overwhelming and immediate interest make that evident. Your support is appreciated far more than you can know! ~ #CSIKraken

Eric D. Lussier said...

Randy, I'm not sure if you were aware, but yesterday was my birthday and I seriously couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. Thank you for the kind words and for spreading the message. We need to keep our hopes and passion up about this movement and I am very thankful that we have your insight on board!

Randy Nishimura, AIA, CSI, CCS said...

Eric: I wasn't aware it was your birthday, so I'm glad my blog post helped you celebrate it in a little way (Happy belated Birthday!). I'm honored to be able to help out and do my part. For me, selfishly, it is also a welcome challenge, one that requires me to reevaluate my perspective on architectural practice (reading what Elias and Ujjval have to say makes this unavoidable!).