Developing collaborative and integrated practices without trust is producing plywood without glue.

Developing collaborative and integrated practices without trust is producing plywood without glue.

Nearly everyone in the industry believes that there should be more collaboration between all stakeholders (architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, and even clients). Many of us look at collaboration as an opportunity for our individual interests or practice area to be better served and in control. If everyone approaches collaboration with the sense of winning individualism or control, there will be no effective gain. And, if most of us are honest, we have approached collaborative situations with this individual control mindset. The result was little net gain and often business as usual by the end of the project.

Collaboration by its nature only requires that the individuals intellectually share ideas without having to actually share final results. Parties can collaborate without ever reaching a trusted and reliant relationship.

The industry is moving from talking about collaboration towards integrated practices that offer a new playing field or plane for the industry. The essence of an integrated practice implies that individuals have gone beyond sharing intellectual ideas and have produced a project that is the result of their integrated thinking. While this might seem like a subtle difference, it is a fundamental shift in thinking about how we design and construct buildings.

At the core of integration is the need and promise of technology and the use of Building Information Modeling. The industry is rushing towards the use of BIM as the new methodology of design and production. It will, in fact, force this shift from merely being collaborators (sharing ideas) to being integrators (sharing in the result).

As promising as it sounds to use integrated technology as the medium to develop integrated practices and solutions, it is only part of the shift that the industry needs to embrace. Technology may be the medium, however trust is the glue that will hold it together. Integrated practices, producing integrated solutions, offers the industry untold new opportunities for design solutions we can only begin to imagine. At the same time it supports the production of projects with an enhanced set of metrics that will benefit all stakeholders.

The promise of integration will never be fully realized without a new commitment of trust between all involved; without this glue, there can be no structure.