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Posted: 5th August 2014

Elizabeth Kavanagh is the South West Regional BIM Hub Chair

Experience in other industries suggests that failure to understand and adapt human behaviour, rather than technology, is the biggest impediment to collaborative working’ - Sir Michael Latham.

It is often quoted that successful BIM is 90% people and 10% process. At present the emphasis when talking about BIM is technology lead. This is natural enough given that digital innovation can be such a powerful enabler. Although Innovation through technology cannot independently deliver the benefits anticipated by fully collaborative BIM. Our prediction is that in the next phase of BIM development as we become familiar with the digital tools and the process elements the focus will shift and towards the human interactions.

The South West Regional BIM hub held a conference in 2012 introducing and exploring BIM concepts. From the discussions we had it was clear that the collective opinion was “it is all about behaviour”. There was also a recognition and a desire in the room to move from a culture characterised by adversarial behaviours towards a collaborative approach.

Some interesting questions came out of this discussion.

  1. How could we change our industry culture?
  2. What does collaboration look like?
  3. To what extent are we collaborating at present?
  4. What are the conditions which enable this change?

We identified that the first step in creating a collaborative culture is to be clear about what we are trying to create, by specifying what good collaboration looks like when it is happening.

To that end we initiated a group research project sponsored by UWE to specify the Behaviours of Collaboration. The aim of this is to enable collaboration to be a key part of the change in culture implied by Level 3 BIM.

So far we have conducted a review based on existing literature into collaboration within BIM and other sectors.

Our literature review quickly identified ten factors key to enabling collaboration:

  1. Trust / Respect
  2. Siloes / T shaped People
  3. Openness / Communications
  4. Common goals / New ways of working
  5. Leadership / Interpersonal skills

We used these factors during a series of workshops to initiate the development of a Profession Map which will specify the Behaviours of Collaboration. A Profession Map is used in other sectors for professional development and specifies not just the knowledge and skills required but also the behaviours. An example to explain the difference is;

Knowledge is information about a subject e.g. I understand how to indicate at a junction when driving a car

Skills are using what I know in a situation e.g. I indicate as a standard part of my driving when I turn into a junction

Behaviours are the way I use my skills-what you see me do e.g. whether I indicate in good time considerately or last minute as I am turning

It is our hope that this tool can be used widely by industry to support the development of these collaborative behaviours at all industry levels.

In order to explore the possibilities in this area further that we have created a group called Behaviours4Collaboration through which we will continue to facilitate a move from an adversarial to collaborative way of working within the construction industry. If you are interested in being part of this group please get in touch via our linkedin group Behaviours4Collaboration (B4C) or get in touch by email.

Contributer: Elizabeth Kavanagh is the South West Regional BIM Hub Champion and Head of Human Resources at Stride Treglown.