Discussions, comments and opinions on the numerous and various topics in the Design and Construction industry. Tips and tricks on better Project Management for aspiring and experienced Project Managers. Also, LIFE is a project! Opinions about life, politics and my awesome Nigerian background from a Project Management perspective!
Why the Blog has changed to Project Management
Welcome to the new blog. So I just changed my blog to a focus on Project Management in the Construction sector.
Easy. How having spent over 20 years in this crazy design and construction business I realize I might have some insight, opinions and observations on how this industry works and how to make things potentially a tad bit better. Even with my rambling! Many of us change what we do in life as the years roll by, for those of us that have kept doing the same thing in different shoes for decades, I guarantee you have something great to say that people can benefit from.
So the blog will highlight my thoughts on various aspects of the design and construction industry, taken from my past and present experiences and design and construction adventures. It really helps to like what you do, your profession, your job, it make going to work daily a pleasure rather that a chore done to simply pay the bills. And most importantly it help you get through those very contentious and daunting times you will most certainly face on the job.
A Fascinating Never-ending Process
I really love the design and construction industry. I am continually fascinated at the process by which buildings get designed and built. It is absolutely awesome to see and observe the process of how a set of ideas become lines, and a set of lines become a set of drawings and a set of drawings become a construction site and a construction site become a usable building filled with noise, joys, anger and laughter. A building that becomes a real living and breathing building on a piece of land. Yes indeed buildings do live and breath! Consider this, remember when you visit your doctor and he or she checks your chest and says ...In... and Out.... Breath In... and Out... Well, when a building inhales when it take in Outside Air, and it exhales into the rooms within the building via Supply Air to provide conditioned air! And it inhales again take out Return Air! So yes a building breathes.
And with the above, I am of the opinion feel being and Architect or a Constructor (contractor) is a process of creation. Many times you start from ZERO and end up at 100%. You design and build a new house or school. Guess what you started with an empty piece of land, fast forward a year or couple of years later, people are sitting, eating, learning, watching, drinking, shopping, protected in something that was created from ZERO but now provides all the necessities to allow the occupants complete comfort in the structure. I suspect there are not that many professions out there that allow the true creation of something from practically nothing, and with each new project you undertake, you are creating all over again. Even in renovations.
The process by which a building is designed and constructed, occupied and used is a fascinating process. It is a money making process and a money losing process. It is also a money wasting process, and many times a time wasting process. Like many things in the United States it is a highly litigated process, it is a series of processes and that is what Project Managers do, manage processes.
Project management.... Creation???
People might not realize that buildings affect, shape and decide how people behave and feel; how they operate on a daily basis. The design of our buildings can affect your mood! Do you sit near a window that allows natural light and a view to the the changing seasons and weather? Giving you a daily lift? Or do you sit in a dimly lit non-window room with nothing to promote excitement and adventure but promote anger and boredom?
Why Project Management
Since buildings matter so much to how we live our lives, the process by which they are built matters even more. And this is where Project Management comes in. Increasingly as building get more complex, one person(s) need to stand in the center of the entire process and organize the chaos.
Project Management has spread to other disciplines and in many cases disciplines like IT have almost taken over the profession. However, Construction for me provides some of the best examples of how much a Project Manager is needed and why a project manager is needed at the center of the design and construction process.
Ironically Project Management as a stand alone profession is a relatively new profession. I recall a meeting years ago working in a design firm and the client at a progress meeting brought in two gentlemen and introduced them as their "Construction Managers", who would represent their interests on the project design and construction. These two men immediately attempted to take over the proceedings and discussion and start calling the shots and telling us several do's and dont's...WTF!!! Who are these clowns!? We thought! in discussions after the meeting and wondered, why on earth did the client feel they needed to bring in these clowns to manage the project? What does that mean, how much authority do they really have? Are we that bad that we need babysitters?
Having now spent several years in several shoes in the profession, as designer, Construction Manager, an Owners Representative, on several projects, it as clear as night and day why a Project / Construction manager is absolutely integral to the success of most medium to large construction projects. And even smaller ones like a home addition or renovation.
The need is very simple. Most clients are not experts in design and construction. They simply have a need. They know they need to get to point "B" the end point of their idea, or need, but they have little or no knowledge on how or what it really takes to get from point "A" to point "B".
The fact is going from point A-B is actually going from point A first to A1...A2...A3...A4... B to B1...B2...B3...B4... thee are an uncountable number of steps between idea, design construction and occupancy. Each step above is a process along the trip from Point A to B with several requirements and goals to be met before the journey is actually and successfully completed. More importantly, along that journey, the Architect is in charge for part of the journey and the Contractor takes over for a part of the journey and then the journey even continues AFTER the building is competed and the owner takes over and occupancy. And who watches this all taking place? you guessed it, a Project Manager!
There is an extremely important need for project managers to help all parties and most especially his client deliver a project as contracted on time and on budget. The more demands for high performance buildings by owners, the more complex buildings have become and the more difficult for one old traditional party of either the Architect / Engineer or Contractor to manage. thus the need for a Project Manager.
Buildings are created! Somebody say Hallelujah!
So despite the beauty of the profession, I noted above it is fraught with litigation. And that is just fine, (well not quite...) this, in my opinion is natural in an in-perfect world. When thousands, millions and sometimes billions of funding are at stake, what do you expect? Somebody is certainly going to lose it and somebody is certainly heading for court, unless properly "managed' So our reality is we will spend days and hours tussling, twisting and turning as we work on our projects and try to finish the next best thing in our professional lives. This is indeed an adventure!
As the developed nation pay more and more attention to sustainable living practices, it surprises me when I many times hear comments noting developing nations also need to be taught sustainable ways of living. Having grown up in a developing nation, I have always found those comments rather amusing. In my opinion, it appears from my recollections of how and where I grew up, the developed world might be able to learn a thing or two from the sustainable practices of the developing nations. In developing nations, the saying necessity is the mother of invention is apt.
Providing a path of light... I have always been attracted to teaching. Possibly I feel this comes naturally to me as I come from a teaching household, one parent a retired professor and the other a retired high school principal and director of education. (I guess that means you now have the right to call me out on my spelling and grammatical errors! I jump at opportunities to share and impart the little knowledge I have to those working with me and I get to know, and I am eager to learn from those around me. But many times, one does wonder if those efforts have any impact at all, as in many cases, I would move, change jobs and those I worked with and/or mentored I would lose contact with them.